Science - 5th Grade
Printable Version (pdf)
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:
- Each grade level begins with a brief course description.
- The INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) describe the goals for science skills
and attitudes. They are found at the beginning of each grade, and are an integral
part of the Core that should be included as part of instruction.
- The SCIENCE BENCHMARKS describe the science content students should know.
Each grade level has three to five Science Benchmarks. The ILOs and Benchmarks
intersect in the Standards, Objectives and Indicators.
- A STANDARD is a broad statement of what students are expected to understand.
Several Objectives are listed under each Standard.
- An OBJECTIVE is a more focused description of what students need to know
and be able to do at the completion of instruction. If students have mastered
the Objectives associated with a given Standard, they are judged to have mastered
that Standard at that grade level. Several Indicators are described for each
- An INDICATOR is a measurable or observable student action that enables one
to judge whether a student has mastered a particular Objective. Indicators
are not meant to be classroom activities, but they can help guide classroom
Eight Guidelines Were Used in Developing the Elementary
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 5th 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.
Fifth Grade Science Core
In the Fifth Grade students begin to understanding concepts of Change and Cause
and Effect. Students will learn about the constantly changing Earth's surface.
They will investigate physical and chemical changes in matter. They will begin
to relate causes for changes with their effects. Students will have opportunity
to investigate the effects of various forces, such as magnetism and electricity
upon materials. They will begin to learn how traits passed from parent organisms
to their offspring effect their survival.
Students should learn to value the scientific processes as means of obtaining
knowledge. They should be encouraged to maintain an open and questioning mind
and should be helped and encouraged to pose their own questions about objects,
events, processes and results. Fifth graders 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.
Good science instruction requires hands-on science investigations in which
student inquiry is an important goal. Teachers should provide opportunities
for all students to explore many things. Fifth graders should have sufficient
understanding of Earth Science to point out an interesting landform to others
and hypothesize its origin; feel the success of connecting batteries and wire
to make the lights come on; learn about chemical change as they mix baking soda
and vinegar and test changes in acidity of liquids using the juice of red cabbage
leaves. They should come to enjoy science as a process of learning about their
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 fifth 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 fifth grade and Sci-ber
Text -an electronic science textbook specific to the Utah Core.
The hands-on nature of this science curriculum increases the need
for teachers to use appropriate precautions in the classroom and field. 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
Intended Learning Outcomes for Fifth 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
By the end of fifth grade students will be able to:
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
- Observe simple objects, patterns, and events and report their observations.
- Sort and sequence data according to criteria given.
- Given the appropriate instrument, measure length, temperature, volume, and
mass in metric units as specified.
- Compare things, processes, and events.
- Use classification systems.
- Plan and conduct simple experiments.
- Formulate simple research questions.
- Predict results of investigations based on prior data.
- Use data to construct a reasonable conclusion.
2. Manifest Scientific Attitudes and Interests
- Demonstrate a sense of curiosity about nature.
- Voluntarily read and look at books and other materials about science.
- Pose science questions about objects, events, and processes.
- Maintain an open and questioning mind toward new ideas and alternative points
- Seek and weigh evidence before drawing conclusions.
- Accept and use scientific evidence to help resolve ecological problems.
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
- Know and explain science information specified for the grade level.
- Distinguish between examples and non-examples of concepts that have been
- Solve problems appropriate to grade level by applying science principles
4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning
- Record data accurately when given the appropriate form (e.g., table, graph,
- Describe or explain observations carefully and report with pictures, sentences,
- Use scientific language in oral and written communication.
- Use reference sources to obtain information and cite the source.
- Use mathematical reasoning to communicate information.
5. Demonstrate Awareness of Social and Historical Aspects
- Cite examples of how science affects life.
- Understand the cumulative nature of science knowledge.
6. Understand the Nature of Science
- Science is a way of knowing that is used by many people not just scientists.
- Understand that science investigations use a variety of methods and do
not always use the same set of procedures; understand that there is not just
one "scientific method."
- Science findings are based upon evidence.
