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3rd Grade Massachusetts Curriculum

In 3rd grade, students gain more ownership over the science and engineering practices as they carry out experiments to answer questions about the world around them and solve real-world problems.
3rd Grade STEM Curriculum Massachusetts

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  • Unit 1
  • Unit 1: Earth in Motion

    In Unit 1 Earth in Motion, students use the story of the Curiosity rover, which carries out experiments on the planet Mars, to explore how all matter in the universe is made up of atoms, has specific properties, and requires a force to change its motion.

    • Students create a large-scale aluminum atom model to observe the basic structure of matter.
    • Students carry out an experiment to observe how heat affects the movement of liquid water molecules.
    • Students create a model solar system to observe the motion of planets and how the force of gravity affects their orbits.
    • Students carry out an experiment to analyze the effects of unbalanced forces on the motion of a straw rocket to help them explain how a rocket carried Curiosity into space.

    Grade-Specific Standard: 3-PS2-1

    Supporting Standards: 5-PS1-1, 5-PS2-1, 5-ESS1-1

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Earth in Motion - 3-PS2-1
  • Unit 2
  • Unit 2: Weather and Water

    In Unit 2 Weather and Water, students use the migration patterns of monarch butterflies to explore seasons, weather conditions on Earth, and the flooding of the Mississippi River.

    • Students carry out an experiment to see if water evaporates faster in warm locations compared to cool locations.
    • Students assemble anemometers, barometers, and thermometers to collect and analyze daily weather data.
    • Students design and build prototype levees along a river to prevent weather-related flooding.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 3-ESS2-1, 3-ESS2-2, 3-ESS3-1. 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA), 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS3-2, 5-ESS2-1, 5-ESS2-2

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Weather and Water - 3-ESS2-1, 3-ESS2-2, 3-ESS3-1. 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)
  • Unit 3
  • Unit 3: Life on Earth

    In Unit 3 Life on Earth, students use two tropical biomes—the Sahara and the Amazon—to explore the interconnectedness of living things and their environment.

    • Students construct model food chains to trace the flow of energy through producers, consumers, and decomposers in tropical and desert biomes.
    • Students carry out an experiment to analyze two possible solutions that could be used to help a population of harpy eagles recover from the impacts of deforestation over time.
    • Students examine fossil samples found at a simulated dig site in the Sahara to analyze the fossilized organisms and make inferences about their environment

    Grade Specific Standards: 3-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3, 3-LS4-4, 3-ESS2-2

    Supporting Standards: 4-LS1-1, 5-LS1-1, 5-LS2-1, 5-PS3-1

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Life on Earth - 3-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3, 3-LS4-4, 3-ESS2-2
  • Unit 4
  • Unit 4: Life Cycles and Traits

    In Unit 4 Life Cycles and Traits, students use the behavior and physical structures of honeybees to explore life cycles and heredity.

    • Students observe milkweed bugs and darkling beetles as they move through their life cycle stages.
    • Students analyze data to observe how physical traits are passed from parents to offspring and how the environment can influence those traits.
    • Students then use tweezers and models of different-colored moths to test how trait variation affects survival advantage.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 3-LS1-1, 3-LS3-1, 3-LS3-2, 3-LS4-2, 3-LS4-5 (MA)

    Supporting Standard: 4-LS1-1

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Life Cycles and Traits - 3-LS1-1, 3-LS3-1, 3-LS3-2, 3-LS4-2, 3-LS4-5 (MA)
  • Unit 5
  • Unit 5: Energy in Motion

    In Unit 5 Energy in Motion, students use windmills to explore the relationships between energy, force, and motion.

    • Students build model windmills and then carry out an experiment to test how windmill blades in balanced and unbalanced positions affect the amount of marbles a windmill can lift.
    • Students carry out an experiment to test how increasing the mass of windmill blades affects how quickly the windmill rotor turns.

    Grade-Specific Standard: 3-PS2-1

    Supporting Standards: 4-PS3-1, 4-PS3-2

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Energy in Motion - 3-PS2-1
  • Unit 6
  • Unit 6: Forces in Our Environment

    In Unit 6 Forces in Our Environment, students use tightropes and skyscrapers to explore how structures have to be able to withstand all of the forces that act on them.

    • Students use clay, index cards, toothpicks, craft sticks, and straws to test different materials and shapes to see how they respond to different types of forces.
    • Students use a variety of materials to engineer and build prototype skyscrapers that resist different forces related to weight and high winds.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 3-PS2-3, 3-PS2-4, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 5-PS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA), 5-ETS3-1 (MA), 5-ETS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Forces in Our Environment - 3-PS2-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)
  • Unit 7
  • Unit 7: Magnetism and Electricity

    In Unit 7 Magnetism and Electricity, students use lightning and the world’s strongest magnet to explore electric and magnetic forces.

    • Students build and test electroscopes to observe how materials with high and low static charge exert different electric forces.
    • Students use iron filings to visualize the magnetic field interactions of permanent magnets and then test magnets of different sizes.
    • Students use a variety of materials to engineer a device that can pick up and place metal paper clips for a metal factory.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 3-PS2-3, 3-PS2-4, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 5-PS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA), 5-ETS3-1 (MA), 5-ETS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Magnetism and Electricity - 3-PS2-3, 3-PS2-4, 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)
  • Unit 8
  • Unit 8: Patterns in Sound

    In Unit 8 Patterns in Sound, students use examples of different sounds—those within their body and the sounds of drumming—to explore how sound causes matter to vibrate and moves from a source outward.

    • Students observe the motion of vibrating sand particles and then test how quickly sound energy moves through a solid table and liquid water.
    • Students use a variety of materials to engineer and build a toy that can be used to trick how their brain senses sounds coming from different locations.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 4-PS3-2, 5-PS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA), 5-ETS3-1 (MA), 5-ETS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Patterns in Sound - 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)
  • Unit 9
  • Unit 9: Patterns in Light

    In Unit 9 Patterns in Light, students use rainbows to explore how light energy travels in a straight line and interacts with matter.

    • Students use flashlights, mirrors, and prisms to investigate how light interacts with different materials.
    • Students work in small teams and use a variety of materials to engineer and build a device that creates rainbows.

    Grade-Specific Standards: 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)

    Supporting Standards: 4-PS3-2, 4-PS4-2, 5-PS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-3, 4.3-5-ETS1-5 (MA), 5-ETS3-1 (MA), 5-ETS3-2 (MA)

    Massachusetts 3rd Grade STEM Curriculum - Patterns in Light - 3.3-5-ETS1-1, 3.3-5-ETS1-2, 3.3-5-ETS1-4 (MA)

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