Bar Magnets
If you find that the bar magnets from the kit are labeled incorrectly (opposites should attract), see the Important Module Updates section in the Teacher Resources section of this module.

General FOSS CA Tips (3-5)
  1. Have students use highlighters on vocabulary words in their notebooks as they build word banks that go with each investigation.
  1. The FOSS Science Resources book is very engaging for students and relates well with the activities. The reading pieces are short, so they can be done as homework and re-read multiple times in class to reinforce understanding of key content and still not be excessively time heavy.
  1. To help with time management, we highly recommend using able students to set up and help clean up materials needed for each activity.
  1. We recommend teaching science in the morning, first thing or after recess, so that you have an opportunity to set up materials. The morning also has the added bonus of having both teacher and students fresh, with plenty of energy to give to these fun and engaging activities. Afternoons often find both students and teacher tired and lacking the energy necessary for focusing, problem solving, and making thoughtful connections.
  1. I-Checks and Response Sheets are great to use for self- and peer-assessment discussions. One rewarding strategy is to have students respectfully critique and defend their ideas using data and other evidence to support their positions.
  1. A rolling materials cart is useful as a space saver. The cart can be positioned centrally with the materials needed for an investigation activity and then rolled out of the way once students have their materials and are ready to start the activity. It can again be rolled out for collecting materials and easily taken to the sink area or counter area for clean up.

  2. We have noticed that when activities are introduced with a question, both teaching and learning are improved. You will find that this lead question helps frame the lesson and ensures that the inquiry process leads eventually to the data and interpretations needed to develop an explanation of the original question. Students will find that writing this lead question in their notebooks will help them develop a context for the various parts of the investigation and collection of data and lead naturally to an attempt to explain their answer to the original question. Their notebooks will make more sense and be more likely to show an understanding of relationships and connections and a clear expression of a conclusion supported by evidence. We noticed that when this lead question was missing, lessons and notebook entries tended to look more like unconnected statements and data charts.


Scaling PDF documents
When you print any of the student sheets, lab notebook sheets, or assessment masters you have downloaded from FOSSweb, you may see a difference in scale between the original printed sheet and the downloaded sheet. This doesn't usually matter, but in some cases, you will want the scale to be the same (for example, to match the index card for the anemometer in the Weather and Water Course for middle school). To make sure this happens when you print a pdf file, there is an option on the print window that pops up "Page scaling." Your default is probably "fit to printable area." To get the original size, change this category to "none" before printing.

Understanding of the Flow of Electricity

Some people have noticed that the flow of electricity in a D-cell described in the FOSS kit (negative to positive) is contradictory to other science texts, which says itís positive to negative. Needless to say, some parents are concerned that this information is wrong and will have an effect on their students as they proceed in school.

Hereís the FOSS response: Current, by convention dating back to Ben Franklin, is described as flowing from the positive to the negative terminal. Ben was wrong, as we found out 80 years later, but by then positive current flow was entrenched. The convention lives today in electricity, military operations, and engineering. The truth, that current is a flow of electrons that go from the negative terminal to the positive, is the physicistís view of the world.

In the Magnetism and Electricity Module, we took the physicistís view that electrons are flowing and they go from the negative to the positive. In the middle school Electronics Course, we introduce both, and students need to be able to know when to use conventional current flow (positive to negative) and when to use electron flow (negative to positive). While 7-9th graders might be able to deal with two models, we didnít feel it was worth confusing elementary students. Elementary students will do just fine with the physicistís view and should easily move on to understanding of the two models when they reach middle school.


"The Force" Sheet Updated (Investgation 1, Part 3)
Due to a change in washer specs, The Force sheet has been updated in the online duplication masters PDF. The sheet now has enough space for students to record up to 25 washers.

Science Notebook Index Templates
Below are downloadable PDFs of science notebook index templates that can be printed for students to insert into their notebooks. Consider how much room your students will need to write when selecting a template.

Four-page index template. This index has 6 to 8 letters per page. Works well for grades K-2.
Two-page index template. This index has 12 to 14 letter per page. Works well for grades K-8.
One-page index template. This index has all the letters on one page. Works well for grades 3-8.

For more information on using these index sheets with notebooks, see page 15 of the FOSS Notebook Folio.
--Brian Campbell