• Back
  • 4th Grade

    Structure, Function, and Information Processing

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. 4-LS1-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways. 4-LS1-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen. 4-PS4-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to critiquing the scientific explanations or solutions proposed by peers by citing relevant evidence about the natural and designed world(s).

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • SL.4.5 - Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. (4-LS1-2), (4-PS4-2)
  • W.4.1 - Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. (4-LS1-1)


  • 4.G.A.1 - Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures. (4-PS4-2)
  • 4.G.A.3 - Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry. (4-LS1-1)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (4-PS4-2)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • This article from NSTA's Science and Children outlines a series of lessons on structure and function, with an extension lesson that incorporates related engineering design. Students are guided to observe ants in their natural habitat, experiment ...

  • This short, high-definition video shows a struggle between a wasp and an ant in extreme closeup. After viewing, students should be able to make inferences about the functions of certain specialized structures of each insect and support their ideas wi ...

  • This activity, created by the California Academy of Sciences, gives students the opportunity to explore the relationship between the structure of their teeth and their various functions. The students eat different types of food, consciously noti ...

  • This short activity, one of many "Science Snacks" from the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco, provides students with an opportunity to create ear structures that model the ears of familiar animals and explore how ...

  • In this activity students examine how the structure of various animal mouthparts affects their function. They will have an opportunity to predict what foods are likely to be eaten by birds with different beak types, watch a video compa ...

  • In this series of activities, students collect and observe different types of seeds and hypothesize about how they might be dispersed. They also investigate the design of seeds that use a helicopter method of wind dispersal, which offers an oppo ...

  • This article from the March 2015 issue of Science and Children (which focuses on the Crosscutting Concept of Structure and Function), provides detailed plans for a lesson sequence on structure and function for upper elementary students. It incorporat ...

  • In this activity, students experience the difficulty of trying to gather food with an ineffective model of an insect mouthpart, and then investigate how effective various insect mouth structures are for gathering different food sources. 

  • In this activity students examine how the structure of various animal mouthparts affects their function. They will have an opportunity to predict what foods are likely to be eaten by birds with different beak types, watch a video compa ...

  • This lesson sequence involves student investigation of human reaction time and variables that may affect it. An intitial phase has students practice catching a dropped ruler and converting the distance it drops to the length of time it took to react. ...

  • This resource allows the user to accurately measure and experiment with human reaction time. An interactive program measures reaction times in milliseconds and compares them in different cases (from simply reacting to a visual cue to having to read a ...

  • This 4th grade unit is designed to address the concept that organisms sense the environment in order to live. It is a far-ranging and comprehensive unit that is designed to address multiple NGSS performance expectations (4-LS1-2, 4LS1-2, 4-PS3-2, 4-P ...

  • This resource provides some background information and discussion questions about camouflage and countershading as an example of penguin adaptation. Then students engage in an experiment to simulate the effectiveness of blubber as an insulator agains ...

  • In this activity, students make a pinhole camera and see images formed on an internal screen. They then use a lens to see how this affects the images. Students investigate variables in its construction, and explore how it models the human eye's abil ...

  • Students learn about insect body structures and their functions through print materials and a video, and then design their own insect to demonstrate understanding of essential life processes.

  • Do you have a great resource to share with the community? Click here.

Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.