STEM a la Carte

From the Center for Teaching and Learning, our Curriculum Specialists share the same great curriculum provided in our professional development, in short, easy-to-apply lesson plans. Each lesson includes up-to-date NGSS standards laced through the activity and notes on how to navigate with IMSA’s world-renowned pedagogy. Lessons come with the option to purchase kits that include unique, recycled materials at a discount from the retail price. Check out our options below to see what will engage your students next.

  • Lessons can be paid for by PO. Send an email to Karina at for assistance.
  • Purchasing materials with the lesson plan is optional, but some materials can be challenging to find or typically come in bulk quantities.
  • Lessons are not limited to the classroom! Many activities are fun for kids outside of the classroom as well.

Off the Charts

Grade: 3rd

Students are introduced to two basic data representations, bar graphs, and pie charts, through a story called Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert. Then, students design a survey to collect data and use manipulatives to construct a bar graph and pie chart to represent their data.


For the class:

  • Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert Book* (purchased separately)

For each partner team:

  • 20 stacking counters *
  • 20 pony beads*
  • Post-it notes*
Not Included:
  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • Markers

A littleBit® of a Challenge

Grade: 3rd – 5th

Digital-aged students are often interested and adept at exploring new technological tools. littleBits, made of colorful modular pieces that snap together to perform functions, are an appropriate item for young students to learn through open-ended exploration and play. In this activity, students are invited to participate in a series of challenges to understand the capabilities of each littleBit, how the sequence of the pieces impacts the function, and how initial discoveries can lead to new investigations.

  • LittleBits® set
  • 1 pack of Challenge Cards per littleBits® set
  • 1 littleBits® Identifier Sheet per set (optional)

Earth’s Systems

Grade: 5th

What do the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere have in common? These are the major systems of the Earth. Students will explore the interactions among the spheres, as well as engineer and test methods of controlling the influences they have on one another.

  • Mini-Stream Table
  • Spoon
Not Included:
  • 2 pounds Potting Soil or Playground Sand
  • Small Cup (approx 3 oz)
  • 2-3 Hand Lenses
  • Water
  • Sprinkles
  • Paper Towels for Cleanup
  • Per class: Toothpicks, Cloth, Clay

Biology and Geometry: A Telling Image

Grade: 5th

The field of biotechnology provides learners a unique opportunity to study mathematics inherent in science. In this activity, students will use a hands-on approach to investigate mathematical concepts and laboratory techniques involved in micro pipetting. This will include the study of metric volume (i.e., microliter), a coordinate grid system, and the application of STEM content inherent in this field of science.

  • Student Pages (1 per student)
  • 5 Small cups per small group, filled with color solutions (see Advanced Preparation)
  • Fixed Volume Micropipettes or Disposable Pipettes
  • Micropipette Tips (if using micropipettes)
  • Well Microplate (96 wells) each with an adapted template (see Template Instructions)
  • Wax Paper Sample
  • Pattern Sheets (print)
Not Included:
  • Water
  • Glue Dots or Tape
  • Food Coloring (blue, green, yellow, and red)
  • Paper Towels and Cleaning Supplies

Stealing From Nature

Grade: 4th

Burs, maple seeds, shark skin, and geckos are just a few examples that have inspired the development of products. Developing products and ideas by mimicking traits of living organisms is biomimicry. Students will investigate traits of various bird beaks in a hands-on simulation, and use this experience as inspiration for developing a solution to a problem.

  • 8 Clip clothespins
  • 8 Binder clips
  • 8 Forceps
  • 8 Measuring spoons (½ tsp, 1 tsp, or 1Tbsp)
  • 1 Box of toothpicks
  • 1 Box of paper clips
  • 3 cups of pony/pop bead
  • 4 Yards of string or yarn
  • 24 8-9 oz cups
Not Included:
  • 24 Paper plates or trays
  • 24 Sheets of paper
  • 1 Timer
  • 12 Copies of beak choices
  • Art supplies (optional)

An Einstein Center for Your Classroom

Grade: 3rd

This set of activities allows students to explore how forces interact with motion and stability. Students investigate the properties of magnets and their interactions.

