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About Science Standards

Instructor mixing chemicals in front of young kids

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are distinct from prior science standards in that they integrate three dimensions (Practices, Crosscutting, Concepts, and Core Ideas) within each standard and have intentional connections across standards. To provide guidance and clarification to user, the writers have created a system architecture that highlights the standards as well as each of the three integral dimensions and connections to other grade bands and subjects.

K-12 Science Education Framework

These standards are derived from the National Research Council's  K-12 Science Education Framework - . The Framework provides a vision for developing world-class standards, curricula, instruction, and assessment in science. The Framework reflects the recognition that science, engineering, and technology permeate every aspect of modern life. Knowledge of science and engineering is required to make informed everyday decisions, such as selecting among alternate medical treatments or knowing how to buy an energy-efficient furnace, as well as to understand major public issues we face today. The Framework is a foundation for a common vision and common standards across the U.S. of what students finishing high school should know and be able to do in science. The movement by most of the states to adopt common standards in mathematics and in the language arts has prompted the call for comparable standards in science to guide state reform.

Scientific and Engineering Practices

The first dimension of the K-12 Science Education Framework focuses on important practices used by scientists and engineers: modeling, developing explanations, and engaging in argumentation. These practices have too often been underemphasized in K-12 science education. They include:

  • 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

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and effect: mechanism and explanation
  • Scale, proportion, and quantity
  • Systems and system models
  • Energy and matter: flows, cycles, and conversation
  • Structure and function
  • Stability and change

Core Ideas in Four Disciplinary Areas

The third dimension of the Framework consists of the core ideas in the four central disciplinary areas of science. These core ideas are:

Physical Sciences

  • PS 1: Matter and its interactions
  • PS 2: Motion and stability: Forces and interactions
  • PS 3: Energy
  • PS 4: Waves and their applications in technologies for information transfer

Life Sciences

  • LS 1: From molecules to organisms: Structures and processes
  • LS 2: Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics
  • LS 3: Heredity: Inheritance and variation of traits
  • LS 4: Biological Evolution: Unity and diversity

Earth and Space Sciences

  • ESS 1: Earth’s place in the universe
  • ESS 2: Earth’s systems
  • ESS 3: Earth and human activity

Engineering, Technology, and the Applications of Science

  • ETS 1: Engineering design
  • ETS 2: Links among engineering, technology, science, and society

Additional Resources