What might scientists learn by tracing the life cycle of an organism?

Grade Levels
2nd - 4th
Formats Included
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16 pages
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  1. Nature and Environment PBL Activities - 5 Third Grade Life Science Hands-On PBLs These are 5 NGSS-aligned problem-based learning activities for young scientists in grade 3 (but also appropriate for students in grades 2 and 4) Students, with the help of peers and their teacher, design investigations
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This is an NGSS-aligned problem-based learning activity for young scientists in grades 2, 3, or 4. Students, with the help of peers and their teacher, design an investigation in life science to answer the big question: What might scientists learn by tracing the life cycle of an organism?  The activity helps students gain confidence with the PBL approach and provides opportunities for collaborative learning.

The activity contains 4 PDF files: reproducible student card, detailed teacher support document (9 pages), icon image, and document with supplemental PBL tips (4 pages).

1 -- Individual student cards guide students through the activities. Each card poses a big question that students use as a jumping off point to create their own questions to be tested in small, collaborative groups.

2 -- Complete teacher support document offers specific suggestions to help students to develop a test question, construct a test, draw conclusions, and show and share conclusions. Each teacher document relates the activity to relevant NGSS standards (DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs) and also suggests a connection to math and ELA standards.

3 -- The icon image may be projected or printed out to provide a visual starting point for the activity.

4 -- A supplemental document on using PBLs (Enriching the PBL Experience with EdTechLens Jump Card) is also included.

NEED LEARNING RESOURCES FOR THIS ACTIVITY? This PBL activity is coordinated with a unit named In Trees, In Water, On Lands - Animal Types are Everywhere, also available on this site.

Related unit for this activity: In Trees, In Water, On Land - Animal Types Everywhere



Physical student cards for multiple students are available; contact info@edtechlens.com

NOT YOUR GRADE LEVEL? -- Search this site for more EdTechLens content.


-- Working with students to develop a big question
-- Resources to enrich prior knowledge
-- Helping students work through the details of how to develop a question they can test
-- Running the test (materials, timing, location, specifying observations, recording data, etc.)
-- Drawing conclusions
-- Encouraging students to present findings and show what they learned
-- Next Generation Science Standards met while completing the student investigation.

-- Connections to CC Mathematics and English Language Arts are also included.

Sections in Student Card

-- Big question
-- Ask a question you can test

-- Record results of your investigation
-- Test your question
-- Draw conclusions
-- Show what you learned


3-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

3-LS4-2 Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same

species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.

3-LS4-4 Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.


SEP - Developing and Using Models; Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence

DCI - LS1.B Growth and Development of Organisms

CCC - Patterns; Stability and Change

Connect to Mathematics - MP4; 3NBT; 3NF

Connect to English Language Arts - RI.3.7; SL.3.5


-- This PBL is a component of the Rainforest Journey K-5 digital life science program produced by a team of educators and media producers. Learn more about us: www.edtechlens.com

-- Lessons, units, and activities from this program are also available here. View our Contents List: Search this site for the Rainforest Journey Contents List.

©EdTechLens – Usage of any material, including text and media, in this lesson pack is illegal except for use by the single teacher or home user who has purchased it. Please do not share with another user or online. Any other use will be considered a violation of copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Total Pages
16 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.


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