Science - 4th Grade
Last updated: 2002
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.
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
As described in these ILOs, students will:
1. Use science process and thinking skills.
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 4th 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.
Fourth Grade Science Core Curriculum
Good science instruction requires that attention be paid to providing students with hands-on science investigations in which student inquiry is an important goal. Their curiosity should be encouraged and sustained. Teachers should provide opportunities for all students to experience many things. Fourth graders should feel the excitement of a rainstorm, hunt for fossils in rocks, observe the patterns in a spider web, and teach their parents to recognize the song of the lark. They should have many opportunities to observe and predict, to infer and to classify. They should come to enjoy science as a process of learning about their 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 fourth 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 fourth grade and the Sci-ber Text -an electronic science text book specific to the Utah Core.
Intended Learning Outcomes for Fourth Grade Science
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 fourth 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
These materials have been produced by and for the teachers of the State of Utah. Copies of these materials may be freely reproduced for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials, credit should be given to Utah State Office of Education. These materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other format, without the written permission of the Utah State Office of Education, 250 East 500 South, PO Box 144200, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4200.
For more information about this core curriculum, contact the USOE Specialist, Sarah Young or visit the Science - Elementary Home Page. For general questions about Utah's Core Curriculum, contact the USOE Curriculum Director, Sydnee Dickson . UEN Contact Info: 801-581-2999 | 800-866-5852 | Contact Us