Third Graders Enjoy Exploration during Mystery Science Activities

January 2021 – Third graders have enjoyed utilizing Mystery Science, an interactive science program which aligns to Next Generation Science Standards and asks students to solve a mystery with each lesson. The lessons include explorations with interactive videos, discussion questions requiring students to make connections and inferences, and exciting hands-on activities.  

Most recently, they studied the “Power of Flowers” unit. The mysteries the third graders completed within this unit were: 

  • Why do plants grow flowers? (pollination and plant reproduction)
  • Why do plants give us fruit? (seed dispersal and plant life cycle) 
  • Why are some apples red and some apples green? (trait variation, inheritance and artificial selection) 
  • How could you make the biggest fruit in the world? (trait variation, inheritance and artificial selection) 

Each mystery connected back to an anchor phenomenon, which as explained by Mystery Science “enhances the existing curriculum with anchoring phenomena, student-driven inquiry, opportunities for students to develop and revise their ideas throughout the unit, and performance tasks.” The specific anchor phenomena for this unit focused on stinky seeds and dung beetles and how they interact throughout their life cycles. As students solved each mystery, they returned to the anchor phenomena to fine tune their thoughts on this topic.   

Furthermore, within each mystery, there were great hands-on activities, including making a flower to show cross pollination, dissecting fruits and vegetables to determine their classification, and an at-home apple taste test to connect to how human selection has changed apples. These hands-on activities helped students to make a deeper connection and understanding to the concepts being taught. By the end of the unit, third graders were experts on plant life cycles and hereditary traits.  

Here’s what some of our 3rd graders had to say…

I liked learning about the plants, flowers, and trees because they give us oxygen. For me, I liked learning about them because I now know how to help them more. My favorite mystery was why trees grow so tall because it was fun learning about them. I was totally puzzled as why trees grow so tall. It was fun to learn that they grow so tall so they can reach the sunlight. -Nava B.

I liked learning about human selection of fruits and vegetables. I thought it was cool to see what they looked like in the past, in the wild before human selection. My favorite mystery was learning how fruit can get so big. I learned about a giant pumpkin that can grow to weigh over 2,000 pounds. – Naomi S.