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3rd Grade

Rainforest Researchers

The protection of ecosystems and the survival of millions of species, including our own, depend on making informed decisions every day.
Rainforest Researchers poses two interesting problems that students must examine and solve. To complete each task, students must work on a team, join experts in Indonesia, conduct scientific tests and surveys, and provide the best solution to two rainforest dilemmas.

Imagine yourself as part of a scientific team in a remote Indonesian rainforest. Your team consists of four members: a biologist, an ethnobotanist, a chemist, and an ecologist. You have been given two tasks. In “The Search for the Lost Compound,” your team must discover the source of a mysterious plant purchased in a native market. (The plant has the potential to cure certain types of cancer.)  In “The Case of the Disappearing Durians,” your team must discover the cause of a fruiting problem. To complete each task, you must not only make careful observations, but you must also work on a team, share your discoveries, and form hypothesis.

Hot Off the Press!


History is made of up news events. Each day newspapers report the daily events that will become our history. All citizens of the United States have the opportunity to read about history as it happens. However, in order for citizens to benefit from newspapers, they must possess an understanding of the aims and structure of a daily newspaper.

In this simulation, students research and write news articles, feature stories, and editorials about people and events of a particular presidential era. Newspaper teams work together cooperatively to publish a newspaper. Articles are assigned, researched, written, proofread, given a headline, and placed on a paste-up of a front page and an editorial page. The unit will culminate with each team finalizing, printing, and presenting their own news pages.

Ancient China

The Middle Kingdom

This social studies unit is designed around the idea that human civilizations develop and sustain themselves as a collection of interdependent systems.  Systems of language, leadership, economics, and education are examined in the historical context of ancient China, with opportunities for students to compare this ancient society with their own community systems.  In addition, students discover how geographical systems have influenced the patterns of human civilization over time.  Activities of the unit engage students in critical thinking and discussion about systems of civilization, and opportunities are provided for students to share knowledge and ideas through writing, drawing, mapping, and graphing.

Students will learn about the daily life in ancient China, Chinese thought and education, Emperors of China, Chinese inventions, the Silk Road, the Great Wall of China, Chinese writing, and the ancient, forgotten, and modern wonders of the world.

Ferret It Out

A Problem about Endangered Species and Animal Ecosystems

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The black-footed ferret is the most endangered mammal in the United States. Students are placed on a recovery team whose job is to assess whether Fort Collins, Colorado is an appropriate site to re-introduce ferrets that were bred in captivity.  In the process, students learn about biomes, habitats, human-animal interaction and many other science concepts.  In order to find a solution, students are required to consider many different perspectives on the problem, from the point of view of biologists, ranchers, and local residents. 

Ferret it Out aligns with the Common Core Standards for Literacy in Science, Common Core Writing Standards, and Speaking and Listening Standards in Language Arts.