KS Science Standards Dec. 1999

Curricular Standards for Science Education

Kansas State Board of Education
Adopted December 7, 1999

Table of Contents

Table of Contents……………………………………………………… i


Introduction………………………………………………………………. 1

Nature of Science……………………………………………………… 2

Organization of the Kansas Science Education Standards … 4

Unifying Concepts and Processes in the Kansas Science Education Standards … 6

By the End of Second Grade……………………………………… 8

Standard 1: Science as Inquiry…………………………………… 8

Standard 2: Physical Science……………………………………… 9

Standard 3: Life Science…………………………………………… 10

Standard 4: Earth and Space Science……………………… 11

Standard 5: Technology……………………………………………… 13

Standard 6: Science in Personal and Environmental Perspectives … 14

Standard 7: History and Nature of Science……………… 15

Overview of Science Standards K-4…………………………… 16

By the End of Fourth Grade…………………………………………17

Standard 1: Science as Inquiry…………………………………… 17

Standard 2: Physical Science………………………………………18

Standard 3: Life Science……………………………………………… 20

Standard 4: Earth and Space Science…………………………… 21

Standard 5: Technology………………………………………………… 23

Standard 6: Science in Personal and Environmental Perspectives … 25

Standard 7: History and Nature of Science…………………… 26

Overview of Science Standards 5-8……………………………… 27

By the End of Eighth Grade…………………………………………… 28

Standard 1: Science as Inquiry……………………………………… 28

Standard 2: Physical Science………………………………………… 31

Standard 3: Life Science………………………………………………… 35

Standard 4: Earth and Space Science…………………………… 41

Standard 5: Technology………………………………………………… 46

Standard 6: Science in Personal and Environmental Perspectives … 48

Standard 7: History and Nature of Science…………………… 51

Overview of Science Standards 9-12……………………………… 53

By the End of Twelfth Grade…………………………………………… 54

Standard 1: Science as Inquiry………………………………………… 54

Standard 2A: Physical Science – Chemistry…………………… 56

Standard 2B: Physical Science – Physics………………………… 58

Standard 3: Life Science………………………………………………… 60

Standard 4: Earth and Space Science……………………………. 67

Standard 5: Technology………………………………………………… 69

Standard 6: Science in Personal and Environmental Perspectives …… 70

Standard 7: History and Nature of Science………………… 73

Appendices…………………………………………………………………… 75

Appendix 1 – Glossary……………………………………………………….. 76

Appendix 2 – Classical Process Skills……………………………… 81

Kansas Science Education Standards


The Kansas State Board of Education dedicates the Kansas Science Education Standards to all Kansas students. Our students are the future of Kansas.


Mission Statement

The mission of science education in Kansas is to utilize science as a vehicle to prepare all students as lifelong learners who can use science to make reasoned decisions, contributing to their local, state, and international communities.

Vision Statement

All students, regardless of gender, creed, cultural or ethnic background, future aspirations or interest and motivation in science, should have the opportunity to attain high levels of scientific literacy. (Adapted from Annenberg/CPM Math and Science Project, 1996, T-7)

The educational system must prepare the citizens of Kansas to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The Kansas Science Standards are intended to enhance the preparation of all students with a focus on excellence and equity.

In seeking to serve all students, these standards give students the opportunity to learn science by experiencing it. To reach the focus on excellence and equity, this experience must include: highly qualified teachers, time on task, and multiple opportunities to learn, utilizing rich and varied learning materials and environments.

Scientific inquiry is an essential ingredient to enhance learning for all students. These standards include a combination of discrete and process skills which are intended to result in increased student knowledge as well as higher order thinking skills. Additionally, it is hoped that these standards lead to a higher student motivation for science and the development of new knowledge.

These standards rest on the premise that science is an active process. Science is something that students and adults do, not something that is done to them. Therefore, these standards are not meant to encourage a single teaching methodology but instead should elicit a variety of effective approaches to learning science.

The Kansas Science Education Standards:

    • Provide criteria that Kansas educators and stakeholders can use to further scientific literacy.
    • Offer a structure that can ultimately lead to improved science education.
    • Advocate that science education must be developmentally appropriate and reflect a systemic, progressive approach throughout the elementary, middle, and high school years.

These standards should not be viewed as a state curriculum nor as requiring a specific local curriculum. Instead, these standards are recommended as a framework for science education for all students in Kansas to assist local districts in developing local curriculum expectations.

Purpose of this Document.

These standards, benchmarks, indicators, and examples are designed to assist Kansas educators in selecting and developing local curricula, carrying out instruction, and assessing students’ progress. Also, they will serve as the foundation for the development of state assessments in science. Finally, these standards, benchmarks, indicators, and examples represent high, yet reasonable, expectations for all students.

Students may need further support in and beyond the regular classroom to attain these expectations. Teachers, school administrators, parents, and other community members should be provided with the professional development and leadership resources necessary to enable them to help all students work toward meeting or exceeding these expectations.

Background Information

The original Kansas Curricular Standards for Science were drafted in 1992, approved by the Kansas State Board of Education in 1993, and updated in 1995. Although all of this work occurred prior to the release of the National Science Education Standards in 1996, the original Kansas standards reflect early work on the national standards. At the August, 1997 meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education, the Board directed that revised academic standards should do the following:

1. Bring greater clarity and specificity to what teachers should teach and students should learn at the various grade levels.

2. Build on current state curricular standards.

3. Prioritize the standards to be assessed by the state assessments.

4. Provide guidance on assessment methodologies.

 Nature of Science

Science is the human activity of seeking logical explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Science does so through the use of observation, experimentation, and logical argument while maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy skepticism. Scientific explanations are built on observations, hypotheses, and theories. A hypothesis is a testable statement about the natural world that can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate observations, inferences, and tested hypotheses. Scientific explanations must meet certain criteria.

They must be logical.

They must be consistent with experimental and/or observational data.

They must be testable by scientists through additional experimentation and/or observation.

They must follow strict rules that govern the repeatability of observations and experiments.

The effect of these criteria is to insure that scientific explanations about the world are open to criticism and that they will be modified or abandoned in favor of new explanations if empirical evidence so warrants. Because all scientific explanations depend on observational and experimental confirmation, all scientific knowledge is, in principle, subject to change as new evidence becomes available. The core theories of science have been subjected to a wide variety of confirmations and have a high degree of reliability within the limits to which they have been tested. In areas where data or understanding are incomplete, new data may lead to changes in current theories or resolve current conflicts. In situations where information is still fragmentary, it is normal for scientific ideas to be incomplete, but this is also where the opportunity for making advances may be greatest. Science has flourished in different regions during different time periods, and in history, diverse cultures have contributed scientific knowledge and technological inventions. Changes in scientific knowledge usually occur as gradual modifications, but the scientific enterprise also experiences periods of rapid advancement. The daily work of science and technology results in incremental advances in our understanding of the world about us.

Teaching With Tolerance and Respect

Science studies natural phenomena by formulating explanations that can be tested against the natural world. Some scientific concepts and theories (e.g. blood transfusion, human sexuality, nervous system role in consciousness, cosmological and biological evolution, etc.) may conflict with a student’s religious or cultural beliefs. The goal is to enhance understanding, and a science teacher has a responsibility to enhance students’ understanding of scientific concepts and theories. Compelling student belief is inconsistent with the goal of education. Nothing in science or in any other field of knowledge should be taught dogmatically.

A teacher is an important role model for demonstrating respect and civility, and teachers should not ridicule, belittle or embarrass a student for expressing an alternative view or belief. Teachers model and expect students to practice sensitivity and respect for the various understandings, capabilities, and beliefs of all students. No evidence or analysis of evidence that contradicts a current science theory should be censored.

A Perspective on Changing Emphases

The central nature of inquiry in learning science reflects substantive changes – steps forward – from the previous Kansas Curricular Standards for Science, last updated in 1995. These standards reflect the following changes in emphases, as shown in the chart below:

 Changing Emphases in the Nature of Science Content
and Changing Emphases to Promote Inquiry

Emphasize Less


 · Learning which focuses on facts and emphasizes feeding back information.

  · Addressing a wide range of science topics.

 · Focusing on inquiry as a set of processes in isolation from one another.

 · Planning classroom activities that demonstrate a science concept that is already known.

 · Confining investigations to a single class period.

 · Emphasizing process skills out of context.

  · Finding the answer.

 · Having individual students or groups of students work with and analyze data but not defending conclusions reached.

 · Teachers providing answers to questions about science content.

Emphasize More

 · Learning which focuses on understanding the major concepts of science and on developing the ability to make inquiries of a scientific nature.

 · Studying a limited number of important science concepts.

 · Focusing on inquiry as necessarily interrelated processes.

 · Planning classroom activities that raise science questions which lead to investigation and analysis.

 · Planning investigations which are carried out over several class periods.

 · Using a variety of process skills within the context of inquiry.

 · Developing or altering an explanation through applying scientific methods and gathering evidence.

 · Having students work in groups to gather and analyze data, draw conclusions from it, and justify those conclusions.

  · Students building and communicating scientific explanations.

Regarding science process skills, these standards call for substantive change, for a decrease in emphasis on implementing inquiry as a set of isolated process skills, with a simultaneous increase in emphasis on implementing inquiry as instructional strategies, ideas, and abilities to be learned. Close examination of the chart above reveals that science processes remain important, as they should. But, in these standards, students acquire proficiency in science processes within the context of learning to do scientific inquiry. This requires students to developtheir abilities to think scientifically.

  Organization of the Kansas Science Education Standards

Each standard in the main body of the document contains a series of benchmarks, which describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of a certain point in their education (e.g., grade 2, 4, 8, 10). Each benchmark contains a series of indicators, which identify what it means for students to meet a benchmark. Indicators are frequently followed by examples, which are specific, concrete ideas or illustrations of what is intended by the indicator.


There are seven standards for science. These standards are general statements of what students should know, understand, and be able to do in the natural sciences over the course of their K-12 education. The seven standards are interwoven ideas, not separate entities; thus, they should be taught as interwoven ideas, not as separate entities. These standards are clustered for grade levels K-2, 3-4, 5-8, and 9-12.

• Science as Inquiry

Inquiry is central to science learning and to the science process. When engaging in inquiry, students describe objects and events, ask questions, construct explanations, test those explanations against current scientific knowledge, and communicate their ideas to others. They identify assumptions, use critical and logical thinking, identify faulty reasoning and consider alternative explanations. In this way, students actively develop an understanding of science by combining scientific knowledge with reasoning and thinking skills. As a result of such experiences, students will be empowered to add to the growing body of scientific knowledge. Historically, many innovations in science require that the currently popular theories be challenged and then changed. Therefore, the skills learned in inquiry should not be limited to the experiments that the students do in the classroom. In addition, students will learn to identify the assumptions that underlie the hypotheses, theories and laws taught to them in the classroom.

• Physical Science

Physical science encompasses the traditional disciplines of physics and chemistry. Students should develop an understanding of physical science including: properties, changes of properties of matter, motion and force, velocity, structure of atoms, chemical reactions, and the interaction of energy and matter and their applications in the other sciences such as biology, medicine and earth science.

• Life Science

Students will develop an understanding of biological concepts. Students should learn: the characteristics of life, the needs of living organisms, their life cycles, their habitats, the molecular basis of heredity, and reproduction. They should also learn how organisms interact with their environment, energy transfer from the sun and through the environmental system, the chemical basis for life and behavior of organisms. Students should be able to apply process skills to explore and demonstrate an understanding of the structure and function in living systems, heredity, regulation and behavior, and ecosystems.

Life Science is interactive with Physical Science, Earth and Space Science and Science In Personal and Environmental Perspectives. Students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship among these standards.

• Earth and Space Science

While Earth and Space Science encompasses the traditional disciplines of geology and astronomy and the basic subject matter of these disciplines will be taught, it also includes interactive elements with the Life Sciences, the Physical Sciences, Technology and the environment. Students will develop an understanding of the Earth system, the solar system and the cosmos.

• Technology

Technology encompasses the advances made by man to improve his condition and to develop the tools he needs to accomplish his goals.

• Science In Personal and Environmental Perspectives

Students should develop an appreciation and understanding of personal and community health, natural resources, natural and human-induced hazards and improvements, and technological implications in quality of life. All students should be able to research and assess prevailing environmental and personal health issues and develop a rational understanding of man’s relationship to the environment.

• History and Nature of Science

Understanding the history, nature of science and limitations of science is fundamental to scientific learning. Students will learn to distinguish between science and other forms of knowledge or beliefs such as philosophy and religion. Science uses observation, experimentation, induction and deduction, and experimental, observational and statistical verification strategies in formulating and testing the validity of explanations for the behavior of the world around us. These explanations ought to be testable, repeatable, falsifiable, open to criticism and not based upon authority. It is also important that students learn to distinguish between scientific information (data), scientific explanations (hypotheses, theories, laws, principles, etc.) and the scientific method (the process of arriving at and verifying scientific explanations). Students should learn the applications and limits of science and the inductive and deductive reasoning processes that underlie science.


These are specific statements of what students should know and be able to do at a specified point in their schooling. Benchmarks are used to measure students’ progress toward meeting a standard. In these standards, benchmarks are defined for grades 2, 4, 8, and 10.


These are statements of the knowledge or skills which students demonstrate in order to meet a benchmark. Indicators are critical to understanding the standards and benchmarks and are to be met by all students. The indicators listed under each benchmark are not listed in priority order, nor should the list be considered as all-inclusive. Moreover, the list of examples under each indicator should be considered as representative but not as comprehensive or all-inclusive.


