SEEd - Grade 6
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 sixth-grade SEEd standards provide a framework for student understanding of the cycling of matter and the flow of energy through the study of observable phenomena on Earth. Students will explore the role of energy and gravity in the solar system as they compare the scale and properties of objects in the solar system and model the Sun-Earth- Moon system. These strands also emphasize heat energy as it affects some properties of matter, including states of matter and density. The relationship between heat energy and matter is observable in many phenomena on Earth, such as seasons, the water cycle, weather, and climates. Types of ecosystems on Earth are dependent upon the interaction of organisms with each other and with the physical environment. By researching interactions between the living and nonliving components of ecosystems, students will understand how the flow of energy and cycling of matter affects stability and change within their environment.
Core Standards of the Course
Strand 6.1: STRUCTURE AND MOTION WITHIN THE SOLAR SYSTEM
The solar system consists of the Sun, planets, and other objects within Sun's gravitational influence. Gravity is the force of attraction between masses. The Sun-Earth-Moon system provides an opportunity to study interactions between objects in the solar system that influence phenomena observed from Earth. Scientists use data from many sources to determine the scale and properties of objects in our solar system.
Develop and use a model of the Sun-Earth-Moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the Sun and Moon, and seasons. Examples of models could be physical, graphical, or conceptual. (ESS1.A, ESS1.B)
Use computational thinking to analyze data and determine the scale and properties of objects in the solar system. Examples of scale could include size and distance. Examples of properties could include layers, temperature, surface features, and orbital radius. Data sources could include Earth and space-based instruments such as telescopes and satellites. Types of data could include graphs, data tables, drawings, photographs, and models. (ESS1.A, ESS1.B)
Strand 6.2: ENERGY AFFECTS MATTER
Matter and energy are fundamental components of the universe. Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. Transfer of energy creates change in matter. Changes between general states of matter can occur through the transfer of energy. Density describes how closely matter is packed together. Substances with a higher density have more matter in a given space than substances with a lower density. Changes in heat energy can alter the density of a material. Insulators resist the transfer of heat energy, while conductors easily transfer heat energy. These differences in energy flow can be used to design products to meet the needs of society.
Develop models to show that molecules are made of different kinds, proportions and quantities of atoms. Emphasize understanding that there are differences between atoms and molecules, and that certain combinations of atoms form specific molecules. Examples of simple molecules could include water (H2O), atmospheric oxygen (O2), and carbon dioxide (CO2). (PS1.A)
Develop a model to predict the effect of heat energy on states of matter and density. Emphasize the arrangement of particles in states of matter (solid, liquid, or gas) and during phase changes (melting, freezing, condensing, and evaporating). (PS1.A, PS3.A)
Plan and carry out an investigation to determine the relationship between temperature, the amount of heat transferred, and the change of average particle motion in various types or amounts of matter. Emphasize recording and evaluating data, and communicating the results of the investigation. (PS3.A)
Design an object, tool, or process that minimizes or maximizes heat energy transfer. Identify criteria and constraints, develop a prototype for iterative testing, analyze data from testing, and propose modifications for optimizing the design solution. Emphasize demonstrating how the structure of differing materials allows them to function as either conductors or insulators. (PS3.A, PS3.B, ETS1.A, ETS1.B, ETS1.C)
Strand 6.3: EARTH’S WEATHER PATTERNS AND CLIMATE
All Earth processes are the result of energy flowing and matter cycling within and among the planet’s systems. Heat energy from the Sun, transmitted by radiation, is the primary source of energy that affects Earth's weather and drives the water cycle. Uneven heating across Earth's surface causes changes in density, which result in convection currents in water and air, creating patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional and global climates.
Investigate the interactions between air masses that cause changes in weather conditions. Collect and analyze weather data to provide evidence for how air masses flow from regions of high pressure to low pressure causing a change in weather. Examples of data collection could include field observations, laboratory experiments, weather maps, or diagrams. (ESS2.C, ESS2.D)
Develop and use a model to show how unequal heating of Earth's systems cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates. Emphasize how warm water and air move from the equator toward the poles. Examples of models could include Utah regional patterns such as lake-effect and wintertime temperature inversions. (ESS2.C, ESS2.D)
Construct an explanation supported by evidence for the role of the natural greenhouse effect in Earth’s energy balance, and how it enables life to exist on Earth. Examples could include comparisons between Earth and other planets such as Venus and Mars. (ESS2.D)
Strand 6.4: STABILITY AND CHANGE IN ECOSYSTEMS
The study of ecosystems includes the interaction of organisms with each other and with the physical environment. Consistent interactions occur within and between species in various ecosystems as organisms obtain resources, change the environment, and are affected by the environment. This influences the flow of energy through an ecosystem, resulting in system variations. Additionally, ecosystems benefit humans through processes and resources, such as the production of food, water and air purification, and recreation opportunities. Scientists and engineers investigate interactions among organisms and evaluate design solutions to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem resources.
Analyze data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations in an ecosystem. Ask questions to predict how changes in resource availability affects organisms in those ecosystems. Examples could include water, food, and living space in Utah environments. (LS2.A)
Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems. Emphasize consistent interactions in different environments such as competition, predation, and mutualism. (LS2.A)
Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem. Emphasize food webs and the role of producers, consumers, and decomposers in various ecosystems. Examples could include Utah ecosystems such as mountains, Great Salt Lake, wetlands, and deserts. (LS2.B)
Construct an argument supported by evidence that the stability of populations is affected by changes to an ecosystem. Emphasize how changes to living and nonliving components in an ecosystem affect populations in that ecosystem. Examples could include Utah ecosystems such as mountains, Great Salt Lake, wetlands, and deserts. (LS2.C)
Evaluate competing design solutions for preserving ecosystem resources and biodiversity based on how well the solutions maintain stability within the ecosystem. Emphasize obtaining, evaluating and communicating information of differing design solutions. Examples could include policies affecting ecosystems, responding to invasive species or solutions for the preservation of ecosystem resources specific to Utah, such as air and water quality and prevention of soil erosion. (LS2.C, LS4.D, ETS1.A, ETS1.B, ETS1.C)
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 - Richard Scott and see the Science - Secondary 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.