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Science - Elementary Curriculum
Science - 5th Grade
Course Preface

  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.

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 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 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 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 Home Page.

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 evidence.

By the end of fifth grade students will be able to:

1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills

  1. Observe simple objects, patterns, and events and report their observations.
  2. Sort and sequence data according to criteria given.
  3. Given the appropriate instrument, measure length, temperature, volume, and mass in metric units as specified.
  4. Compare things, processes, and events.
  5. Use classification systems.
  6. Plan and conduct simple experiments.
  7. Formulate simple research questions.
  8. Predict results of investigations based on prior data.
  9. Use data to construct a reasonable conclusion.

2. Manifest Scientific Attitudes and Interests

  1. Demonstrate a sense of curiosity about nature.
  2. Voluntarily read and look at books and other materials about science.
  3. Pose science questions about objects, events, and processes.
  4. Maintain an open and questioning mind toward new ideas and alternative points of view.
  5. Seek and weigh evidence before drawing conclusions.
  6. Accept and use scientific evidence to help resolve ecological problems.

3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles

  1. Know and explain science information specified for the grade level.
  2. Distinguish between examples and non-examples of concepts that have been taught.
  3. Solve problems appropriate to grade level by applying science principles and procedures.

4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning

  1. Record data accurately when given the appropriate form (e.g., table, graph, chart).
  2. Describe or explain observations carefully and report with pictures, sentences, and models.
  3. Use scientific language in oral and written communication.
  4. Use reference sources to obtain information and cite the source.
  5. Use mathematical reasoning to communicate information.

5. Demonstrate Awareness of Social and Historical Aspects of Science

  1. Cite examples of how science affects life.
  2. Understand the cumulative nature of science knowledge.

6. Understand the Nature of Science

  1. Science is a way of knowing that is used by many people not just scientists.
  2. 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."
  3. Science findings are based upon evidence.

UEN logo - 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.