• Third Grade Science Units

    Dear Third Grade Families;

    Welcome to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Family Pages. We hope the information you find here assists you in supporting your child while s/he is learning important skills and concepts throughout the Third grade year.  

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools uses Science Companion as its core elementary science learning resource. Science Companion is an inquiry-based program that engages students in hands-on science and the process skills used by scientists. The units of study are aligned with Michigan Science Standards that include a life science and an earth science module at each grade level. Project Lead the Way - Launch resources are used to provide units of study in physical science as well as engineering.  

    To take a deeper look at each unit go to Atlas: Third Grade Science
    Key Science Learnings  

    Life Science

    All organisms have basic survival needs: air, food, water, protection, and space. A habitat is the place where an organism gets everything it needs to survive. 
    • Many organisms share an environment and interact because their habitats overlap.
    • Organisms have characteristics that make it possible for them to survive in their habitat.
    • A biome is a large geographic area that contains many habitats. 
    • You can use what you know about a habitat and a biome to design imaginary organisms that might be able to survive in them. 
    • It’s useful to have criteria when designing a project
     Skill Building Activities
    • Paying attention to a book’s organization can assist reading comprehension.
    • Scientists use models to represent things that are too big, small, fast, slow, far away, or dangerous to observe in the real world. 
    • You can use a field guide to learn about and identify things in the natural world.

    Earth Science

    Solar System
    • Science consists of the actions you take and the tools you use to wonder, think, try, observe, record, discover, and wonder anew.
    The Sun’s Daily Pattern
           • The sun appears to travel through the sky in a predictable daily pattern.
           • The sun’s daily pattern can be explained by the rotation of Earth.
    The Sun’s Annual Pattern
    • The apparent path of the sun across the sky changes slowly over a year.
    • The length of daylight slowly changes over the year.
    • The sun’s annual pattern is the result of Earth orbiting the sun once a year.

     Our Moon’s Cycle 

    • Like the sun, the moon appears to move across the sky daily. Sometimes you can see the moon during the day.
    • The observable shape of the moon changes from day to day. The moon’s cycle takes about a month. 
    • Wondering about the world leads to scientific investigations and research.
    •  The observable shape of the moon changes from day to day in a predictable pattern. The moon’s cycle takes about a month.
    • The moon’s shape seems to change from day to day because we see different views of the moon’s sun-lit portion as the moon orbits around Earth. The moon’s cycle takes about a month, the time it takes for the moon to orbit Earth.

     Stars and Planets

    • The sun is a star like all other stars.
    • The sun is the center of our solar system, and Earth is one of eight planets that orbit it.
    • Like the sun appears to move across a daytime sky, the stars appear to move across the nighttime sky because Earth rotates on its axis.
    • Eight planets orbit around our sun.
    • Each planet has unique characteristics that distinguish it from other planets.
    • Vast distances exist between the planets. 

    Skill Building Activities

    • Scientists use models to represent things that are too big, small, fast, slow, far away, or dangerous to observe in the real world.
    • Scale models represent real objects but are different sizes than the actual objects. Scientists make scale models to help them look at something that is hard to study otherwise.
    • Line graphs are charts that measure how data changes over a period of time.
    • Elapsed time can be calculated by adding the number of hours and minutes that have passed between a beginning and ending time. 

    Physical Science

    Engineering and Design




    *Unless noted units are Project Lead The Way -Launch  resources


    Stability & Motion: Forces & Interactions


    • explore simple machines such as wheel and axles, levers, the inclined plane
    • investigate the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
    • explore magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other through a hands-on project
    • apply their knowledge of mechanisms and magnetic interactions as part of a solution to a design problem.

    Programming Patterns


    • move beyond basic sequential computer programs to discover the power of modularity and abstraction
    • learn how to think computationally about a problem, starting with computer-free activities and progressing to programming in a blocks-based language on a tablet.  
    • gain appreciation for the powerful computing practice of reducing programmatic solutions so they are generic enough to be reused in a variety of specific circumstances
    • create a final program using modular functions and branching logic building on this transformational way of thinking.