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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for a new K-5 science program? Here are some common questions educators like yourself have about Smithsonian Science for the Classroom.

What is Smithsonian Science for the Classroom?

Smithsonian Science for the Classroom™ is a hands-on science program that brings highly engaging 3D learning and 3D assessment to K–5 classrooms.
Developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), Smithsonian Science for the Classroom modules:
  • Present engaging storylines that pique students’ curiosity and drive student learning
  • Provide everything teachers need to teach the new standards
  • 3D instruction and 3D assessment 
  • Seamless literacy, math, and digital integration
  • Hands-on materials kits
Four modules per grade level provide a full year’s worth of instruction to teach all your K–5 standards.

What is included with the program?

Everything a teacher needs to teach! Every module purchase includes:
  • Print and digital Teacher Guide for complete 3D instruction
  • 3D assessment system
  • Print and digital student literacy
  • Print and digital Student Activity Guides (grades 3–5)
  • Digital resources
  • Hands-on materials kits for 1 or 3 uses
  • Spanish resources
  • eBook student literacy
  • eBook Student Activity Guides
  • Lesson Notebook and Activity Sheets
Hands-on materials kits come with enough materials for 32 students. Digital access for teachers and students through Carolina Science Online™ is always included! There are never any teacher or student licensing fees—ever!

Is this an NGSS program that promotes phenomenon- and problem-based 3D learning?

Yes! With module titles like How Can Animals Use Their Senses to Communicate? and How Can We Provide Freshwater to Those in Need? it’s evident that students are engaging directly with exciting, real-world phenomena and solving real-world problems. Smithsonian Science for the Classroom was developed to meet the three dimensions of NGSS.

What does assessment look like?

A complete 3D assessment system is integrated directly into the investigations. The lessons within Smithsonian Science for the Classroom were developed to provide 3D assessments as part of the investigations that students are already doing, not as separate tasks that need to be added on to instruction and take additional time.
The 3D assessment system includes:
  • Pre-assessments that gauge students’ prior knowledge and reveal student misconceptions
  • Formative assessments that require students to show their skills and knowledge across the three dimensions
  • Student self-assessments that cultivate self-regulated learners who become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and reflect on ways to improve
  • Performance-task and written summative assessments—a module’s culminating Science or Engineering Design Challenge
  • 3D Assessment Task Charts and Summative Assessment Rubrics that help teachers monitor student progress and evaluate performance
  • Remediation strategies for each assessed task

Learn more about 3D Learning and 3D Assessment

How are literacy and math integrated into Smithsonian Science for the Classroom?

Science, literacy, and math are natural partners. By using Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, teachers can efficiently prepare students to meet science, math, and English language arts (ELA) standards.
Each module integrates Smithsonian Science Stories literacy readers and student-created STEM notebooks.
Reading selections from literacy readers are incorporated into the main activities of many of the lessons in each module. These culturally relevant and historically accurate readers incorporate research and artifacts that only the Smithsonian can provide.
Smithsonian Science Stories are available in a variety of formats:
  • Printed readers and eBooks
  • On- and below-level
  • English and Spanish
  • Interactive digital reader
Smithsonian Science Stories reading levels are carefully calibrated to grade level–appropriate Lexile measurements according to text complexity guidelines.
Student-created STEM notebooks provide a space for students to record and organize their design and testing plans, collected data, ideas and explanations of phenomena, evaluations of design solutions, and more.
Hands-on investigations engage students in standards-based math skills that relate to science content and science and engineering practices.
Common Core ELA and Math connections are highlighted in each Teacher Guide in the lesson planner and with the lessons at point-of-use.

Learn more about literacy integration

Do you have kits?

Yes! Smithsonian Science for the Classroom’s hands-on program INCLUDES kits with every purchase. The quality, durability, and age appropriateness of curriculum kit materials are at the forefront of the development of kits from Carolina. All materials are rigorously tested for quality and durability in the classroom and for effectiveness of intended outcomes in investigations. Careful consideration is given to cost and reusability of materials for all kits. Kits are packaged in durable, stackable totes for maximum storability and mobility.

Show me the kits

What’s the difference between a 1-Use and 3-Use kit?

1-Use kits contain enough consumable materials to teach the unit 1 time to a class of up to 32 students. 3-Use kits contain enough consumables (including living materials cards for those kits that have them) to teach the unit to up to 3 nonconcurrent classes of 32 students. The number of reusable/non-consumable items does not vary between a 1- and 3-use kit.

How is kit usage sustained?

Many of the items in the Smithsonian Science module kits may be reused. For those items that are consumed and need to be replenished 1-use and 3-use refurbishment sets are available. Additionally, individual component items are available for purchase using the Smithsonian Components Catalog,, or Carolina’s Customer Service.

Will Smithsonian Science for the Classroom help me teach ALL my students?