Two kinds of examples are presented. An instructional example offers an activity or a specific concrete instance of an idea of what is called for by an indicator. A clarifying example provides an illustration of the meaning or intent of an indicator. Like the indicators themselves, examples are considered to be representative but not comprehensive or all-inclusive.

Keying the Standards to the Kansas Science Assessment

Readers should notice that selected indicators beneath standards have a box containing a number immediately to the left of the number of the indicator. The presence of such an internally numbered box beside an indicator means that the indicator has been designated for emphasis on the new Kansas Science Assessment, which will be developed to assess these standards. Thus, a box with the number “4” inside represents an indicator to be emphasized on the Grade 4 Kansas Science Assessment. Similarly, boxes with the numbers “7” or “10” inside represent indicators to be emphasized on the Grade 7 and Grade 10 Kansas Science Assessments, respectively. None of the indicators designated by a boxed-10 will assume competency through the second semester of grade 10. Finally, readers should know that the number represents the first point at which a particular indicator will be assessed. The same indicator may also be included on later assessments.

  Unifying Concepts and Processes in the Kansas Science Education Standards

Science is traditionally a discipline-centered activity; however, broad, unifying concepts and processes exist which cut across the traditional disciplines of science. Four such concepts and processes, which are named and described below, have been embedded within and across the seven standards. These broad unifying concepts and processes complement the analytic, more discipline-based perspectives presented in the other content standards. Moreover, they provide students with productive and insightful ways of thinking about integrating a range of basic ideas that explain the world about us, including what occurs naturally as well as what is built by humans through science and technology. The embedded unifying concepts and processes named and described below are a subset of the many unifying ideas in science and technology. These were selected from the National Science Education Standards because they provide connections between and among traditional scientific disciplines, are fundamental and comprehensive, are understandable and usable by people who will implement science programs, and can be expressed and experienced in a developmentally appropriate manner during K-12 science education.

Systems, Order, and Organization: The world about us is complex; it is too enormous and complex to investigate and understand as a whole. For the convenience of investigation, scientist and students define small portions for study. These small portions can be systems. A system can be described as an organized group of related objects or parts that form the whole. Systems are described and organized into open, closed, or isolated processes. Systems can consist of organisms, machines, fundamental particles, galaxies, ideas, numbers, transportation, and education. Systems have resources, components, and boundaries. Systems have flow (input and output) and provide feedback. Order is described as behavior traits of matter, objects, organisms, or events in the universe. Order can be described statistically. Probability is the prediction and certainty that scientists and students can assign the determined events or experiments in a defined time and space. Types and levels of organizations categorize thought about the world that can be useful. Types of organization include the periodic table of elements and classification of organisms. Physical systems are described at different levels of organization, such as fundamental particle, atoms, and molecules. Living systems also have different levels of organization. Examples of living systems levels of organization include cells, tissue, organs, organisms, populations, and communities.

Evidence, Models, and Explanation: Evidence consists of observations and empirical data which investigators may utilize and evaluate to make scientific conclusions. Models are schemes and structures that correspond to objects and events and enable an investigator to explain and predict. Models also help investigators understand how things work. Examples of models are physical objects, plans, mental constructs, mathematical equations, and computer-based simulations. Scientific explanations are made based on scientific knowledge and new evidence obtained through observations and experiments. “Hypothesis, ” “how, ” “model, ” “principle, ” “theory, ” and “paradigm” are used to describe scientific explanations.

Constancy, Change, and Measurement: Change is the process of becoming different. Change might occur in properties of materials, positions of objects, motion, and system form and function. Change in some properties of objects and processes is characterized by constancy (electron charge, speed of light, etc.) Constancy refers to rate, scale, and patterns of change.

Equilibrium refers to the off-setting forces and changes that occur in opposite directions. Interacting units of matter tend toward equilibrium states in which the energy is as randomly and uniformly distributed as possible. Homeostasis, balance, and steady state are descriptors of equilibrium. Changes can be quantified and measured. Evidence of change and formulation of explanations may be made based on qualified data. Different scales or measurement systems are utilized for various purposes. The metric system is commonly used in science. Science relies on mathematics to accurately measure change and equilibrium. Important scientific knowledge is to know and understand when to use various measurement systems.

Form and Function: Form and function refer to complementary aspects of objects, systems, or organisms. Form most generally relates to the use, function, or operation of an object, system, or organism. Form and function can explain each other.

At the beginning of the 4th (p. 17), 8th (p. 28), and 12th (p. 54) grade standards, the overview of science content for that section within the seven standards is connected to the unifying concepts and processes.



Experiences in grades K-2 will allow all students to develop an understanding of inquiry. In elementary grades, students begin to develop the physical and intellectual abilities of scientific inquiry.

Benchmark 1: All students will be involved in activities that will develop skills necessary to do scientific inquiries. These activities will involve asking a simple question, completing an investigation, answering the question, and presenting the results to others. However, not every activity will involve all of these stages nor must any particular sequence of these stages be followed.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Identify characteristics of objects.

Example: States characteristics of leaves, shells, water, and air.

4 2. Classify and arrange groups of objects by a variety of characteristics.

Example: Group seeds by color, texture, size; group objects by whether they float or sink; group rocks by texture, color, and hardness.

4 3. Use appropriate materials and tools to collect information.

Example: Use magnifiers, balances, scales, thermometers, measuring cups, and spoons when engaged in investigations.

4. Ask and answer questions about objects, organisms, and events in their environment.

Example: The student may ask, “What must I do to balance a pencil, ruler, or piece of paper on my finger?”

5. Describe an observation orally or pictorially.

Example: Draw pictures of plant growth on a daily basis; note color, number of leaves.


Experiences in grades K-2 will allow all students the opportunity to explore the world by observing and manipulating common objects and materials in their environment.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop skills to describe objects.

All students will have opportunities to compare, describe, and sort objects.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Observe properties and measure those properties using age-appropriate tools and materials.

Example: Compare and contrast size, weight, shape, color, and temperature of objects.

4 2. Describe objects by the materials from which they are made.

Example: Compare and contrast objects made from wood, metal, and cloth.

4 3. Separate or sort a group of objects or materials by characteristics.

Example: Compare and contrast the shape, size, weight, and color of objects.

4 4. Compare and contrast solids and liquids.

Example: Compare and contrast the properties of water with the properties of wood.


Experiences in grades K-2 will allow all students to develop an understanding of biological concepts.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop an understanding of the characteristics of living things.

Through direct experiences, students will observe living things, their life cycles, and their habitats.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Discuss that living things need air, water, and food.

Example: What children need…what plants need…what animals need.

2. Observe life cycles of different living things.

Example: Observe butterflies, mealworms, plants, and humans.

3. Observe living things in various environments.

Example: Observe classroom plants; take nature walks in your own area and various field trips; observe terrariums and aquariums.

4 4. Examine the characteristics of living things.

Example: Butterflies have wings. Plants may have leaves and roots. People have skin and hair.


Experiences in grades K-2 will allow all students to observe closely the objects and materials in their environment.

Benchmark 1: All students will describe properties of Earth materials.

Earth materials may include rock, soil, air, and water.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Group Earth materials.

Example: Describe and compare soils by color and texture, sort pebbles and rocks by size, shape, and color.

4 2. Describe where Earth materials are found.

Example: Observe Earth materials around the playground, on a field trip, or in their own yard.

Benchmark 2: All students will observe and compare objects in the sky.

The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and other objects such as airplanes have properties that can be observed and compared.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Distinguish between man-made and natural objects in the sky.

Example: Compare birds to airplanes.

2. Recognize sun, moon, and stars.

Example: Observe day and night sky regularly.

4 3. Describe that the sun provides light and warmth.

Example: Feel heat from the sun on the face and skin. Observe shadows.

Benchmark 3: All students will describe changes in weather.

Weather includes snow, rain, sleet, wind, and violent storms.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Observe changes in the weather from day to day.

Example: Draw pictures.

2. Record weather changes daily.

Example: Use weather charts, calendars, and logs to record daily weather.

3. Discuss weather safety procedures.

Example: Practice tornado drill procedures; talk about the dangers of lightning and flooding.


Experiences in grades K-2 will allow all students to have a variety of educational experiences that involve science and technology.

Benchmark 1: All students will use technology to learn about the world around them.

Students will use software and other technological resources to discover the world around them.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Explore the way things work.

Example: Observe the inner workings of non-working toys, clocks, telephones, toasters, music boxes.

4 2. Experience science through technology.

Example: Use science software programs, balances, thermometers, hand lenses, and bug viewers.

3. Experience science through technology in the kitchen.

Example: Explore simple machines, i.e., wedge, lever, and wheel, and their combinations, ramp, screw, pulley, roller, and axle from common kitchen items, such as sausage grinder and rolling pins. Identify the simple machines and discover the way they make tasks easier to perform.

Example: try to find how many machines are built into a kitchen device like a hand powered egg beater – a crank or lever.


Experiences in grades K-2 will allow all students to have a variety of experiences that provide initial understandings for various science-related personal and environmental challenges.

This standard should be integrated with physical science, life science, and Earth & space science standards.

Benchmark 1: All students will demonstrate responsibility for their own health.

Health encompasses safety, personal hygiene, exercise, and nutrition.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Discuss that safety and security are basic human needs.

Example: Discuss the need to obey traffic signals, the use of crosswalks, and the danger of talking to strangers.

2. Engage in personal care.

Example: Practice washing hands and brushing teeth. Discuss clothing. Discuss personal hygiene.

3. Discuss healthy foods.

Example: Cut out pictures of foods and sort into healthy and not healthy groups.


Experiences in grades K-2 will allow all students to experience scientific inquiry and learn about people from history.

This standard should be integrated with physical science, life science, and Earth & space science standards.

Benchmark 1: All students will know they practice science.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Be involved in explorations that make them wonder and know that they are practicing science.

Example: Observe what happens when you place a banana or an orange (with and without the skin) or a crayon in water. Observe what happens when you hold an M&M, a chocolate chip, or a raisin in your hand. Note the changes. Observe what happens when you rub your hands together very fast.

2. Use technology to learn about people in science.

Example: Read short stories, and view films or videos. Invite parents who are involved in science as guest speakers.


Overview of Science Standards K-4

<TBODY>  Systems, Order & Organization  Evidence, Models & Explanations  Change, Constancy, & Measurement  Form & Function

· Abilities to do, understand, and participate in scientific study










 · Characteristics of objects

· Location and movement of objects

· Electricity and magnetism

· Sound




















 · Relationship of organisms to their environment

· Life cycles of living things
















 · Earth’s materials

· Bodies in the sky

· Dynamic nature of Earth and sky














· Problem solving skills

· Apply understandings of science and technology

· Abilities to distinguish between natural and human-made objects























  · Personal health


· Changes in surroundings
















· People practice science






Experiences in grades 3-4 will allow all students to experience science as full inquiry. Full inquiry involves asking a simple question, completing an investigation, answering the question, and presenting the results to others.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop the skills necessary to do full inquiry. However, not every activity will involve all of these stages nor must any particular sequences of these stages be followed. Students can design investigations to try things to see what happens.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Ask questions that they can answer by investigating.

Example: Will oil and water mix? How much water will a sponge hold?

4 2. Plan and do a simple experiment.

Example: Design a test of the wet strength of paper towels; experiment with plant growth; experiment to find ways to prevent soil erosion.

4 3. Employ appropriate equipment and tools to gather data.

Example: Use a balance to find the mass of the wet paper towel, meter sticks to measure length of the room, our height, arm span.

4 4. Begin developing the abilities to communicate, critique, and analyze their own investigations and interpret the work of other students.

Example: Describe investigations with pictures, written language, oral presentations.


Experiences in grades 3-4 will allow all students to compare, describe, and sort as they begin to form explanations of the world.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop skills to describe objects.

Through observation, manipulation, and classification of common objects, children reflect on the similarities and differences of the objects.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Observe properties and measure those properties using appropriate tools.

Example: Observe and record the size, weight, shape, color, and temperature of objects using balances, thermometers, and other measurement tools.

4 2. Classify objects by the materials from which they are made.

Example: Group a set of objects by the materials from which they are made.

4 3. Describe objects by more than one property.

Example: Observe that an object could be hard, round, and rough.

4 4. Observe and record how one object reacts with another object or substance.

Example: Mix baking soda and vinegar and record observations.

4 5. Recognize and describe the differences between solids and liquids.

Example: Observe differences between ice as a solid and water as a liquid.

Benchmark 2: All students will describe the movement of objects.

When students describe and manipulate objects, they will observe the position and movement of objects.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Move objects by pushing, pulling, throwing, spinning, dropping, and rolling, and describe the movement.

Example: Spin a top; roll a ball.

4 2. Describe locations of objects.

Example: Describe locations as up, down, in front, or behind.

Benchmark 3: All students will recognize and demonstrate what makes sounds.

The concept of sound is very abstract. However, by investigating a variety of sounds made by common objects, students can form a connection between sounds the objects make and the materials from which the objects are made. Plastic objects make a different sound than do wooden objects.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Discriminate between sounds made by different objects.

Example: Listen and compare the sounds made by drums and other musical instruments, such as cans, gourds, plastic spoons, pennies, and plastic disks.

Benchmark 4: All students will experiment with electricity and magnetism. Repeated activities involving simple electrical circuits can help students develop the concept that electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electric current can pass. Magnets attract and repel each other and certain kinds of other materials.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Demonstrate that magnets attract and repel.

