The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) anchor the Middle School Sciences. Emphasis in grades 6 through 8 is in a student’s ability to develop questions in science answered through hands-on student inquiry. Students engage in ongoing inquiry-based learning, critical thinking and questioning based on the Claim – Evidence – Response model (CER). Science under the NGSS has a three-pronged approach to learning, through investigation of content-based Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Cross-Cutting Concepts. The Disciplinary Core Ideas are the “content” of science and engineering concepts where the aim is to show the cross-disciplinary importance of science and its relevance to our lives. Science and Engineering practices are a series of activities that scientists and engineers engage in when solving real-life problems. These help students understand that science and engineering are processes rather than discrete facts. The Cross-Cutting Concepts contain large, underlying ideas that traverse all of science (ex: cause and effect, patterns) and help students understand the interconnectivity of all branches of STEM.
Learning components of middle school Science include:
6th grade includes Motion & Stability, Unseen Forces, Energy, Waves, Structural & Properties of Matter, and Chemical Reactions.
7th grade includes Cells & Cell Theory, Plant & Animal Reproduction, Genes, Natural Selection, Embryological Development, Patterns in Fossil Record, Energy & Ecosystem and the Interconnectedness of the Ecosystem.
8th grade Science includes Planets & Gravity, Lunar Phases, Plate Motions, Earth Surface & Geoscience, Volcanic Eruptions & Future Forecasting, Geological Time Scales, Oceanic & Atmospheric Patterns, Rise of Global Temperatures, Human Population, and Consumption & the Geoscientific Process and Environment.
The four domains covered across the grade levels include Physical Science, Life Science, Earth & Space Science, and Engineering & Technology.