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ARIES: Astronomy-based Physical Science

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ARIES: Physical and Planetary Science - Grades 3-8
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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.

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Program Description Detailed Pricing
Pricing Overview Additional Resources


Program Description
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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.


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


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


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.

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Pricing Overview
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for each module include 1 Teacher Manual, 30 Science Journals, and 1 Apparatus Bin.
$299.00 - $699.00 spacer image
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Detailed Pricing
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Physical Science
Exploring Energy
Grades 3-6
Waterwheels, Windmills, and Sunlight

ARIES: Exploring Energy
Does flowing water have energy? How can we measure the speed of the wind? Students investigate the concepts of energy and work. They observe the effects of energy transferal, and harness the energy of flowing water, wind, and sunlight to do work.

Classroom Set - $499.00

Exploring Light & Color
Grades 3-6
Filters, Lenses, and Cameras

ARIES: Exploring Light and Color
Where does light come from? Why do we see different colors? Students investigate the characteristics of light. They examine light and vision, color filters, reflections, and lenses.

Classroom Set - $499.00

Exploring Waves
Grades 5-8
Ripple Tanks, Vibrations, and Sound

ARIES_ Exploring Waves
What are waves? Can you see sound? Students observe waves and wave motion, build ripple tanks to explore water waves, and make and play their own musical instruments to investigate sound.

Classroom Set - $599.00

Exploring Motion & Forces
Grades 5-8
Speed, Acceleration, and Friction

ARIES: Exploring Motion and Forces
What happens to the motion of a marble as it rolls down an incline? How can you use a weight to make a cart move? Students investigate various forces and their resultant motions. They develop a working understanding of inertia, friction, gravity, speed, and acceleration.

Classroom Set - $699.00

Planetary Science
Exploring Time
Grades 3-6
Sundials, Water Clocks,and Pendulums

ARIES: Exploring Time
What is time? How can we tell time without a clock? Students explore the concepts of time and timekeeping. They study time from historical and cultural perspectives, they relate time to day and night and the seasons, and they build timekeeping devices.

Classroom Set - $299.00

Exploring the Earth in Motion
Grades 3-6
Daylight, Sun, and Shadow Patterns

ARIES: Exploring the Earth in Motion
What causes day and night? How do we know that the Earth is a sphere? Students investigate shadows, the changing relationship between the Earth and the Sun, the daily path of the Sun, and the spin of the Earth.

Classroom Set - $599.00

Exploring the Moon & Stars
Grades 5-8
Cycles, Phases, and Patterns

ARIES: Exploring the Moon and Stars
What causes the phases of the Moon? How can we find the North Star? Students explore the Earth-Sun relationship to discover the reasons for the seasons. They develop a model for understanding the phases and motions of the Moon and learn how to find patterns in the sky.

Classroom Set - $599.00

Exploring Navigation
Grades 5-8
Location, Direction, and Latitude

ARIES: Exploring Navigation
How can the stars help you find your way? How did explorers like Columbus or Lewis and Clark find their way? Students develop an understanding of how to use the Sun and the stars to determine their location.

Classroom Set - $499.00

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Additional Resources
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Research Validation (196 KB pdf)

Scope and Sequence

Sample Lessons

Electronic Downloadables

ARIES Correlated to Your State Standards

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