4 2. Design a simple experiment to determine whether various objects will be attracted to magnets.

4 3. Construct a simple circuit.

Example: Use a battery, bulb, and wire to light a bulb, make a motor run, produce sound, or make an electromagnet.


Experiences in grades 3-4 will allow all students to build an understanding of biological concepts through direct experience with living things, their life cycles, and their habitats.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop a knowledge of organisms in their environments.

The study of organisms should include observations and interactions within the natural world of the child.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Compare and contrast structural characteristics and functions of different organisms.

Example: Compare the structures for movement of a mealworm to the structures for movement of a guppy. Compare the leaf structures of a sprouted bean seed to the leaf structures of a corn seed.

4 2. Compare basic needs of different organisms in their environments.

Example: Compare the basic needs of a guinea pig to the basic needs of a tree.

3. Discuss ways humans and other organisms use their senses in their environments.

Example: Compare how people and other living organisms get food, seek shelter, and defend themselves.

Benchmark 2: All students will observe and illustrate the life cycles of various organisms.

Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Compare, contrast, and ask questions about the life cycles of various organisms.

Example: Plant a seed and observe and record its growth. Observe and record the changes of an insect as it develops from birth to adult.


Experiences in grades 3-4 will allow all students to observe closely the objects, materials, and changes in their environment, note their properties, distinguish one from another, and develop their own explanations of how things become the way they are.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop an understanding of the characteristics of rocks, soil, and water, as well as other components of Earth.

Playgrounds or parks are convenient study sites to observe.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Observe a variety of Earth materials in their environment.

Example: Observe rocks, soil, sand, air, and water.

4 2. Collect, observe, and become aware of properties of various soils.

Example: Students could bring in samples of soils from their surroundings and observe color, texture, and reaction to water.

4 3. Experiment with a variety of soils.

Example: By planting seeds in a variety of soil samples, students can compare the effect of different soils on plant growth.

4 4. Describe properties of many different kinds of rocks.

Example: Bring rocks from the playground, immerse in water, and observe color, texture, and reaction to liquids.

5. Observe fossils and discuss how fossils provide evidence of plants and animals that lived in the past.

Example: Provide a variety of fossils for observation. Discuss how fossils are formed; how long it takes an organism to decay or to be scavenged; how long it takes an organism to be fossilized; whether or not all fossilized organisms were dead at the time of burial (i.e. closed clam fossils).

Benchmark 2: All students will describe and compare characteristics of objects that move through the sky.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Observe the moon and stars.

Example: Sketch the position of the moon in relation to a tree, rooftop, or building.

2. Observe and compare the length of shadows.

Example: Students can observe the movement of an object’s shadow during the course of a day, or construct simple sundials.

4 3. Discuss that the sun provides light and heat to maintain the temperature of the Earth.

Example: When on the playground and the sun goes behind a cloud, discuss why it seems cooler.

Benchmark 3: All students will develop skills necessary to describe changes in the Earth and weather.

If the students revisit a study site regularly, they will develop an understanding that the Earth’s surface and weather are constantly changing.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Describe changes in the surface of the Earth.

Example: Students will observe erosion and changes in plant growth at a study site.

4 2. Observe, describe, and record daily and seasonal weather changes.

Example: Record weather observations.


Experiences in grades 3-4 will allow all students to have a variety of educational experiences that involve science and technology. They will begin to understand the design process, as well as develop the ability to solve simple design problems that are appropriately challenging for their developmental level.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop appropriate problem solving skills.

Problem solving should occur within the setting of the home and school.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Identify a simple problem; design an approach/plan; implement the plan; solve and check for reasonableness; and communicate the results.

Example: Compare and contrast two types of string to see which is best for lifting different objects; design the best paper airplane, helicopter, or terrarium; design a simple system to hold two objects together.

Benchmark 2: All students will expand and use their understanding of science and technology.

Children can examine technological products (such as zippers, snaps, arches, and cars) to learn how the scientific process can lead to solutions for everyday problems.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Discuss that science is a way of investigating questions about their world.

Example: Discuss how you think a zipper works; discuss how you think a can opener works.

4 2. Invent a product to solve problems.

Example: Invent a new use for old products; potato masher , strainer, carrot peeler. Use a juice can to invent something useful.

3. Work together to solve problems.

Example: Share ideas about solving a problem.

4. Develop an awareness that women and men of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnic groups engage in a variety of scientific and technological work.

Example: Interview parents and other community and school workers.

 5. Investigate how scientists use tools to observe.

Example: Engage in research on the Internet; interview the weatherman; conduct research in the library; call or visit a laboratory.

Benchmark 3: All students will discriminate between natural objects and those made by people.

Some objects occur in nature; others have been designed and made by people to solve human problems and enhance the quality of life.

Indicators: The student will:

4 1. Compare, contrast, and sort human-made versus natural objects.

Example: Compare and contrast real flowers to silk flowers.

4 2. Use appropriate tools when observing natural and human-made objects.

Example: Use a magnifier when observing objects.

3. Ask questions about natural or human-made objects and discuss the reasoning behind their answers.

Example: The teacher will ask, “Is this a human-made object? Why do you think so?” When observing a natural or human-made object, the child will be asked the reasoning behind his/her answer.

4. Investigate the various systems that connect utilities to the student’s home: Electricity, Gas, Water, Sanitation, Telecommunication, etc. Find the source or entry of the system and points where the utility can be accessed. Find the places where the system is controlled.


Experiences in grades 3-4 will allow all students to demonstrate personal health and environmental practices, and to have a variety of experiences that provide initial understanding for various science-related personal and environmental challenges.

This standard should be integrated with physical science, life science, and Earth & space science standards.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop an understanding of personal health.

Personal health involves physical and mental well being, including hygienic practices, and self-respect.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Discuss that safety involves freedom from danger, risk, or injury.

Example: Classroom discussions could include bike safety, water safety,weather safety, sun protection.

2. Exhibit some responsibility for their own health.

Example: Use recommended dental hygiene techniques, bathe, and exercise.

4 3. Discuss that various foods contribute to health.

Example: Read and compare nutrition information found on labels; discuss healthy foods; make a healthy snack.

Benchmark 2: All students will demonstrate an awareness of changes in the environment.

Through classroom discussions, students can begin to recognize pollution as an environmental issue, scarcity as a resource issue, and crowded classrooms or schools as a population issue.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Define pollution.

Example: Take a pollution walk, gathering examples of litter and trash.

4 2. Develop personal actions to solve pollution problems in and around the neighborhood.

Example: After the pollution walk, children could work in groups to solve pollution problems they observed.

3. Practice reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Example: Present the problem that paper is being wasted in the classroom. Students could meet and form a plan to resolve this problem.


Experiences in grades 3-4 will allow all students to experience some things about scientific inquiry and learn about people from history.

Experiences of investigating and thinking about explanations, not memorization, will provide fundamental ideas about the history and nature of science. This standard should be integrated with physical science, life science, and Earth and space science standards.

Benchmark 1: All students will develop an awareness that people practice science.

People have practiced science and technology for a long time. Children and adults can derive great pleasure from doing science. They can investigate, construct, and experience science. Individuals, as well as groups of students, can conduct investigations.

Indicators: The students will:

4 1. Ask a question that can be answered by scientific experimenting and do an experiment that will answer the question. Then repeat the experiment to see if they can get the same results.

Example: What will happen if a plant is under light for different lengths of time? What will happen if the length or width of the wing of a paper airplane is changed? What will happen if vinegar is dropped on different kinds of rocks?

Benchmark 2: Determine the difference between data, explanations and the scientific method.

Indicators: The student will:

1. Gather data and develop an explanation about the results of an experiment. Tell what is data, what is the explanation, and what was the method.

Example: The amount of growth of a plant is the data. An explanation might be that more light and the nature of the plant caused more growth, and the scientific method is doing the repeatable and testable experiment and developing the explanation.

Benchmark 3: Learn about people in science.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Learn about the contributions people have made to science.

Example: Short stories, films, videos, and speakers.


 Overview of Science Standards 5-8

<TBODY>  Systems, Order & Organization  Evidence, Models & Explanations  Change, Constancy, & Measurement  Form & Function

  · Abilities to conduct scientific investigation

· Designing investigations

· Understanding scientific achievement










  · Characteristics of matter

· Changes in matter


· Force and motion

· Energy transfer



























  · Structure and function of organisms


· Reproduction and inheritance

· Behavior and regulation

· Ecosystems and populations

· Adaptations of diversity andorganisms
































  · Structure of the Earth system

· Past and present Earth processes

· Components of the solar system

· Motion and forces which affect Earth phenomena


























  · Technological problem-solving


· Understand how science relates to technology












 · Personal health


· Populations, resources, and environments

· Risks and causes of natural hazards

























  · Scientific habits of mind

· Contributions to science throughout history







Experiences in grades 5-8 will allow all students to develop the abilities to do scientific inquiry, be able to demonstrate how scientific inquiry is applied, and develop understandings about scientific inquiry.

Benchmark 1: The students will demonstrate abilities necessary to do the processes of scientific inquiry.

Students can develop the skills of investigation and the understanding that scientific inquiry is guided by knowledge, observations, questions, and a design which identifies and controls variables to gather evidence to formulate an answer to the original question, given appropriate curriculum and adequate instruction. Students are to be provided opportunities to engage in full and partial inquiries in order to develop the skills of inquiry.

Teachers help students succeed by showing how to choose interesting questions, checking designs, giving examples of good experimental strategies and instructing in the proper use of instruments and technology. Students at the middle level need special guidance in using evidence to build explanations, inference, and models, and guidance to think critically and logically and to see the relationships between evidence and explanations.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.

Example: Explore properties and phenomena of materials, such as a balloon, string, straw, and tape. Students explore properties and phenomena and generate questions to investigate.

7 2. Design and do scientific inquiry.

Example: Students design and conduct an investigation on the question, “Which paper towel absorbs the most water?” Materials include different kinds of paper towels, water, and a measuring cup. Components of the investigation should include background and hypothesis, identification of independent variable, dependent variable, constants, list of materials, procedures, collection and analysis of data, and conclusions.

7 3. Use appropriate tools, mathematics, technologies, and methods to gather, analyze and interpret data.

Example: Given an investigative question, students determine what to measure and how to measure, and display their results in a graph or other graphic format.

7 4. Think critically to make the relationships between evidence and logical conclusions.

Example: Students check data to determine: Was the question answered? Was the hypothesis supported/not supported? Did this design work? How could this experiment be improved? What other questions could be investigated?

7 5. Apply mathematical reasoning to scientific inquiry.

Example: Look for patterns from the mean of multiple trials, such as rate of dissolving relative to different temperatures. Use observations for inductive and deductive reasoning, such as explaining a person’s energy level after a change in eating habits (e.g., use Likert-type scale). State relationships in data, such as variables, which vary directly or inversely.

7 6. Present a report of the investigation so that others understand it and can replicate the design.

Benchmark 2: The students will apply different kinds of investigations to different kinds of questions.

Investigation strategies include observation, specimen collection, experimentation, discovery, and modeling. Instructional activities of scientific inquiry need to engage students in identifying and shaping questions for investigations. Different kinds of investigations suggest different kinds of questions.

To help focus, students need to frame questions such as “What do we want to find out?” “How can we make the most accurate observations?” “If we do this, then what do we expect to happen?” Students need instruction to develop the ability to refine and refocus broad and ill-defined questions.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Differentiate between a qualitative and a quantitative investigation.

Example: While observing a decomposing compost pile, how could you collect quantitative (numerical, measurable) data? How could you collect qualitative (descriptive) data? What is a quantitative question? (e.g., Is the temperature constant throughout the compost pile?) What is a qualitative question? (e.g., Does the color of the compost pile change over time?)

Example: Each student designs a question to investigate. Class analyzes all questions to classify as qualitative or quantitative.

After reading a science news article, identify variables and write a qualitative and/or quantitative investigative question related to the topic of the article.

2. Develop questions and adapt the inquiry process to guide an investigation.

Example: Adapt an existing lab or activity to: write a different question, identify another variable, and/or adapt the procedure to guide a new investigation.

Benchmark 3: The students will analyze how science advances through new ideas, scientific investigations, skepticism, and examining evidence of varied explanations.

Scientific investigations usually create opportunities for further study. Science advances because of skepticism. Asking questions about scientific explanations is part of inquiry. Proposed explanations are evaluated by examining all the evidence and providing alternatives.

Much time can be spent asking students to scrutinize evidence and explanations, but to develop critical thinking skills students must be allowed this time. Data that is carefully recorded and communicated can be reviewed and revisited frequently providing insights beyond the original investigative period. This teaching and learning strategy allows students to discuss, debate, question, explain, clarify, compare, and propose new thinking through social discourse. Students will apply this strategy to their own investigations and to scientific theories.

Indicators: The students will:

1. After doing an investigation, generate alternative methods of investigation and/or further questions for inquiry.

Example: Ask “What would happen if..?” questions to generate new ideas for investigation.

10 2. Determine evidence which supports or contradicts a scientific breakthrough.

Example: Locate a scientific breakthrough [such as a Hubble discovery] in a newspaper or science magazine and analyze evidence. Is it a reasonable conclusion?

3. Identify faulty reasoning of conclusions which go beyond evidence and/or are not supported by data in a current scientific hypothesis or theory.

Example: Analyze hypotheses about characteristics of and extinction of dinosaurs. Identify the assumptions behind the hypothesis and show the weaknesses in the reasoning that led to the hypothesis.

