What's included in our phenomena-based science curriculum
Amplify Science is a phenomena-based science curriculum for grades K-8. This program is designed to give students engaging, realistic experiences that mirror how scientists and engineers actually work. To do this, the Lawrence Hall of Science and Amplify created compelling print and digital resources that work seamlessly together to enable students’ investigations and explorations.
Year at a glance
Amplify Science is organized around units where students are introduced to compelling phenomena and real-world problems, develop and strengthen claims by collecting evidence and testing assumptions, and apply their learning in new contexts.
Units at a glance
In each Amplify Science unit, students are asked to inhabit the role of a scientist or engineer in order to investigate a real-world problem. These problems provide relevant, 21st-century contexts through which students investigate different scientific phenomena.
Needs of Plants and Animals
Students take on the role of scientists in order to figure out why there have been no monarch caterpillars in the community garden since vegetables were planted. They investigate how plants and animals get what they need to live and grow, and make a new plan for the community garden that provides for the needs of the monarch caterpillars in addition to producing vegetables for humans.
Pushes and Pulls
Students take on the role of pinball machine engineers as they investigate the effects of forces on the motion of an object. They conduct tests in their own prototypes (models) of a pinball machine and use what they learn to contribute to the design of a class pinball machine. Over the course of the unit, students construct a foundational understanding of why things move in different ways.
Sunlight and Weather
The principals of Woodland Elementary and Carver Elementary need student weather scientists to help them explain why Woodland’s playground is warmer than Carver’s at recess. Students gather data from models of the sun and Earth’s surface and observe their own playgrounds to figure out how sunlight causes changes in the temperatures of different surfaces. Students then use models to figure out why Woodland’s playground sometimes floods.
Grade 1 Units
Animal and Plant Defenses
Students play the role of marine scientists. In their role, students apply their understanding of plant and animal defense structures to explain to aquarium visitors how a sea turtle and her offspring can defend themselves from ocean predators when they are released into the wild.
Light and Sound
Students take on the role of light and sound engineers for a puppet show company as they investigate cause and effect relationships to learn about the nature of light and sound. They apply what they learn to design shadow scenery and sound effects for a puppet show.
As sky scientists, students explain why a boy living in a place near them sees different things in the sky than his grandma does when he talks to her on the phone. Students record, organize, and analyze observations of the sun and other sky objects as they look for patterns and make sense of the cycle of daytime and nighttime.
Grade 2 Units
Plant and Animal Relationships
In their role as plant scientists, students work to figure out why there are no new chalta trees growing in the Bengal Tiger Reserve, which is part of a broadleaf forest. Students investigate what the chalta tree needs to survive, then collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data to solve the mystery.
Properties of Materials
As glue engineers, students are challenged to create a glue for use at their school that meets a set of design goals. Students present an evidence-based argument for why their glue mixture will be good for their school to use.
The director of the Oceanside Recreation Center gets a scare when a nearby cliff collapses overnight. Research reveals that the distance between the Recreation Center’s flagpole and the edge of the cliff have changed over time. Students play the role of geologists and work to figure out why the cliff has changed over time. Based on what they learn about erosion, they advise on whether it is safe to keep the center open even though the cliff is changing.
Grade 3 Units
People in Faraday are excited to hear that a new train service will be built for their city, but concerned when they hear that it will be a floating train. Students are challenged to figure out how a floating train works in order to explain it to the citizens of Faraday. They develop models of how the train rises, floats, and then falls back to the track, and then write an explanation of how the train works.
Inheritance and Traits
Students play the role of wildlife biologists working in Greystone National Park. They study two wolf packs and are challenged to figure out why an adopted wolf (“Wolf 44”) in one of the packs has certain traits. Students observe variation between and within different species, investigate inherited traits and those that result from the environment, and explain the origin of several of the adopted wolf’s traits.
Environments and Survival
In their role as biomimicry engineers, students work to figure out how the traits of grove snails affect their survival in different environments. They then explore how the traits of different organisms make them more likely or less likely to survive, collecting and interpreting data to understand how organisms’ traits affect their survival in different environments. Students then apply their understanding to a new challenge: designing effective solutions for the removal of invasive plants.
