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Science - 6th Grade
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Science is a way of knowing, a process for gaining knowledge and understanding of the natural world. The Science Core Curriculum places emphasis on understanding and using skills. Students should be active learners. It is not enough for students to read about science; they must do science. They should observe, inquire, question, formulate and test hypotheses, analyze data, report, and evaluate findings. The students, as scientists, should have hands-on, active experiences throughout the instruction of the science curriculum.
The Elementary Science Core describes what students should know and be able to do at the end of each of the K-6 grade levels. It was developed, critiqued, piloted, and revised by a community of Utah science teachers, university science educators, State Office of Education specialists, scientists, expert national consultants, and an advisory committee representing a wide variety of people from the community. The Core reflects the current philosophy of science education that is expressed in national documents developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academies of Science. This Science Core has the endorsement of the Utah Science Teachers Association. The Core reflects high standards of achievement in science for all students.
Organization of the Elementary Science Core
The Core is designed to help teachers organize and deliver instruction.
The Science Core Curriculum's organization:
Eight Guidelines Were Used in Developing the Elementary Science Core
Reflects the Nature of Science: Science is a way of knowing, a process of gaining knowledge and understanding of the natural world. The Core is designed to produce an integrated set of Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) for students. Please see the Intended Learning Outcomes document for each grade level core.
As described in these ILOs, students will:
1. Use science process and thinking skills.
2. Manifest science interests and attitudes.
3. Understand important science concepts and principles.
4. Communicate effectively using science language and reasoning.
5. Demonstrate awareness of the social and historical aspects of science.
6. Understand the nature of science.
Coherent: The Core has been designed so that, wherever possible, the science ideas taught within a particular grade level have a logical and natural connection with each other and with those of earlier grades. Efforts have also been made to select topics and skills that integrate well with one another and with other subject areas appropriate to grade level. In addition, there is an upward articulation of science concepts, skills, and content. This spiraling is intended to prepare students to understand and use more complex science concepts and skills as they advance through their science learning.
Developmentally Appropriate: The Core takes into account the psychological and social readiness of students. It builds from concrete experiences to more abstract understandings. The Core describes science language students should use that is appropriate to each grade level. A more extensive vocabulary should not be emphasized. In the past, many educators may have mistakenly thought that students understood abstract concepts (such as the nature of the atom), because they repeated appropriate names and vocabulary (such as electron and neutron). The Core resists the temptation to tell about abstract concepts at inappropriate grade levels, but focuses on providing experiences with concepts that students can explore and understand in depth to build a foundation for future science learning.
Encourages Good Teaching Practices: It is impossible to accomplish the full intent of the Core by lecturing and having students read from textbooks. The Elementary Science Core emphasizes student inquiry. Science process skills are central in each standard. Good science encourages students to gain knowledge by doing science: observing, questioning, exploring, making and testing hypotheses, comparing predictions, evaluating data, and communicating conclusions. The Core is designed to encourage instruction with students working in cooperative groups. Instruction should connect lessons with students' daily lives. The Core directs experiential science instruction for all students, not just those who have traditionally succeeded in science classes.
Comprehensive: The Elementary Science Core does not cover all topics that have traditionally been in the elementary science curriculum; however, it does provide a comprehensive background in science. By emphasizing depth rather than breadth, the Core seeks to empower students rather than intimidate them with a collection of isolated and eminently forgettable facts. Teachers are free to add related concepts and skills, but they are expected to teach all the standards and objectives specified in the Core for their grade level.
Feasible: Teachers and others who are familiar with Utah students, classrooms, teachers, and schools have designed the Core. It can be taught with easily obtained resources and materials. A Teacher Resource Book (TRB) is available for elementary grades and has sample lessons on each topic for each grade level. The TRB is a document that will grow as teachers add exemplary lessons aligned with the new Core. The middle grade levels have electronic textbooks. View the 6th Grade Sci-ber Text.
Useful and Relevant: This curriculum relates directly to student needs and interests. It is grounded in the natural world in which we live. Relevance of science to other endeavors enables students to transfer skills gained from science instruction into their other school subjects and into their lives outside the classroom.
