Login or Register

800.334.5551 Live Chat

Building Blocks of Science®, Grade K

Building Blocks of Science®, Grade K

 

Program's Public Abstract

Lead Applicant and Partner
Carolina Biological Supply Company is the lead partner and applicant for Building Blocks of Science® (BBS). These units are intended to help kindergarten teachers and students establish a solid foundation in science.

Scale-Up For Iowa
BBS is well-suited for scale-up across Iowa’s urban and rural populations. The units teach Iowa Core Curriculum content and serve classroom teachers and students using an inquiry-based approach.

Intended Audience
Teachers have the flexibility to teach to any lesson activity in small groups or as a whole class. Through a series of lessons that build on one another conceptually, students learn important science content and investigative skills. The unit design fosters cooperative learning and critical thinking as students work in teams to actively discuss their findings, record data, and assess their understanding. BBS units provide rich life, earth, and physical science experiences, including an interdisciplinary STEM approach to technology, engineering, math, and beyond with language arts, movement education, art, and music. Key features of the program include simply written step-by-step lessons, teacher-friendly background information, lesson overviews that aid in lesson planning, and preparation guidance. Also included are teacher tips, considerations for differentiated learning and ELL strategies, family letters and family science activities, and pre-, post-, and embedded assessment.

Return to Top

Program Description

The Program
Building Blocks of Science® was developed to help teachers and students establish a solid foundation in kindergarten science. The units can fill gaps in content areas or serve as additional activities for classes already using hands-on, inquiry-based curriculum, or they can provide some hands-on experience for classes that primarily use textbooks. Each unit’s series of lessons help students develop important science content and investigative skills. The unit design fosters cooperative learning and critical thinking as students work in teams to actively discuss their findings, record data, and assess their understanding. Each Building Blocks of Science unit kit includes a Teacher’s Guide and enough materials for a class of 24 students to complete the activities. The Teacher’s Guide includes objectives and standards, materials preparation steps and class time requirements, background, vocabulary, procedures, assessments, ideas for cross-curricular extensions, and blackline masters for assessment, student procedures, and data sheets.

The Need
To help prepare Iowa’s students for future success in STEM careers, Building Blocks of Science® units provide kindergarten students with rich, practices-based experiences in life, earth, and physical science, including an interdisciplinary STEM approach to technology, engineering, math, and beyond with language arts, movement education, art, and music. According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan group, Change the Equation (http://changetheequation.org/about-change-equation), there are 2.7 workers in Iowa for every non-STEM–related job, while there 3.4 STEM jobs for every career STEM worker (http://vitalsigns.changetheequation.org/tcpdf/vitalsigns/newsletter.php?statename=Iowa ). 

Project Initial Site, Scope, and Delivery
To address the need for early-childhood STEM education, Delaware Department of Education has implemented BBS statewide since 2011. Delaware continues to address this need by implementing kits in every kindergarten classroom in the state this school year. This implementation includes over 100 schools and impacts about 10,000 students annually. Shoreline School District in Washington State implemented BBS during the 2011–2012 school year, and scaled up to all 10 elementary schools for the 2012–2013 school year. This implementation includes 10 schools and impacts about 200 students annually.

The Leadership Model
The leadership model for Building Blocks of Science® includes customizable professional development packages from Carolina. A trainer can prepare teachers directly to deliver content and instruction to students, or trainers can prepare lead teachers to train other teachers within their school or district. All trainings are program and kit specific, and led by experienced, highly-trained educators. In addition, Carolina’s superior customer service team is always available to respond to any questions or concerns that may arise.

The Intended Audience
BBS is more than just a group of stand-alone activities. Building Blocks of Science® units integrate process skills with concepts using best practices in science. Lessons foster cooperative learning and critical thinking as students work collaboratively through inquiry-based activities, allowing students to actively construct meaningful knowledge rather than passively acquire facts. Each of the seven units can be taught independently of one another, but together create a kindergarten curriculum that covers life, earth and physical sciences. The kindergarten units include My Senses; Discovering Plants; Discovering Animals; Digging Earth Materials; Push, Pull, Go; Patterns All Around; and Weather and Sky. Each of the seven unit kits is sold separately.  