  • 15 copies of the Student Card for each of the three activities
  • 30 refrigerator-type magnets (disc, approx. 15mm thick)
  • 30 wooden circles, 1” in diameter, roughly 1/8” thick
  • Small compasses
  • 15 plastic rulers, with ¼” increments, no metal parts
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 5 “D” Size Batteries

Sunny Side Up

Grade: 4th

UV rays can be helpful, but too much exposure can be harmful. How do we know they exist since we can’t see them? How can we help prevent the harmful effects of UV light? Students will explore these questions and develop a solution to the problem.

  • 120 UV color changing beads
  • 16 Small plastic zipper bags
  • 8 Hand lens
  • 3 types of materials for testing:
    • Different types of fabric (Colors or Weave or Content)
    • Different types of paper (Colors or Weights or Types)
    • Food coverings: (Aluminum foil, Wax paper, Plastic Wrap)
Not Included:
  • Coloring pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Sunscreen (Brands or SPF Rating)

The Galton Board

Grade: 6th

Students will ask the question, “Is it random?” in the activity, The Galton Board. Invented as a way to study the characteristics of normal distributions, the Galton board allows students to study where a chip lands after being dropped from an “exact” starting location. Computer simulations of Galton boards model the bell-shaped pattern very well – but will students get the same results with a real Galton board? Students will look for patterns and apply Pascal’s Triangle to their results.


  • 1 Peg Board with a START location marked at the top
  • 21, ¼” Wooden Dowel Pegs
  • 10 Plastic Chips or Counters
  • 1 Protractor
Not Included:
  • 3 Post-it Notes (per student)
  • Computer with Internet Access
  • 1 set of Student Pages (per learner)
  • 1 Hammer (optional)

Cube Puzzles: A Different View of Geometry

Grade: 6th

This unit will allow students to visually and kinesthetically investigate the concepts of volume and surface area using linking cubes. Students will be presented with a set of tasks that increase in difficulty. They will then have the opportunity to try solving two challenge problems using their cubes to build models to test their design.

  • 64 Linking Cubes
  • 1 Set of Activity Cards
  • 1 Base Template
  • 1 Set of Student Pages per learner
Not Included:
  • 1 Set of Colored Pencils
  • 1 Pencil per learner

Like Water for Paper

Grade: 6th

Analyze and interpret data through exploration in paper-making! Through this open-ended inquiry activity, students observe the properties of substances before and after manipulation and use these as evidence to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.

  • Aluminum Tray
  • Cotton Pulp or Cotton balls separated into strands (enough for 1 cup)
  • Picture frame (glass or plastic screen portion removed)
  • Canvas Screens (2, cut to fit snug, within the picture frame)
  • Sponge
  • Wax paper, 1 sheet
  • 9 oz cup and spoon
Not Included:
  • Paper towels or absorbent towel
  • Water

Rocks Tell the Tale – Stone Trade in Ancient America

Grade: 6th – 8th

North American trade in natural resources began long before the arrival of Europeans. Only certain types of rock are useful for making stone tools and they occur in isolated locations. Native Americans gathered this rock and traded across long distances to obtain the best materials. In this activity, students will experiment with several types of rock and research the patterns of trade in ancient America.

  • 10 pieces of chert (pink/tan rocks)
  • 10 pieces of flint (gray rocks)
  • 10 pieces of obsidian (black rocks)
  • 10 pieces of marble (white rocks)
Not Included:
  • Computers or laptops with internet access
  • Paper and colored pencils or markers for making maps
  • 10 pieces of rubber sheet, cut into rectangles for holding rocks
  • 2 sheets of foam core board, cut into rectangles to simulate deer hide