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STEM Education Resource Center (SERC)

Physical Sciences

FOSS Chemical Interactions
Grades 6 - 8

Chemistry is an inquiry into the structure, properties, and composition of matter, as well as the energy dynamics that accompany matter transformations. Students conduct experiments to observe macroscopic matter transformations, such as phase change, dissolution, and reaction, and apply kinetic particle theory to explain those transformations at the microscopic level. In the process, students learn conventions for thinking and communicating about chemical concepts. They also observe energy transfers associated with reactions and infer energy transfers associated with phase change. A diverse mix of empirical experiences and theoretical models helps students construct a solid basic understanding of the composition of their world and the interactions that maintain and transform it.


  1. In Substances students are introduced to substances as unique forms of matter.
  2. In Elements students learn that elements are the fundamental substances from which all matter is made, and that the periodic table displays all of the known elements.
  3. In Particles students are introduced to the particle theory of matter and use it to explain how gas can be compressed.
  4. In Kinetic Energy students observe expansion and contraction of solids, liquids, and gas, and explain those observations in terms of the kinetic energy of particles.
  5. In Energy Transfer students explain heating up and cooling down in terms of changes of kinetic energy resulting from collisions between particles.
  6. In Heat of Fusion students determine the amount of heat needed to change solid water (ice) into liquid water.
  7. In Phase Change students learn that phase of matter (solid, liquid, gas) is the consequence of how particles relate to one another, and that phase can be changed by changing the kinetic energy of particles.
  8. In Solutions students observe dissolving and explain the change in the appearance of substances in terms of disintegration at the particle level.
  9. In Reaction students observe that starting substances (reactants) change into new substances (products) during reactions, and explain the change in terms of the rearrangement of atoms.
  10. In More Reactions students observe additional reactions and learn about limiting factors in reactions.

Module Summary

FOSS Force and Motion

Grades 6 - 8

The world is filled with motion. Some motion happens without human intervention: Earth revolves around the Sun, snowflakes fall to the ground, waves surge across the sea, salmon swim up rivers to fulfill their destinies. Other motions are under our control: clock hands faithfully monitor time, jet planes streak across the sky, baseballs fly over center field fences, bicycles race in the tour de France. Both natural and designed motions are part of our perception of the world-there is nothing special about them. Welcome to force and motion. This is where you and your students will start to uncover explanations for why things work in the ways we have expected them to work for our entire lives


  1. Here to There introduces students to motion as a change of position, and distance as the magnitude of a change of position.
  2. In Speed students learn that speed is the rate at which an object changes position.
  3. In Comparing Speeds students learn how to analyze and represent speed to solve problems.
  4. In Representing Motion students learn to represent motion events as graphs.
  5. Acceleration introduces students to acceleration as changing velocity, and they learn ways to determine acceleration when time and distance data are known.
  6. In Force students are introduced to forces, the ways they interact, and their effects, including friction and motion.
  7. In Gravity students learn that gravity is a universal force pulling objects to Earth with predictable acceleration.
  8. In Momentum students learn to analyze collision interactions in terms of inertia, momentum, and impulse.

Module Summary
Parts List

FOSS Levers and Pulleys

Grades 5 - 6

Humans are the only living creatures that have been able to put materials together to construct machines to do work. Our capacity to see and invent relationships between effort and work produced through simple machines has led us into a world that is becoming more technologically oriented. Knowledge of these relationships is necessary for understanding all mechanics. The Levers and Pulleys module consists of four investigations that involve students in fundamental concepts of simple machines.


FOSS expects students to:

  • Gain experience with the concept of force and the application of force to do work.
  • Gain experience with the relationships between the components of lever systems and pulley systems.
  • Gain experience with the concept of advantage as it relates to simple machines.
  • Analyze real-world tools and machines in terms of the simple machines that make them work.
  • Systematically collect and record data.
  • Use measurement in the context of scientific investigations.
  • Use diagrams to translate three-dimensional relationships into two dimensions.
  • Acquire vocabulary associated with two simple machines (levers and pulleys).
  • Apply mathematics in the context of science.
  • Use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating.

Downloads: Parts List

FOSS Physics of Sound

Grades 3 - 4

The Physics of Sound module consists of four sequential investigations, each designed to expose a specific set of concepts. Students learn to discriminate between sounds generated by dropped objects, how sounds can be made louder or softer and higher or lower, how sounds travel through a variety of materials, and how sounds get from a source to a receiver. The investigations provide opportunities for students to explore the natural and human made worlds by observing and manipulating materials in focused settings using simple tools.

FOSS expects students to:
  • Observe and compare sounds to develop discrimination ability.
  • Communicate with others using a drop code.
  • Learn that sound originates from a source that is vibrating and is detected at a receiver such as the human ear.
  • Compare methods to amplify sound at the source and at the receiver.
  • Understand the relationship between the pitch of a sound and the physical properties of the sound source (i.e. length of vibrating object, frequency of vibrations, and tension of vibrating string).
  • Observe and compare how sound travels through solids, liquids, and air.
  • Use knowledge of the physics of sound to solve simple sound challenges.
  • Acquire vocabulary associated with the physics of sound.
  • Exercise language, social studies, and math skills in the context of the physics of sound.
  • Develop and refine the manipulative skills required for investigating sound.
  • Use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, and organizing.
Downloads: Parts List

FOSS Matter and Energy

Grades 3 - 4

Students experience a variety of forms of matter and energy. They investigate the properties of light, observe the conversion of energy from one form to another, and explore properties of the three common states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas). Students use metric tools to measure the properties of matter-mass, volume, and temperature-and observe that starting substances can change into new substances as a result of a chemical reaction. (4 Investigations)

The complete module includes: Teacher Guide, Teacher Preparation Video, 32 hardcover Science Resources books, and Equipment Kit with enough materials for 2 complete classes of 32 students.