Core Standards of the Course
The weight of an object is always equal to the sum of its parts, regardless of how it is assembled. In a chemical reaction or physical change matter is neither created nor destroyed. When two or more materials are combined, either a chemical reaction or physical change may occur. Chemical reactions are often indicated when materials give off heat or cool as they take in heat, give off light, give off gas, or change colors. In a chemical reaction, materials are changed into new substances. In a physical change a new substance is not formed.
Students will understand that chemical and physical changes occur in matter.
Describe that matter is neither created nor destroyed even though it may undergo change.
Compare the total weight of an object to the weight of its individual parts after being disassembled.
Compare the weight of a specified quantity of matter before and after it undergoes melting or freezing.
Investigate the results of the combined weights of a liquid and a solid after the solid has been dissolved and then recovered from the liquid (e.g., salt dissolved in water then water evaporated).
Investigate chemical reactions in which the total weight of the materials before and after reaction is the same (e.g., cream and vinegar before and after mixing, borax and glue mixed to make a new substance).
Evaluate evidence that indicates a physical change has occurred.
Identify the physical properties of matter (e.g., hard, soft, solid, liquid, gas).
Compare changes in substances that indicate a physical change has occurred.
Describe the appearance of a substance before and after a physical change.
Investigate evidence for changes in matter that occur during a chemical reaction.
Identify observable evidence of a chemical reaction (e.g., color change, heat or light given off, heat absorbed, gas given off).
Explain why the measured weight of a remaining product is less than its reactants when a gas is produced.
Cite examples of chemical reactions in daily life.
Compare a physical change to a chemical change.
Hypothesize how changing one of the materials in a chemical reaction will change the results.
The Earths surface is constantly changing. Some changes happen very slowly over long periods of time, such as weathering, erosion, and uplift. Other changes happen abruptly, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. All around us, we see the visible effects of the building up and breaking down of the Earths surface.
Students will understand that volcanoes, earthquakes, uplift, weathering, and erosion reshape Earth's surface.
Describe how weathering and erosion change Earths surface.
Identify the objects, processes, or forces that weather and erode Earth’s surface (e.g., ice, plants, animals, abrasion, gravity, water, wind).
Describe how geological features (e.g., valleys, canyons, buttes, arches) are changed through erosion (e.g., waves, wind, glaciers, gravity, running water).
Explain the relationship between time and specific geological changes.
Explain how volcanoes, earthquakes, and uplift affect Earths surface.
Identify specific geological features created by volcanoes, earthquakes, and uplift.
Give examples of different landforms that are formed by volcanoes, earthquakes, and uplift (e.g., mountains, valleys, new lakes, canyons).
Describe how volcanoes, earthquakes, and uplift change landforms.
Cite examples of how technology is used to predict volcanoes and earthquakes.
Relate the building up and breaking down of Earths surface over time to the various physical land features.
Explain how layers of exposed rock, such as those observed in the Grand Canyon, are the result of natural processes acting over long periods of time.
Describe the role of deposition in the processes that change Earth’s surface.
Use a time line to identify the sequence and time required for building and breaking down of geologic features on Earth.
Describe and justify how the surface of Earth would appear if there were no mountain uplift, weathering, or erosion.
Earth and some earth materials have magnetic properties. Without touching them, a magnet attracts things made of iron and either pushes or pulls on other magnets. Electricity is a form of energy. Current electricity can be generated and transmitted through pathways. Some materials are capable of carrying electricity more effectively than other materials. Static electricity is a result of objects being electrically charged. Without touching them, materials that are electrically charged may either push or pull other charged materials.
Students will understand that magnetism can be observed when there is an interaction between the magnetic fields of magnets or between a magnet and materials made of iron.
Investigate and compare the behavior of magnetism using magnets.
Compare various types of magnets (e.g., permanent, temporary, and natural magnets) and their abilities to push or pull iron objects they are not touching.
Investigate how magnets will both attract and repel other magnets.
Compare permanent magnets and electromagnets.
Research and report the use of magnets that is supported by sound scientific principles.
Describe how the magnetic field of Earth and a magnet are similar.
Compare the magnetic fields of various types of magnets (e.g., bar magnet, disk magnet, horseshoe magnet).
