Curriculum Module Map

With PhD Science®, students will take a deep dive into each anchor phenomenon they explore, building enduring knowledge of core science topics through investigation.

Students actively engage in a learning cycle of asking questions and sharing initial ideas about phenomena they study, investigating those questions, developing evidence-based explanations, and transferring their new knowledge to explain different phenomena. Supported by differentiation strategies the curriculum provides, all students engage with rigorous content through hands-on investigations, collaborative conversations, and analysis of authentic texts and media.

With PhD Science, we inspire students to wonder about the world and empower them to make sense of it. Below is a snapshot of concepts students cover, the phenomena they investigate, and the questions they answer as they learn to think and act like real scientists.


Level   Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4
K Title Weather Pushes and Pulls Life  Environments
Anchor Phenomenon Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde Tugboats in New York Harbor Oasis in the Desert in development
Essential Question How did the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde protect people from the weather? How do tugboats move cargo ships through New York Harbor? How is the oasis different from the rest of the desert?
1 Title Survival Light Sound Sky
Anchor Phenomenon Life in Barnum Pond Wayang Shadow Puppetry Instruments in the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay in development
Essential Question How do pond plants and pond animals survive in their environment? How do Wayang shadow puppet shows use light to tell a story? How does the Recycled Orchestra make music?
2 Title Matter Earth Changes Plants Habitats
Anchor Phenomenon Bird Nests The transformation of Surtsey Return of Plant Life to Mount St. Helens in development
Essential Question Why do different kinds of birds use certain materials to build their nests? How can the island of Surtsey change shape over time? How did plants regrow in the area affected by the Mount St. Helens eruption?
3 Title Weather and Climate Survival Traits  Forces and Motion
Anchor Phenomenon 1900 Galveston Hurricane Butterfly Survival Individual Variation in Humpback Whales Motion in Space
Essential Question How can we prevent a storm from becoming a disaster?? How do butterflies survive over time in a changing environment? What makes an individual humpback whale unique? Why do objects move differently in space than on Earth?
4 Title Earth Features Energy Sense and Response Light
Anchor Phenomenon Formation of the Grand Canyon's Features Windmills at Work Elephants Sensing Distant Rainstorms Visibility of and Communication to Howland Island
Essential Question How did the Grand Canyon's features form? How do windmills change wind to light? How do elephants sense rainstorms from more than 100 miles away? Why didn’t Amelia Earhart complete her journey?
5 Title Matter Ecosystems Earth Systems Orbit and Rotation
Anchor Phenomenon Changes to the Statue of Liberty's Appearance Life around a Mangrove Tree Balinese Rice Farming Views from Earth and Space
Essential Question What caused the Statue of Liberty to change over time? How can trees support so much life? How has Balinese rice farming endured for over 1,000 years? How can we explain our observations of the Sun, Moon, and stars from Earth?


Life Science Focus Earth Science Focus Physical Science Focus


Learn More About PhD Science

Helping students build knowledge is at the core of all Great Minds curricula. With PhD Science we do this by inspiring students to wonder about the world and empowering them to make sense of it.

Building knowledge starts with a coherent curriculum—but too often science in the early grades is covered through disparate activities instead of connected, knowledge-building lessons. That’s why we are making Levels K–2 of PhD Science available as an Open Education Resource. Schools can begin piloting the new levels of the program in fall 2020. We invite you to learn more about the opportunity in our free session discussing accessible rigor in K–5 science. Just completing the form below to access the recorded session. 

Interested in trying PhD Science in your school or classroom? Learn more about opportunities to pilot the curriculum here


Watch Accessible Rigor in K–5 Science (Recording)