SEEd - Grade 4
Utah Science with Engineering Education Standards
Utah’s Science and Engineering Education (SEEd) standards were written by Utah educators and scientists, using a wide array of resources and expertise. A great deal is known about good science instruction. The writing team used sources including A Framework for K–12 Science Education1, the Next Generation Science Standards2, and related works to craft research-based standards for Utah. These standards were written with students in mind, including developmentally appropriate progressions that foster learning that is simultaneously age-appropriate and enduring. The aim was to address what an educated citizenry should know and understand to embrace the value of scientific thinking and make informed decisions. The SEEd standards are founded on what science is, how science is learned, and the multiple dimensions of scientific work.
Principles of Scientific Literacy
Science is a way of knowing, a process for understanding the natural world. Engineering applies the fields of science, technology, and mathematics to produce solutions to real-world problems. The process of developing scientific knowledge includes ongoing questioning, testing, and refinement of ideas when supported by empirical evidence. Since progress in modern society is tied so closely to this way of knowing, scientific literacy is essential for a society to be engaged in political and economic choices on personal, local, regional, and global scales. As such, the Utah SEEd standards are based on the following essential elements of scientific literacy.
Science is valuable, relevant, and applicable.
Science produces knowledge that is inherently important to our society and culture. Science and engineering support innovation and enhance the lives of individuals and society. Science is supported from and benefited by an equitable and democratic culture. Science is for all people, at all levels of education, and from all backgrounds.
Science is a shared way of knowing and doing.
Science learning experiences should celebrate curiosity, wonder, skepticism, precision, and accuracy. Scientific habits of mind include questioning, communicating, reasoning, analyzing, collaborating, and thinking critically. These values are shared within and across scientific disciplines, and should be embraced by students, teachers, and society at large.
Science is principled and enduring.
Scientific knowledge is constructed from empirical evidence; therefore, it is both changeable and durable. Science is based on observations and inferences, an understanding of scientific laws and theories, use of scientific methods, creativity, and collaboration. The Utah SEEd standards are based on current scientific theories, which are powerful and broad explanations of a wide range of phenomena; they are not simply guesses nor are they unchangeable facts. Science is principled in that it is limited to observable evidence. Science is also enduring in that theories are only accepted when they are robustly supported by multiple lines of peer reviewed evidence. The history of science demonstrates how scientific knowledge can change and progress, and it is rooted in the cultures from which it emerged. Scientists, engineers, and society, are responsible for developing scientific understandings with integrity, supporting claims with existing and new evidence, interpreting competing explanations of phenomena, changing models purposefully, and finding applications that are ethical.
Principles of Science Learning
Just as science is an active endeavor, students best learn science by engaging in it. This includes gathering information through observations, reasoning, and communicating with others. It is not enough for students to read about or watch science from a distance; learners must become active participants in forming their ideas and engaging in scientific practice. The Utah SEEd standards are based on several core philosophical and research-based underpinnings of science learning.
Science learning is personal and engaging.
Research in science education supports the assertion that students at all levels learn most when they are able to construct and reflect upon their ideas, both by themselves and in collaboration with others. Learning is not merely an act of retaining information but creating ideas informed by evidence and linked to previous ideas and experiences. Therefore, the most productive learning settings engage students in authentic experiences with natural phenomena or problems to be solved. Learners develop tools for understanding as they look for patterns, develop explanations, and communicate with others. Science education is most effective when learners invests in their own sense-making and their learning context provides an opportunity to engage with real-world problems.
Science learning is multi-purposed.
Science learning serves many purposes. We learn science because it brings us joy and appreciation but also because it solves problems, expands understanding, and informs society. It allows us to make predictions, improve our world, and mitigate challenges. An understanding of science and how it works is necessary in order to participate in a democratic society. So, not only is science a tool to be used by the future engineer or lab scientist but also by every citizen, every artist, and every other human who shares an appreciation for the world in which we live.
All students are capable of science learning.
Science learning is a right of all individuals and must be accessible to all students in equitable ways. Independent of grade level, geography, gender, economic status, cultural background, or any other demographic descriptor, all K–12 students are capable of science learning and science literacy. Science learning is most equitable when students have agency and can engage in practices of science and sense-making for themselves, under the guidance and mentoring of an effective teacher and within an environment that puts student experience at the center of instruction. Moreover, all students are capable learners of science, and all grades and classes should provide authentic, developmentally appropriate science instruction.
Three Dimensions of Science
Science is composed of multiple types of knowledge and tools. These include the processes of doing science, the structures that help us organize and connect our understandings, and the deep explanatory pieces of knowledge that provide predictive power. These facets of science are represented as “three dimensions” of science learning, and together these help us to make sense of all that science does and represents. These include science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Taken together, these represent how we use science to make sense of phenomena, and they are most meaningful when learned in concert with one another. These are described in A Framework for K–12 Science Education, referenced above, and briefly described here:
Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs):
Practices refer to the things that scientists and engineers do and how they actively engage in their work. Scientists do much more than make hypotheses and test them with experiments. They engage in wonder, design, modeling, construction, communication, and collaboration. The practices describe the variety of activities that are necessary to do science, and they also imply how scientific thinking is related to thinking in other subjects, including math, writing, and the arts. For a further understanding of science and engineering practices see Chapter 3 in A Framework for K–12 Science Education.
Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs):
Crosscutting concepts are the organizing structures that provide a framework for assembling pieces of scientific knowledge. They reach across disciplines and demonstrate how specific ideas are united into overarching principles. For example, a mechanical engineer might design some process that transfers energy from a fuel source into a moving part, while a biologist might study how predators and prey are interrelated. Both of these would need to model systems of energy to understand how all of the features interact, even though they are studying different subjects. Understanding crosscutting concepts enables us to make connections among different subjects and to utilize science in diverse settings. Additional information on crosscutting concepts can be found in Chapter 4 of A Framework for K-12 Science Education.
Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs):
Core ideas within the SEEd Standards include those most fundamental and explanatory pieces of knowledge in a discipline. They are often what we traditionally associate with science knowledge and specific subject areas within science. These core ideas are organized within physical, life, and earth sciences, but within each area further specific organization is appropriate. All these core ideas are described in chapters 5 through 8 in the K–12 Framework text, and these are employed by the Utah SEEd standards to help clarify the focus of each strand in a grade level or content area.
Even though the science content covered by SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs is substantial, the Utah SEEd standards are not meant to address every scientific concept. Instead, these standards were written to address and engage in an appropriate depth of knowledge, including perspectives into how that knowledge is obtained and where it fits in broader contexts, for students to continue to use and expand their understandings over a lifetime.
Articulation of SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs
|Science and Engineering Practices||Crosscutting Concepts||Disciplinary Core Ideas|
Asking questions or defining problems:
Developing and using models:
Planning and carrying out investigations:
Analyzing and interpreting data:
Using mathematics and computational thinking:
Constructing explanations and designing solutions:
Engaging in argument from evidence:
Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information:
Cause and effect:
Scale, proportion, and quantity:
Systems and system models:
Energy and matter:
Structure and function:
Stability and change:
Earth and Space Sciences:
Organization of Standards
The Utah SEEd standards are organized into strands which represent significant areas of learning within grade level progressions and content areas. Each strand introduction is an orientation for the teacher in order to provide an overall view of the concepts needed for foundational understanding. These include descriptions of how the standards tie together thematically and which DCIs are used to unite that theme. Within each strand are standards. A standard is an articulation of how a learner may demonstrate their proficiency, incorporating not only the disciplinary core idea but also a crosscutting concept and a science and engineering practice. While a standard represents an essential element of what is expected, it does not dictate curriculum—it only represents a proficiency level for that grade. While some standards within a strand may be more comprehensive than others, all standards are essential for a comprehensive understanding of a strand’s purpose.
The standards of any given grade or course are not independent. SEEd standards are written with developmental levels and learning progressions in mind so that many topics are built upon from one grade to another. In addition, SEPs and CCCs are especially well paralleled with other disciplines, including English language arts, fine arts, mathematics, and social sciences. Therefore, SEEd standards should be considered to exist not as an island unto themselves, but as a part of an integrated, comprehensive, and holistic educational experience.
Each standard is framed upon the three dimensions of science to represent a cohesive, multi-faceted science learning outcome.
An example of a SEEd standard:
Each part of the above SEEd standard is identified in the following diagram:
Goal of the SEEd Standards
The Utah SEEd Standards is a research-grounded document aimed at providing accurate and appropriate guidance for educators and stakeholders. But above all else, the goal of this document is to provide students with the education they deserve, honoring their abilities, their potential, and their right to utilize scientific thought and skills for themselves and the world that they will build.
1 National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13165. This consensus research document and its chapters are referred to throughout this document as a research basis for much of Utah’s SEEd standards.
2 Most Utah SEEd Standards are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press) http://www. nextgenscience.org
The fourth-grade SEEd standards provide a framework for students to construct an explanation of how structures support growth, behavior, and survival in both plants and animals. Students analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of stability and change in ancient organisms and environments. Students plan and carry out an investigation to gather evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electrical currents. Students analyze data and construct explanations for how the Sun and Earth interact. Additionally, students design solutions to problems that exist in these areas.
Core Standards of the Course
Strand 4.1: ORGANISMS FUNCTIONING IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT
Through the study of organisms, inferences can be made about environments both past and present. Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions for growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. Animals use different sense receptors specialized for particular kinds of information to understand and respond to their environment. Some kinds of plants and animals that once lived on Earth can no longer be found. However, fossils from these organisms provide evidence about the types of organisms that lived long ago and the nature of their environments. Additionally, the presence and location of certain fossil types indicate changes that have occurred in environments over time.
