Science Curriculum Benchmarks/ Measures of Progress

Envisioning the Student at the end of each “Cluster”

  • By the end of sixth grade, students will have had two to three yearly science units in the Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, Life Science and Engineering /  Technology Strands. Through inquiry-based learning embedded in these content units, students should become familiar with the scientific method.  They should know how to both form an investigable question and gather evidence to support conclusions. They will have acquired skills of observation and measurement, as well as the ability to record, interpret and display some kinds of data.  They should be able to both follow and write step-by-step instructions describing scientific procedures. This learning should provide students with the foundation to understand what separates a scientific way of knowing from other domains of culture.

  • By the end of the seventh grade, students should come to see the natural world as composed of interdependent systems. Students should develop skills to study biology at the macroscopic and microscopic level. At the microscopic level, they should understand that organisms are composed of cells and that multi-cellular organisms have cells working together to create organs and systems with specific yet interrelated functions.  At the macroscopic level, students should understand the fundamental interactions of living things and their environment. Units studied include: Classification, Cells, Human Body Systems, Reproduction and Heredity, Evolution, and Ecology.

  • By the end of eighth grade, students should understand fundamental ways that matter and energy can change and stay the same in the natural world. Students should develop skills to learn about the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter, and the relationships between matter and energy. Students will understand how technology/engineering works in conjunction with science to expand our capacity to understand the world and solve practical problems. Units studied include: Properties of Matter and Chemical Interactions; Experimental Design; Motion, Forces, and Energy; Technology/Engineering Design.

    Through inquiry-based learning embedded in content units in both grades, students should develop an understanding that scientific knowledge and methods help people to predict some of the consequences of our actions and to make informed and responsible decisions based on strong evidence.

  • By the end of ninth grade, we expect that all students will have completed 9th Grade Ecology/Environmental Science, at the Honors or College Preparatory level. After completing the integrated course Ecology/Environmental Science, students should be familiar with basic chemical, physical, biological and earth/environmental concepts such as ionic and covalent bonding, energy demand and efficiency, mass flow through food webs, and bulk density of soil. They should be able to perform calculations related to population growth and to energy efficiency. Students should understand the importance of world biodiversity, understand the components of water and soil management, and recognize the effects of air pollution and global atmospheric change. They should have performed field and laboratory investigations, such as the quantitative modeling of nitrogen cycling in the school’s forest, and the exploration of real-life problems, such as the determination of the ratio of carbon dioxide emissions from cars in the school’s parking lot to the carbon dioxide absorption by the school’s trees and soils.

  • By the end of tenth grade, students will have completed either Biology or Biology/Honors, or Honors Chemistry.

  • After completing Biology or Biology/Honors, students should understand how energy is obtained for life functions; should recognize the interdependence of living things; and have an understanding of how organ systems interact to maintain homeostasis. Students should understand the theory of natural selection; and should comprehend the importance of DNA in replication and protein synthesis. Students should have performed laboratory investigations, such as the viewing of organisms under light microscopes, and the exploration of real-life problems, such as factors affecting human respiratory rates.

    • Students enrolled in Biology or Biology/Honors in 10th grade will take the Biology MCAS exam.

  • After taking Chemistry/Honors, students should understand atomic structure and bonding; use proportions to solve stoichiometry problems; be able to interpret the periodic table; and apply the gas laws. They should understand the conservation of energy, distinguish acids from bases, and be familiar with the kinetic molecular model of liquids and solids. In addition, students should be able to identify factors that affect solubility, and factors that influence reaction rate. Students should have performed laboratory investigations, such as the identification of mystery elements, and the exploration of real-life problems, such as the examination of how an air bag works.

    • Students enrolled in Chemistry/Honors in 10th grade will take the Chemistry MCAS exam.

  • By the time of graduation from high school, we expect that a majority of students, male and female, will have taken four years of Science. Pathways available include:

    • Taking a basic course in each of the four disciplines: 9th Grade Ecology/Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics;
    • Taking some introductory-level core courses, then electing specialized offerings, such as Advanced Placement courses, or one-term electives, such as Astronomy;
    • Taking a college course or undertaking an independent study project for Science credit;
    • Substituting one Engineering & Technology course for Science credit.

By the time of graduation from high school, we expect that students will have learned significant content knowledge in Science, as well as growing in skills and important habits of mind. These skills and habits of mind include the use of inquiry, the ability to apply each component of the scientific method correctly, the application of mathematics in problem-solving, the identification of sources of bias, the use of appropriate technology, and the development of critical and creative thinking skills. After graduation, students will be able to use their scientific knowledge and skills either in the workforce or in higher education. 

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