Introduction to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for Science

As students progress through the grade levels, their strategies for finding solutions to questions improve as they gain experience conducting simple investigations and working in small groups.  Science is taught using inquiry methods, so students may base findings on past experience from previous grades and information around them.  The curriculum is divided into the following strands:

  • Earth Systems, Structures and Processes (Earth’s Surface)
  • Earth in the Universe (Solar System)
  • Ecosystems (Plants)
  • Energy: Conservation and Transfer
  • Forces and Motion
  • Matter: Properties and Change
  • Structures and Functions of Living Organisms (Human Body)


1st Quarter – Human Body & Earth’s Surface

  • 3.L.1 Understand human body systems and how they are essential for life:  protection, movement and support.
    • 3.L.1.1 Compare the different functions of the skeletal and muscular systems.
    • 3.L.1.2 Explain why skin is necessary for protection and for the body to remain healthy.
  • 3.E.2 Compare the structures of the Earth’s surface using models or three-dimensional diagrams.
    • 3.E.2.1 Compare Earth’s saltwater and freshwater features (including oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and glaciers).
    • 3.E.2.2 Compare Earth’s land features (including volcanoes, canyons, caverns, and islands) by using models, pictures, diagrams and maps.


2nd Quarter – Solar System & Force and Motion

  • 3.E.1 Recognize the major components and patterns observed in the Earth/ Moon/ Sun system.
    • 3.E.1.1 Recognize that the Earth is part of a system called the solar system that includes the sun (a star), planets, and many moons, and the Earth is the third planet from the sun in our solar system.
    • 3.E.1.2 Recognize that changes in the length and direction of an object’s shadow indicate the apparent changing position of the Sun during the day although the patterns of the stars in the sky, to include the Sun, stay the same.
  • 3.P.1 Understand motion and factors that affect motion.
    • 3.P.1.1 Infer changes in speed or direction resulting from forces acting on an object.
    • 3.P.1.2 Compare the relative speeds (faster or slower) of objects that travel the same distance in different amounts of time.
    • 3.P.1.3 Explain the effects of Earth’s gravity on the motion of any object on or near the Earth.


 3rd Quarter – Ecosystem / Plants & Soil
  • 3.L.2 Understand how plants survive their environments.PlantCycle
    • 3.L.2.1 Remember the function of the following structures as it relates to the survival of plants in their environments: Roots absorb nutrients, Stems provide support, leaves synthesize food and flowers attract pollinators and produce seeds for reproduction.
    • 3.L.2.2 Explain how environmental conditions determine how well plants survive and grow.
    • 3.L.2.3 Summarize the distinct stages of the life cycle of seed plants.
    • 3.L.2.4 Explain how the basic properties (texture and capacity to hold water) and components (sand, clay and humus of soil) determine the ability of soil to support the growth and survival of many plants.


 4th Quarter – Matter and Energy 
  • 3.P.2 Understand the structure and properties of matter before and after they undergo change.Forms of Matter
    • 3.P.2.1 Recognize that air is a substance that surrounds us, takes up space and has mass.
    • 3.P.2.2 Compare solids, liquids, and gases based on their basic properties.
    • 3.P.2.3 Summarize changes that occur to the observable properties of materials when different degrees of heat are applied to them such as melting ice or ice cream, boiling water or an egg, or freezing water.
  • 3.P.3 Recognize how energy can be transferred from one object to another.
    • 3.P.3.1 Recognize that energy can be transferred from one object to another by rubbing them against each other.
    • 3.P.3.2 Recognize that energy can be transferred from a warmer object to a cooler one by contact or at a distance and the cooler object gets warmer.