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Curriculum Units

Teachers: Learn About Your Kit

Curriculum Overview

BOCES 4 Science has developed a comprehensive K-5 curriculum. This means that using all of our units of study will ensure that students have deep experiences in all performance expectations of the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS). This includes: 
  • Vertical alignment of units based on content in Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth & Space Science

  • K-5 NYSSLS Progressions Document

Science Curriculum Units

Instructional Units

Listed are units developed and written by the BOCES 4 Science team and NYS teachers in the BOCES 4 Science region. Units are aligned to the content of the New York State Science Learning Standards (see alignment document to the right). Each lesson/unit incorporates 3-Dimensional instruction.  For information on 3-D instruction, go to Next Gen Science).

Units as Lessons and Instructional Sessions

The lessons in each unit are divided into instructional sessions. An instructional session is 30-40 minutes. Listed next to the title of the units is the number of instructional sessions for that unit. Each unit has a corresponding web page that include links to the unit assets.

Password Assistance

Units pages are password protected. Some units have a publicly accessible student page. For issues with passwords or general website assistance, please contact Steve Montemarano at [email protected].


Weather for Kindergarten - 16-18 instructional sessions
In this unit of study, students apply an understanding of the effects of the sun on the Earth's surface. Students develop an understanding of patterns and variations in local weather and the use of weather forecasting to prepare for and respond to severe weather.

Pushes and Pulls - 12 instructional sessions
In this unit, kindergartners explore the forces of pushes and pulls as they enjoy a visit to the playground. They learn how to describe the position/motion of objects and the effects of forces on those objects. They experience the effect of slope on the speed of cars going downhill on tracks set at different heights, and forward and backward collisions. The interactions of a kickball game is tons of fun!

Worm Scouts - 18 instructional sessions 
Why are there piles of worms evenly spaced along the center of a road?  Kindergartners ask questions and observe a classroom compost bin of redworms in order to investigate this phenomenon.  On behalf of the Worm Scouts of the World, Scout the Worm guides students through the unit as they explore interdependent relationships in the ecosystem of a worm.  

1st Grade

Sending Messages with Light and Sound - 28 instructional sessions
In this unit, young students behave as scientists as they plan and carry out investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials make sound. Students realize the cause and effect relationship between light and our ability to see. Through a series of activities, students conduct investigations, make observations, and communicate information on how light interacts with different materials. Students look for patterns in their data focusing on how we use sound and light to communicate non verbally. The unit culminates in an engineering project in which students work collaboratively to design and build a device that solves the problem of communicating over a distance.

A Bunny's Life - 20 instructional sessions
In this unit, students act as scientists as they observe how young rabbits look similar to but different from their parents. Students continue to study the rabbit, and other animals, when they look at patterns of behavior displayed by both the parents and the offspring that ensure the survival of the offspring. These patterns of behavior include how parents and offspring use their senses to process information. Students also observe how the structure and function of the rabbit’s external body parts (feet and coat) help the animal survive. Inspired by what they have learned, students design a product, which solves a problem in their own lives, by copying nature.

Sky Patterns - 16 instructional sessions
In this unit of study, students take on various missions as they investigate different sky patterns. These missions include tracking the Sun to predict where it will be at different times of the day and checking out sunsets to discover the seasonal pattern to the amount of daylight throughout the year. Students consider the cycle of night and day and figure out the patterns to the phases of the moon.

2nd Grade

Save the Bees - 25 instructional sessions
This unit provides experiences to help students develop an understanding of the relationships within an ecosystem. Using Dr. Seuss’ famous environmental book, The Lorax, as a theme of the instruction, students investigate the real world environmental issue of the global loss of the bee population and how it is affecting our world. The lessons in the unit help students develop an understanding of the needs of plants and animals and how plants and animals depend on each other for survival. Students also compare the diversity of life in different habitats. As students become more knowledgeable about the issue of bee population decline, they are able to present the issue to others as a culminating activity of the unit. An engineering project involving the design of a hand pollinator allows students to devise a solution to the decline in bee pollination.

Earth's Features: Processes that Shape the Earth - 25 instructional sessions
Students are asked to help “Tina the Traveler” decide where to live in the United States. Throughout the unit students will receive postcards from Tina to learn about land and water features, mapping skills, quick and slow events that effect Earth, and then design a solution to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.

Made of Matter - 27 instructional sessions 
This unit covers science concepts about matter, its properties and how it is used. Students will plan investigations to classify objects by their observable properties, analyze data to determine which materials have the properties are best suited for an intended purpose, use evidence to explain that changes to materials due to heating and cooling can be reversed with some materials and not with others, and finally explain how objects are made from a smaller set of pieces which can be disassembled and made into a different object.

3rd Grade

Investigating Weather and Climate - 25 instructional sessions
The main topics included in this unit are investigating the phenomenon of weather, the water cycle, weather-related hazards, and climates in different regions of the world. The class collaborates to plan and conduct an investigation of the weather using weather tools. Students develop a presentation about the weather and climate at a specific global location.

