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High expectations in education are essential for the U.S. to continue as a world leader in the 21stcentury. In order to be successful in postsecondary education, the workforce, and in life, students need a rigorous, age-appropriate set of standards that include finding and gathering information, critical thinking, and reasoning skills to evaluate information, and use information in social and cultural contexts. Students must learn to comprehend and process information, analyze and draw conclusions, and apply the results to everyday life.
Science is both a body of knowledge that represents the current understanding of natural systems, and the process whereby that body of knowledge has been established and is continually extended, refined, and revised. Because science is both the knowledge of the natural world and the processes that have established this knowledge, science education must address both of these aspects.
The curriculum at each grade level is aligned with the Cherry Creek School District Middle School Curriculum and the Colorado Academic Standards with an emphasis on the NGSS Science Practices and the implementation of STEM.
Grade Level Expectations:
All matter is made of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a light microscope. Elements have unique atoms and thus, unique properties. Atoms themselves are made of even smaller particles.
Atoms may stick together in well-defined molecules or be packed together in large arrangements. Different arrangements of atoms into groups compose all substances
The physical characteristics and changes of solid, liquid, and gas states can be explained using the particulate model
Distinguish among, explain, and apply the relationships among mass, weight, volume, and density
Mixtures of substances can be separated based on their properties such as solubility, boiling points, magnetic properties, and densities.
Identify and calculate the direction and magnitude of forces that act on an object, and explain the results in the object’s change of motion
There are different forms of energy, and those forms of energy can be changed from one form to another – but total energy is conserved
Distinguish between physical and chemical changes, noting that mass is conserved during any change
Recognize that waves such as electromagnetic, sound, seismic, and water have common characteristics and unique properties
Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms, populations, and entire species
Organisms interact with each other and their environment in various ways that create a flow of energy and cycling of matter in an ecosystem
Individual organisms with certain traits are more likely than others to survive and have offspring in a specific environment
The human body is composed of atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems that have specific functions and interactions
Cells are the smallest unit of life that can function independently and perform all the necessary functions of life
Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are important processes by which energy is acquired and utilized by organisms
Multiple lines of evidence show the evolution of organisms over geologic time
Human activities can deliberately or inadvertently alter ecosystems and their resiliency
Organisms reproduce and transmit genetic information (genes) to offspring, which influences individuals’ traits in the next generation
Earth Systems Science
Complex interrelationships exist between Earth’s structure and natural processes that over time are both constructive and destructive
Water on Earth is distributed and circulated through oceans, glaciers, rivers, ground water, and the atmosphere
Earth’s natural resources provide the foundation for human society’s physical needs. Many natural resources are nonrenewable on human timescales, while others can be renewed or recycled.
Major geologic events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mid-ocean ridges, and mountain formation are associated with plate boundaries and attributed to plate motions
Geologic time, history, and changing life forms are indicated by fossils and successive sedimentation, folding, faulting, and uplifting of layers of sedimentary rock
Weather is a result of complex interactions of Earth's atmosphere, land and water that are driven by energy from the sun, and can be predicted and described through complex models
Earth has a variety of climates defined by average temperature, precipitation, humidity, air pressure, and wind that have changed over time in a particular location
The solar system is comprised of various objects that orbit the Sun and are classified based on their characteristics
The relative positions and motions of Earth, Moon, and Sun can be used to explain observable effects such as seasons, eclipses, and Moon phases
21stCentury Skills and Readiness Competencies
Sample questions are intended to promote deeper thinking, reflection and refined understandings precisely related to the grade level expectation
Relevance and Application
Examples of how the grade level expectation is applied at home, on the job or in a real-world, relevant context
Nature of the Discipline
The characteristics and viewpoint one keeps as a result of mastering the grade level expectation
NGSS Science Practices
Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information