The Gates Chili elementary science program emphasizes a hands-on and student-centered approach to learning. Students learn effectively when they are actively engaged in the discovery process, often working in small groups. Experiences provide students with opportunities to interact as directly as possible with the natural world in order to construct explanations about their world. This approach allows students to practice problem-solving skills, develop positive science attitudes, learn new science content, and increase their scientific literacy.
Critical to understanding science concepts is the use of scientific inquiry to develop explanations of natural phenomena. Students have the opportunity to develop their skills of mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design through investigations on a regular basis in grades UPK-5. Active investigations nurture student curiosity and develop positive attitudes toward science which will last a lifetime.
Each grade level completes a life science, physical science, and earth and space science unit.
Life Science: “Worm Scouts”: 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.
Earth and Space Science: “Weather for Kindergarten”: n 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.
Physical Science: “Pushes and Pulls”: 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!
Life Science: “A Bunny’s Life:” 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.
Earth and Space Science:” Sky Patterns”: 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.
Physical Science: “Sending Messages with Light and Sound”: 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.
Life Science: “Save the Bees”: Using Dr. Seuss’ famous environmental book, The Lorax, 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.
Earth and Space Science: “Earth's Features”: Throughout this unit students 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.
Physical Science: “Made of Matter”: This unit covers science concepts about matter, its properties and how it is used. Students will classify objects by their observable properties, analyze data, and use evidence to explain scientific processes involving matter.
Life Science: “Where are the Wolves”: Students learn about how bringing wolves back to Yellowstone National Park changed the park’s ecosystem. Students discover that wolves no longer live in New York State. Students learn about animal adaptations (physical and behavioral), group vs. solitary animals, and why some organisms survive well in a particular habitat while others survive less well or not at all.
Earth and Space Science: “Investigating Weather and Climate”: 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.
Life Science: “Generations of Butterflies”: A main topic in this unit is life cycles. Students watch painted lady butterflies and radish plants go through their life cycle right in their classroom and collect data on the four stages of all life cycles - 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.
Physical Science: “Riding the Waves of Information” 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 develop and use models, construct explanations and design a solution to transfer information using waves.
Physical Science: “Powering thru the Fair” In this unit, 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 an assessment, students will create exhibits to be displayed at the fair suggesting ideas for making it more eco-friendly.
Life Science Kit-Coming Soon.
Life Science: “Deer, Deer, Everywhere”: 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.
Physical Science: “Toys Matter”: Students begin the Structure and Properties of Matter unit by being welcomed to their first day at the toy company, Toys Matter. Throughout the unit, students will plan and carry out a series of investigations in which they will work with a large variety of materials. Their final challenge will be to use what they have learned to engineer a new toy.
Earth and Space Science: “Got Water?”: In this unit, students investigate Earth's Systems by taking on the role of interns at their local Got Water? facility. Students will explore and model interactions among Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere. As a final performance assessment, they will use what they have learned to clean up a water source that has been polluted with various contaminants.