Choose a role that will make the most of your talent and time
Take a look at some of the most effective programs in the US
involving scientists and engineers in K-12 science education.
Broaden your understanding through selected articles and other
recommended resources.
Tell us what you think.
Contact Information for the RISE program

CAPSI's Instructional Materials

In the early days of CAPSI/Pasadena (then Project SEED), leaders decided to try to introduce four kit-based modules per grade in the elementary schools undergoing reform.

The choice of which modules to use was limited by what was then available. Other influential factors included what was in use in school districts such as Mesa, Arizona's, where a module-based system of elementary science education had been in place for a number of years.

Of the 28 modules eventually adopted for the Pasadena program, some are taken directly or derived from three National Science Foundation-funded programs: the Insights series, developed by the Education Development Center; the Science and Technology for Children series, developed by the National Science Resources Center; and the Full Option Science System series, developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science.

In addition, some of the modules in use in Pasadena were adapted from modules developed by EDC's earlier Elementary Science Study (ESS) project. Some of these modules are still available from a company called Delta and have been renamed the Delta Science modules. CAPSI has also adapted some of the modules for Pasadena from materials developed in the Mesa, Arizona, schools and the Highline School District outside of Seattle. Finally, some of the modules in use by Pasadena schools were developed specifically for the CAPSI program.

In Pasadena, four modules are used per grade level.

The current science curriculum modules used by Pasadena and their origins are as follows. For a short description of the modules, go to the CAPSI website. CAPSI/Pasadena do not necessarily recommend that these same modules be used by other school districts. For more on that point, see Materials Selection and CAPSI's Recommendation below this list.


  • Beginning Senses. CAPSI's own.
  • Myself and Others. From EDC's Insights.
  • Pond and Aquarium Life. CAPSI's own, modified from a Delta unit.
  • Sunlight and Shadows. CAPSI's own, similar to Delta's Sunshine and Shadows.

Grade 1

  • Growing Seeds. Inspired by ESS and Delta materials.
  • Senses. From EDC's Insights.
  • Frogs and Tadpoles. From ESS.
  • Pollution and Ecology. CAPSI's own.

Grade 2

  • Magnets. Inspired by manuals from the Mesa, Arizona, and Highline, Washington, school districts.
  • Weather. Similar to Delta's Weather Watching.
  • Bu tterflies and Moths. CAPSI's own, similar to ESS and Delta modules.
  • Changes. CAPSI's own, inspired by Mesa, Arizona's, manual and EDC's Insights.

Grade 3

  • Clayboats. From the ESS series.
  • Structures. CAPSI's own, inspired by EDC's Insights and ESS
  • Brine Shrimp. From ESS.
  • Scientific Reasoning. CAPSI's own, inspired by a module from FOSS and an ESS module entitled Pendulums.

Grade 4

  • The Environment and Its Pollution. CAPSI's own, as authored by Pasadena Unified School District teachers.
  • Rocks and Charts. Inspired by ESS and Delta.
  • Behavior of Mealworms. Inspired by ESS and Delta.
  • Small Things. From ESS.

Grade 5

  • Mystery Powders. CAPSI's own, inspired by EDC 's Insights, ESS, and Delta.
  • Batteries and Bulbs. From EDC's Insights.
  • Crayfish. CAPSI's own, inspired by ESS.
  • Daytime Astronomy. CAPSI's own, inspired by ESS.

Grade 6

  • Magnets and Motors. From the NSRC's STC.
  • Experiments with Plants. From the NSRC's STC.
  • Human Body Systems. From the EDC's Insights.
  • There Is No Away. From the EDC's Insights.

Materials Selection by Other School Districts. CAPSI/Pasadena lists 14 curriculum units that it strongly believes Center pilot schools should explore when they are in the earliest phase of materials adoption. All 14 are drawn from the three NSF-funded curriculum development programs mentioned above: Insights, FOSS, and STC. The recommended units are

  • for Grade K -- Insights' Myself and Others and Balls & Ramps
  • for Grade 1 -- Insights' Growing Things and Senses
  • for Grade 2 -- STC's Weather and Me and Life Cycle of Butterflies
  • for Grade 3 -- Insights' Structures and Sound
  • for Grade 4 -- STC's Microworlds and Insights' Changes of State
  • for Grade 5 -- Insights' The Mysterious Powder and Circuits and Pathways
  • for Grade 6 -- STC's Magnets and Motors and Experiments with Plants.

The CAPSI Recommendation. CAPSI/Pasadena leaders recommend that final selection of modules by school districts should be from the three NSF-funded curriculum development programs responsible for the 14 modules they favor for initial exploration. The reasons include the number of modules offered by these programs (67 total for grades K-6), the range of disciplines and topics covered--physical, life, and earth science, technology, and scientific reasoning--and the organization of modules to support teachers.

Copyright National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.