FOSS Solids and Liquids

Grades 1 - 2

The Solids and Liquids module provides experiences that heighten students’ awareness of the physical world. Matter with which we interact exists in three fundamental states: solid, liquid, and gas. In this module first and second graders have introductory experiences with two of these states of matter, solid and liquid.

FOSS expects students to:
  • Develop curiosity and interest in the objects that make up their world.
  • Investigate materials constructively during free exploration and in a guided discovery mode.
  • Recognize differences between solids and liquids.
  • Explore a number of liquids.
  • Observe and describe the properties of solids and liquids.
  • Sort materials according to properties.
  • Combine and separate solids of different particle sizes.
  • Observe and describe what happens when solids are mixed with water.
  • Observe and describe what happens when other liquids are mixed with water.
  • Use information gathered to conduct an investigation on an unknown material.
  • Acquire the vocabulary associated with the properties of solids and liquids.
  • Use written and oral language to describe observations.
Downloads: Parts List

DSM III Newton's Toy Box

Grades 6 - 8

In Newton's Toy Box, students experiment freely with familiar toys and objects. As they explain their observations, they prove Newton's three laws of motion. The path of a tossed basketball, the flip of a grasshopper toy, and the endless swing of clackers reinforce the concepts of inertia, gravity, acceleration, mass, force, and momentum. Students engage in races, games, and challenges that emphasize the laws of motion that govern everyday tasks and cosmic interactions. The kit includes a video of real astronauts in space using some of the same toys. Students use the video to compare the behavior of the toys on Earth with their behavior in a microgravity environment. By dealing with scaled-down applications, middle school students master these laws and the vocabulary of physics with confidence.(13 Activities)

Downloads: Module Summary

DSM III Color and Light

Grades 5 - 6

Students use prisms to investigate the full range of colors in white light, called the visible spectrum. They experiment with subtractive color mixing and discover the significance of the primary pigments. Students separate pigments with paper chromatography and then combine colors by blending filtered light beams. Experiences with both subtractive and additive mixing help students understand the role of the eyes and brain in perceiving color. That understanding is extended as students identify the dot patterns in printed pictures and manipulate color filters to make colors disappear. Students also explore afterimages and phantom images, turn two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional drawings, and demonstrate persistence of vision.

In the Delta Science Reader Color and Light, students read about different aspects of light and color. They discover that different surfaces and substances reflect, absorb, and refract light. They learn how we see things in general and how we see color in particular. They also read about a famous astronomer¿Annie Jump Cannon¿and her work with stellar spectra. Finally, students learn about color blindness.

Downloads: Parts List
Module Summary

STC Program: Floating and Sinking Unit Kit

Grade 5

Students develop their own answers to why some objects float while others sink. Students test the buoyancy of a large set of objects, many of which are the same size and shape but of different composition, shape a clay boat to observe the relationship between form and buoyancy, test the weight of objects out of the water and when submerged, & use spring scales to measure the buoyant force on fishing bobbers.

Unit kit comes with a Teacher's Guide, 15 reusable Student Investigations books, 8 copies of STC BOOK: Floating and Sinking, and the materials needed for a class of 30. Added value: 8 KIDS DISCOVER Nonfiction Readers. Refurbishment Set replenishes kit consumables.

The two use kit comes with all of the great materials you’d expect from the STC Program along with a box containing the materials for a second, non-concurrent use. All you need to do is set the box aside until you are ready for it.

STC Program: Electric Circuits Unit Kit

Grade 3

Students will answer many of their own questions about the properties and uses of electricity. Lessons in Electric Circuits have 3 sections:
1. Students focus on the basic properties of electricity.
2. They investigate how various materials are affected by electricity, and they identify conductors and insulators
3. They go on to explore series and parallel circuits, switches, and diodes

Unit Kit comes with a Teacher's Guide, a Teacher's Tools CD, 15 reusable Student Investigations books, 8 copies of STC BOOK: Electric Circuits, and the materials needed for a class of 30. Added value: 8 KIDS DISCOVER Nonfiction Readers. Refurbishment Set replenishes kit consumables. Refurbishment Set replenishes all kit consumables.

The Two-Use Kit comes with all of the great materials you’d expect from the STC Program™, along with a box containing the materials for a second, non-concurrent use. All you need to do is set the box aside until you are ready for it.

SCIS 3+ Energy Sources Level 5
Grade 5 Intriguing, hands-on activities engage students in the study of matter and energy as it enhances their skill in conducting scientific investigations. Comprehensive unit begins with a review and continues through to include Energy Transfer, Temperature Change and Motion as Evidence of Energy Transfer, and Transfer of Solar Energy.

Pasco GO car

The GOcar is the low-cost alternative to the PAScar. It's the same molded, plastic body without the plunger, magnets, or Velcro tabs. A low- friction car with spring-loaded wheels to prevent damage from drops.

Economy Magnet Set

Grades 2 - 6

An exceptional value, kit includes a variety of magnets and accessories in a reusable storage box.

Magnetic Wands (Set of 24)

Grades K - 8

Talk about attraction! Rainbow-colored wands engage each student in hands-on magnetism activities. Features 6 assorted colors: red, yellow, blue, purple, pink and green in resealable bucket. Each plastic Magnetic Wand measures 8"L. (Set of 24)

Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences
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Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Phone: 410-704-3020
Fax: 410-704-3511






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