4. Suggest alternative scientific hypotheses or theories to current scientific hypotheses or theories.

Example: At least some stratified rocks may have been laid down quickly, such as Mount Etna in Italy or Mount St. Helens in Washington state.


Experiences in grades 5-8 will allow all students to develop an understanding of physical science including: characteristics of matter, changes in matter, force and motion, and energy transfer.

Benchmark 1: The students will observe, compare, and classify properties of matter.

Substances have characteristic properties. Substances often are placed in categories if they react or act in similar ways. An example of a category is metals. There are more than 100 known elements that combine in a multitude of ways to produce compounds, which account for the living and non-living substances we encounter. Middle level students have the capability of understanding relationships among properties of matter. For example, they are able to understand that density is a ratio of mass to volume, boiling point is affected by atmospheric pressure, and solubility is dependent on pressure and temperature.

These relationships are developed by concrete activities that involve hands-on manipulation of apparatuses, making quantitative measurements, and interpreting data using graphs.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Identify and communicate properties of matter, including phases of matter, boiling point, solubility, and density.

Example: Measure and graph the boiling point temperatures for several different liquids. Graph the cooling curve of a freezing ice cream mixture. Observe substances that dissolve (sugar) and substances that do not dissolve (sand).

2. Using the characteristic properties of each original substance, distinguish components of various types of mixtures.

Example: Separate alcohol and water using distillation. Separate sand, iron filings, and salt using a magnet and dissolving in water. Observe properties of kitchen powders (baking soda, salt, sugar, flour). Mix in various combinations, then identify by properties.

3. Categorize chemicals to develop an understanding of properties.

Example: Create operational definitions of metals and nonmetals and classify by observable chemical and physical properties.

Benchmark 2: The students will observe, measure, infer, and classify changes in properties of matter.

Matter chemically reacts in predictable ways with other matter to form new compounds with different properties. Middle level students have the capability of inferring characteristics that are not directly observable and stating their reasons for their inferences. Students need opportunities to form relationships between what they can see and inferences of characteristics of matter.

We cannot always see the products of chemical reactions, so the teacher can provide opportunities for the student to measure reactants and products to build the concept of conservation of mass. “Is mass lost when baking soda (solid) and vinegar (liquid) react to produce a gas?” “How could we design an experiment which would (safely) contain the reaction in a closed container in order to measure the materials before and after the reaction?” Students need to engage in activities that lead to these understandings.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Measure and graph the effects of temperature on matter.

Example: Change water from solid to liquid to gas using heat. Measure and graph temperature changes. Observe changes in volume occupied.

10 2. Understand that total mass is conserved in chemical reactions.

Example: Measure the mass of an Alka Seltzer tablet, water, and a container with a lid. Then drop in tablet, close tightly, and measure the mass after the reaction.

10 3. Understand the relationship of elements to compounds.

Example: Draw a diagram to show how different compounds are composed of elements in various combinations.

Benchmark 3: The students will investigate motion and forces.

All matter is subjected to forces that affect its position and motion. Relating motions to direction, amount of force, and/or speed allows students to graphically represent data for making comparisons. A moving object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move in a straight line at a constant speed. The principle of inertia helps to explain many events such as sports actions, household accidents, and space walks. If more than one force acts upon an object moving along a straight line, the forces may reinforce each other or cancel each other out, depending on their direction and magnitude.

Students experience forces and motions in their daily lives when kicking balls, riding in a car, and walking on ice. Teachers should provide hands-on opportunities for students to experience these physical principles. The forces acting on natural and human-made structures can be analyzed using computer simulations, physical models, and games such as pool, soccer, bowling, and marbles.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Describe motion of an object (position, direction of motion, speed, potential and kinetic energy).

Example: Follow the path of a toy car down a ramp. The ramp is first covered with tile and then with sandpaper. Consider the total energy (kinetic and potential) at the top of the ramp then at the bottom of it. Note the conversion of potential to kinetic energy. Trace the force, direction, and speed of a baseball, from leaving the pitcher’s hand and returning back to the pitcher through one of many possible paths. What is the source of force that causes a curve ball to move sideways in midflight?

7 2. Measure motion and represent data in a graph.

Example: Roll a marble down a ramp. Make adjustments to the board or to the marble’s position in order to hit a target located on the floor. Measure and graph the results.

10 3. Demonstrate an understanding that an object not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed in a straight line (Law of Inertia).

Example: Place a small object on a rolling toy vehicle; stop the vehicle

abruptly; observe the motion of the small object. Relate to personal experience – stopping rapidly in a car.

10 4. Demonstrate and mathematically communicate that unbalanced forces will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object’s motion.

Example: With a ping-pong ball and 2 straws, investigate the effects of the force of air through two straws on the ping-pong ball with the straws at the same side of ball, on opposite sides, and at other angles. Illustrate results with vectors (force arrows).

10 5. Understand that a force (e.g., gravity and friction) is a push or a pull and investigate force variables.

Example: Explore the variables of (wheel and ramp) surfaces that would allow a powered car to overcome the forces of gravity and friction to climb an inclined plane.

Benchmark 4: The students will understand and demonstrate the transfer of energy.

Energy forms, such as heat, light, electricity, mechanical (motion), sound, and chemical energy are properties of substances. Energy can be transformed from one form to another. The sun is the ultimate source of energy for life systems while heat convection currents deep within the Earth are an energy source for gradually shaping the Earth’s surface. Energy cycles through physical and living systems. Energy can be measured and predictions can be made based on these measurements.

Students can explore light energy using lenses and mirrors, then connect with real life applications such as cameras, eyeglasses, telescopes, and bar code scanners. Students connect the importance of energy transfer with sources of energy for their homes, such as chemical, nuclear, solar, and mechanical sources. Teachers provide opportunities for students to explore and experience energy forms, energy transfers, and make measurements to describe relationships.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Understand that energy can be transferred from one form to another, including mechanical heat, light, electrical, chemical, and nuclear energy.

Example: Design an energy transfer device. Use various forms of energy. The device should accomplish a simple task such as popping a balloon. Explore sound waves using a spring.

7 2. Sequence the transmission of energy through various real life systems.

Example: Draw a chart of energy flow through a telephone from the caller’s voice to the listener’s ear.

7 3. Observe and communicate how light interacts with matter: transmitted, reflected, refracted, absorbed.

Example: Classify classroom objects as to how they interact with light: a window transmits; black paper absorbs; a projector lens refracts; a mirror reflects.

7 4. Understand that heat energy can be transferred from hot to cold by radiation, convection, and conduction.

Example: Add colored warm water to cool water. Observe convection. Measure and graph temperature over time.


Experiences in grades 5-8 will allow all students to apply scientific process skills to investigate and understand the structure and function of organisms, reproduction and inheritance, behavior and regulation, ecosystems and populations, and adaptations and diversity of organisms.

Benchmark 1: The students will model structures of organisms and relate functions to the structures.

Living things at all levels of organization demonstrate the complimentary nature of structure and function. Disease is a breakdown in structure or function of an organism. It is useful for middle level students to think of life as being organized from simple to complex, such as a complex organ system includes simpler structures. Understanding the structure and function of a cell can help explain what is happening in more complex systems. Students must also understand how parts relate to the whole, such as each structure is distinct and has a set of functions that serve the whole.

Teachers can help students understand this organization of life by comparing and contrasting the levels of organization in both plants and animals. Teachers reinforce understanding of the cellular nature of life by providing opportunities to observe live cultures, such as pond water; creating models of cells; and using the Internet to observe and describe electron micrographs. Early adolescence is an ideal time to investigate the human body systems as an example of relating structure and function of parts to the whole.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Relate the structure of cells, organs, tissues, organ systems, and whole organisms to their functions.

Example: Identify human body organs and characteristics. Then relate their characteristics to function. Map human body systems, research their functions and show how each supports the health of the human body. Relate an organism’s structure to how it works (long neck for reaching leaves on a tree).

7 2. Compare and contrast organisms composed of single cells with organisms that are multi-cellular.

Example: Create and compare two models: the major parts and their functions of a single-cell organism and the major parts and their functions of a multi-cellular organism, i.e. amoeba and hydra.

3. Conclude that breakdowns in structure or function of an organism may be caused by disease, damage, heredity or aging.

Example: Compare lung capacity of smokers with that of non-smokers and graph the results.

Benchmark 2: The students will understand the role of reproduction and heredity for all living things.

Reproduction is an activity of all living systems to ensure the continuation of every species. Organisms reproduce sexually and/or asexually. Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its traits. Heredity is the passage of these instructions from one generation to another. Students need to clarify misconceptions about reproduction, specifically about the role of the sperm and egg, and the sexual reproduction of flowering plants. In learning about heredity, younger middle level students will focus on observable traits and older students will gain understanding that genetic material carries coded information.

Teachers should provide opportunities for students to observe a variety of organisms and their sexual and asexual methods of reproduction by culturing bacteria, yeast cells, paramecium, hydra, mealworms, guppies, or frogs. Discussions with students about traits they possess from their father and mother lead to an understanding of how an organism receives genetic information from both parents and how new combinations result in the students’ unique characteristics.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Conclude that reproduction is essential to the continuation of a species.

Example: Observe and communicate the life cycle of an organism (seed to seed; larva to larva; or adult to adult). Culture more than one generation (life cycle) of an invertebrate organism. Discuss implications of one generation of the species not reproducing.

7 2. Differentiate between asexual and sexual reproduction in plants and animals.

Example: Compare the regeneration of a planaria to the reproduction of an earthworm.

Compare the propagation of new plants from cuttings, (which skips a portion of the life cycle) with the process of producing a new plant from fertilization to a seed.

7 3. Infer that the characteristics of an organism result from heredity and interactions with the environment.

Example: Choose an organism. Research its characteristics. Infer if these characteristics result from heredity, environment, or both.

10 4. Understand that hereditary information contained in the genes (part of the chromosomes) of each cell is passed from one generation to the next.

Example: In a cooperative setting, have students trace parent characteristics with that of an offspring. Use coin tossing to predict the probability of traits being passed on. Remember that not all traits are single gene traits.

 Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 3

Benchmark 3: The students will describe the effects of a changing external environment on the regulation/balance of internal conditions and processes of organisms.

All organisms perform similar processes to maintain life. They take in food and gases, eliminate wastes, grow and progress through their life cycle, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly changing environment. An organism’s behavior changes as its environment changes. Students need opportunities to investigate a variety of organisms to realize that all living things have similar fundamental needs. After observing an organism’s way of moving, obtaining food, and responding to danger, students can alter the environment and observe the effects on the organism.

This is an appropriate time to study the human nervous and endocrine systems. Students can compare and contrast how messages are sent through the body and how the body responds. An example is how fright causes changes within the body, preparing it for fighting or fleeing.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Understand the effects of a change in environmental conditions on behavior of an organism by carrying out a full investigation.

Example: Select a variable to alter the environment (e.g., temperature, light, moisture, gravity) and observe the effects on an organism (e.g., pillbug or earthworm). Students could also think of their own behaviors and determine environmental conditions that affect behavior.

7 2. Identify behaviors of an organism that are a response made to an internal or environmental stimulus.

Example: Observe the response of the body when competing in a running event. In order to maintain body temperature, various systems begin cooling through such processes as sweating and cooling the blood at the surface of the skin.

10 3. Explain that all organisms must be able to maintain and regulate stable internal conditions to survive in a constantly changing external environment.

Example: Investigate the effects of various stimuli on plants and how they adapt their growth: phototropism, geotropism, and thermotropism are examples.

Benchmark 4: The students will identify and relate interactions of populations of organisms within an ecosystem.

When studying the interaction of populations of organisms and their surroundings, it is important for students to understand and appropriately use terms such as population, habitat, ecosystem, food web, biotic, and abiotic. It also is critical for students to examine the flow of energy through the ecosystem. All members of a species that live together in a given time and place are known as a population. An ecosystem is all the populations living together in a specific place, along with the non-living things with which they interact.

Populations contain producers, organisms that make their own food; consumers, organisms that eat other organisms; and decomposers, organisms that break down dead organisms. Sunlight provides energy for the ecosystem. Producers convert the sun’s energy into food energy, which then passes from organism to organism. A food web shows the interrelationship of organisms based upon food consumption. The number of organisms in a population is limited by the biotic and abiotic resources available. A classroom terrarium, aquarium or river tank can serve as an excellent model for observing ecosystems and changes and interactions that occur over time between populations of organisms and changes in physical conditions. Constructing their own food webs, given a set of organisms, helps students to see multiple relationships more clearly.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Recognize that an ecosystem is composed both of all populations living together and of the physical factors with which they interact.

Example: Create a classroom terrarium and identify the interactions between the populations and physical conditions needed for survival. Participate in a field study examining the living and non-living parts of a community.

7 2. Classify organisms in a system by the function they serve (producers, consumers, decomposers).

Example: Explore populations at a pond, field, forest floor, and/or rotting log. Have students identify the various food webs and observe that organisms in a system are classified by their function.

7 3. Trace the energy flow from the sun (source) to producers (chemical energy) to other organisms in food webs.

Example: Role play the interactions and energy flow of organisms in a food web by passing a ball of string starting with the sun, progressing to green plants, insects, etc.

7 4. Relate the limiting factors of biotic and abiotic resources with a species’ population growth and decline.

Example: Change variables such as a wheat crop yield, mice, or a predator, and chart the possible outcomes. For example, how would a low population of mice affect the population of the predator over time? Participate in a simulation such as “Oh Deer” from Project Wild.

Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 3

Benchmark 5: The students will observe the diversity of living things and relate their adaptations to their survival or extinction.

Millions of species of microorganisms, animals, and plants are alive today. Animals and plants vary in body plans and internal structures. Over time, genetic variation acted upon by natural selection has brought variations in populations. This is termed microevolution. A structural characteristic or behavior that helps an organism survive and reproduce in its environment is called an adaptation. When the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics or behaviors are insufficient, the species becomes extinct.

Instruction needs to be designed to uncover and prevent misconceptions about natural selection. Natural selection can maintain or deplete genetic variation but does not add new information to the existing genetic code. Using examples of microevolution, such as Darwin’s finches or the peppered moths of Manchester, helps develop understanding of natural selection. Examining fossil evidence assists the student’s understanding of extinction as a natural process that has affected Earth’s species.

Indicators: The student will:

7 1. Conclude that millions of species of animals, plants and microorganisms have similarities in internal structures, developmental characteristics and chemical processes.

Example: Research numerous organisms and create a classification system based on observations of similarities and differences. Compare this system with a dichotomous key used by scientists. Explore various ways animals take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide.

2. Understand that microevolution, the adaptation of organisms – by changes in structure, function, or behavior – favors beneficial genetic variations and contributes to biological diversity.

Example: Compare bird characteristics such as beaks, wings and feet with how a bird behaves in its environment. Then students work in cooperative groups to design different parts of an imaginary bird. Relate characteristics and behaviors of that bird with its structures.

7 3. Associate extinction of a species with environmental changes and insufficient adaptive characteristics.

Example: Students use various objects, such as spoons, toothpicks, clothespins, to model bird beaks. Students use “beaks” to “eat” several types of food, such as cereal, marbles, raisins, noodles. When “food” sources change, those organisms which have not adapted die.

  Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 3

 4. Understand that natural selection acts only on the existing genetic code and adds no new genetic information.

Example: Research hemophilia among the Royalty of the 17th – 19th centuries.

5. The effect of selection on genetic variation is a well-substantiated theoretical framework in biology.

Example: Selection (natural and artificial) provides the context in which to ask research questions and yields valuable applied answers, especially in agriculture and medicine.





Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 4


Experiences in grades 5-8 will allow all students to study and develop an understanding of the structure and history of Earth and the solar system.

Benchmark 1: The students will understand that the structure of the Earth’s system is constantly changing due to the Earth’s physical processes.

Earth has four major interacting systems: the lithosphere/geosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the biosphere. Earth material is constantly being reworked and changed. The rock cycle, the water cycle, and the carbon cycle are powered by physical forces, chemical reactions, heat, energy, and biological processes. The solid Earth is layered with a lithosphere, which is a hot, convecting mantle, and a dense, metallic core. Huge lithospheric plates containing continents and oceans slowly move in response to movement in the mantle. These plate motions also result in earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain-building. Landforms are caused by constructive and destructive Earth forces.

Middle level students learn about the major Earth systems and their relationships through direct and indirect evidence. First-hand observations of weather, rocks, soil, oceans, and gases lead students to make inferences about some of those major systems. Indirect evidence is used when determining the composition and movement in Earth’s mantle and core. Continents float on the denser mantle, like slabs of wax on the surface of water.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Predict patterns from data collected.

Example: Map the movement of weather systems, and predict the local weather conditions.

7 2. Identify properties of the solid Earth, the oceans and fresh water, and the atmosphere.

Example: Create a concept map of Earth materials using links to show connections, such as water causing erosion of solid, wind evaporating water, etc. Compare the densities of salt and fresh water. Classify rocks, minerals, and soil by properties. Compare heating and cooling over land and water.

7 3. Model Earth’s cycles.

Example: Create rock cycle and water cycle dioramas. Illustrate global ocean and wind currents. Flow chart a carbon atom through the carbon cycle.

 Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 4

10 4. Based on the prevailing model, connect the layers of the lithosphere with Earth’s plate movement that results in major geologic events and landform development.

Example: Plot the location of the Earth’s plate boundaries and compare with recent volcano and earthquake activity in the Ring of Fire. Refer to US Geologic Survey data available on the Internet.

10 5. Understand water’s major role in changing the solid surface of the Earth, such as the effect of oceans on climates and water as an erosional force.

Example: Map major climate zones and relate to ocean currents.

Model top soil erosion.

Measure sediment load in a nearby stream.

Benchmark 2: The students will understand that past and present Earth processes are similar.

The constructive and destructive forces we see today are similar to those that occurred in the past. Constructive forces include crystal formation by plate movement, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and deposition of sediments. Destructive forces include weathering, erosion, and glacial action. Earth’s history is written in the layers of the rocks and clues in the rocks can be used to piece together a story and picture. Geologic processes that form rocks and mountains today are similar to processes that formed rocks and mountains over a long period of time in the distant past.

Teachers can provide opportunities for students to observe and research evidence of changes that can be found in the Earth’s crust. Sedimentary rocks, such as limestone, sandstone, and shale show deposition of sediments over time. Volcanic flows of ancient volcanoes and Earthquake damage can show us what to expect from modern day catastrophes. Glacial deposits show past ice ages and global warming and cooling. Some fossil beds enable the matching of rocks from different continents, and other fossil beds show how organisms developed over a long period of time. Students will need to apply knowledge of Earth’s past to make decisions relative to Earth’s future.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Examine the dynamics of Earth’s constructive and destructive forces over time.

Example: Discuss the destructive force of volcanoes and resultant rocks. Discuss major river floods and resultant sedimentary rock deposition.

7 2. Compare geologic evidence from different areas.

Example: Locate the same rock layer in 2 local road cuts; give fossil and other evidence that the layer is the same in both exposures. Compare sedimentary deposits from other areas. Are all layers of the geologic column present? If not, which ones are missing? Are the layers of the geologic column always found in the expected sequence?

  Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 4

10 3. Compare the current arrangement of the continents with the arrangement of continents throughout the Earth’s history.

Example: Cut out continents from a world map and slide them together to see how they fit. Plot each continental plate’s latitude and longitude through Earth history.

Benchmark 3: The students will identify and classify planets and other solar system components.

The solar system consists of the sun, which is an average-sized star in the middle of its life cycle, and the nine planets and their moons, asteroids, and comets, which travel in elliptical orbits around the sun. The sun, the central and largest body in the system, radiates energy outward. The Earth is the third of nine planets in the system, and has one moon. Other stars in our galaxy are visible from Earth, as are distant galaxies, but are so distant they appear as pinpoints of light. Scientists have discovered much about the composition and size of stars, and how they move in space.

Space and the solar system are of high interest to middle level students. Teachers can help students take advantage of the many print and on-line resources as well as become amateur sky-watchers.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Compare and contrast the characteristics of the planets.

Example: Search reliable Internet sources for current information. Create a graphic organizer to visualize comparisons of planets.

7 2. Develop understanding of spatial relationships via models of the Earth/moon/planets/sun system to scale.

Example: Model the solar system to scale in a long hallway or school yard using rocks for rocky planets and balloons for gaseous planets. Designate a large object as the sun. Model the Earth/moon/sun system to scale with the question: If the Earth were the size of a tennis ball, how big would the moon be? How big would the sun be? How far apart would they be?

3. Research smaller components of the solar system such as asteroids and comets.

Example: Identify and classify characteristics of asteroids and comets.

10 4. Identify the sun as a star and compare its characteristics to those of other stars.

Example: Classify bright stars visible from Earth by color, temperature, apparent brightness, and distance from Earth.

  Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 4

5. Trace scientific influences on the study of astronomy.

Example: Research ancient observations and explanations of the heavens and compare with today’s knowledge.

Benchmark 4: The students will model motions and identify forces that explain Earth phenomena.

There are many motions and forces that affect the Earth. Most objects in the solar system have regular motions, which can be tracked, measured, analyzed, and predicted. Such phenomena as the day, year, seasons, tides, phases of the moon, eclipses of the sun and moon, can be explained by these motions. The force that governs the motions of the solar system, and keeps the planets in orbit around the sun, and the moon around the Earth, is gravity. Phenomena on the Earth’s surface, such as winds, ocean currents, the water cycle, and the growth of plants, receive their energy from the sun.

Misconceptions abound among middle level students about such concepts as the cause of the seasons and the reasons for the phases of the moon. Hands-on activities, role-playing, models, and computer simulations are helpful for understanding the relative motion of the planets and moons. Teachers can help students make connections between force and motion concepts, such as Newton’s Laws of Motion and Newton’s Law of Gravitational Force, and applications to Earth and space science. Many ideas are misconceptions which could be considered in a series of “what if” questions: What if the sun’s energy did not cause cloud formation and other parts of the water cycle? What if the Earth rotated once a month? What if the Earth’s axis was not tilted?

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Demonstrate object/space/time relationships that explain phenomena such as the day, the month, the year, and the seasons.

Example: Use an Earth/moon/sun model to demonstrate a day, a month, a year, and the seasons.

10 2. Model Earth/moon positions that create phases of the moon and eclipses.

Example: Use students to demonstrate the relative positions of the sun, Earth and moon to create eclipses, phases of the moon, and tides, using a circle of students representing the fluid water.

10 3. Apply principles of force and motion to an understanding of the solar system.

Example: Use string and ball model to illustrate gravity and movement, creating an orbit around a hand.

 Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 4

10 4. Understand the effect of the angle of incidence of solar energy striking the Earth’ssurface on the amount of heat energy absorbed at the Earth’s surface.

Example: Place a piece of graph paper on the surface of a globe at the equator. Hold a flashlight 10 cm from the paper parallel to the globe. Mark the lighted area of the paper. Then, place the graph paper at a high latitude. Again hold the flashlight parallel to the paper 10 cm from the paper. Compare the areas lit at the equator and at the high latitude, with the same amount of light energy. Where does each lighted square of paper receive the most energy?

   Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 5


Experiences in grades 5-8 will allow all students to demonstrate technological problem solving and understand how science relates to technology.

Benchmark 1: The students will demonstrate abilities of technological design.

Technological design focuses on creating new products for meeting human needs. Students need to develop abilities to identify specific needs and design solutions for those needs. The tasks of technological design include addressing a range of needs, materials, and aspects of science. Suitable experiences could include designing inventions that meet a need in the student’s life.

Building a tower of straws is a good start for collaboration and work in design preparation and construction. Students need to develop criteria for evaluating their inventions/products. These questions could help develop criteria: Who will be the users of the product? How will we know

if the product meets their needs? Are there any risks to the design? What is the cost? How much time will it take to build? Using their own criteria, students can design several ways of solving a problem and evaluate the best approach. Students could keep a log of their designs and evaluations to communicate the process of technological design. The log might address these questions: What is the function of the device? How does the device work? How did students come up with the idea? What were the sequential steps taken in constructing the design? What problems were encountered?

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Identify situations that can be improved by technological design.

Example: Design a measurement instrument (e.g., weather instruments) for a science question that students are investigating.

Select and research a current technology, then project how it might change in the next 20 years.

7 2. Design, create and evaluate a product that meets a need or solves a problem.

3. Explain the method of technological design.

Example: Keep a log of designing (and building) a technology, then use the log to explain the process.

 Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 5

Benchmark 2: The students will develop understandings of the similarities, differences, and relationships in science and technology.

The primary difference between science and technology is that science investigates to answer questions about the natural world and technology creates a product to meet human needs by applying scientific principles. Middle level students are able to evaluate the impact of technologies, recognizing that most have both benefits and risks to society. Science and technology have advanced through contributions of many different people, in different cultures, at different times in history.

Students may compare and contrast scientific discoveries with advances in technological design. Students may select a device they use, such as a radio, microwave, or television, and compare it to one their grandparents used.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Compare the work of scientists with that of applied scientists and technologists.

Example: A scientist studies air pressure. An technologist designs an airplane wing. Complete a Venn diagram to compare the processes of scientists and technologists.

2. Evaluate limitations and trade-offs of technological solutions.

Example: Select a technology to evaluate. List uses, limitations, possible consequences.

Example: Show the development of compound and complex machines in today’s technological culture, i.e., a simple hand twist drill encompasses wheel, gears, helix, wedge, lever. The power screwdriver/drill adds to the complexity. An electric motor, control switch, torque limitation, and power storage battery further enhances its utility.

Example: Investigate the complexity of current consumer electronics devices, such as a VCR, video camcorder, or digital camera. Identify:

    • mechanical features,
    • optical features,
    • electronic features, and
    • stylistic features.
    • Compare costs and features of competitive products.

3. Identify contributions to science and technology by many people and many cultures.

Example: Using a map of the world, mark the locations for people and events that have contributed to science.





Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 6


Experiences in grades 5-8 will allow all students to use process skills to examine and develop an understanding of issues concerning personal health, population, the environment, and natural hazards.

Benchmark 1: The students will make decisions based on scientific understanding of personal health.

Regular exercise, rest, and proper nutrition are important to the maintenance and improvement of human health. Injury and illness are risks to maintaining health. Middle level students need opportunities to apply science learning to their understanding of personal health and science-based decision-making related to health risks.

Parents and teachers need to work in partnership to help students understand that they, the middle level students, not some outside force (parents, school, the law), are the ultimate decision makers about their own personal health. The challenge to teachers is to help students apply scientific understanding to health decisions by giving the students opportunities to gather evidence and draw their own conclusions on topics such as smoking, healthy eating, wearing bike helmets, and wearing car seat belts.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Identify individual nutrition, exercise, and rest needs based on science.

