top of page



Course Outline




Course Overview

Kindergarten students begin to develop observation skills as they learn about the five senses, the earth’s composition, and the basic needs of plants and animals. Students will explore topics such as:

  • My Body—the five senses; major organs and systems

  • Plants and Animals—needs and habitats, conservationist Jane Goodall

  • Measurement—size, height, length, weight, capacity, and temperature

  • Matter—solid, liquid, and gas

  • The Seasonal Cycle—changing weather in the seasons

  • Our Earth—geographical features; taking care of the earth; environmentalist Rachel Carson

  • Motion—pushes and pulls, magnets

  • Astronomy—the earth, sun, moon, and stars; exploring space; astronauts Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride


Course Outline

Observing My World

  • Recognize that a scientist observes, and that all people, whether they are scientists or not, are born with senses to observe the world

  • Name the five senses and the sensing organs associated with each

  • Observe and describe the properties of common objects using your five senses and the appropriate sensory descriptors, such as loud, soft, high, low, sweet, sour, smooth, and rough

  • Compare and sort common objects by one physical attribute, such as size, shape, or color

My Body

  • Identify and compare external features of the human body

  • Name some things that all people have in common and some things that are different • Explain that your skeleton holds you up and give you shape

  • Demonstrate how muscles move your joints and limbs

  • Explain that the heart pumps blood throughout the entire body

  • Explain that the brain controls the body and allows you to think and remember

Introduction to Living Things

  • Recognize that all things fall into one of two categories: living and nonliving

  • Identify characteristics of living things and know that all living things need food, water, and air to survive

  • Classify living things as plants and animals

  • Identify similarities and differences between plants and animals

  • Explain that plants use sunlight to make food and that animals eat plants or other animals

  • Explain that shelter is a place where animals make their homes


  • Identify common plant structures, such as seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit

  • Find plant structures on a variety of plants

  • Distinguish between deciduous and evergreen trees

  • Sort and classify seeds according to size, texture, and color

  • Recognize that plants grow from seeds and that seeds develop in the fruit

  • Examine common edible plants and identify their structures


  • Identify animals according to their body coverings

  • Identify how animals move and what body parts help them move

  • Recognize that some animals eat plants, others eat animals, and some may eat both plants and animals

  • Identify how animals get their food

Where Animals Live

  • Identify ways that animals use trees for food and shelter

  • Identify plants and animals that live in and around ponds

  • Identify animals that use caves for safety and shelter

  • Recognize that nocturnal animals are active mostly at night

  • Recognize that diurnal animals are active mostly during the day

  • Examine how nocturnal animals use their senses at night

Make the Measurement

  • Order objects by weight, capacity, height, length, and temperature

  • Measure length using nonstandard units

  • Make a pictograph to compare the measurements of several objects in nonstandard units

  • