Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Q: What does "CPO" in CPO Science stand for?

A: Cambridge Physics Outlet.

Q: How is CPO Science related to School Specialty Science?

A: School Specialty is our parent company. Collectively known as School Specialty Science, CPO Science, Delta Education, Frey Scientific and Neo/SCI offer quality hands-on teaching and learning solutions for science in grades K-12.

Q: How can I get on your mailing list to receive updated catalogs and information?

A: Click here to receive a brochure..

Q: If I have a suggestion for a product or product improvement, who should I contact?

A: To submit suggestions or feedback on any CPO Science products send us an e-mail at

Q: At long last my budget was approved and I have money ready to spend on your wonderful Teaching & Learning Systems. Could you assist me with identifying what my best purchase options are?

A: Yes! Your regional sales manager will be happy to work with you to find the way to best meet your educational needs while keeping within your budget. Please contact your regional sales manager to get started.

Q: How do I get in touch with my sales rep?

A: You can find your regional sales manager by clicking here.

Programs/Teaching & Learning Systems

Q: How do CPO Science programs "work?"

A: The student textbook, investigations (lab) manual, teacher's guide, teacher support materials and equipment kit comprise an integrated set of learning materials that promotes true inquiry-based learning.

The investigations manual provides a series of hands-on investigations, one for each of the content sections (or in some cases, chapters) of the text. Using a guided inquiry approach, most of the investigations are performed before students read the corresponding section in the textbook. Concepts are discovered and explored rather than proven or demonstrated. The equipment kit, investigations manual, and student textbook were designed together to seamlessly develop and reinforce student learning. Content development in the text is structured around lab experiences. Direct observation comes first; students discover firsthand what happens. Each new concept is introduced through connection to real world applications, either in the lab or through the reading in the text. Theoretical information in the readings is provided to give the "how" and "why". What students learn from the investigations and reading will show fundamental concepts and explain a wide range of phenomena. Application pieces pull concepts together to connect topics in the chapter to the real world.

Q: Your textbook programs have many of the same components of traditional textbook programs, but there is also lab equipment. Do you offer a traditional approach to teaching science?

A: CPO Science textbook programs are actually complete teaching & learning systems that coordinate a student textbook, lab manual, teacher support materials, and hands-on equipment. We offer an alternative to "traditional" textbook programs by using guided inquiry and a hands-on approach. The investigations in the lab manuals are the heart of all of our programs.

Q: I teach two different levels of this course. Can I use one program for all students?

A: Absolutely! CPO Science programs are written so that students of all ability levels can be challenged. To challenge honors students, there are higher-level questions at the end of each chapter "Applying your knowledge", and intermediate and advanced questions in the test bank. There are also additional sections on many investigations that allow students to delve deeper into concepts and phenomena. For students of lower math and/or reading ability, there are skill and practice worksheets, as well as built-in reading and note-taking tips in the textbook.

Q: What grade level are your materials appropriate for?

A: Because the primary mode of instruction in CPO Science programs is through investigation and hands-on experiments, the textbook serves to support learning as students create meaning and understanding from classroom experience. Reading level index measurements do not take this into account. Therefore, when evaluating this program for grade level appropriateness, please keep in mind that the reading level index score should not be the sole indication of grade level appropriateness.

  • CPO Science Middle School Earth Science
  • CPO Science Middle School Life Science
  • CPO Science Middle School Physical Science
  • Physics A First Course: Grades 8-10
  • Foundations of Physical Science: Grades 8-10
  • Foundations of Physical Science with Earth and Space Science: Grades 8-10
  • Foundations of Physics: Grades 10-12 and non-physics-major college students

CPO Science Link modules (supplemental) are appropriate for all students in grades 6-12. Three levels of investigations (A, B, and C) provide students of all ability levels with challenging activities. Level A: Grades 6-8; Level B: Grades 8-10; Level C: Grades 11-12+

Q: Will CPO Science programs work in an urban setting?

A: Inquiry-based learning is especially effective with students that may otherwise be difficult to reach academically. Results from the Urban Systemic Initiative project found that standards-based curriculum and instruction was most effective when these materials were centered on discovery learning and inquiry models. Students will find that science is experienced through doing investigations and solving problems. This is an extremely effective approach for urban students, whose achievement improves with concrete experiences and literal connections. Urban students are more apt to tackle theory when they first investigate concepts through investigation and discovery. What students learn in school should be connected to what they see in the world. Students observe an action and then connect observations to the natural laws of science. Students also learn to ask insightful questions, plan and organize work, look for and analyze information, and try out ideas.

Q: Will CPO Science programs benefit ELL students?

A: English language learners benefit from socialization and student-to-student verbal interaction provided by frequent group investigations. CPO Science programs are appropriately challenging and engaging to students from diverse backgrounds and learning levels. The program provides a hands-on approach to learning that does not require extensive language and reading skills. The investigations are intuitive in nature and, combined with the student textbook, provide students with opportunities to grasp concepts in a variety of ways.

Q: Can a new teacher or a teacher new to inquiry-based teaching methods handle this investigation-based program?

