Next Generation Science
1. Middle School Life Science -
Students in middle school develop understanding of key concepts to help them make sense of life science. The ideas build upon students’ science understanding from earlier grades and from the disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts of other experiences with physical and earth sciences. There are four life science disciplinary core ideas in middle school: 1) From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes, 2) Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics, 3) Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits, 4) Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity. The performance expectations in middle school blend the core ideas with scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to support students in developing useable knowledge across the science disciplines. While the performance expectations in middle school life science couple particular practices with specific disciplinary core ideas, instructional decisions should include use of many science and engineering practices integrated in the performance expectations.
2. Middle School Earth and Space Sciences -
Students in middle school develop understanding of a wide range of topics in Earth and space science (ESS) that build upon science concepts from elementary school through more advanced content, practice, and crosscutting themes. There are six ESS standard topics in middle school: Space Systems, History of Earth, Earth’s Interior Systems, Earth’s Surface Systems, Weather and Climate, and Human Impacts. The content of the performance expectations are based on current community-based geoscience literacy efforts such as the Earth Science Literacy Principles (Wysession et al., 2012), and is presented with a greater emphasis on an Earth Systems Science approach. The performance expectations strongly reflect the many societally relevant aspects of ESS (resources, hazards, environmental impacts) as well as related connections to engineering and technology. While the performance expectations shown in middle school ESS couple particular practices with specific disciplinary core ideas, instructional decisions should include use of many practices that lead to the performance expectations.
3. Middle School Physical Science -
Students in middle school continue to develop understanding of four core ideas in the physical sciences. The middle school performance expectations in the Physical Sciences build on the K – 5 ideas and capabilities to allow learners to explain phenomena central to the physical sciences but also to the life sciences and earth and space science. The performance expectations in physical science blend the core ideas with scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to support students in developing useable knowledge to explain real world phenomena in the physical, biological, and earth and space sciences. In the physical sciences, performance expectations at the middle school level focus on students developing understanding of several scientific practices. These include developing and using models, planning and conducting investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, and constructing explanations; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas. Students are also expected to demonstrate understanding of several of engineering practices including design and evaluation.
4. Middle School Engineering Design - Entire school year.
By the time students reach middle school they should have had numerous experiences in
engineering design. The goal for middle school students is to define problems more precisely, to conduct a more thorough process of choosing the best solution, and to optimize the final design.