Construct an explanation from evidence that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. Emphasize how structures support an organism’s survival in its environment and how internal and external structures of plants and animals vary within the same and across multiple Utah environments. Examples of structures could include thorns on a stem to prevent predation or gills on a fish to allow it to breathe underwater. (LS1.A)
Develop and use a model of a system to describe how animals receive different types of information from their environment through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information. Emphasize how animals are able to use their perceptions and memories to guide their actions. Examples could include models that explain how animals sense and then respond to different aspects of their environment such as sounds, temperature, or smell. (LS1.D)
Analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of the stability and change in organisms and environments from long ago. Emphasize using the structures of fossils to make inferences about ancient organisms. Examples of fossils and environments could include comparing a trilobite with a horseshoe crab in an ocean environment or using a fossil footprint to determine the size of a dinosaur. (LS4.A)
Engage in argument from evidence based on patterns in rock layers and fossils found in those layers to support an explanation that environments have changed over time. Emphasize the relationship between fossils and past environments. Examples could include tropical plant fossils found in Arctic areas and rock layers with marine shell fossils found above rock layers with land plant fossils. (ESS1.C)
Strand 4.2: ENERGY TRANSFER
Energy is present whenever there are moving objects, sound, light, or heat. The faster a given object is moving, the more energy it possesses. When objects collide, energy can be transferred from one object to another causing the objects’ motions to change. Energy can also be transferred from place to place by electrical currents, heat, sound, or light. Devices can be designed to convert energy from one form to another.
Construct an explanation to describe the cause and effect relationship between the speed of an object and the energy of that object. Emphasize using qualitative descriptions of the relationship between speed and energy like fast, slow, strong, or weak. An example could include a ball that is kicked hard has more energy and travels a greater distance than a ball that is kicked softly. (PS3.A)
Ask questions and make observations about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide. Emphasize that energy is transferred when objects collide and may be converted to different forms of energy. Examples could include changes in speed when one moving ball collides with another or the transfer of energy when a toy car hits a wall. (PS3.B, PS3.C)
Plan and carry out an investigation to gather evidence from observations that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electrical currents. Examples could include sound causing objects to vibrate and electric currents being used to produce motion or light. (PS3.A, PS3.B)
Design a device that converts energy from one form to another. Define the problem, identify criteria and constraints, develop possible solutions using models, analyze data from testing solutions, and propose modifications for optimizing a solution. Emphasize identifying the initial and final forms of energy. Examples could include solar ovens that convert light energy to heat energy or a simple alarm system that converts motion energy into sound energy. (PS3.B, PS3.D, ETS1.A, ETS1.B, ETS1.C)
Strand 4.3: WAVE PATTERNS
Waves are regular patterns of motion that transfer energy and have properties such as amplitude (height of the wave) and wavelength (spacing between wave peaks). Waves in water can be directly observed. Light waves cause objects to be seen when light reflected from objects enters the eye. Humans use waves and other patterns to transfer information.
Develop and use a model to describe the regular patterns of waves. Emphasize patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength. Examples of models could include diagrams, analogies, and physical models such as water or rope. (PS4.A)
Develop and use a model to describe how visible light waves reflected from objects enter the eye causing objects to be seen. Emphasize the reflection and movement of light. The structure and function of organs and organ systems and the relationship between color and wavelength will be taught in Grades 6 through 8. (PS4.B)
Design a solution to an information transfer problem using wave patterns. Define the problem, identify criteria and constraints, develop possible solutions using models, analyze data from testing solutions, and propose modifications for optimizing a solution. Examples could include using light to transmit a message in Morse code or using lenses and mirrors to see objects that are far away. (PS4.C, ETS1.A, ETS1.B, ETS1.C)
Strand 4.4: OBSERVABLE PATTERNS IN THE SKY
The Sun is a star that appears larger and brighter than other stars because it is closer to Earth. The rotation of Earth on its axis and orbit of Earth around the Sun cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the Sun and stars at different times of the day, month, and year.
Construct an explanation that differences in the apparent brightness of the Sun compared to other stars is due to the relative distance (scale) of stars from Earth. Emphasize relative distance from Earth. (ESS1.A)
Analyze and interpret data of observable patterns to show that Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the Sun. Emphasize patterns that provide evidence of Earth’s rotation and orbits around the Sun. Examples of patterns could include day and night, daily changes in length and direction of shadows, and seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky. Earth’s seasons and its connection to the tilt of Earth’s axis will be taught in Grades 6 through 8. (ESS1.B)
http://www.uen.org - in partnership with Utah State Board of Education (USBE) and Utah System of Higher Education (USHE). Send questions or comments to USBE Specialist - Jennifer Throndsen and see the Science - Elementary website. For general questions about Utah's Core Standards contact the Director - Jennifer Throndsen. 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 Board 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 Board of Education, 250 East 500 South, PO Box 144200, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4200.