Science Kits

Science lab

Cooperative K-5 Science Education Systems

The Olympic Science Alliance is a cooperative organization of regional school districts. Its purpose is to provide a cost-effective curriculum support system along with an appropriate level of professional development support in order to foster the development of science education systems within school districts and regionally.

Member Benefits

The membership fees pay for the curriculum support system, which includes the refurbishment of K-5 science kits and the updating of the printed curriculum and associated instructional materials. Teachers who have worked in other areas know the difference, and love our services!

Science Kit Refurbishment

This sounds so simple, doesn't it? Just add a few items that got consumed during the classroom experiments. Actually, the entire operation of science kit refurbishment is formidable, and does not include the same services in all science centers. Many so-called "teacher-supplied items," and the prefabrication of many of the supplies and apparatuses are included in our operation. We also include classroom copies of "student sheets" and "assessment sheets." between kit uses. The Science Kit Center is currently conducting an audit to enumerate the considerable savings of time and money to schools and individual teachers. These hidden costs can add up surprisingly fast. Over time, equipment wears out or breaks (including the kit boxes), and many items require cleaning.

Updating Science Kit Curriculum

Why can't I just buy the curriculum once and be done with it? Over the years, new curriculum supports have become available as teachers, leaders and publishers collaborate to examine the curricular materials in relation to the work of teaching science in Washington State. Some examples that we've worked to incorporate into our system include "WA Edition Assessments," new versions of Science Stories, and curriculum alignment documents. Making existing and new information more easily available to teachers who are pressed for time and are flooded with useful and not-so-useful information is an ongoing effort driven by suggestions from teachers themselves. Images of a curriculum system as a static object do not reflect the realities of education.

Olympic ESD 114 Science Alliance Services
  • Science Kit Acquisition
  • Science Materials Support System
  • Professional Development
  • Alliance Advisory Committee
  • Evaluation
Science Alliance Member Contributions
  • Alliance Participation Fee
  • Alliance Advisory Committee Participation
  • Development and Support of Alliance Programs/Projects

Background & Theory

Our Unit Guides are based upon the research-based experience of these three efforts:

Below are further information about each effort.

General Curriculum Resources

Ambitious Science Teaching

The ambitious teacher is someone who “works with students’ ideas” over time. Ambitious teaching deliberately aims to support students of all backgrounds to deeply understand science ideas, participate in the activities of the discipline, and solve authentic problems.


In the classroom of an Ambitious Science Teacher, you would see and hear:

  • Teachers anchoring their instruction in complex and puzzling natural events
  • Students engaging in multiple rounds of creating and revising scientific models, explanations and evidence-based arguments
  • Teachers using a variety of discourse strategies with students to get them to think deeply and to respond to each other’s thinking
  • Students prompting each other to engage in sense-making talk during investigations and other activities
  • Students’ ideas being represented publicly and worked on by the class
  • Teachers using specialized tools and routines to support students who are not willing or able to participate without help
  • Students speaking up about what information or experiences they need to move their thinking forward


Ambitious teaching is supported by four sets of core practices that work together throughout every unit of study.

1. These practices start with designing units of instruction (Planning for engagement with important science ideas)

2. Then focus on making visible what students currently know about the science being taught (Eliciting students’ ideas)

3. The teacher guides sense-making talk around investigations and other kinds of lab activities or readings (Supporting on-going changes in thinking)

4. Finally the teacher scaffolds students’ efforts to put everything together near the end of a unit (Pressing for evidence-based explanations).


To read more about each phase of instruction, obtain tools, see some examples and watch videos of Ambitious Science Teaching in action, head over to the Ambitious Science Teaching Website.

Washington State Science Learning Standards (NGSS)

 The Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (WSSLS) are the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. New assessments are being developed based on these standards and will be administered in spring 2018. 

The Next Generation Science Standards are a new set of standards that provide consistent science education through all grades, with an emphasis on engineering and technology. 

The NGSS describe -- at each grade from kindergarten through fifth grade, at middle school and at high school -- what each student should know in the four domains of science: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology and science application.

The National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA) has collected numerous resources for teachers to help them implement the NGSS.  Consider viewing:

Full Option Science System™ (FOSS)

The Full Option Science System™ (FOSS) philosophy is to engage students in science through active learning. Whether you want to generally embrace the vision of A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012) or follow more closely the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the integration of the Common Core State Standards in ELA and Math, there's a FOSS edition that will support your goals. Each edition shares the same research-based strategies that the FOSS developers at the Lawrence Hall of Science have been refining for more than 25 years.

Every FOSS investigation follows a similar design to provide multiple exposures to science concepts. The design includes these pedagogies:

  • Active investigation, including outdoor experiences
  • Recording in science notebooks to answer the focus question
  • Reading in FOSS Science Resources
  • Assessment to monitor progress and motivate student reflection on learning

In practice, these components are seamlessly integrated into a continuum designed to maximize every student's opportunity to learn. An instructional sequence may move from one pedagogy to another and back again to ensure adequate coverage of a concept.
FOSSweb is the official website of FOSS. FOSSweb has resources for educators and engaging activities for students and families. Most of the instructional material in these unit guides comes from FOSS curriculum.  In order to access FOSSweb resources, you must first create a FOSSweb account. Once you have an account, use the links below to go to the appropriate pages.