A: The CPO Science programs are sensitive to this issue. Dr. Tom Hsu and his development team took this important fact into consideration when designing the instructive Teacher's Guide. This program component is an independent-study professional development resource in and of itself. Each student textbook reading section / investigation manual activity pair is presented in the teacher's guide in the form of a sample lesson dialog that guides teachers through a step-by-step approach as to how they can lead the daily lessons using an inquiry-based approach. The tremendous amount of science content, relevant application and real-world connections, and extra teaching tips contained in the teacher's guide pages is unparalleled among available science curricula. In addition to the teacher's guide support, CPO Science has been offering high-quality, content-intensive, inquiry-based professional development courses (including graduate level institutes) since 1995.

Q: What type of training and follow up do you provide for implementation?

A: Many different options are available for your professional development needs. Contact your regional sales manager to discuss which options are best suited to meet your needs.

Q: Do you have programs in subjects other than Physical Science?

A: Currently, CPO Science has basal curriculum for Life Science and Earth Science, as well as Physical Science, at the Middle School level. At the High School level, our emphasis is on Physical Science, with Earth Science and Chemistry included, depending on your program selection. We also offer several CPO Science Link modules that cover biology and chemistry topics.

Q: I am interested in seeing a copy of your textbooks. How do I go about getting a copy to review prior to purchase?

A: The best way to order a review copy for any of our learning systems is to contact your regional sales manager.

Q: Does CPO Science offer pilot programs?

A: If you are interested in piloting any of our programs, please contact your regional sales manager.

Q: Who else is using CPO Science programs?

A: Some of our customers include: Washington DC, Baltimore MD, Cleveland OH, Chicago IL, Milwaukee WI, Kansas City MO, Brooklyn NY, Newark NJ, Worcester MA, Charleston SC, Marietta GA, Hamilton County TN, Austin TX, Arlington TX, and Los Angeles CA. If you would like to speak with teachers and administrators who are using CPO Science programs, your regional sales manager can help you to get in touch with them.

In the Classroom

Q: How will the students get the information if I don't give lectures?

A: The "lecture" and discussion part of the science class happens in context with the investigations. Each lesson has a corresponding sample student/teacher dialog that provides a series of questions and discussions that take place before, during, and after each investigation. This means that all students, regardless of learning styles – auditory, visual, and tactile – will benefit throughout the course.

Q: Do you use the equipment to do demonstrations, or do the students use the equipment?

A: You will achieve a higher level of success with this hands-on program when your students work in groups of 3–5 to perform all investigations.

Q: When will I have time to do all the hands-on experiments? I only do one lab per week now!

A: You will not have time in 180 days to perform all of the investigations in the program. The best way to coordinate your school year is to first choose the units that meet your standards, and then decide which chapters of these units will best meet the needs of your students. When you plan out your coverage this way, you will probably do an investigation every two to three days (remember, the equipment is included with the program, and many experiment modules are used multiple times). That leaves time for introducing and processing investigations, as well as skill practice and assessment.

Q: Do I need to order investigation manuals every year?

A: Our investigation manuals have not been intended to be used as consumables (although they can be). provides you with the student activity blackline masters for each investigation. You may print these out and give them to your students.

Professional Development

Q: Where can I get more information on your professional development?

A: The best place to learn more about our professional development options is to contact your regional sales manager.

Q: I was hoping to get a workshop in my school district sometime soon. Is there someone I can speak to?

A: You should contact your regional sales manager for information or to schedule professional development workshops in your area.


Q: I realize that equipment kits are available for all your core curriculum programs, but can I purchase the equipment separately? For example if I just wanted the Electric Motor and Light and Optics.

A: Yes. You may purchase all of our equipment a-la-carte by contacting our technical service via email ( or phone (866-588-6951).

Q: Are the Supplemental Curriculum Resource Guides included with your equipment?

A: All of the Supplemental Curriculum Resource Guides are sold separately from the equipment.

Q: Can I substitute things from our equipment kits?

A: Unfortunately the way our kits are manufactured and packaged, substitutions are not possible. However, all CPO Science equipment can also be ordered a-la-carte.

Q: Based on our District objectives, can we customize our kits?

A: Unfortunately the way our kits are manufactured and packaged, substitutions are not possible. However, all CPO Science equipment can also be ordered a-la-carte.

Q: What is the warranty on the CPO Science equipment?

A: If, for any reason, you are not completely satisfied with any CPO Science product, please contact us within 30 days for a Return Authorization Number at 1-800-932-5227.

No hassle, no fuss. CPO Science cannot accept return shipments that have not been assigned a return authorization number.

Q: How do I get my equipment serviced?

A: Should any of your equipment need repair or if it fails to work at any time you should contact technical service by e-mailing or by calling 1-800-932-5227. The technical service coordinator will assist you in sending your equipment in for repair and explaining charges (if they apply).

Q: Would it be possible to purchase some knobs, screws and other little things like that?

A: YES! We have a spare parts bag that holds 50 of the most commonly replaced pieces. You can also order individual spare parts by using the part number from our replacement parts list and contacting customer service or your regional sales manager.

Q: Where can I find the list of replacement parts?

A: You can get our list of replacement parts from our technical service by e-mailing or by calling 866-588-6951.