After you purchase, we will email your administrator a welcome email that contains a link that all teachers in your school/district can click to associate their accounts with your school/district membership.
We do not have accounts for students. If you would like to give students access to a specific Mystery on their own device or at home, click the chain link icon at the top right corner of a Mystery title slide. You can use the link provided to give your students access to the student version of a Mystery. In the student version, students can watch the videos but cannot browse through the website.
Mystery Science is developing a complete K-5 science curriculum. We do not currently offer lessons for middle or high school. We would love to expand to include higher grade levels in the future but do not have a timeline.
Yes! We are working hard to ensure all of our Mysteries will prepare
students to meet the Performance Expectations set forth by the Next Generation
Science Standards (NGSS). We take very seriously the spirit of the Framework for
K-12 Science Education, the founding document for the NGSS. We believe that our pedagogical
emphasis on solving mysteries, collecting evidence, and conducting
investigations makes us uniquely suited to achieving the goals of the NGSS. Check out our NGSS alignment document to see how each Mystery aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
If you’ve taught our Mysteries before, you’ve probably noticed how much we love using video. We use video because it’s such a powerful tool for showing kids phenomena that they’d otherwise never be able to see. Of course it would be amazing if kids could directly experience an erupting volcano, a landslide, exotic predators, or the Northern Lights in their classrooms! But even in the most well-resourced school, some phenomena are simply impossible to access directly.
Imagine that you were able to travel with your students to the African savannah. On safari, it might take weeks of waiting to witness a key moment you want to show your kids. With video and thoughtful narration, we can draw kids’ attention to that specific phenomena that ignites curiosity right away. Our narrator will often say, “Now look closely, what do you notice? Did you see that?” Scientific inquiry follows from the wonder that comes from seeing puzzling episodes in nature.
At Mystery Science, we’d argue that most kids are probably not watching enough video in science class. There are so many amazing things to see in the world, we don’t want them to miss out!
Talking helps kids learn. Discussion is absolutely key to understanding science. When kids are asked to share their ideas, they have to ask themselves, “What DO I think? What ARE my ideas?” Articulating their thoughts helps their ideas solidify. Asking kids, “Why do you think that?” challenges them to think through their reasoning.
Hearing their classmates’ ideas also helps kids reconsider their own ideas. “Hmmm, that’s not what I was thinking, but that makes sense! I get it now!” Listening to diverse perspectives is also how science works. Scientists argue about ideas, and the most convincing argument (the one with the most evidence, of course) becomes our understanding of how the world works.
That’s why our videos pause so frequently — so that kids can share, listen, and argue! When you observe a Mystery Science lesson, you’ll see how loud they can get, which we take as a great signal that kids are grappling with ideas.
But successful scientific discourse doesn’t just happen on their own. We put a tremendous amount of thought into engineering a great discussion. We first design the videos so that kids see phenomena that makes them curious. The narrator activates their prior knowledge. And at just the right time, we pause, delivering a carefully crafted question that elicits ideas. Hands go up! We’ve heard from so many teachers who say that even their quietest kids want to participate. And the discussion can go on so long that kids even ask if they can skip recess!
One more great thing about discussion: For the teacher, it’s a window into a student’s thinking, making it a perfect opportunity for assessment. Skilled teachers can get students to elaborate on their ideas and see connections between what different students are saying. This gives teachers a great sense of what kids understand and what they are still confused about. It’s a crucial insight for helping kids learn, and makes formative assessment so much easier. For all of these reasons, we think pausing for discussion is one of the most effective things you can do in the classroom.
We firmly believe that teaching science is a skill that develops over time. Just because someone is a great teacher doesn’t mean they are great at teaching science. Likewise, just because someone is a science expert doesn’t mean they will be great at teaching it to young kids.
Our mission is to find the best ways to help K-5 teachers, who are required to teach a full range of subjects, develop their knowledge and their instructional practices for hands-on, NGSS-aligned science. This means that Mystery Science has to do three things: show teachers how to use our program, help them learn new science ideas, and help them teach these ideas. Luckily, we’re able to do all of this quickly and at the same time in an intuitive, comprehensive format.