Example: Design, implement, and self-evaluate a personal nutrition and exercise program.

7 2. Use a systemic approach to thinking critically about personal health risks and benefits.

Example: Compare and contrast immediate benefits of eating junk food to long term benefits of a lifetime of healthy eating.

Example: Evaluate the risks and benefits of foods, medicines, and personal products. Evaluate and compare the nutritional and toxic properties of various natural and synthetic foods.

Benchmark 2: The students will understand the impact of human activity on resources and environment.

When an area becomes overpopulated by a species, the environment will change due to the increased use of resources. Middle level students need opportunities to learn about concepts of carrying capacity. They need to gather evidence and analyze effects of human interactions with the environment.

   Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 6

 Teachers can help their students understand these global issues by starting locally. “What changes in the atmosphere are caused by all the cars we use in our community?” Ground-level ozone indicators provide an opportunity to quantify the effect. “After a heavy rain, where does the water go that runs off your lawn?” “What happens to that water source if your lawn was just fertilized before the rain?” The role of the teacher is to help students to apply scientific understanding, gained through their own investigations, of environmental issues. Teachers should help students base environmental decisions on understanding, not emotion.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Investigate the effects of human activities on the environment.

Example: Count the number of cars that pass the school during a period of time. Investigate the effects of traffic volume on environmental quality (e.g., water and air quality, plant health).

Investigate the effects of repeatedly walking off the sidewalks. Discuss the implications to the environment. Participate in an environmental Internet study.

2. Base decisions on perceptions of benefits and risks.

Example: What temporary changes in the atmosphere are caused by the cars and trees in our community?

Benchmark 3: The students will understand that natural hazards are dynamic examples of Earth processes which cause us to evaluate risks.

California has earthquakes. Florida has hurricanes. Kansas has tornadoes. Natural hazards can also be caused by human interaction with the environment, such as channeling a stream. Middle level students need opportunities to identify the causes and human risks and challenges of natural hazards.

Teachers can help students use data on frequency of occurrence of natural hazard events both to dispel unnatural fears for some students and overcome the common middle level student misconception of invincibility (it won’t happen to me). “What would you need in a tornado survival kit to keep in the basement for your family?” This question would cause students to assess the kinds of damage caused by a tornado (need a flashlight because electrical lines may be down) and the kinds of support services available in the community.

Indicators: The students will:

7 1. Evaluate risks and define appropriate actions associated with natural hazards.

Example: Find news articles that show inadvisable risks taken in a natural hazard situation.

 Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 6

10 2. Recognize patterns of internal and external Earth processes that may result in natural hazards.

Example: Build wood block models of plate boundary interaction: subduction, translation, and spreading.

10 3. Communicate human activities that can cause/contribute to natural hazards.

Example: How can channeling a stream promote flooding downstream? Borrow a County Conservation Commission’s stream trailer to investigate the dynamics of a stream and the effects of human interaction with the stream.   

Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 7


Experiences in grades 5-8 will allow all students to examine and develop an understanding of science as a historical human endeavor.

Benchmark 1: The students will develop scientific thinking.

Science requires different abilities based on the subject studied, type of inquiry, and cultural context. The abilities characteristic of those engaged in scientific investigations include: reasoning, intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, appropriate skepticism, open-mindedness, and the ability to make logical conclusions based on current evidence.

Teachers can support the development of scientific habits of mind by providing students with on-going instruction using inquiry as a framework. Middle level students can apply science concepts in investigations. They can work individually and on teams while conducting inquiry. They can share their work through varied mediums, and they can self-evaluate their learning. High expectations for accuracy, reliability, and openness to differing opinions should be exercised. The indicators listed below can be embedded within the other standards.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Practice intellectual honesty.

Example: Analyze news articles to evaluate if the articles apply statistics/data to bring clarity, or if the articles use data to mislead.

Analyze data and recognize that an hypothesis not supported by data should not be perceived as a right or wrong answer.

2. Demonstrate skepticism appropriately.

Example: Students will attempt to replicate an investigation to support or refute a conclusion.

3. Learn about falsification.

Example: What would we accept as proof that the theory that all cars are black is wrong? How many times would we have to prove the theory wrong to know that it is wrong? Answers: One car of any color but black and only one time. No matter how much evidence seems to support a theory, it only takes one proof that it is false to show it to be false. It should be recognized that in the real world it might take years to falsify a theory.

4. Base decisions on research.

Example: Review results of individual, group, or peer investigations to assess accuracy of conclusions based upon data collection and analysis and use of evidence to reach a conclusion.

 Eighth Grade – Continued
Standard 7

Benchmark 2: The students will research contributions to science throughout history.

Scientific knowledge is not static. New knowledge leads to new questions and new discoveries that may be beneficial or harmful. Contributions to scientific knowledge can be met with resistance causing a need for replication and open sharing of ideas. Scientific contributions have been made over an expanse of time by individuals from varied cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and across gender and economic boundaries.

Students should engage in research realizing that the process may be a small portion of a larger process or of an event that takes place over a broad historical context. Teachers should focus on the contributions of scientists and how the culture of the time influenced their work. Reading biographies, interviews with scientists, and analyzing vignettes are strategies for understanding the role of scientists and the contributions of science throughout history.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Recognize that new knowledge leads to new questions and new discoveries.

Example: Discuss recent discoveries that have replaced previously held knowledge, such as safety of freon or saccharine use, knowledge concerning the transmission of AIDS, cloning, Pluto’s status as a planet.

2. Replicate historic experiments to understand principles of science.

Example: Rediscover principles of electromagnetism by replicating Oerstad’s compass needle experiment. (Compass needle deflects perpendicular to current carrying wire.)

3. Relate contributions of men and women to the fields of science.

Example: Research the contributions of men and women of science, create a timeline to demonstrate the ongoing contributions of dedicated scientists from across ethnic, religious and gender lines. 


Overview of Science Standards 9-12


  Systems, Order & Organization   Evidence, Models & Explanations   Change, Constancy, & Measurement   Form & Function

· Abilities to conduct scientific inquiry










 · Atomic structure

· Properties of matter

· Chemical reactions




















  · Force and motion

· Entropy and conservation of energy

· Interactions between matter and energy




















 · Cellular structure and function

· Molecular basis of inheritance

· Interdependence of living things

· Organization of living systems and uses of matter and energy in those systems

· Behavior of living things

· Structure, function, and diversity of organisms






























 · Energy flow in the Earth

· Interactions of Earth’s systems

· Origin and evolution of the universe




















· Technological problem solving and understanding how science relates to technology










 · Health

· Growth of population

· Natural resources and the environment

· Hazards produced naturally and by humans

· Interaction of science, technology and society






























 · Science as a human pursuit


· Characteristics of scientific knowledge

· History of science



















Experiences in grades 9-12 will allow all students to develop the abilities to conduct scientific investigations and understand scientific advancements.

Benchmark 1: Students will demonstrate the fundamental abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Develop through experience a rich understanding and curiosity of the world.

Example: Students must have a rich set of experiences to draw on to ask and evaluate research questions.

10 2. Develop an understanding of the concepts that guide scientific experimentation.

Example: The investigator acquires a knowledge base, forms hypotheses, designs experiments, and collects, analyzes, and interprets data.

10 3. Design scientific experiments.

Example: Designing an experiment requires that a student has some background knowledge and that he safely use the proper materials and equipment and uses proper investigative procedures (including controls, variables, and replications). In the interpretation of the data collected and the reporting of results, students should use available technology, proper display of the data, proper use of logic, and proper defense of their interpretations.

10 4. Interpret and communicate about the results of scientific experiments, using mathematics and technology.

Example: Mathematics guides and improves the posing of questions, gathering data, constructing explanations, and communicating results. Calculators and computers are important in mathematical analysis.

Example: Technology is used to gather and manipulate data. New techniques and tools provide new evidence to guide inquiry and new methods to gather data, thereby contributing to the advance of science. The accuracy and precision of the data, and therefore the quality of the exploration, depends on the technology used.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued
Standard 1

5. Use evidence and logic to formulate scientific models and explanations.

Example: The formulation of a model or explanation should result from the student’s investigation. Discussions, based on evidence obtained, scientific knowledge, and logic may result in the revision of the student’s model or explanation.

6. Formulate alternative models and explanations.

Example: Students should determine which models and explanations are the best based upon evidence, logic, and current scientific understanding.

7. Explain and defend a scientific interpretation.

Example: These abilities include writing and speaking skills, the reviewing of results from other related investigations, clearly explaining the experimental procedures used, constructing a reasoned argument to support the interpretation of experimental data, and giving logical responses to critiques.  

 Twelfth Grade – Continued
Standard 2A


Experiences in grades 9-12 will allow all students to develop an understanding of the structure of atoms, chemical reactions, and the interactions of energy and matter.

Benchmark 1: The student will understand the structure of the atom.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. Atoms are the fundamental organizational unit of matter.

10 2. Atoms have smaller components that have measurable mass and charge.

10 3. The nucleus of an atom is composed of protons and neutrons, which determine the mass of the atom.

10 4. The dense nucleus of an atom is in the center of an electron cloud, and this electron cloud determines the size of the atom.

10 5. Isotopes are atoms with the same number of protons but differing in neutron number.

6. Radioactive isotopes spontaneously decompose and are a source of radioactivity.

Benchmark 2: The students will understand the states and properties of matter.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. Elements are substances that contain only one kind of atom.

10 2. Elements are arranged according to increasing atomic number on the periodic table.

10 3. The periodic table organizes elements according to similar physical and chemical properties by groups (families), periods (series), and categories.

4. There are discrete energy levels for electrons in an atom.

5. Electrons farthest from the nucleus (highest energy electrons) determine the chemistry of the atom.

10 6. Atoms interact with each other to transfer or share electrons to form compounds, through chemical bonding.

The nature of interaction among ionic compounds or between molecular compounds determines their physical properties.

  Twelfth Grade – Continued
Standard 2A

 8. Physical properties of gases follow kinetic models.

9. Through covalent bonding, carbon atoms can form chains, rings, and molecular structures, some of which are essential to life.

Benchmark 3: The student will gain a basic concept of chemical reactions.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Understand that chemical reactions may often be identified by two or more of the following: physical property change, effervescence, mass change, precipitation, light emission, and heat exchange.

2. Explore chemical reactions that absorb energy from or release energy to the surroundings.

3. Distinguish different types of chemical reactions such as oxidation/reduction, synthesis, decomposition, single and double displacement.

4. Establish the validity of the Law of Conservation of Mass through stoichiometric relationships.

5. Appreciate the significance of chemical reactions in nature and those used everyday in society.

6. Recognize entropy (degree of disorder) as a driving force behind chemical reactions.

7. Assess the interrelationships between the rate of chemical reactions and variables such as temperature, concentration, and reaction type. Why does body temperature remain constant? What about cold-blooded animals?

  Twelfth Grade – Continued
Standard 2B


Benchmark 1: The students will understand the relationship between motion and forces.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. The motion of an object can be described in terms of its displacement, velocity and acceleration.

10 2. Objects change their motion only when a net force is applied.

Example: When no net force acts, the system moves with constant speed in a straight line. When a net force acts, the acceleration of the system is nonzero. For a given force, the magnitude of the acceleration is inversely proportional to the mass of the system. The direction of acceleration is in the direction of the force.

3. All forces are manifestations of one of the four fundamental interactions: gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear, and strong nuclear forces.*

Example: Gravitation is a weak, attractive force that acts upon and between any two masses. The electric force is a strong force that acts upon and between any two objects that possess a net electrical charge and may be either attractive or repulsive. The strong and weak nuclear forces are important in understanding the nucleus.

Recent research has demonstrated that the electrical and weak nuclear forces are variations of a more inclusive force that has been named the electroweak force.

10 4. Electricity and magnetism are two aspects of a single electromagnetic force.

Example: Moving electrical charges produce magnetic forces, and moving magnets produce electrical forces.

Benchmark 2: The students will understand the conservation of mass and energy, and that the overall disorder of the universe is increased during every chemical and physical change.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. Matter and energy cannot be destroyed, but they can be interchanged.

*Note: The strong and weak nuclear forces are mentioned for completeness only and no in-depth student understanding of them is expected.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued
Standard 2B

10 2. Energy comes is different forms. The two main classifications are kinetic and potential.

Example: Kinetic energy is the result of motion while potential energy results from position or is the energy contained by a field. Energy can be transferred by collisions in chemical and nuclear reactions, by electromagnetic radiation, and in other ways.

3. Heat results from the random motion of particles.

Example: The internal energy of substances consists in part of movement of atoms, molecules, and ions. Temperature is a measure of the average magnitude of this movement. Heat is the net movement of internal energy from one material to another.

4. The universe tends to become less organized and more disordered with time.

Example: A logical outcome of this is that the energy of the universe will tend toward a more uniform distribution.

Benchmark 3: The students will understand the basic interactions of matter and energy.

Indicators: The students will understand:

1. Waves can transfer energy when they interact with matter.

2. Electromagnetic waves result when a charged object is accelerated.

Electromagnetic waves include radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays.

3. Each kind of atom or molecule can gain or lose energy only in particular discrete amounts.

Example: Atoms and molecules can absorb and emit light only at wavelengths corresponding to specific amounts of energy. These wavelengths can be used to identify the substance and form the basis for several forms of spectroscopy.

10 4. Electrons flow easily in conductors (such as metals) whereas in insulators (such as glass) they hardly flow at all. Semiconducting materials have intermediate behavior.