  1. Instructions for Account Registration
    • Go to You can register on the site "as an organization" with your school. If your school is not in the database, register as an individual.
    • Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your account username (email address) and information such as school, district, and grade(s).
    • To finish your registration, look for an email from
    • Click the link included in the email to complete registration. If you do not receive it shortly after your registration submission, you may need to check your spam folder or add to your email's safe list.
    • Return to and log in.
  2. Enter Access Code
    • On your Teacher Page, click "Activate a New Module" under the FOSS User’s Teacher Homepage menu bar
    • Enter access code 2EDLP17AMP.
    • On the following screen, select the FOSS Second Edition Modules you want to appear in the “My FOSS Modules” section of your Teacher Page. Choose the modules you use on a regular basis. You will be able to add additional modules later if you decide to have additional modules to appear in your “My FOSS Modules” section.
    • The FOSS Modules you selected will now appear as modules in your "My FOSS Modules." You can remove any module from this section and add it back later without entering an access code.
Kindergarten Weather & Climate
(not a FOSS Kit)
Wood & Paper
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Animals 2x2
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
First Grade Air & Weather
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Sound & Light*
New Plants
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Second Grade Pebbles, Sand, & Silt
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Solids & Liquids
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Third Grade Water
Motion & Matter*
Structures of Life
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Fourth Grade Soils, Rocks, & Landforms*
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Fifth Grade Earth & Sun*
Mixtures & Solutions
Code: 2EDLP17AMP
Living Systems*

* Some of the newer kits require different access codes to be activated.

Supporting Student Writing in Science

This page provides educators with science writing support guides for specifically identified high use FOSS Elementary Science Kits. These guides were developed in alignment with the Common Core State Standards-English Language Arts and in alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. In order to best understand the writing in scinece methodology in addition to watching the overview videos and downloading the appropriate science writing guide, we highly recommend that you participate in an introductory professional development orientation which will better enable you to implement these strategies in your classroom.

Support Materials

Science Writing Support Guides Grades 3-6

Foss Environments

Environments Writing Guide


Land Forms

Landforms Writing Guide


Matter Energy

Matter and Energy Writing Guide


Science Writing Support Guides Grades K-3

Animals 2x2

Animals 2x2 Writing Guide


New Plants

New Plants Writing Guide



Water Writing Guide


Air and weather

Air and Weather Writing Guide


Referenced Resources

Keeley, Page, Francis Eberle, and Lynn Farrin. Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: 25 Formative Assessment Probes. 1. 1. Arlington: NSTA Press, 2005. Print. Retrieved from

Krajcik, J., & McNeil, K. (2012). Supporting grade 5-8 students in constructing explanations in science: The claim, evidence, and reasoning framework for talk and writing. (1st ed.). New York: Pearson. Retrieved from

Rupp-Fulwiler, B. (2011). Science Writing in Action. (1 ed., Vol. 1). Portsmouth: Heinemann. Retrievedfrom

Summary Table 1
Summary Table 1

Summary Tables

The summary table is one of the most indispensable tools in ambitious science teaching. The first shown here is for a middle school unit about “Why are there no seasons if you live near the equator?”, the second is from a high school physical science class on whether ozone is helpful or harmful (we note that this is a good question, but not a phenomenon). Because a model is supposed to change over time, and in response to new evidence or arguments, students need to have some record of what they have done over the past few days, in order to draw upon different activities or readings. Without some representation of what they have done or read, they would have to depend on memory, and each student’s memory is different. So, just as scientists do, the teacher can help students keep a record of activities and ideas.

We have found that the best way to keep a record of activity and ideas is to create a table with four columns—1) Activities we did, 2) Patterns or observations, what happened?, 3) What do you think caused these patterns or observations?, 4) How do these patterns help us think about the essential question or puzzling phenomenon? As you can see in the figures included here, there are many variations created by our teachers. They are all adaptations that are useful for their particular classroom needs.

Summary Table The table is placed on a wall in the classroom and it remains up throughout the unit. After each round of reading and activity, students are in charge of discussing how the activity helps them think about the phenomenon, and filling in one complete row. As the unit progresses, more and more rows get filled in and, ideally, students start to piece together a more coherent and complete explanation by looking “down” the fourth column.

Some teachers argue that they don’t have enough wall space to keep summary tables for every class period, however there are always ways around this by using a flip chart or simply making space on your walls.

Helpful advice from our teacher colleagues who have successfully used Summary Tables:

  • Don’t put too many columns into your summary table, and don’t have more than five rows.
  • The students should be in charge of negotiating what goes in each column after a reading or activity. At the elementary level the teacher would take more responsibility for crafting the sentences.
  • Don’t wait until the end of a unit to fill in the rows (we’ve seen this happen), it is unhelpful and confusing for students. Fill in each row after each activity.

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