Typical teacher manuals are lengthy and overwhelming—sometimes becoming an obstacle rather than a tool because they require hours of study that teachers don’t usually have. At Mystery Science, we recognize that teachers need to be able to hit the ground running, so PD is embedded in our program. Teachers learn the science they need to know by using our videos and classroom activities.
And there’s no special training required to start using the Mystery Science program. Like any good product, our curriculum is so intuitive that teachers can jump in on day one. Every page of our website, every button, and every feature has been thoughtfully designed so that teachers instantly understand how to find the lesson they want to teach, how to prep, and how to teach it in their classroom.
We also make it incredibly easy for teachers to contact us with any questions, whether about scientific concepts, pedagogy, or technical issues. Our trained team responds swiftly and thoroughly to hundreds of questions each day, helping teachers feel even more comfortable teaching science in their classrooms.
The core of each Mystery is an activity plus a series of short videos and
discussions (we call the video-discussion an “Exploration”). The activity and
Exploration combined take about 45-60 minutes of class time;
these can be easily divided across two class periods, if needed.
The Mysteries within a unit build upon each other, so they are intended to be taught in order. Later Mysteries will often reference things discussed in earlier Mysteries. However, each unit is designed to stand alone so you can teach the units in any order you wish.
We work on new Mysteries every week! This year we are expanding the Kindergarten and Grade 1 units to include six Mysteries each. Three Mysteries in each Kindergarten and Grade 1 unit will be Read-Along Mysteries, a new format of Mysteries that are literacy based, NGSS and Common Core aligned. We are also adding new Mysteries to our existing units Plant Adventures (NGSS Grade 2), Work of Water (NGSS Grade 2), Invisible Forces (NGSS Grade 3), Stormy Skies (NGSS Grade 3), Web of Life (NGSS Grade 5), Chemical Magic (NGSS Grade 5), and Watery Plant (NGSS Grade 5). Many of our new Mysteries will be aligned to the NGSS Engineering performance expectations. As soon as they’re released, we’ll let you know!
You can find all of the materials for a unit under the “Activity Prep” tab for each unit. Materials for individual Mysteries can also be found by clicking the “Get activity supplies” button on the Mystery page. Assessments and assessment answer keys can be found for a unit under the "Assessments" tab for each unit and on the "Optional Extras" page for individual mysteries.
Yes, please do! Click the "Download & Edit" button. You can then Copy to Google Drive or download as a PowerPoint document (.pptx) or Word document (.docx). You can then make and save changes to our documents.
We do not currently have a master supply list, however it is something we plan to add in the future. In the meantime, please consult the “Activity Prep” tab for a list of supplies for each unit. You can find a list of specialized materials here.
We do not currently have any kits of supplies available for purchase. We do our best to only use easy-to-find supplies. When we can’t resist including a harder-to-find supply (like a magnifying lens for a model eyeball!), we provide a link to an easy way to purchase them.
We have translated our student worksheets to Spanish. When you open a worksheet, click the "View Spanish" button to see the translated version. Translating all of our videos into Spanish is significantly more complex and we do not have a timeline for that yet.
As a teacher you first need to create a price quote. Next, email it to your administrator or purchaser. If you are purchasing a Classroom Membership for one of the teachers at your school, please contact the teacher and ask him/her to create a price quote using their account. Once you receive the quote from them, you can purchase using a PO or credit card.
Absolutely! Go to the online quote you’ve created and click “Submit Purchase Order.” Enter the PO number to generate your invoice. The web address for your online quote is at the bottom of your printed quote.
Download our W-9 here. If your district also needs us to complete a vendor application, please email the vendor application to us (email@example.com).
We will complete it and return it to you.
If you are teaching multiple classes you need to either purchase multiple Classroom Memberships or a School Membership. A Classroom Membership is designed for use by one homeroom teacher and up to 35 students.
We are doing our best to keep our membership prices as low as possible. We don’t want funding to be an obstacle to using Mystery Science. If our discounts are still beyond your budget, connect us with your administrator so we can speak directly with them about your funding situation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your administrator’s contact information.