Example: At low temperatures, some materials become superconductors and offer little resistance to the flow of electrons.

5. There are different forms of energy that change from one form to another.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued
Standard 3


Experiences in grades 9-12 will allow all students to develop an understanding of the structure and function of the cell, the molecular basis of inheritance, biological evolution, interdependence and behavior of living things; and organization of living systems and uses of matter.

Benchmark 1: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the structure and function of the cell.

Indicators: Students will understand that:

10 1. Cells are composed of a variety of specialized structures that carry out specific functions.

Example: Every cell is surrounded by a membrane that separates it from the outside environment and controls flow of materials into and out of the cell. Specialized bodies, including organelles, serve specific life functions of the cell.

10 2. Most cell functions involve specific chemical reactions.

Example: Food molecules taken into cells provide the chemicals needed to synthesize other molecules. Both breakdown and synthesis in the cell are catalyzed by enzymes.

10 3. Cells function and replicate as a result of information stored in DNA and RNA molecules.

Example: Cell functions are regulated by proteins and gene expression. This regulation allows cells to respond to their environment and to control and coordinate cell division.

10 4. Some plant cells contain chloroplasts, which are the sites of photosynthesis.

Example: The process of photosynthesis provides a vital connection between the sun and the energy needs of living systems.

5. Cells can differentiate, thereby enabling complex multicellular organisms to form.

Example: In development of most multicellular organisms, a fertilized cell forms an embryo that differentiates into an adult. Differentiation is regulated through expression of different genes and leads to the formation of specialized cells, tissues, and organs.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 3

 Benchmark 2: Students will demonstrate an understanding of chromosomes, genes, and the molecular basis of heredity.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. Mendelian genetics, which focuses on single gene traits, can explain many patterns of inheritance. However, the inheritance patterns of other traits are best explained as polygenic, which is the interaction of several genes.

Example: Alleles, which are different forms of a gene, may be dominant, recessive, co-dominant, etc.

10 2. Experiments have shown that all known living organisms contain DNA or RNAas their genetic material.

Example: Frederick Griffith and Avery’s work with bacteria demonstrated DNA changed properties of cells.

Beadle and Tatum’s work provided a mechanism for gene action and a link to modern molecular genetics.

Hershey and Chase’s work demonstrated that viral DNA contained the genetic code for new virus production in bacterial cells.

10 3. DNA specifies the characteristics of most organisms.

Example: Nucleotides (adenine, thymine, guanine, cytosine and uracil) make up DNA and RNA molecules.

Sequences of nucleotides that either determine or contribute to a genetic trait are called genes.

DNA is replicated by using a template process that usually results in identical copies.

DNA is packaged in chromosomes during cell replication.

4. Organisms usually have a characteristic numbers of chromosomes; one pair of these may determine the gender of individuals.

Example: Most cells in humans contain 23 pairs of chromosomes; the 23rd pair contains the XX for female or XY for male.

Gametes (sex cells) carry the genetic information to the next generation.

Gametes contain only one representative from each chromosome pair.

Gametes unite.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 3

5. Gametes carry the genetic information to the next generation.

Example: Gametes contain only one representative from each chromosome pair.

Gametes unite to form a new individual in most organisms.

Many possible combinations of genes explain features of heredity such as how traits can be hidden for several generations.

6. Mutations occur in DNA at very low rates.

Example: Some changes make no difference to the organism or to future generations.

Most phenotypic changes are harmful; a few mutations enable organisms to survive changes in their environment.

Some favorable mutations are passed on to offspring.

Only mutations in the germ cells are passed on to offspring and therefore can bring about beneficial or harmful changes in future generations.

7. Biologists recognize that the primary mechanisms of genotypic change are natural selection and random genetic drift.

Example: Natural selection includes the following concepts: 1) heritable variation exists in every species; 2) some heritable traits are more advantageous to reproduction and/or survival than are others; 3) there is a finite supply of resources required for life; not all progeny survive; 4) individuals with advantageous traits generally survive; 5) the advantageous traits increase in the population through time.

Benchmark 3: Students will understand the interdependence of organisms and their interaction with the physical environment.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. Matter cycles among the biotic and abiotic components of the environment.

Example: The chemical elements, including all the essential elements of life, circulate in the environment in characteristic paths known as biogeochemical cycles (e.g., nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, etc. cycles).

 Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 3

10 2. Ecosystems have energy flowing through them.

Example: Organisms, ecosystems, and the biosphere possess thermodynamic characteristics that exhibit a high state of internal order (low entropy).

Radiant energy that enters the Earth’s surface is balanced by the energy that leaves the Earth’s surface.

Transfer of energy through a series of organisms in an ecosystem is called the food chain; at each transfer as much as 90% of the potential energy is lost as heat.

10 3. Ecosystems have cooperating and competing organisms in them.

Example: The stable community in ecological succession is the climax community. The climax community is self-perpetuating because it is in equilibrium within itself and with the physical habitat.

10 4. Limited space and resources determine the size of populations. This tension impacts how organisms interact.

Example: The presence and success of an organism, or a group of organisms, depends upon a large number of environmental factors. Any factor that approaches or exceeds the limits of tolerance is limiting.

10 5. Ecosystems are impacted by the human beings which live within them.

Example: Humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Some examples of ecosystem modification are pollution, harvesting, agriculture, and construction.

Benchmark 4: Students should develop an understanding of matter, energy, and organization in living systems.

Indicators: The students will develop an understanding of:

10 1. Continual energy inputs are necessary to maintain living systems.

Example: All matter moves toward increased disorder.

Example: Organisms decompose upon death.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 3

10 2. Energy is harvested from the sunlight through photosynthesis.

Example: Plants use light to form covalent chemical bonds in carbon-containing molecules. These molecules can be combined to produce larger molecules, including DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Living things use the energy stored in the bonds of these atoms.

10 3. Energy is contained in chemical bonds which is released in cellular respiration.

Example: Energy released through cellular respiration is used to regenerate ATP, the molecule primarily utilized for energy transfer within the cell.

4. The structure and function of an organism serves to acquire, transform, transport, release, and eliminate the matter and energy used to sustain the organism.

10 5. The availability of matter and energy determines the distribution and abundance of organisms in ecosystems.

6. Matter and energy flow through living things and their physical environment producing different chemical compounds. This results in the storage of some energy and the release of some energy into the environment as heat.

 Benchmark 5: Students will understand the behavior of animals.

Indicators: The students will understand that:

1. Animals have behavioral responses to internal changes and to external stimuli.

Example: Responses to external stimuli can result from interactions with the organism’s own species and others, as well as environmental changes. These responses can be innate and/or learned.

Animals often live in unpredictable environments, and so their behavior must be flexible enough to deal with uncertainty and change.

2. Most multicellular animals have nervous systems that underlie behavior.

Example: Nervous systems are formed from specialized cells that conduct signals rapidly through the long cell extensions that make up nerves. The nerve cells communicate with each other by secreting specific excitatory and inhibitory molecules. In sense organs, specialized cells detect light, sound, and specific chemicals and enable animals to monitor what is going on in the world around them.

  Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 3

Benchmark 6: Students will demonstrate an understanding of structure, function, and diversity of organisms.

Indicators: The students will understand:

1. The basic biology, diversity, ecology, and medical effects of microbiological agents, including viruses, bacteria, and protists.

Example: Viruses vary from bacteria; because of these differences, vaccines are effective but antibiotics are not.

Bacteria vary from eukaryotes; because of these differences, bacteria are important decomposers and unique disease agents and some ancient forms are in a separate kingdom or domain.

Protists are unspecialized eukaryotes whose ancestors gave rise to other major kingdoms; some are disease agents (e.g. malaria, amoebic dysentery) and may require an animal vector.

Understanding of these basic groups underlies effective sanitation and hygiene.

2. The basic biology, diversity, ecology, and medical effects of fungi.

Example: Fungi are vital decomposers and important commercial and medical agents.

10 3. The basic biology, diversity, ecology, and human relationships of plants.

Example: Plant structures vary and this variation is important in understanding the function of plants in farming, pharmaceutical products, etc.

Photosynthesis is the basis for nearly all food chains and our food production.

Example: Understanding biology of plants underlies a scientific understanding of ecology.

4. The basic biology, diversity, anatomy, ecology and medical effects of major animal groups.

Example: Animals vary; this variation is important in understanding the function of animals in farming, medical research, etc.

Example: Understanding the biology of animals underlies a scientific understanding of ecology.

  Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 3

 5. Humans as complex, soft machines that require many systems to operate properly.

Example: Organ systems have specific structures and functions; they interact with each other.

Infections, developmental problems, trauma and aging result in specific diseases and disorders.

10 6. The structures and processes of development and reproduction.

Example: Reproduction is essential to all ongoing life and is accomplished with wide variation in life cycles and anatomy.

Understanding of basic mechanisms of reproduction and development, as well as changes of aging, is critical to leading a healthy life, parenting, and making societal decisions.

Environmental factors (e.g. radiation, chemicals) can cause both inherited gene mutations and directly alter development; changes to non-reproductive cell lines are not passed to the next generation.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 4


Experiences in grades 9-12 will allow all students to develop an understanding of the Earth system’s energy flow, actions and interactions of the Earth’s subsystems, the origin and evolution of the Earth system, and the origin and evolution of the universe.

Benchmark 1: Students should develop an understanding of the sources of energy that power the dynamic Earth system.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. Essentially all energy on Earth traces ultimately to the sun and radioactivity in the Earth’s interior.

10 2. Convection circulation in the mantle is driven by the outward transfer of the Earth’s internal heat.

10 3. Movable continental and oceanic plates make up the Earth’s surface; the hot, convecting mantle is the energy source for plate movement.

10 4. Energy from the sun heats the oceans and the atmosphere, and affects oceanic and atmospheric circulation.

5. Energy flow determines global climate and, in turn, is influenced by geographic features, cloud cover, and the Earth’s rotation.

Benchmark 2: Students should develop an understanding of the actions and the interactions of the Earth’s subsystems: the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere.

Indicators: The students will understand:

10 1. The systems at the Earth’s surface are powered principally by the sun and contain an essentially fixed amount of each stable chemical atom or element.

10 2. The processes of the carbon, rock, and water cycles.

10 3. Water, glaciers, winds, waves, and gravity as weathering and erosion agents.

10 4. Earth’s motions and seasons.

5. The composition and structure of Earth’s atmosphere.

10 6. Severe storms and safety precautions.

10 7. Basic weather forecasting, weather maps, fronts, and pressure systems.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 4

Benchmark 3. Students will understand the history of the earth.

1. The geologic table is a listing of the common fossils found in various rock layers.

Example: Research all published data on the fossils present in the layers of the Grand Canyon.

2. The different methods of evaluating fossils, radioactive decay and the formation of rock sequences and how they are used to estimate the time rocks were formed.

Example: Investigate how rocks and fossils are dated. Identify assumptions used in radioactive decay methods of dating. Compare and evaluate data obtained on ages from such places as Mount St. Helens and the meteorite named Allende.

3. Earth changes as recent (observed within human lifetimes), such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and older changes, such as mountain building and plate tectonics.

4. Formation of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and minerals.

Example: Examine recent sedimentology experiments. Students could design and conduct experiments that show how layers are formed.

Benchmark 4. Students should develop an understanding of the universe. The origin of the universe remains one of the greatest questions in science. Studies of data regarding fossils, geologic tables, cosmological information are encouraged. But standards regarding origins are not mandated.

Indicators: The students will understand:

The structure of the universe.

Example: Galaxies are found in clusters and the clusters of galaxies are grouped together into super clusters.

10 2. General features of solar systems, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and meteoroids.

3. General methods of and importance of the exploration of space.

 Twelfth Grade – Continued

Standard 5


Experiences in grades 9-12 will allow all students to develop an understanding of how science relates to technology and the possibilities of technological design.

Benchmark 1: Students should develop an understanding of how science relates to technology.

Indicators: The students will understand:

1. Creativity, imagination, and a broad knowledge base are all required in the work of science and engineering.

2. Science and technology are pursued for different purposes.

Example: Scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world.

Applied science or technology is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems.

3. Different scientific disciplines use different investigative methods to gather evidence to support their conclusions.

4. Science advances new technologies. New technologies open new areas for scientific inquiry.

5. Scientific knowledge is usually presented at scientific meetings or in journals. Sometimes knowledge is not made public for economic or military reasons.


Experiences in grades 9-12 will allow all students to develop an understanding of health, population growth, natural resources and the environment, natural and human-induced hazards, and science and technology in human settings.

Benchmark 1: Students should develop an understanding of the overall functioning of human systems and their interaction with the environment in order to understand specific mechanisms and processes related to health issues.

Indicators: The students will understand that:

1. Hazards and the potential for accidents exist for all human beings.

2. Many factors, such as human resistance and the virulence of the pathogenic organism, determine the severity of disease symptoms.

Example: A number of diseases are preventable, controllable, or curable. Diseases are either communicable (arising from viruses, bacteria, or other causative agents) or non-communicable (resulting from specific body dysfunctions).

3. Informed personal choices concerning fitness and health involve understanding of chemistry and biology.

4. Personal nutritional balance is determined by eating patterns and food choices.

5. Sexuality is a serious component of being human and it demands strong personal reflection in light of the life-long effects on students.

6. Intelligent use of chemical products relates directly to an understanding of chemistry.

Benchmark 2: Students will demonstrate an understanding of population growth.

Indicators: The students will understand that:

10 1. Rate of change in populations is determined by the combined effects of birth and death, and emigration and immigration.

