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Grades 3–8

Change the way your students experience science!

Deepen your students' understanding of physical, Earth, and space science through hands-on, inquiry-based learning.

Make science accessible to all of your students and improve retention of key ideas with a program developed at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics under a grant from the National Science Foundation. ARIES: Physical & Planetary Science guides the discovery process with easy-to-use strategies and questioning techniques, as well as minimizes teacher preparation time with simple student-built equipment. ARIES is built around a pedagogy that requires both students and teachers to develop new models of the natural world. The program is validated by extensive formative and summative evaluation, including comparative testing with students of all abilities in a wide range of settings.

To inquire about ordering, please email



What it is...

ARIES is an astronomy-based physical science curriculum for grades 3-8 that is grounded in the latest scientific, cognitive, and pedagogical research. The ARIES process has all of the features of discovery-based learning that the National Science Education Standards require: observation, student generated questions, prior-knowledge activation, prediction, hypothesis formation, data collection, graphic representation of data, assessments, and curricular connections. ARIES explorations and teaching strategies provide students a set of skills or intellectual tools that help them conceptually change their understanding of the natural world through their own personal observation and analysis.

What it does...

ARIES challenges students to construct a deeper understanding of scientific concepts through hands-on, inquiry-based learning. Students make valid observations, formulate questions, make predictions, and gather data through carefully structured explorations. These explorations encourage them to build their own personal views of scientific phenomena based on evidence from their own observations. Field-tests conducted over a ten year period show that ARIES students significantly increased their conceptual understanding of the materials taught, drew more accurate conclusions, and greatly outperformed students in control classes where the same topics were taught without the program.

ARIES: Physical and Planetary Science:

  • Improves understanding and retention of key ideas in science
  • Builds comprehension of science vocabulary and the scientific method
  • Raises scores on mandated science assessments
  • Expands students proficiency in explaining and defending their conclusions

How it works...

ARIES combines the latest research with proven teaching techniques that work in every classroom. Scientists and science educators from the Science Education Department and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics developed explorations and materials for eight self-contained modules for such fundamental science concepts as moon phases, seasons, Earth's motion, size, scale, acceleration, energy, wave, light, color, and more. These modules were designed to produce conceptual change – to help students overcome misconceptions and deepen their understanding of physical phenomena. Students construct their own apparatus, make direct observations, record and organize their data, discover patterns, distinguish between evidence and inference, and construct conceptual models of the physical world.

Through carefully linked explorations, ARIES students:

  • Record prior knowledge and personal theories about the physical world
  • Pose questions, make predictions, and investigate them
  • Build and use apparatus to carefully observe common phenomena
  • Draw conclusions based on evidence, and learn to explain and defend them Demonstrate their ability to make sense of their observations through embedded assessment and formal tests

How it works for you...

ARIES guides the discovery process with easy-to-use teaching strategies and questioning techniques. The Teacher Manuals, designed for both the generalist teacher and science specialist, include learning objectives for each lesson, pertinent historical and scientific background, questions to elicit prior knowledge and predictions, teaching guides, questions to stimulate discussion and interpretation of results, lesson extensions and curriculum connections, as well as a variety of assessment options.

Classroom Sets for each module include 1 Teacher Manual, 30 Science Journals, and 1 Apparatus Bin.
$299.00 - $699.00

To inquire about ordering, please email

Sample Lessons from different ARIES modules:

Physical Science Grades 3-6

Exploring Energy

Exploring Light and Color


Physical Science Grades 5-8

Exploring Waves

Exploring Motion and Forces


Earth/Space Science Grades 3-6

Exploring Time

Exploring the Earth in Motion


Earth/Space Science Grades 5-8

Exploring the Moon and Stars

Exploring Navigation

Sample pages from varied Student Journals
to demonstrate the learning process in the ARIES program:

Make Predictions, Pose Questions
and Explore Prior Knowledge

Build Apparatus and Collect Data

Interpret Data and Draw Conclusions


Sample pages from varied Teacher Manuals
to demonstrate the teaching process in the ARIES program:

Provide scientific and historical context

Guide Discussion and Extend the Lesson

Assess Understanding with Journal Rubrics, pretests, and post-tests

ARIES Astronomy-based Physical Science

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