Mystery Science – Free Elementary School Resource
Open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science!
What grades/units do you have available?
We are developing lessons for K-5. For the 2015-2016 school year we have one complete year’s worth of lessons, which are designed for 7-11 year olds (2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th grade). This consists of 6 units: plants, animals, energy, rocks, astronomy, and forces.
How are Mystery Science lessons unique?
Our goal is make it incredibly easy for someone without a science background to teach incredible science classes. Every Mystery Science lesson will inspire your kids to the point that they'll go home and teach their parents what they learned that day. And if that doesn't happen, then we still have work to do to improve the lesson. That's what we view as a successful lesson. We think you'll see what we mean after you watch the quick walk-through video above.
I teach science once per week / every day, will this work for me?
The core of each Mystery is an activity plus a series of short videos and discussions (we call the video-discussion an “Exploration”). The activity and Exploration combined take about 45 minutes of class time (and these can be done across two class periods if needed). For teachers who teach more than 45 minutes of science each week, there is an additional 2 hours of optional extras. These extras include written response questions, a non-fiction reading, and ideas for additional activities.
Is this aligned with the Common Core / NGSS?
Yes. We are working hard to ensure all of our Mysteries will prepare your students to meet the Performance Expectations set forth by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We take very seriously the spirit of the Framework for K-12 Science Education, the founding document for the NGSS. Even though the assessments for NGSS have not yet been released, we believe that our pedagogical emphasis on solving mysteries, collecting evidence, and conducting investigations makes us uniquely suited to achieving the goals of the NGSS. View the Mystery Science alignment to NGSS.
Teachers often ask us about Common Core alignment as well. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) outline learning goals for math and English language arts/literacy (ELA), whereas the NGSS outlines learning goals for science. Both sets of standards reflect the reality that these learning goals are not in isolation from each other–there is natural overlap between science, literacy, and mathematics. Mystery Science has been designed to reflect this. Our lessons and resources will help you to meet CCSS objectives in Speaking & Listening, Writing, and Measurement & Data. We also include a non-fiction reading for each Mystery which supports and extends the investigation, helping you to meet the CCSS objectives for Informational Texts. This reading can be used as a tool for close reading.
Are the activities hands-on? Do you include activity supplies?
Every Mystery is designed around a hands-on activity. The activity plays a central role in guiding the students to solve the Mystery or further their understanding of it. We do not provide the activity supplies, however we design each activity around simple supplies you should already have in the classroom or around your home. We go to great lengths to make these activities as easy as possible for you. Any time you need a printout we prepare this for you and link you to a PDF. We test the activity multiple times to make the instructions as simple as possible. And if there is ever a supply which you may not have around already, we link you to an appropriate item you can order online. But even these items are ones that can be readily purchased at your local stores (e.g. brads, sticky tack, plant seeds).
How much does this cost?
Mystery Science is free to use. We will eventually add premium content and features for which we will charge a subscription fee.
How long is each Mystery?
The core of each Mystery is an activity plus a series of short videos and discussions (we call the video-discussion an “Exploration”). The activity and Exploration combined take about 45 minutes of class time. For teachers who teach more than 45 minutes of science each week, there is an additional 2 hours of optional extras. These extras include written response questions, a non-fiction reading, and ideas for additional activities.
What if my science periods are shorter than 45 minutes?
You can split up the Exploration and activity — they don’t have to be done on the same day. In one class period, do the 20-25 minutes of Exploration, and in the other, do the 20-25 minutes of activity.
Can I pick and choose among Mysteries?
The Mysteries within a unit build upon each other, so they are intended to be taught in order. Later Mysteries will often reference things discussed in earlier Mysteries. (Each unit is designed to stand alone, so you could easily pick and choose among units.)
By the way, if you run out of time for a unit, it’s always possible to shorten it: for example, just teach the first four or five Mysteries and stop there if you do not have time to finish it.