FOSS (Full Option Science System)
Elementary science education in Andover Public Schools is centered on our teacher’s use of FOSS (Full Option Science System) Next Generation Science Modules in all grades, kindergarten through fifth grade. Each year, teachers teach and students learn from resources presented in three different FOSS modules addressing ideas from different science sub-disciplines - earth science, life science, and physical science. The FOSS Next Generation program is closely aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards as is the 2016 revision of the Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering standards for grades K-5.
FOSS is as much a philosophy as it is a program with a primary focus on engaging students in science through active learning. Every FOSS investigation follows a similar design to provide multiple exposures to science concepts. The design includes these components:
• Active investigation, including outdoor experiences
• Recording in science notebooks to answer the focus question
• Reading in FOSS Science Resources
• Assessment to monitor progress and motivate student reflection on learning
FOSS modules used in kindergarten:
The Trees and Weather Module
provides systematic investigations of trees and leaves over the seasons to bring students to a better understanding of trees’ place at school and in the community. Students observe day-to-day changes in weather over the year, as well as the impact weather has on living things.
The Materials and Motion Module
provides experiences that heighten students’ awareness, curiosity, and understanding of the physical world as they observe and compare the properties of various wood, paper, and fabric by performing a number of tests and interactions. Students explore the concept of force and motion by observing and comparing a variety of pushes and pulls, the speed and motion of moving objects, and collisions.
The Animals Two by Two Module
provides young students with close and personal interaction with some common land and water animals. Students observe differences in structure and behavior and learn about basic needs of animals.
FOSS modules used in first grade:
In the Air and Weather Module
, students turn their focus to the sky to make observations that will heighten their awareness, curiosity, and understanding of Earth’s dynamic atmosphere and the observable patterns of objects in the sky. Students explore the natural world by using simple instruments to observe and monitor change.
The Plants and Animals Module
provides experiences that heighten students’ awareness of the way that plants and animals meet their basic needs. They observe plant structures and discover ways to propagate new plants from mature plants (from seeds, bulbs, roots, and stem cuttings). Students design terrariums and provide for the needs of both plants and animals living together in the classroom.
The Sound and Light Module
provides students with experiences to develop an understanding of how to observe and manipulate sound and light. Students learn that sound comes from vibrating objects. They explore how to change sound volume and pitch, and develop simple models for how sound travels from the source to the receiver. With light, students also work with sources and receivers. They find out what happens when materials with different properties are placed in a beam of light, and explore how to create and change shadows and reflections.
FOSS modules used in second grade:
The Pebbles, Sand, and Silt Module
provides experiences with earth science core ideas dealing with the observable structures and properties of earth materials (rocks, soil, and water), weathering and erosion of Earth’s surface, natural sources of water, and how to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water on Earth.
The Solids and Liquids Module
provides students with physical science core ideas dealing with matter and its interactions and engineering design. The experiences help students develop an understanding about how materials are similar and different from one another and how the properties of materials relate to their use.
The Insects and Plants Module
provides experiences with the life science core ideas dealing with structure and function of living things, growth and development of plants and animals, interactions of organisms with their environment, and biodiversity of organisms on land and in water.
FOSS modules used in third grade:
The Water and Climate Module
provides students with experiences to explore the properties of water, the water cycle and weather, interactions between water and other earth materials, and how humans use water as a natural resource.
The Motion and Matter Module
provides students with physical science core ideas dealing with forces and interactions, matter and its interactions, and lead students to tackle an engineering design challenge in incremental steps. They use their knowledge of science to enter the engineering design process and, through this process, refine their science understanding.
The Structures of Life Module
consists of investigations dealing with the big ideas in life science. The investigations first focus on seeds and plant growth, next move on to structure and behavior of an animal (crayfish), and conclude with a study of the human skeletal system including bone-muscle interactions
FOSS modules used in fourth grade:
The Soils, Rocks, and Landforms Module
addresses the field geology, the study of our planet's earth materials and natural resources. The unit provides students with firsthand experiences with soils, rocks, and minerals, and modeling experiences to study changes to rocks and landforms at Earth's surface.
In the Energy Module,
students explore the concepts of energy and change, waves, and energy transfer . They experience electricity and magnetism as related effects and learn useful applications of electromagnetism in everyday life. They also consider energy transfer, force, and motion in different systems.
During the Environments Module
, students build an understanding of the relationships between organisms and their environments through the study of different ecosystems. Students investigations focuses on the concepts that organisms need energy and matter to live and grow, and that living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for their survival and the survival of populations.
FOSS modules used in fifth grade:
The Earth and Sun Module
focuses on Earth and the Sun as a system. Students collect and analyze shadow data. They observe the changes in the Moon's appearance over time. Then students explore the properties of the atmosphere, energy transfer from the Sun to Earth, and water cycling in Earth's atmosphere.
Chemistry is the study of the structure of matter and the changes or transformations that take place within those structures. The Mixtures and Solutions Module
introduces students to the properties, behaviors, and changes in substances—fundamental ideas in chemistry. Students also develop models to explain how something works.
The Living Systems Module
takes a look at life at every level of organization—from biosphere to individual organisms—to acknowledge that it is complex, involving multiple parts working together in systems to maintain the viability and vigor of the system. Understanding living systems—ecosystems, populations, and individual organisms—is a critically important perspective, leading toward an appreciation of the diversity and wonder of life on Earth.
The 2016 Revised Massachusetts Science, Engineering, and Technology Standards for Grades K-5 can be viewed at the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education website