Compare Earth’s magnetic field to the magnetic field of a magnet.
Construct a compass and explain how it works.
Investigate the effects of magnets on the needle of a compass and compare this to the effects of Earth’s magnetic field on the needle of a compass (e.g., magnets effect the needle only at close distances, Earth’s magnetic field affects the needle at great distances, magnets close to a compass overrides the Earth’s effect on the needle).
Students will understand features of static and current electricity.
Describe the behavior of static electricity as observed in nature and everyday occurrences.
List several occurrences of static electricity that happen in everyday life.
Describe the relationship between static electricity and lightning.
Describe the behavior of objects charged with static electricity in attracting or repelling without touching.
Compare the amount of static charge produced by rubbing various materials together (e.g., rubbing fur on a glass rod produces a greater charge then rubbing the fur with a metal rod, the static charge produced when a balloon is rubbed on hair is greater than when a plastic bag is rubbed on hair).
Investigate how various materials react differently to statically charged objects.
Analyze the behavior of current electricity.
Draw and label the components of a complete electrical circuit that includes switches and loads (e.g., light bulb, bell, speaker, motor).
Predict the effect of changing one or more of the components (e.g., battery, load, wires) in an electric circuit.
Generalize the properties of materials that carry the flow of electricity using data by testing different materials.
Investigate materials that prevent the flow of electricity.
Make a working model of a complete circuit using a power source, switch, bell or light, and a conductor for a pathway.
All living things inherit a set of characteristics or traits from their parents. Members of any given species transfer traits from one generation to the next. The passing of traits from parent to offspring is called heredity and causes the offspring to resemble the parent. Some traits differ among members of a population, and these variations may help a particular species to survive better in a given environment in getting food, finding shelter, protecting itself, and reproducing. These variations give the individual a survival advantage over other individuals of the same species.
Students will understand that traits are passed from the parent organisms to their offspring, and that sometimes the offspring may possess variations of these traits that may help or hinder survival in a given environment.
Using supporting evidence, show that traits are transferred from a parent organism to its offspring.
Make a chart and collect data identifying various traits among a given population (e.g., the hand span of students in the classroom, the color and texture of different apples, the number of petals of a given flower).
Identify similar physical traits of a parent organism and its offspring (e.g., trees and saplings, leopards and cubs, chickens and chicks).
Compare various examples of offspring that do not initially resemble the parent organism but mature to become similar to the parent organism (e.g., mealworms and darkling beetles, tadpoles and frogs, seedlings and vegetables, caterpillars and butterflies).
Contrast inherited traits with traits and behaviors that are not inherited but may be learned or induced by environmental factors (e.g., cat purring to cat meowing to be let out of the house; the round shape of a willow is inherited, while leaning away from the prevailing wind is induced).
Investigate variations and similarities in plants grown from seeds of a parent plant (e.g., how seeds from the same plant species can produce different colored flowers or identical flowers).
Describe how some characteristics could give a species a survival advantage in a particular environment.
Compare the traits of similar species for physical abilities, instinctual behaviors, and specialized body structures that increase the survival of one species in a specific environment over another species (e.g., difference between the feet of snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbit, differences in leaves of plants growing at different altitudes, differences between the feathers of an owl and a hummingbird, differences in parental behavior among various fish).
Identify that some environments give one species a survival advantage over another (e.g., warm water favors fish such as carp, cold water favors fish such as trout, environments that burn regularly favor grasses, environments that do not often burn favor trees).
Describe how a particular physical attribute may provide an advantage for survival in one environment but not in another (e.g., heavy fur in arctic climates keep animals warm whereas in hot desert climates it would cause overheating; flippers on such animals as sea lions and seals provide excellent swimming structures in the water but become clumsy and awkward on land; cacti retain the right amount of water in arid regions but would develop root rot in a more temperate region; fish gills have the ability to absorb oxygen in water but not on land).
Research a specific plant or animal and report how specific physical attributes provide an advantage for survival in a specific environment.
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
and see the Science - Elementary website. For
general questions about Utah's Core Standards contact the Director
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