Early Science Glossary


Absorption—The act of soaking up or absorbing (materials that absorb water include a sponge, a napkin, a paper towel and a cotton ball)

Acceleration—The rate at which the speed or direction of an object or substance increases over time

Analyze—To examine information in order to make conclusions

Aroma—Any property detected by the sense of smell

Astronaut—A person trained for space flight

Attract—To pull together

Attribute—A feature of an object


Base—The part of a building that sits on the ground

Basic needs—What a living thing needs to grow and survive

Binoculars—A pair of matched telescopes that are held in front of the user’s eyes to see far-away things more clearly

Buoyancy—The upward force of an object that is produced by the fluid or air that the object is placed in


Category—A group of things sharing a common attribute or property

Cause—Something that gives rise to an action or condition

Characteristic—A feature or attribute of an object

Classify—To arrange objects by rules or shared attributes or characteristics

Clue—A hint that helps solve a puzzle, problem or mystery

CollectTo gather a group of things together for observation or study

Combine—To add materials together, resulting in a new, changed material

Comet—An object that orbits the sun

Compare—To identify the similarities or differences between two objects

Compass Rose—A symbol that always shows north and most often also includes south, east and west

Conclude—To make statements about what was learned after an observation or experiment

Craggy—Rough and uneven


Dandelion—A plant with bright yellow blossoms that mature into round, fluffy seed heads

Data—Information that is collected through a study or an investigation

Density—How compact the molecules of an object are

Design—To create a plan for something that will be built

Document—To write down observations that can be used to identify changes or similarities over time


Effect—The result of a physical action

Electricity—A physical phenomenon that can produce light, heat and power

Ephemeral art—Art that is temporary and not meant to last

Evaporation—When water slowly turns from a liquid into a gas called water vapor

Examine—Look closely and carefully at something

Experiment—To test out a prediction to find out if a prediction is correct or not


Fiction—A made-up story

Findings—New information that is gained after an investigation

Float—To stay on or above the surface of the water

Flower—The part of a plant that blossoms and produces seeds that can become new plants

Footprint—A mark pressed by a foot onto a surface

Force—The push or pull on an object that causes it to change velocity; active power that pushes or pulls on an object and causes a change in motion or balance

Fragrance—A pleasantly sweet smell

FreezeTo harden into a solid 


Gait— A pattern of motion or the size of the paces of a person or animal

Gas—A form of matter with no set volume or shape; gases expand to fill their container (for example, when you blow up a balloon, you fill it up with air, which is a gas)

Gravity—Heaviness or weight

Growth—How a living thing develops over time

Gusts—Short bursts of high-speed wind


Habitat—Where animals live

Hatch—An opening or door in a spacecraft 

Hoot—An amazing situation and also the call of the owl

Hygroscopic—Absorbs both liquid water and water vapor (moisture) from the air

Hypothesis—A prediction that states how and why a scientific event may occur


Identify—Establish or indicate who or what (someone or something) is

Investigate—To seek out information by observing, experimenting or testing


Landfill—A place where we bury garbage in the ground

Landmark—Something that is easy to find like a mountain or building

LiquidA form of matter with a definite volume, but no set shape; liquids take the shape of their container


Magnet—A piece of metal that has the power to attract (pull close) or repel (push away) metal objects made of magnetic materials such as iron, cobalt and nickel

Magnifying glass—A lens that enlarges the view of an object to enable the viewer to see smaller details of the object

Map Key—Explains what the symbols on the map represent

Material—Any substance that an object is made from (glass, chalk, paper, water, air, clay and plastic are all materials)

Matter—Anything that takes up space and has weight

Measure—To figure out the dimensions of an attribute by using a tool

Mix—To combine materials together

Motion—Movement from one place to another


Nonfiction—Stories that really happened; a true story based on facts


Observe—To watch and document an item to gather information


Pinwheel—A toy that spins around when the wind blows

Plan—To decide how to carry out an experiment or conduct an engineering project

Position—The place where you are (if you change your place, you are moving)

Predict—To guess what might happen next

Prediction—A guess or a statement about what you think will happen next

Proportion—The measurement or size of different parts of a building

Pull— A force that moves objects toward you; the force needed to move an object closer

Push—A force that moves objects away from you; the force needed to move an object away


Record—To set down in writing

Recycle—The process of taking materials that are ready to be thrown away and converting (changing) them into reusable materials

Relationship—How objects or physical forces may be affected by the actions of another object/physical force

Repel—To push away

Representation—To visually display an idea through drawing, painting, constructing or modeling


Scrap gardening—Growing new plants from fruit and vegetable scraps that would normally be tossed in the garbage or kitchen compost bin

Seed—The small part of a flowering plant that grows into a new plant

Sink—To go below the surface of the water

Skyscraper—A tall building with a steel or concrete skeleton frame, an elevator and different floors where people live or work

Smell—To capture an odor or scent through the nose

Sniff—To identify a smell by inhaling through the nose

Solid—A form of matter with a definite size and shape

States of matter—The forms in which matter can exist: liquid, solid or gas

Static—Not in physical motion; a static charge stays in one area rather than moving or “flowing” to another area

Static electricity—Produced by friction, static electricity is the result of the buildup of electrons on something, which gives it an electric charge. It’s called static electricity because the charge stays in the same place.

Stem—The main stalk of a plant that develops buds and shoots and usually grows above the ground

Stink—A bad smell

Story—A floor in a building

Symbol—A small drawing on a map that represents a park, building or other location


Talon—Claw of a bird

Test—To try out an idea to see if it works or not

Texture—How an object feels (smooth, rough, wet, dry, etc.)


Velocity—The speed of an object


Weight—How heavy an object is

Wind—Moving air

Windmill—Wind turbines used to be called windmills. A long time ago, people used windmills to grind grain and pump water out of low-lying areas near the sea.

Wind turbine—A machine that harnesses the wind to produce electricity