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The complete middle school program that is setting the standard in 3D learning and 3D assessment

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for a new middle school science program? Here are some common questions educators like yourself have about Smithsonian’s STCMS.

What is Smithsonian’s STC Middle School (STCMS)?

STCMS is a hands-on science program that brings highly engaging 3D learning and 3D assessment to middle school classrooms.
Developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), STCMS 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
Three modules per grade level provide a full year’s worth of instruction to teach all your middle school 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
  • Student Guides (hardcover print and eBook)
  • Digital resources
  • Hands-on materials kits (1-class or 5-class configurations)
  • Spanish resources
  • eBook Student Guides
  • Student Sheets and BLMs
Hands-on materials kits are available in two sizes: A 1-class kit provides material to teach one class of 32 students one time, and a 5-class kit provides materials to teach up to five classes of 32 students one time. 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! STCMS was developed to meet the three dimensions of the NGSS. A blend of hands-on investigation, science literacy, and digital integration immerses students in real-world phenomena and asks them to solve real-world problems. Examples of phenomena in STCMS include exploring the energy and motion of roller coasters and balloon rockets and the flow of energy through ecosystems in the context of classroom-created ponds. Examples of engineering design problems include finding a way to keep fruit from a food truck from falling into the street and designing a detailed plan for a storm-resistant building.

What does assessment look like?

The STCMS 3D assessment system provides powerful tools that allow you to assess your students every step of the way and use the results to adjust instruction to help prepare them for middle school testing.
The 3D assessment system includes:
  • Pre-assessments that reveals student misconceptions and informs instruction
  • Formative assessments, including Exit Slips and Reflecting on What You’ve Done, to help teachers gauge student understanding through writing, technical drawing, and claims and evidence
  • Summative assessments, composed of a performance task and a written component, that assess three-dimensional learning
  • 3D rubrics to help teachers evaluate student proficiency in all three dimensions of the NGSS

Learn more about 3D Learning and 3D Assessment

How are literacy and math integrated into Smithsonian’s STCMS?

Science, literacy, and math are natural partners. By using STCMS, teachers can efficiently prepare students to meet science, math, and English language arts (ELA) standards.
STCMS modules integrate reading and writing literacy that develops student understanding by making direct connections between experiential phenomena and the real world through reading selections within the Student Guide and through student notebooking.
Lesson investigations ask students to engage with middle school–appropriate math skills, allowing them to learn to quantitatively describe and measure objects, events, and processes.
Common Core ELA and Math connections are highlighted in the lesson planner of each Teacher Edition.

Do you have kits?

Yes! Smithsonian’s STCMS 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-class and 5-class kit?

1-class kits contain enough consumable materials to teach the unit 1 time to a class of up to 32 students. 5-class kits contain enough consumables (including living materials cards for those kits that have them) to teach the unit to up to 5 classes of 32 students (160 students) a day. The number of reusable/non-consumable items does not vary between a 1- and 5-class kit.

How is kit usage sustained?

Many of the items in the Smithsonian’s STCMS module kits may be reused. For those items that are consumed and need to be replenished 1-class and 5-class refurbishment sets are available. Additionally, individual component items are available for purchase using the Smithsonian Components Catalog,, or Carolina’s Customer Service.

Will Smithsonian’s STCMS help me teach ALL my students?

Yes! The hands-on approach of STCMS 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.
Functionality of resources was considered during development. Modules provide:
  • Student Guides available in print and digital formats and in English and Spanish. .
  • Digital Student Guides allow for close reading strategies and text-to-speech capabilities.
  • Digital PDF formats of Student Sheets and Lesson Masters allow teachers the ability to edit for the different needs of their students.

Do you have Spanish?

Yes! Student resources are available in Spanish—both in print and digitally.
Spanish resources include:
  • Student Sheets
  • Lesson Masters
  • Student Guides

How is technology integrated?

Smithsonian’s STCMS 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 clips
  • Informational web links
  • Photos
  • Simulations
  • Data sets and more!

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’s STCMS was designed for flexible integration of digital resources. Investigations that utilize digital resources were designed to be completed in small groups, pairs, or individually, depending on the available technology. 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’s STCMS address diversity in science?

As the diversity of students’ academic, cultural, social, and linguistic background continues to rise in classrooms 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 STCMS module. The incorporation of literacy selections within the Student Investigation Guide, which intentionally feature woman and minority scientists and engineers, provide information about possible career paths and incorporate topics relevant to a variety of racial and ethnic minority groups.
Additionally, Innovators in Science, a digital resource on Carolina Science Online, offers a continually growing library of biographies of a diverse cross-section of members of the science community. Care was taken during development to include a variety of ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations These resources focus on an individual’s accomplishments and contributions to the science community. Teachers have the flexibility to choose how to incorporate these resources to best serve their diverse population of students.

View Innovators in Science

Are there yearly teacher and student licensing fees?

Never! 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. Learn more about Get Ready! Professional Learning

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

Where’s my teacher’s edition?

Teacher’s editions are found within the red crate that has the item number in this format: XXXXXX-1. Teacher’s editions 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 Tab 5 Materials Management and Safety section of the teacher’s edition. If you are using the digital teacher’s edition, this information can be found by clicking on the Module Title →selecting the Front Matter and Resources tile Tab 5 Materials Management and Safety

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 Edition 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 .