Where Are the Wolves? - 25 instructional sessions
The main focus of this unit is the interdependence of organisms in an ecosystem. The anchoring phenomenon is the wolves of Yellowstone. Students learn about how bringing wolves back to Yellowstone National Park significantly changed the park's ecosystem. Students are posed with the question: "Should wolves be brought back to Adirondack Park in New York State?" Students learn about the concerns New York State citizens have with this idea and how wolves would adapt to living in New York. Students use the information learned to take a position on this idea. Fossils are included in this unit. They represent other animals no longer found in New York State. Deforestation is focused on as an environmental change. Students investigate whether solutions to deforestation have merit and would make a positive impact to a changed ecosystem.

Generations of Butterflies  - 24 instructional sessions
In this unit of study, students explore the phenomenon of the monarch migration to Mexico. Lessons within the unit help students figure out that a special generation of monarchs migrate to Mexico over several months even though their adult life span is typically two to three weeks. Additionally, students determine that the butterflies making the trip south do not come back north. A main topic in this unit is life cycles. Students watch butterflies go through their life cycle right in their classroom and collect data on the four stages of their life cycle - birth, growth, reproduction, and death. Another main topic in the unit is inheritance of traits. Variations of these traits provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.

Invisible Forces - 22 instructional sessions
The main topics included in this unit are balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object and how data collected about an object’s motion can predict future motion. Cause and effect relationships of electric (static electricity) and magnetic interactions are explored through questioning strategies. The forces of gravity and friction are also introduced in the unit. Magnetism, static electricity, gravity, and friction are all forces that cannot be seen, but we do see their impact. The forces used in a Rube Goldberg machine is the anchoring phenomenon of the unit. Students use the engineering design process to create their own Rube Goldberg machine that incorporates the various forces learned in the unit.

4th Grade

Riding the Waves of Information - 15 instructional sessions
In this unit, students will understand that a sound wave, light wave or a wave in water all have similar characteristics. Students will describe patterns of waves in terms of amplitude and wavelength in addition to showing that waves can cause objects to move. Students will also understand that waves, which transfer energy, can travel over long distances. This energy can have coded information that can be converted or digitized into pictures (video) or sound (audio). Students will develop and use models, construct explanations and design a solution to transfer information using waves.

Earth Processes in New York State - 29 instructional sessions
In this unit designed for 4th grade, students try to figure out the origin of a bone that is found in local soil. Could it have belonged to a dinosaur? The mystery bone provides an introduction to the main ideas in this unit, such as: rock formations and fossils are evidence of changes in a landscape over time; the effects of weathering and erosion can be observed and measured; the analysis of maps can describe patterns of Earth’s features; and that various solutions can be generated that reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.

Powering Thru the Fair  - 17 instructional sessions
In Powering thru the Fair, students take a virtual field trip to the NYS Fair in order to investigate the energy used there.  They follow a map to visit the roller coaster, ball toss, bumper cars, and more, all the while exploring ideas such as speed, collisions, and energy conversions.  As a final performance assessment, students will create exhibits to be displayed at the fair suggesting ideas for making it more eco-friendly. The NYS Fair will award free admission tickets to the winners of this contest.

A Walk in the Park  - 16 instructional sessions
In this unit students take walk in a park. They stop to admire wildflowers and learn how the internal and external structures of these plants function to support growth and reproduction. Students continue on their walk making stops along the way to look at different animals. Students study these animals and learn how the animals use their senses to take information from their surroundings and process this information. Special emphasis is placed on the sense of sight. Students realize that animals, like plants, also survive by the interaction between their internal and external structures.

5th Grade

Deer, Deer Everywhere - 15 instructional sessions
In this unit, Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems are explored through the lens of deer overpopulation. Students take on the role of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation researchers charged with the task of creating a public service announcement on this issue.  During the unit, the students will focus on the Science and Engineering Practices of Developing and Using Models, and Engaging in Argument from Evidence.  The unit addresses the Crosscutting Concepts of Systems and System Models, and Energy and Matter .

Toys Matter  - 16 instructional sessions
This unit explores the Structure and Properties of Matter.  Students begin this unit by being welcomed to their first day at the toy company, Toys Matter.  They are about to embark on an intensive training program to see if they have what it takes to be hired as Materials Engineers.  Throughout the unit, students will complete a series of tasks in which they will explore and work with a large variety of materials.  Their final test will be to use what they have learned to engineer a new toy.

Got Water? - 14 instructional sessions
In this unit, students investigate Earth's Systems by taking on the role of interns at their local Got Water facility. Students will develop and use system models to explore interactions among Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere.  As a final performance assessment, students will obtain, evaluate, and communicate information on environmental conservation issues, then use this information to clean up a water source that has been polluted with various contaminants.

Earth and Space Explorers - 27 instructional sessions 

Middle School

Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation - 25 instructional sessions
Students create and revise their own models of how light travels, is reflected, absorbed and transmitted. Students contrast white light with the light from a laser pointer. Students learn about frequency, wavelength and the energy of a wave by contrasting the properties of light from a laser with those of the light from a flashlight or a light bulb. Students also integrate qualitative scientific and technical information to support the claim that digitized signals are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information than analog signals.
BOCES 4 Science is a collaborative science program service developed through a partnership among the BOCES in the Mid-Western New York State region. 
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