Click here to learn more about the Building Blocks of Science program

View a Building Blocks of Science® Discovering Animals student sample

Return to Top

Program Video

View a video of the Building Blocks of Science unit, Digging Earth Materials

Program's Goals and Objectives

Programs Goals, Objectives, and Assessment
It is the goal of Building Blocks of Science® to help students actively engage in cooperative learning and develop critical thinking skills using collaborative, hands-on investigations. By being actively engaged, students create their own experiences, making content more meaningful and driving students to take more responsibility for their own learning. As they work to meet this goal, students develop academic vocabulary and writing, scientific knowledge, and analytical skills at an age-appropriate level during the course of each 3–6 week unit. Skills students develop in one unit can be applied and expanded as students move through the other kindergarten units in the program. The unit design fosters student learning while providing educators clearly defined objectives in each lesson. The Teacher’s Guide includes an Assessment Observation Sheet details benchmarks linked directly to the lesson’s objectives. Additionally, a rubric is included in each unit’s Teacher’s Guide so that educators can formatively assess the following unit goals:

  • Exploration: Student’s exploration reflects a high level of interest, questioning, and testing ideas-
  • Vocabulary: Student’s use of vocabulary “science words” is rich and varied, and terms are used appropriately in conversations and discussions
  • Concept Building: Student responses and explanations reflect a higher (yet age-appropriate) level of understanding unit concepts
  • Science Notebooking: Student’s entries include many detailed drawings and may include words, phrases, and/or sentences to further explain the entry

Return to Top

Program's Evidence Base

The Evidence Base
Carolina Biological Company is dedicated to providing relevant research-based STEM educational resources to teachers and students. The developmental research behind the Building Blocks of Science units, which is based on the National Research Council’s books Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching & Learning (“Providing Coherent Inquiry Based Instruction–Instructional Models,” pp. 33–35) and How People Learn: Building Research & Practice (“Designing Classroom Environments,” pp. 19–23), was developed using a research-based inquiry approach by experienced curriculum developers and National Board Certified teachers in
partnership with content experts, educational advisors, and teachers currently in the classroom. During development, activities were tested in classroom settings and revised based on teacher feedback and student outcomes. Building Blocks of Science® units went through a rigorous editorial process in all phases of development. Prior to finalization, units underwent content review by credentialed content experts to ensure that units were educationally and conceptually sound.

Results From Implementation
Delaware needed to introduce physics at the kindergarten level to fill a content gap. Delaware evaluates all programs being considered for adoption in the state. Building Blocks of Science® was the only program that passed this evaluation. Next, in 2011, Delaware piloted the program in schools in all three counties in the state, and the teacher feedback received was very positive. Teachers liked that the program was geared specifically towards kindergarten, rather than ranging across grades K–2. After the successful pilot, Delaware scaled up statewide and filled the need for physics in all kindergarten classrooms.

Return to Top

Program's Methodology/ Content and Instruction

Program Methodology and Content
Building Blocks of Science® units are based on an inquiry model through which students continually expand on their understanding of science concepts through direct observation, investigation, and experimentation. The lessons also follow a learning cycle that provides opportunities for students to explore science concepts and phenomena firsthand, and then allows time for reflection and application. This model does not focus on one “right” way of doing things or provide students with step-by-step instructions. Rather, it promotes inquiry by encouraging and facilitating experimentation, communication, and innovation among the entire class to support each student’s understanding of scientific concepts. Building Blocks of Science® units cover all three scientific disciplines. Each unit can be used independently to facilitate scientific learning in a specific subject area, or used together to help form the basis of a kindergarten science curriculum.

STEM Practices and Instruction
Every Building Blocks of Science® unit encourages students to ask questions, seek and test explanations, and draw conclusions through creative, inquiry-based learning methods. Pair and small-group work increase communication skills and help foster teamwork, both among classmates and between teacher and student. Students are notebooking as they work through the entire unit, tracking questions and ideas they have and noting the results of tested experimentations. But the major piece of Building Blocks of Science® is scientific discovery. For example, Push, Pull, Go covers many aspects of the STEM content curriculum as it helps students discover how things move. Working through a series of lessons about motion, students use various materials to build several models that move in different ways, including swinging, spinning, rolling, and tumbling. After freely exploring the unique ways that each model moves, and working through teacher-guided exploration to deepen understanding, students are presented with a design challenge. Using the same materials, students are challenged to build a system of their own design that works using the principles of motion they have explored throughout the unit. There is no single, “right” device to build, and instructions are not provided. This type of challenge inspires experimentation and collaboration as students work to figure out creative ways to design their systems. Groups test possible explanations by experimenting and innovating with the provided equipment. Students validate an explanation by observing that the system actually works. Further, students draw conclusions by working with other groups to compare and contrast what worked and what other questions were asked. As a result, students build a grade-level-appropriate concept of systems and an understanding of moving objects. Vocabulary development, science notebooking opportunities, and other language arts activities are incorporated throughout the unit.