Weather and Climate
In their role as meteorologists, students gather evidence to decide where to build an orangutan reserve by analyzing patterns in weather data. After choosing the strongest evidence, students use data to make arguments about which of three fictional islands has weather most like that of orangutans’ existing habitats, Borneo and Sumatra. They then discern patterns in the locations of natural hazards in order to figure out which ones the Wildlife Protection Organization must prepare for.
Grade 4 Units
Students take on the role of systems engineers for Ergstown, a fictional town that experiences frequent blackouts, and explore reasons why an electrical system can fail. Students apply what they learned as they choose new energy sources and energy converters for the town, then write arguments for why their design choices will make the town’s electrical system more reliable.
Vision and Light
As conservation biologists, students work to figure out why a population of Tokay geckos has decreased since the installation of new highway lights in the rainforest. Students use their understanding of vision, light, and information processing to figure out why an increase in light in the geckos’ habitat is affecting the population.
Playing the role of geologists, students help the director of Desert Rocks National Park explain how and when a particular fossil formed and how it came to be in its current location. Students figure out what the environment of the park was like in the past and why it has so many visible rock layers.
Waves, Energy, and Information
In their role as marine scientists, students work to figure out how mother dolphins communicate with their calves. They write a series of scientific explanations with diagrams to demonstrate their growing understanding of how sound waves travel. Then they apply what they’ve learned about waves, energy, and patterns in communication to figure out how to create patterns that can communicate information over distances.
Grade 5 Units
Patterns of Earth and Sky
Playing the role of astronomers, students help a team of archaeologists figure out what the missing piece of a recently discovered artifact might have depicted. As they learn about the sun and other stars and the movement of Earth, students can explain what is shown on the artifact and what might be on the missing piece.
In their role as food scientists at a fictional company, students are introduced to the idea that all matter is made of particles too small to see, and that each different substance is made of particles (molecules) that are unique. They are then challenged to solve two problems: one requires them to separate a mixture, and the other requires them to make unmixable substances mix. Students are challenged to use the particulate model of matter to explain their work to the CEO of the company.
The Earth System
The cities of East Ferris and West Ferris are located on different sides of a mountain on the fictional Ferris Island. East Ferris is having a water shortage while West Ferris is not. As water resource engineers, students learn about the Earth system to help figure out what is causing the water shortage problem and design possible solutions, including freshwater collection systems and proposals for using chemical reactions to treat wastewater.
As ecologists, students work to figure out why the organisms in a part of a Costa Rican rainforest ecosystem aren’t growing and thriving. As they solve this problem, students learn more generally how organisms in an ecosystem get the matter and energy they need to survive, and then write a series of restoration plans that include arguments about why the rainforest ecosystem is not thriving and recommend actions to restore its health.
Print & digital components
The program includes instructional guidance and student materials for a year of instruction, with lessons and activities that keep students engaged every day.
Available digitally and in print, the Teacher’s Guides contain all of the information teachers need to facilitate classroom instruction, including detailed lesson plans, high-level overview documentation, differentiation strategies, standards alignments, materials and preparation steps, teacher support strategies and in-context professional development, possible student responses, and more.
Print and digital
Hands-on materials kits
Hands-on learning is integrated into every unit of Amplify Science. Each hands-on activity is supported through clear instructions for the teacher, as well as easily accessible materials in unit-specific kits. Each kit contains hands-on materials, both consumable and nonconsumable, and various print materials (e.g., Vocabulary and Key Concept cards). With Amplify Science, students can actively participate in science: gathering evidence, thinking critically, making observations, and communicating their claims.
Student Investigation Notebooks
Available for every unit, the Student Investigation Notebooks contain instructions for activities and space for students to record data, reflect on ideas from texts and investigations, and construct explanations and arguments.
Print and Digital
The age-appropriate Student Books in Amplify Science allow students to engage with content-rich text, obtain evidence, develop research and close reading skills, and construct arguments and explanations about the ideas they are learning in class.
Print and Digital
Simulations and practice tools (grades 2+)
Developed exclusively for the Amplify Science program, these serve as venues for exploration and data collection, allowing students to explore scientific concepts that might otherwise be invisible or impossible to see with the naked eye.
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