Next Generation Science integrates the three disciplines of science: Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth & Space Sciences. The discipline content intertwines with the Science and Engineering Practices and Cross-Cutting Concepts. Learning expectations are by middle school grade bands, which include 6th through 8th grade.
Middle School Life Science
Students in middle school develop understanding of key concepts to help them make sense of life science. The ideas build upon students’ science understanding from earlier grades and from the disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts of other experiences with physical and earth sciences. There are four life science disciplinary core ideas in middle school: 1) From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes, 2) Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics, 3) Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits, 4) Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity. The performance expectations in middle school blend the core ideas with scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to support students in developing useable knowledge across the science disciplines. While the performance expectations in middle school life science couple particular practices with specific disciplinary core ideas, instructional decisions should include use of many science and engineering practices integrated in the performance expectations.
Middle School Physical Science
Students in middle school continue to develop understanding of four core ideas in the physical sciences. The middle school performance expectations in the Physical Sciences build on the K – 5 ideas and capabilities to allow learners to explain phenomena central to the physical sciences but also to the life sciences and earth and space science. The performance expectations in physical science blend the core ideas with scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to support students in developing useable knowledge to explain real world phenomena in the physical, biological, and earth and space sciences. In the physical sciences, performance expectations at the middle school level focus on students developing understanding of several scientific practices. These include developing and using models, planning and conducting investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, and constructing explanations; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas. Students are also expected to demonstrate understanding of several of engineering practices including design and evaluation.
Middle School Earth and Space Sciences
Students in middle school continue to develop their understanding of the three disciplinary core ideas in the Earth and Space Sciences. The middle school performance expectations in Earth Space Science build on the elementary school ideas and skills and allow middle school students to explain more in-depth phenomena central not only to the earth and space sciences, but to life and physical sciences as well. These performance expectations blend the core ideas with scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to support students in developing useable knowledge to explain ideas across the science disciplines. While the performance expectations shown in middle school earth and space science couple particular practices with specific disciplinary core ideas, instructional decisions should include use of many practices that lead to the performance expectations.