Content
Unit content focuses on life science, earth science, and physical science experiences, including an interdisciplinary STEM approach to technology, engineering, math, and beyond with language arts, movement education, art, and music. In learning centers and through extensions to other areas of STEM and language arts, students are able to investigate their own questions and real-world applications of the concepts they explore. While students are encouraged to apply previous experience when working through the unit, Teacher’s Guides and kit materials help the instructor guide students in new ways to discover science by investigating rather than by rote learning. These new and unexpected situations foster a more active learning environment in which student teams and the instructor work together to build real-world STEM experience and help develop more learning skills. Every unit also features an activity for students to do at home, which allows students to see applications of STEM at home, and talk about these with their families.

Iowa Core Curriculum Alignment
All Building Blocks of Science® units meet the Science as Inquiry standards SI.1–SI.7. Building Blocks of Science® units correlate to the Iowa Core Standards as shown below:

  • My Senses: LS.1, LS.5, PS.1, PS.2
  • Discovering Plants: LS.1, LS.2, LS.3, LS.5, PS.1
  • Discovering Animals: LS.1, LS.2, LS.3, LS.4, LS.5
  • Digging Earth Materials: ES.1, LS.1, LS.3, PS.1
  • Weather and Sky: ES.2, ES.3, LS.2, PS.1
  • Push, Pull, Go: PS.1, PS.3
  • Patterns All Around: ES.2, ES.3, LS.1, LS.2, PS.1

View the Iowa Scale-Up Correlation

Other Curricular Connections
Building Blocks of Science® Teacher’s Guides support the teacher in many ways. Each unit includes an overview of the National Science Education Standards it covers and easy-to-follow charts for each lesson that highlight student objectives, science process skills, vocabulary, reading and web enhancements, and cross-curricular extension opportunities. Materials are listed comprehensively for the whole unit and separately for each lesson to help the teacher stay organized. Step-by-step instructions for activity preparation and activity time requirements give teachers an advantage in planning ahead. Lesson-specific background information uses real-life examples to help teachers understand the fundamentals of each lesson’s topic. In addition, teacher tips throughout the lessons offer helpful hints regarding materials, classroom management, or opportunities for application or extension. 

Return to Top

Program's Connection to STEM and 21st Century Skills

STEM and 21st-Century Skills
Every Building Blocks of Science® unit integrates the 21st-century skills of critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and teamwork by encouraging students to ask questions, seek and test explanations, and draw conclusions through creative, inquiry-based learning methods. Pair and small-group work increase communication skills and help foster teamwork, both among classmates and between teacher and student. Students must apply past experiences to answer questions such as, How do I get this system to work? Groups test possible explanations by experimenting and innovating with the provided equipment. Students validate an explanation by observing that the system actually works. Further, students draw conclusions by working with other groups to compare and contrast what worked and what other questions were asked. As a result, students build a grade-level-appropriate concept of systems and an understanding of moving objects. Students are notebooking throughout the entire unit, tracking questions they have and noting the results of tested experimentations. In learning centers and through cross-curricular extensions to other areas of STEM and language arts, students are able to investigate their own questions and real-world applications of the concepts they explore, prompting innovation and the generation of new ideas or products. While students are encouraged to apply previous experience when working through the unit, Teacher’s Guides and kit materials help the instructor guide students in new ways to discover science by investigating rather than by rote learning. These new and unexpected situations foster a more active learning environment in which student teams and the instructor work together to build real-world STEM experience and help develop more learning skills. 