Yes! The hands-on approach of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom naturally supports the diverse learning styles and abilities among students. The program provides teachers with tools to support these diverse needs and students with first-hand learning experiences.
Hands-on investigations offer students a variety of ways to demonstrate understanding through writing, drawing, and student discourse. This in turn offers teachers a variety of ways to monitor students’ progress and understanding.
The program’s instructional resources for teachers and students offer several ways to reach all students. Throughout each module, relevant, research-based ELL strategies are embedded at point-of-use, in addition to student misconception support and remediation and enrichment strategies.
Functionality of resources was considered during development. Modules provide:
  • Digital PDF formats of lesson notebook sheets that allow teachers the ability to edit for the different needs of their students.
  • Student Activity Guides and student literacy readers in print and digital formats and in English and Spanish.
  • Student literacy in on and below grade level.
Digital literacy readers that allow for close reading strategies and text-to-speech capabilities.

Do you have Spanish?

Yes! All student resources are available in Spanish—both in print and digitally.
Spanish resources include:
  • Smithsonian Science Stories literacy reader
  • Student Activity Guides
  • Lesson Notebook Sheets and Activity Sheets
  • Investigation card sets

How is technology integrated?

Smithsonian Science for the Classroom thoughtfully and flexibly integrates digital resources that meaningfully enhance learning. Whether a classroom is 1-to-1 or has only one computer, you can fully teach this program.
Digital resources include:
  • Video and audio clips
  • Informational web links
  • Photos
  • Games
  • Simulations
  • Maps
  • Data sets and more!
Point-of-use Teacher Tips suggest modifications based on limited technology availability. Tech Tips suggest additional ways to incorporate technology into lessons or activities.

Can you integrate into our Learning Management System (LMS)?

Yes. Carolina Science Online is compatible with most LMS.

Do all my students need a computer?

No! Recognizing that there is tremendous variation in access to technology, Smithsonian Science was designed for flexible integration of digital resources. Whether a classroom is 1-to-1 or has only one computer, students have everything they need to complete every investigation.

Can I preview the program?

Yes! There are two ways to preview the program. We offer a digital review of the complete program. If you would like to see more, we can arrange to have samples sent for your review or talk to you about setting up a pilot.

Contact me about reviewing the program.

Does Smithsonian Science for the Classroom address diversity in science?

As the diversity of students’ academic, cultural, social, and linguistic backgrounds continues to rise across the United States, how do teachers continue to move those young minds forward? Support for minority or non-dominant groups was carefully considered in the design of each Smithsonian Science module. The incorporation of Smithsonian Science Stories literacy readers, which intentionally feature women and minority scientists and engineers, provide information about possible career paths and incorporate topics relevant to a variety of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Are there yearly teacher and student licensing fees?

Never! Smithsonian Science for the Classroom is an all-inclusive program. Digital access for teachers and students is included with your purchase of the program and extends through the life of the adoption.

Do you offer professional development?

Yes! Carolina Biological Supply Company is committed to providing comprehensive, customized professional development to meet the needs of teachers, staff, and administrators. Carolina’s professional development provides multiple opportunities for all teachers to master the curriculum and implement best practices. Formats include hands-on workshops, webinars, and teacher resource videos.

You’ve purchased Smithsonian Science for the Classroom. Here are some common questions. 

Where’s my teacher’s guide?

Spiral-bound teacher’s guides are found within the blue crate that has the item number in this format: XXXXXX-1. Teacher’s guides are typically found on the floor of the crate to avoid any warping.

How do I get to my digital resources?

Digital resources are accessed using a code sent via email when your kit is shipped. We often send the email to whoever placed the order, usually a purchaser at your school or district. If you cannot find the email, call our customer service team at 800.334.5551.
They will be able to locate the code and help you access your resources. If possible, have the order number or purchase order number available to help them locate your information quickly.

How do I redeem living materials cards?

Your living materials sheets will be in a clear shipping envelope that looks like this that is adhered to the side of the blue tub of the kit if it is new or the side of the brown Carolina box if it is a refurbishment. (Remember to hang on to the 2 additional sheets/sheet sets if you’ve purchased a 3-Use kit or refurbishment.)
Living materials sheets have a control number that can be used to order the live materials. Directions for ordering are on the sheet.

I can’t find my living materials card. What do I do?

Call customer service at 800.334.5551 with your order number. They will be able to look up the living materials control number for your specific order.

How do I care for the living materials in the unit?

Care guide information for units that have living materials can be found in the Materials Management and Safety section of the Module Overview in the teacher’s guide. If you are using the digital teacher’s guide, this information can be found under the Module Overview Tab→ Materials Management and Safety→Care and Handling of Live Materials

How do I know what materials need an (M)SDS?

Module materials that require and SDS are designated in the Materials List of the Teacher’s Guide with a dagger (†).

Where can I find (M)SDS information?

Chemical components that require SDS information (components designated in the Materials List of the Teacher’s Guide with a dagger (†)) are available at .

How can I find my regional sales manager?

Click here to view regional sales information and identify your region’s sales manager or contact us at .