Mr. Sampsell 4-6 Science

Fourth graders at Parshall Elementary will be using FOSS to learn about energy, environments, and landforms.  Each of these units will span approximately 11 weeks allowing for in-depth study of the concepts.  Each unit consists of hands-on experiments, non-fiction reading and writing opportunities, and aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards.  Below is an overview of the topics we will cover in fourth grade, as well as list of focus questions which will guide our studies.


  1. Energy and Circuits
    • What is needed to light a bulb?
    • What is needed to make a complete pathway for current to flow in a circuit?
    • How can you light two bulbs brightly with one D-cell?
    • Which design is better for manufacturing long strings of lights—series or parallel?
  2. The Force of Magnetism
    • What materials stick to magnets?
    • What happens when two or more magnets interact?
    • What happens when a piece of iron comes close to or touches a permanent magnet?
    • What happens to the force of attraction between two magnets as the distance between them changes?
  3. Electromagnets
    • How can you turn a steel rivet into a magnet that turns on and off?
    • How does the number of winds of wire around a core affect the strength of the magnetism?
    • How can you reinvent the telegraph using your knowledge of energy and electromagnetism?
  4. Energy Transfer
    • What do we observe that provides evidence that energy is present?
    • How does the starting position affect the speed of a ball rolling down a ramp?
    • What happens when objects collide?
  5. Waves
    • How are waves involved in energy transfer?
    • How does light travel?
    • How can you make a motor run faster using solar cells?



  1. Environmental Factors
    • How do mealworm structures and behaviors help them grow and survive?
    • What moisture conditions do isopods prefer?
    • What light conditions do isopods prefer?
    • What are the characteristics of animals living in the leaf-litter environment?
  2. Ecosystems
    • What are the environmental factors in an aquatic ecosystem?
    • What are the roles of organisms in a food chain?
    • How does food affect a population in its home range?
    • How do animals use their sense of hearing?
  3. Brine Shrimp Hatching
    • How can we find our if salinity affects brine shrimp hatching?
    • How does salinity affect the hatching of brine shrimp eggs?
    • Does changing the environment allow the brine shrimp eggs to hatch?
    • What are some benefits of having variation within a population?
  4. Range of Tolerance
    • How much water is needed for early growth of different kinds of plants?
    • What is the salt tolerance of several common farm crops?
    • How does mapping the plants in the schoolyard help us to investigate environmental factors?
    • What are some examples of plant adaptations?

Soils, Rocks, and Landforms

  1. Soils and Weathering
    • What is soil?
    • What causes big rocks to break down into smaller rocks?
    • How are rocks affected by acid rain?
    • What’s in our schoolyard soils?
  2. Landforms
    • How do weathered rock pieces move from one place to another?
    • How does slope affect erosion and deposition?
    • How do floods affect erosion and deposition?
    • Where are erosion and deposition happening in our schoolyard?
    • How do fossils get in rocks and what can they tell us about the past?
  3. Mapping Earth’s Surface
    • How can we represent the different elevations of landforms?
    • How can we draw a profile of a mountain from a topographic map?
    • How can scientists and engineers help reduce the impacts that events like volcanic eruptions might have on people?
    • What events can change Earth’s surface quickly?
  4. Natural Resources
    • What are natural resources and what is important to know about them?
    • How are natural resources used to make concrete?
    • How do people use natural resources to make or build things?