skip to main content

Science Department



Our school follows the California Next Generation Science Standards and the state’s recommended Integrated Science Courses.  Below is a summary of the topics taught at each grade level:
Semester 1:  Introduction to Physical Science
Science Practices, Heat & Energy, Water Cycle, Weather & Climate
Semester 2:  Introduction to Life Science
Life & Cells, Body Systems, Reproduction & Heredity
Semester 1:  Introduction to Ecology
Science Practices, Earth’s Resources, Materials & Energy Cycles, Ecosystems
Semester 2:  Introduction to Materials Science
Properties of Matter, Materials Engineering, Chemical Reactions
Semester 1:  History of Life on Earth
Science Practices, Life’s History, Evolution, Heredity & Human Impacts
Semester 2:  Intro to Physics & Engineering
Energy & Waves, Forces & Motion, Astronomy


Practices & Concepts for Authentic Science Experiences in K-12 Classrooms
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have identified eight practices and seven concepts for students to have a more authentic science experience. Not all practices or concepts will or should be part of every lesson or unit. Evidence of the practices and concepts are shown as students read, write, talk about, and do scientific experiences to develop scientific explanations.
Engaging in the practices of science helps students understand how scientific knowledge develops; such direct involvement gives them an appreciation of the wide range of approaches that are used to investigate, model, and explain the world.” A Framework for K-12 Science Education
Science & Engineering Practices (SEP) Cross-Cutting Concepts (CCC)
  1. Asking questions & defining problems
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
  1. Patterns
  2. Cause and effect
  3. Scale, proportion, and quantity
  4. Systems and system models
  5. Energy and matter
  6. Structure and function
  7. Stability and change
Next Generation Science Standards: For States, by States. Washington, D.C.: National Academies, 2013. Print.

Principles for Authentic K-12 Science Education

Teachers facilitate a student-centered and inquiry-based learning environment using essential questions that engage and guide ALL students through the following science principles:
Science Principle (Practice) Vital Student Action
Learning happens through doing science. (1,2,3,8)
Students use the science practices in hands-on and/or minds-on experiences connecting science phenomena and strengthening their literacy in science.
Questions drive inquiry and foster a deep understanding. (1,3)
Students ask relevant and meaningful questions that further their learning and curiosity of scientific phenomena.
Explanations are evidence-based. (4,5,6,7)
Students analyze data, interpret observations, and evaluate hypotheses, in order to explain and revise their thinking.
Science concepts are contextualized. (2,5,6,7)
Students connect science concepts to their community, local ecology, and current issues in society bringing relevancy to their learning.
Classroom collaboration fosters community connection. (2,3,6,8)
Students collaborate to create explanations and solutions to better their lives, local ecology, and community.
Experiences in science lead to language development.
Students (especially ELLs) develop academic and scientific vocabulary by talking, writing, and reading about experiences and observations.
Mastery is multifaceted.
Students (especially ELLs) demonstrate understanding and application of science through a variety of assessment tools and strategies.
Equitable access encourages participation in science.
Students (especially ELLs) are engaged in learning, have access to content, and are supported with appropriate courses and learning strategies.
Pajaro Valley Unified Science Department in collaboration with NGSS Steering Committee