BrainPOP Science investigations immerse middle schoolers in exciting and relatable phenomena to activate their innate curiosity and send them on a path of three-dimensional learning. Our collection of comprehensive units and resources empower students to ask questions and make their own discoveries—just like real scientists.
Instead of receiving content on chemical reactions, for example, students are presented a guiding question like: why can’t you unbake a cake? Our built-in Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) process supports students as they explore and collect evidence within BrainPOP 3D Worlds™, simulations, and data manipulatives. Investigations wrap up with students synthesizing what they learned through written arguments where they back up their claims with evidence.
Here’s a look at a few ways BrainPOP Science investigations bring physical science to life.
Activate inquiry-driven learning with real-world phenomenon
Can biting a metal object tell you if it's made of real gold?
Phenomena-centered instruction is a critical component of three-dimensional science instruction. Guiding questions anchor each investigation in phenomena that students connect with and can’t wait to learn more about. More than just a fun hook, BrainPOP Science phenomena activate prior knowledge and motivate students to figure out how things work for themselves. Middle schoolers really see themselves as scientists as they apply concepts and tools to situations that are powerfully relevant. At a pivotal age, students discover that science is everywhere and are equipped with the skills to make meaning of the world around them.
The BrainPOP Science investigation on Identifying Matter kicks off with an intriguing question about why athletes bite into their gold medals. By tapping into a seemingly ordinary phenomenon many students have seen or heard of, guiding questions inspire students to ask their own questions and drive the lesson forward.
Investigation—Balanced and Unbalanced Forces
Tackle challenges in simulations by PhET
Inquiry-based classrooms give the space and tools for students to experiment with what they are discovering about phenomena. PhET Interactive Simulations are systematically woven into BrainPOP Science investigations to help students actively apply their scientific thinking and problem-solving skills. Students interact with scenarios in an intuitive, game-like environment, while they continue to collect observations and data. These everyday encounters with physical science concepts like Newton’s Laws and static electricity give students first-hand knowledge about how things work and why.
In this PhET simulation from the BrainPOP Science investigation on Balanced and Unbalanced Forces, students experiment with net force, motion, and friction and see the results in a tug-of-war scenario. Questions embedded in the simulation prompt students to record their findings to use later when constructing a written argument.
Strengthen critical thinking with primary sources
Primary sources enhance BrainPOP Science investigations with new perspectives into physical science phenomena. Students are challenged to dig deep with their critical thinking skills while they observe, analyze, describe, identify, explain, and make inferences about what they are seeing and reading. Hypotheses are tested and stretched as new information is merged with background knowledge. Primary sources are an effective platform for group work that launch lively scientific debate.
1. Identify the primary rainbow in each image, and explain your reasoning.
2. Form a hypothesis to explain the order of colors in a secondary rainbow.
3. Describe how the location of the photographer in the second image is ideal for observing a full circular rainbow.
As students work through the BrainPOP Science investigation on Rainbow Formation, they’ll encounter eye-catching primary source photographs of double rainbows. While they may have seen this phenomenon before, they’ll be prompted to think critically about what’s happening like a scientist.
Physical science investigations for your middle school classroom
Explore a wide range of ready-to-use investigations designed to complement any middle school science curriculum and support all your instructional objectives.
Atoms, Elements, and Molecules
Compounds, Mixtures, and Solutions
States of Matter
Properties of Matter
Atoms and Molecules
Metals, Nonmetals, and Metalloids
Acids and Bases as Compounds
Salts as Compounds
Solids, Liquids, and Gases
Properties of Matter
Density of Matter
How does jumping on the Moon compare to jumping on Earth?
How can a potato power a lightbulb?
Physical and Chemical Changes
Forces and Motion
Work and Simple Machines
Conservation of Matter
Energy in Chemical Reactions
Introduction to Newton's Laws
Balanced and Unbalanced Forces
Newton's Second Law of Motion
Newton's Third Law of Motion
Work, Energy, and Forces
Why can’t you unbake a cake?
Refraction, Reflection, Absorption
Properties of Light
Kinetic and Potential Energy
Conservation of Energy
Thermal Energy Transfer
Aligned to all state standards
Our three-dimensional approach to science is designed to complement the latest standards for all 50 states, including NGSS, the NRC Framework, TEKS, and NGSSS. Throughout BrainPOP Science investigations, teachers can leverage built-in formative assessments with question types that prepare students for the rigors of state testing.
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Ignite the power of inquiry for middle school students and help deliver powerful, standards-aligned instruction.