CA Science Framework Description (Grade 3)

Highlighted Phenomena from Grade Three

  • A ball sometimes rises off the ground when kicked but other times rolls along the ground.
  • As students observe a caterpillar in their classroom, they learn that the largest moths in the world never eat once they turn into a moth (they get all their food when they are caterpillars).
  • Lupine species that grow in the California foothills look different from lupine species that live in the desert.
  • The temperature suddenly jumped 10°F in one day.


Introduction to Grade 3

In grade three, students revisit many activities from earlier grades with a focus on measurement (weight, length, distance) and analysis of data.

In IS1 (Playground Forces), students investigate forces they experience during regular play on the schoolyard. In a snapshot, they create diagrams that model the relationship between the force of their kick and the motion of the ball. The Engineering Connection in IS1 calls for students to use magnets to invent a more exciting swing for their playground.

Students can observe lifecycles at very early ages (e.g., seeds or butterflies), but the framework describes how to go beyond simply describing the sequences and patterns. In IS2 (Life Cycles for Survival), students address the question, How do animals’ lifecycles help them survive? Students build on their prior learning about the needs of organisms and tie these lifecycles to reproduction. In a snapshot, students hatch caterpillar eggs so that they can measure the variation in the growth rates of caterpillars and interpret the data in terms of which caterpillars are more likely to survive. 

Students measure growth rates again in IS3 (Surviving in Different Environments) as they investigate how different environmental conditions affect classroom or garden plants. In a snapshot, students take a walking trip around their neighborhood and compare the habitat of their schoolyard, the neighborhood streets, and a local park. In an engineering connection in IS2, students design solutions to a local environmental problem, such as the possibility of harmful pesticides polluting a local river during a levy breach.

While students monitored weather conditions in kindergarten, the vignette in IS4 (Weather Impacts) includes precise measurements. Students analyze the data to discover seasonal patterns and extreme deviations from those patterns that might be weather hazards. Students then propose possible solutions to their school site council that could reduce the risk of weather hazards on their schoolyard, such as anti-slip strips on a ramp or planting trees near the blacktop.

from d’Alessio, Matthew A. (2018). Executive Summary: Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Sacramento: Consortium for the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Overview of Instructional Segments for Grade 3

Graphic of Grade 3 Instructional Segments

Image Source: 2016 CA Science Framework