FAQs for FOSS Community Members and Families

FAQs for FOSS Community Members and Families

Teacher Note: Consider sharing this page with anyone who would like to learn more about your science curriculum.

Get answers for some general questions concerning FOSS science curriculum.

What is FOSS?

The Full Option Science System (better known as FOSS) is a K-8 program developed at the University of California, at Berkeley with 25 years of experience educating students in grades K-8 in science education and incorporating the most recent research about how students learn best. This award-winning program has your student doing science and engineering regularly, using science notebooks, utilizing technology resources to support and enhance (not replace) the hands-on explorations, visiting the schoolyard to examine how the concepts learned in the classroom apply to the out of doors, using science and engineering as a way to support students in their language development, and engaging in assessment practices that help students understand what they know and what they need support with.

Want to see FOSS in action and learn more? Enjoy this video.

What are the new standards?

The newest edition of FOSS was developed to align with A Framework for K–12 Science Education, the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The majority of the states in the country either use NGSS or have shaped their standards based on the Framework. Instead of stating what students need to know they mirror what real scientists and engineers do while incorporating how students learn best. The key change is that standards are “three-dimensional”. One dimension includes the core ideas—this is what students need to know at a specified grade level. The other two strands of equal value to the core ideas, are the practices—what students will do and the crosscutting concepts—how to help students think. In other words the standards are asking students to do science in order to understand the content and we help students to make sense of what they’re learning by making connections across life, earth, and physical sciences. Also, the standards place a heavier emphasis on engineering which is to be taught within the context of a science program. FOSS has been teaching children this way for over 25 years.

How can I get involved in the classroom/ school to support science? Are there materials I can donate?

Check in with your child’s classroom teacher about volunteer opportunities. There may be opportunities to volunteer in the classroom with materials management or possibly supporting students as they do their work. There may be field trips to chaperone. Some schools have or would like to have an outdoor classroom or school garden—would you be able to help with this? (Note: Anytime a volunteer is working with students they may need to complete a background check.)

If you would like to donate something to support science, ask the teacher if there are any “teacher-supplied items” that you could help with, or if there are other classroom material needs.

How do I log on to FOSSweb? What is found there?

Sign in as a guest or sign in using your child’s student log in provided by your child's teacher. For more information, contact the your child's teacher. If you log in as a guest you have limited access but can see a module summary, home school connections, a list of recommended books and websites, and regional resources. If you log in using your student’s log in, you’ll have access to many more digital resources that you may like to explore with your child.

I’m a family and/or a community member, how can I get involved?

Check in with the school principal about ways you can get involved. Do you own or work for a business serving food or with other resources to donate to help the school raise money? Do you have a venue where teachers could bring students on field trips? Do you have skills that could benefit the school—possibly gardening skills or carpentry to work on an outdoor classroom? Do you work in a profession that would be useful for students to learn about? Or do you have time to offer to help teachers do an impossibly large job? All of these are ways you could help out a school. Of course, if you’re in a school interacting with students, the school may need to do a background check on you.

How will FOSS prepare our children for the future?

Some day, our K–8 students will be voting and making policy decisions that affect human resource use and environmental issues. All students will need a strong science background to be productive citizens. This is true whether or not they go on to become a scientist or engineer. In addition to providing students with a deep dive into the content kindergarten to eighth grade, FOSS helps students get excited about learning and teaches them how to think about what they know and what they need to know. In addition, we support students in academic discourse which will help them in any subjects they study later in life. Certainly our program prepares them for High School science, but more importantly, it gives children a foundation of believing that science is exciting and accessible. We’re not just reading and forgetting what we read about content, we’re actively engaged in science and forming long-term understanding. If FOSS is taught well, students will become better students in all subjects.

What does a FOSS classroom look like?

Instead of describing it, let’s show you. In the following video you’ll see students working in groups, using and referencing student notebooks, going outside, and enthusiastically engaged with science.

Other FAQs

Please see these frequently asked questions.

Is FOSS sensitive to allergies?

FOSS is very aware of the fact that schools may have children with severe or, possibly even life-threatening, sensitivities to food items or other materials. Whenever there is a product in the program that students could possibly be allergic to—such as latex, shellfish, or legumes there is a safety note for teachers. Nurses, administrators, teachers and schools are hypervigilant about keeping an eye out for these safety notes when a student has an allergy. To be extra cautious, please speak to your child’s teacher about what your child can or cannot touch, can be around but can’t touch, can’t have in the classroom. As a general rule, students are repeatedly cautioned never to put anything in their mouths (with a rare exception). For more information, please see this FOSSconnect newsletter article, Food Allergy Alternatives with FOSS, on food allergies.