Return to Top

Program's Scalability

Scalability for Iowa
Building Blocks of Science® units are flexible and adaptable. Each Building Blocks of Science® title is designed to be taught as a complete unit; each unit lasts 3–6 weeks, depending on how many times science is taught per week. Lessons are written for children working in small groups or pairs, but can easily be adapted for whole-class instruction. Learning Center Opportunities offer options for further investigation by individuals, small groups, or the class. These groupings can be applied in rural or urban areas and in classes with a diverse mix of learners, as shown by Delaware’s statewide implementation. Most of the materials in Building Blocks of Science® kits are reusable, but consumable items are available in convenient refurbishment sets. BBS is scalable in terms of professional development as well. Carolina’s professional development staff is comprised of a cadre of consultants who are current and former science teachers. Many of these staff have used the program in their own classrooms. They have undergone rigorous training on the kits and can prepare teachers to utilize the kits, or train lead teachers to use the kits and train a core of teachers themselves. Finally, these same consultants and the Carolina Sales Manager for Iowa can help communicate standards for implementation across one region, several regions, or the entire state.

Return to Top

Program's Partners

Existing Scalable Partnerships
Carolina currently partners with the Delaware Department of Education Science Material Center to warehouse Building Blocks of Science® kit refurbishment materials. Working with a Science Material Center allows the state of Delaware to purchase consumable items at a discounted price. Regional Science Material Centers following this model could be implemented in Iowa.

Future Partnerships Across Iowa
Carolina is excited to explore partnerships with STEM education leaders, corporate sponsors, and local business to further benefit Iowa’s students. These potential partnerships may also help sustain the use of Building Blocks of Science® in Iowa. Carolina is willing and prepared to reach out to STEM supporters throughout Iowa in order to explore partnership opportunities, which could include some of the following organizations: 

  • Accumold
  • ACT
  • Agri Industrial Plastics
  • Civco Medical Solutions
  • Clipper
  • Des Moines Zoo
  • Diamond Vogel
  • Du Pont/Pioneer
  • Ellison Automation Technologies
  • GKN Armstrong Wheels
  • HNI Corporation
  • HyVee
  • IBM
  • Innovative Lighting
  • International Automotive Components
  • Iowa Associate of Business and Industry
  • Iowa Biotech Association
  • Iowa Business Council
  • Iowa Health—Des Moines
  • Iowa Health System
  • Iowa Science Center
  • John Deere
  • Kemin Molecular Solutions
  • Merrill
  • Microsoft
  • Monsanto Imagine
  • Pella
  • Poet Biorefining
  • Principal Financial Group
  • Rockwell Collins
  • Rosenboom Custom Cylinders
  • Story Lounge
  • Sudenga Industries
  • Syngenta
  • SynGest
  • Technology Associate of Iowa
  • Tone’s
  • Vermeer
  • Western Dubuque Bio Diesel

Return to Top

Program's Appeal to Diverse Learners

Diverse Learning
Inquiry-based instruction provides common experiences for a diverse population of students through hands-on activities that link to prior knowledge yet offer multiple opportunities to read, discuss, and write about those experiences. It is the common experiences, shared between students of all learning styles, which help to develop understanding. As an inquiry-based science curriculum, Building Blocks of Science® inherently supports this model and helps a diverse group of learners to succeed in today’s classrooms using:

  • Common experiences/investigations with age-appropriate, interactive, hands-on materials
  • Assessment of prior knowledge through class charts, science notebooks, and small- and large-group discussions
  • Teacher’s Guide with guiding questions for facilitating group discussions, informal teacher-student talks, and assessment of student progress
  • Opportunities for students to work in teams of two, small groups, and/or learning centers
  • Science notebooks, class charts, topic-related books, web links, and informational texts to link science to reading, writing, and math
  • Where applicable, activity sheets that support students with graphic organizers, data-table set-up, and step-by-step guided instruction

Building Blocks of Science® kindergarten units feature Learning Center Opportunities, which generally provide opportunities to extend a lesson activity by offering suggestions for further investigation, concept building, or skill practice. Small-group experiences with the unit activities can function as Learning Center Opportunities, or may replace whole-group instruction, depending on the needs and resources of your classroom.

Program Diversity Statistics
The student population of Washington State’s Shoreline School District that has been impacted by Building Blocks of Science® units includes:

  • 11.7% Hispanic
  • 14.7% Asian
  • 6.4% Black
  • 11.7% Special Education
  • 27% Free or Reduced Lunch
  • 6% ELL

The student population of Delaware that has been impacted by Building Blocks of Science® units includes:

  • 13.8% Hispanic
  • 3.5% Asian
  • 31.5% Black
  • 12.5% Special Education
  • 49.3% Free or Reduced Lunch
  • 5.4% ELL

Return to Top

Program's Opportunities and Challenges

Program Opportunities
Carolina is excited to explore partnerships with Iowa STEM education leaders, corporate sponsors, and local business to further benefit Iowa’s students. These potential partnerships can serve to help sustain the use of Building Blocks of Science® in Iowa. As stated earlier, Carolina is willing and prepared to reach out to STEM supporters throughout Iowa in order to explore partnership opportunities favorable to all involved. 