Example: Populations can increase through exponential growth.

Population growth changes resource use and environmental conditions.

2. A variety of factors influence birth rates and fertility rates.

3. Populations can reach limits to growth.

Examples: Carrying capacity is the maximum number of organisms that can be sustained in a given environment.

Benchmark 3: Students will understand that human populations use natural resources and influence environmental quality.

Indicators: The students will understand that:

1. Natural resources from the lithosphere and ecosystems have been and will continue to be used to sustain human populations.

Example: These processes of ecosystems include maintenance of the atmosphere, generation of soils, control of the hydrologic cycle, and recycling of nutrients.

Humans are altering many of these processes, and the changes may be detrimental to ecosystem function.

2. The Earth’s resources are finite.

Example: Increasing human consumption places stress on most renewable resources and depletes non-renewable resources.

3. Materials from human activities affect both physical and chemical cycles of the Earth.

Example: Natural systems can reuse waste, but that capacity is limited.

4. Humans use many natural systems as resources.

Benchmark 4: Students will understand the effect of natural and human-influenced hazards.

Indicators: Students will understand that:

1. Natural processes of Earth may be hazardous for humans.

Example: Humans live at the interface between two dynamically changing systems, the atmosphere and the Earth’s crust. The vulnerability of societies to disruption by natural processes has increased. Natural hazards include volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and severe weather. Examples of slow, progressive changes are stream channel position, sedimentation, continual erosion, wasting of soil and landscapes.

2. There is a need to assess potential risk and danger from natural and human-induced hazards.

Example: Human-initiated changes in the environment bring benefits as well as risks to society.

Various changes have costs and benefits.

Environmental ethics have a role in the decision-making process.

 3. Human activities can increase potential hazards as well as decrease them.

Benchmark 5: Students should develop an understanding of the relationship between science, technology, and society.

Indicators: The students should understand that:

1. Science and technology strongly influence modern society and can also explain what might happen. Human decisions determine how science and technology are applied.

2. Before discussing the economic, political, and ethical perspectives of science and technology-related issues, participants should gain a basic understanding of the underlying scientific knowledge.

3. Social concerns and financing can determine progress in science and technology.


Experiences in grades 9-12 will allow all students to develop an understanding of science as a human pursuit, the characteristics of scientific knowledge, and the history of science.

Benchmark 1: Students will develop an understanding that science is a human pursuit.

Indicators: The students will:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of science as both vocation and avocation.

2. Explain how science uses peer review, replication of methods and norms of honesty.

3. Recognize the universality of basic science concepts and the influence of personal and cultural beliefs that imbed science in society.

4. Recognize that society helps create the ways of thinking (mindsets) required for scientific advances, both toward training scientists and the education of a populace to utilize benefits of science (e.g., standards of hygiene, attitudes toward forces of nature, etc.).

Benchmark 2: Students will develop an understanding of the characteristics of scientific knowledge.

Indicators: The students will:

10 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge.

Example: Scientific knowledge is generally empirically based, consistent with reality, predictive, logical, and skeptical.

Scientific knowledge is subject to experimental or observational


Scientific knowledge is built on past understanding and can be refined and augmented.

2. Explain how science uses peer review, replication of methods, falsification and norms of honesty.

Benchmark 3: Students will understand the history of science.

Indicators: The students will:

10 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the history of science.

Example: Modern science has been a successful enterprise of the last two centuries, contributing to dramatic improvements in the human condition.

Science progresses by incremental advances of scientists or teams of scientists.

Example: Some concepts have long-lasting effects and include: Copernican revolution, Newtonian physics, relativity, geological time scale, plate tectonics, atomic theory, nuclear physics, theory of biological evolution, germ theory, industrial revolution, molecular biology, quantum theory, medical and health technology.


Appendix 1 – Glossary

Appendix 2 – Classical Process Skills

Appendix 1


 Terms Concerning the Concepts of Standards

Benchmark: A focused statement of what students should know and be able to do in a subject at specified grade levels.

Curriculum: A particular way that content is organized and presented in the classroom. The content embodied in the Kansas Science Education Standards can be organized and presented in many ways through different curricula. Thus, the Kansas Science Education Standards do not constitute a state curriculum. However, a specific science curriculum chosen by a school district will be consistent with these standards only if it is consistent with the premises upon which these standards are based (e.g., science for all, equity, developmental appropriateness).

Equity: Within the context of these standards, equity means that these standards apply to all students, regardless of age, gender, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation in science.

Example (Clarifying): An illustration of the meaning or intent of an indicator.

Example (Instructional): An activity or specific concrete instance of an idea of what is called for by an indicator.

Indicator: A specific statement of what students should know or be able to do as a result of a daily lesson or unit of study and how they will demonstrate what they have learned.

Standard: A description of what students are expected to know and be able to do in a particular subject.

 Terms Concerning the Science Content of the Kansas Science Education Standards

Believe: To have a firm conviction in the reality of something.

Entropy: A measure of the extent of disorder in a system.

Evolution: A scientific theory that accounts for present day similarity and diversity among living organisms and changes in non-living entities over time. With respect to living organisms, evolution has two major perspectives: The long-term perspective (macro-evolution) focuses on the branching of lineages; the short-term perspective (micro-evolution) centers on changes within lineages.

Fact: In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed.

Falsification – a method for determining the validity of an hypothesis, theory or law. To be falsifiable a theory must be testable, by others, in such a way that, if it is false, the tests can show that it is false.

Repeatability is an inadequate criterion and is supplemented with falsification. The reason for falsifiability may not be intuitively obvious. It is fine to make statements like “this theory is backed by a great body of experiments and observations,” but often overlooked is the fact that such claims are meaningless. Experiments and observations do not verify theories, they must be evaluated by human reason to determine the degree of verification they provide.

As a result of the weakness of repeatability as a sole criteria for the validity of scientific explanations, Karl Popper, the famous 20th Century British Philosopher of Science, and countless others, have insisted that, to be called a “test” of a theory, the test must be designed in such a way that, if the test fails, the theory can be considered false! This criterion is reasonable. How can you call an experiment a “test” of a theory if failure of the test has no meaning? In the United States, falsifiability in science can even be considered “the law of the land,” because of the decision of a Federal Judge (Overton) in a famous trial.

A concomitant criteria, as stated by Popper, Overton, and others, is that the theory itself must be “falsifiable,” i.e., it must be possible to design a test that will fail if the theory itself is false. This is a very difficult position to establish, but that is the nature of good science.

Unfortunately lost in all this discussion is what used to be taught in most science colleges: experimental design. The key here is that “testing” a theory and “falsification” are more associated with the attributes of the test and its interpretation than they are with the theory itself. Another point is that experimental design is critical to theory verification. Critical analysis of the weaknesses (known or potential) of experimental tests of hypotheses, is critical to any ability to make informed decisions based on science education. Therefore, sound science teaching must include the logic of experimental design and evaluation.

Gamete: A germ cell (egg or sperm) carrying half of the organism’s full set of chromosomes, especially a mature germ cell capable of participating in fertilization.

Genetic Drift: Changes in the gene content of a population owing to chance.

Genotype: The genetic constitution of an individual, especially as distinguished from its physical appearance.

Hypothesis: A testable statement about the natural world that can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations.

Incremental: Within the context of these standards, incremental means that scientists slowly and consistently add to the knowledge base of science by means of scientific work.

Inquiry: Scientific inquiry refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Inquiry also refers to the activities of students in which they develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world. Inquiry is a multifaceted activity that involves many process skills. Conducting hands-on science activities does not guarantee inquiry, nor is reading about science incompatible with inquiry.

Inquiry in School Science (K-4): Full inquiry involves asking a simple question, completing an investigation, answering the question, and presenting the results to others. However, not every activity will involve all of these stages nor must any particular sequence of these stages be followed.

Inquiry in School Science (5-8): Full inquiry involves several parts: identification of questions that can be answered through scientific investigations; the design and conduct of a scientific investigation; use of appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data; development of descriptions, explanations, predictions and models using evidence; and thinking critically and logically to make relationships between evidence and explanations. Partial inquiries focus the development of abilities and understanding of selected parts of full inquiry.

Inquiry in School Science (9-12): Full inquiry includes several components: identification of questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations; the design and conduct of scientific investigations; use of technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communication; formulation and revision of scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence; and recognition and analysis of alternative explanations and models. Partial inquiries focus the development of abilities and understanding of selected parts of full inquiry.

Law: A descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves under stated circumstances. Laws are frequently, but not always, mathematical formulations.

Material: The elements, constituents, or substances of which something is composed or can be made.

Operational Definition : The assignment of meaning to a concept or variable in which the activities or operations required to measure it are specified. Operational definitions also may specify the scientist’s activities in measuring or manipulating a variable.

Paradigm: A universally recognized theoretical framework in science that, for a time, provides a model for asking questions and seeking answers through science.

Phenotype: The appearance of an individual, including the biochemical traits expressed internally. The genotype may contain genes that are not expressed in the phenotype.

Pollution – the resulting conditions of something being made physically impure or unclean. In the biological world, one organism’s waste is food for another. It’s when an ecological imbalance occurs that you have pollution. Plants, animals and humans can all contribute to the pollution of our world.

Principle: Similar to a scientific law. A principle frequently, but not always, is a qualitative or prose descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves under stated circumstances.

Properties: Descriptions of objects based directly on the senses (e.g., hard, soft, smooth) or through extended use of the senses (an atom contains a nucleus).

Qualitative: The concept that entities differ between each other in type or kind.

Quantitative: The concept that entities differ between each other in amount.

Science: The human activity of seeking logical explanations for what we observe in the world around us. These explanations are based on observations, experiments, and logical arguments that adhere to strict empirical standards and a healthy skeptical perspective.

Science Literacy: The scientific knowledge and inquiry skills which enhance a person’s ability to observe objects and events perceptively, reflect on them thoughtfully, and comprehend explanations offered for them.

Technology: A science-based activity in which humans start with initial conditions, then design, build, and implement an intervention that improves the world about us in terms of our original needs (e.g., eye glasses or contacts).

Theory: In science, an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses (e.g., atomic theory, evolutionary theory).

Understand: To possess a meaningful comprehension of a concept or process based on direct or related experiences. Understanding stands in contrast to memorization, where there is only awareness of a term but no grasp of meaning.

  Appendix 2

Classical Process Skills

(taken from the Kansas Curricular Standards in Science, 1995)

The processes of science are skills that are essential to developing knowledge, concepts, and applications across the curriculum. The processes are often referred to as the “hands-on” approach to science and must be used throughout the program. Each of the terms implies active student participation and has been adapted from the following post-Sputnik science curricula: Elementary Science Study; Science – A Process Approach; Science Curriculum Improvement Study.

Observing: Using the senses to gather information about objects and events in the environment. This skill includes using scientific instruments to extend the range of the human senses and the ability to differentiate relevant from non-relevant events.

Classifying: A method for establishing order on collections of objects or events. Students use classification systems to identify objects or events, to show similarities, differences, and interrelationships. It is important to realize that all classification systems are subjective and may change as criteria change. The test for a good classification system is whether others can use it.

Measuring: A procedure for using instrument to determine the length, area, volume, mass, or other physical properties of an unknown quantity. It requires the proper use of instruments and the ability to calculate the measured results.

Using Numbers: This skill includes number sense, computation, estimation, spatial sense, and whole number operations.

Communicating: Transmitting the results of observations and experimental procedures to others through the use of such devices as graphs, charts, tables, written descriptions, telecommunications, oral presentations, etc. Communication is fundamental to science, because it is through the exchange of ideas and results of experiments that knowledge is validated by others.

Questioning: The formulation of original questions based on observations and experiences with an event in such a way that one can experiment to seek the answers.

Relating: In the sciences, information about relationships can be descriptive or experimental. Relationships are based on logical arguments that encompass all data. Hypothetical reasoning, deductive reasoning, coordinate graphing, the managing of variables, and the comparison of effects of one variable upon another contribute to understanding the “big” ideas of science.

Inferring: An inference is a tentative explanation that is based on partial observations. Available data are gathered and a generalization is made based on the observed data. These judgments are never absolute and reflect what appears to be the most probable explanation at the time and are subject to change as new data are accumulated.

Predicting: Using previously observed information to make possible decisions about future events.

Formulating Hypotheses: Stating a probable outcome for some occurrence based on many observations and inferences. The validity of the hypothesis is determined from testing by one or more experiments.

Identifying and Controlling Variables: Determining which elements in a given investigation will vary or change and which ones will remain constant. Ideally, scientists will attempt to identify all the variables before an investigation is conducted. By manipulating one variable at a time they can determine how that variable will affect the outcome.

Collecting and Interpreting Data: The information collected in order to answer questions is referred to as data. Interpreting data includes using information to make inferences and predictions and then to form hypotheses. This includes developing skills in communicating statistical statements about the data in the form of mode, mean, median, range, and average deviation.

Experimenting: This process is the culmination of all the science process skills. Experimentation often begins with observations which lead to questions that need answers. The steps for proceeding may include formulating a hypothesis, identifying and controlling variables, designing the procedure for conducting tests, implementing the test, collecting and interpreting the data and sometimes changing the hypothesis being tested.

Applying: The process of inventing, creating, problem solving, and determining probabilities are applications of using knowledge to discover further information.

Constructing Models: Developing physical or mental representations to explain an idea, object, or event. Models are usually developed in the basis of acceptable hypotheses.