Full Option Science System (FOSS)


"A multi-year partnership with the GE Foundation has allowed us to transform K-8 science teaching from textbook/worksheet science to active student-centered teaching and learning using curriculum materials that are primarily [from the Full Option Science System]. Teachers report that the units are instructionally friendly, and support critical thinking and deep student understanding. Students report that they enjoy the active learning through investigation and feel like scientists!"

-- Lee Ann Nickerson, Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials

Target Audience

Black/African American


Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

English Language Learner

Teachers/Educational Leaders




Pre-K - 5
Grades 6 - 8

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

More than half of California students attend schools that have adopted the hands-on, inquiry-based FOSS curriculum. Studies show that, when coupled with strong professional development for teachers, FOSS has significantly improved science teaching and, by extension, students’ understanding of science.


Program Overview

Full Option Science System (FOSS) is a research-based science curriculum for grades K-8 developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, and distributed by Delta Education. FOSS is also an ongoing research project dedicated to improving the learning and teaching of science.

FOSS has three goals: 1) Scientific literacy: providing students with science experiences that offer a foundation for more advanced understanding of core science ideas. The program is organized in learning progressions and aims to prepare students for life in an increasingly complex scientific and technological world. 2) Instructional efficiency: giving all teachers a complete, cohesive, flexible, easy-to-use science program that reflects current research on teaching and learning, including student discourse, argumentation, writing to learn, and reflective thinking. FOSS is designed to make active learning in science engaging for teachers as well as for students. 3) Systemic reform: offering schools and school systems a program that addresses the community's science achievement standards. FOSS prepares students by helping them acquire the knowledge and thinking capacity appropriate for world citizens.

With the initial support of the National Science Foundation and continued support from the University of California and Delta Education, the FOSS Program aims to provide meaningful science education for all students in diverse American classrooms and to prepare them for life in the 21st century.

How To Get Involved

Funders can heighten the effectiveness of the FOSS curriculum by supporting school leadership teams who ensure that teachers teach the curriculum well. A typical team would consist of one principal and three teachers, and professional development for such a team costs roughly $20,000 to $25,000 for each of three years.

Funders and Partners

FOSS is a project of the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley. FOSS is published and distributed by Delta Education (a part of School Specialty Science). FOSS research was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.


Linda De Lucchi, Program Director

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.