Encourages Good Assessment Practices: Student achievement of the standards and objectives in this Core are best assessed using a variety of assessment instruments. One's purpose should be clearly in mind as assessment is planned and implemented. Performance tests are particularly appropriate to evaluate student mastery of science processes and problem-solving skills. Teachers should use a variety of classroom assessment approaches in conjunction with standard assessment instruments to inform their instruction. Sample test items, keyed to each Core Standard, may be located on the Utah Science Home Page. Observation of students engaged in science activities is highly recommended as a way to assess students' skills as well as attitudes in science. The nature of the questions posed by students provides important evidence of students' understanding of science.
The Most Important Goal
Elementary school reaches the greatest number of students for a longer period of time during the most formative years of the school experience. Effective elementary science instruction engages students actively in enjoyable learning experiences. Science instruction should be as thrilling an experience for a child as seeing a rainbow, growing a flower, or holding a toad. Science is not just for those who have traditionally succeeded in the subject, and it is not just for those who will choose science-related careers. In a world of rapidly expanding knowledge and technology, all students must gain the skills they will need to understand and function responsibly and successfully in the world. The Core provides skills in a context that enables students to experience the joy of doing science.
Sixth Grade Science Core Curriculum
The theme for Sixth Grade Science is Scale, with Relative Position as an underlying concept. Sixth graders should begin to relate to the incredible size and distance of objects in the solar system, galaxy, and universe, as well as compare their world to the miniscule scale of microorganisms. Students will also understand how relative position affects such events as the appearance of the moon and the changing of the seasons. Students will experiment with heat, light, and sound, and begin to understand concepts of energy.
Students should begin to design and perform experiments and value inquiry as the fundamental scientific process. They should be encouraged to maintain an open and questioning mind as they plan and conduct experiments. They should be helped and encouraged to pose their own questions about objects, events, processes, and results. They should have the opportunity to plan and conduct their own experiments, and come to their own conclusions as they read, observe, compare, describe, infer, and draw conclusions. The results of their experiments need to be compared for reasonableness to multiple sources of information. It is important for students at this age to begin to formalize the processes of science and be able to identify the variables in a formal experiment.
Good science instruction requires hands-on science investigations in which student inquiry is an important goal. Teachers should provide opportunities for all students to experience many things. Sixth graders should experience the excitement of locating the North Star and Little Dipper, and the wonders of gazing into the night sky. They should find the fascination of peering into the world of microorganisms, experimenting and watching them as they move and feed and reproduce. Students should come to enjoy science as a process of discovering the natural world.
Science Core concepts should be integrated with concepts and skills from other curriculum areas. Reading, writing, and mathematics skills should be emphasized as integral to the instruction of science. Technology issues and the nature of science are significant components of this Core. Personal relevance of science in students' lives is always an important part of helping students to value science, and should be emphasized at this grade level.
This Core was designed using the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061: Benchmarks For Science Literacy and the National Academy of Science's National Science Education Standards as guides to determine appropriate content and skills.
The sixth grade Science Core has online resources designed to help with classroom instruction; they include Teacher Resource Book -a set of lesson plans, assessment items and science information specific to sixth grade; Sci-ber Text -an electronic science textbook.
The hands-on nature of this science curriculum increases the need for teachers to use appropriate precautions in the classroom and field. Proper handling and disposal of microorganisms is crucial for a safe classroom. Teachers must adhere to the published guidelines for the proper use of animals, equipment, and chemicals in the classroom. These guidelines are available on the Utah Science Home Page.
The Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) describe the skills and attitudes students should learn as a result of science instruction. They are an essential part of the Science Core Curriculum and provide teachers with a standard for evaluation of student learning in science. Instruction should include significant science experiences that lead to student understanding using the ILOs.
The main intent of science instruction in Utah is that students will value and use science as a process of obtaining knowledge based upon observable evidence.
By the end of sixth grade students will be able to:
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
2. Manifest Scientific Attitudes and Interests
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning
5. Demonstrate Awareness of Social and Historical Aspects
6. Understand the Nature of Science
Core Standards of the Course
Students will understand the scale of size, distance between objects, movement, and apparent motion (due to Earth's rotation) of objects in the universe and how cultures have understood, related to and used these objects in the night sky.