There are many scale-up opportunities for Building Blocks of Science®. The inherent flexibility of the program makes it a perfect fit in many contexts, including summer school, afterschool programs, clubs, and traditional classrooms. Lessons can be taught easily to small groups or a whole class.

Program Challenges
To mitigate potential challenges in the statewide scale-up of Building Blocks of Science®, the leadership model includes customizable professional development packages from Carolina. Each professional development session can target the specific needs of teachers and their specific kits. A trainer can prepare teachers directly to deliver content and instruction to students, or trainers can prepare lead teachers to train other teachers within their school or district. All trainings are program and kit specific, and led by experienced, highly-trained educators. In addition, Carolina’s superior customer service team is always available to respond to any questions or concerns that may arise.

Return to Top

Program's Sustainability

Sustaining the Program
Through a comprehensive series of lessons in each unit, students learn important science content and investigative skills that carry throughout the program and throughout their educational careers. Building Blocks of Science® units are based on a learning model in which students continually expand on their understanding of science concepts through direct observation, investigation, and experimentation. The units follow a learning cycle that gives students an opportunity to explore science concepts and phenomena firsthand, and then allows them time for reflection and to apply their learning.

How LEA’s Can Continue After Funding Is Exhausted
To keep stakeholder organizations actively involved, Carolina maintains a high level of customer satisfaction with participating programs by making regular contact to ensure everything is working as described. In order to provide the lowest possible cost, BBS kits include both reusable and consumable items. The consumable items are sold in complete refurbishment kits as well as individuals line items that can be purchased in bulk. With proper maintenance, the reusable items in the kit can be used to teach the unit multiple times without replacement. In order to sustain the program once scale-up funds are exhausted, cost-sharing for consumable items will be available for educators through participation in additional professional development sessions. This can extend the use of a single kit for an additional year.

Building Blocks of Science® can be sustained through professional development as well. Carolina’s professional development staff is comprised of a cadre of consultants who are current and former science teachers. Many of these staff have used the program in their own classrooms. They have undergone rigorous training on the kits and can prepare teachers to utilize the kits, or train lead teachers to use the kits and train a core of teachers themselves. These professional development sessions are ideal for educating multiple teachers in a district/community, and allow for highly detailed implementation instruction. These same consultants and the Carolina Sales Manager for Iowa can help communicate standards for implementation across one region, several regions, or the entire state. These professional development sessions are available at the convenience of the STEM regional managers or LEAs in Iowa.

Return to Top

Scale-Up Proposed Budget

  • Materials Cost - Kit Retail $435.95
  • Cost to host a regional professional development and/or event, if required by your program. - $750
  • Total $1,185.95

Return to Top

Budget Justification

Materials Cost
Building Blocks of Science® unit kits range in retail price from $204.95 to $435.95. One kit is used for each class to go through the 3–6 week unit once. Refurbishment sets are available for purchase to replace consumable materials.

Cost to Host Regional Professional Development Event
Professional development training can be customized to your district’s needs, from an inquiry overview or content training for a specific program unit to a focused training on notebooking, assessment, or integration of literacy in the science classroom. Webinar-based training will be available. Professional development fees are $750 for the training dates. 

Return to Top

Cost-Sharing for Scale-Up Programs

Cost Sharing
Carolina Biological Supply Company will provide each educator awarded a scale-up grant for Building Blocks of Science® and who attends the first BBS® professional development workshop, will receive their own BBS® refurbishment set for the unit chosen to assist in sustaining the scale up program for a longer duration in Iowa.

In addition, each educator awarded a scale-up grant for Building Blocks of Science® and who attends the second BBS® professional development workshop, will receive their own set of Carolina Science Notebooks for the unit chosen to encourage student writing of their STEM understandings.

Return to Top

Supporting Documentation

Return to Top

 
Carolina Biological Supply

© Carolina Biological Supply Company

2700 York Road, Burlington, NC 27215-3398 • 800.334.5551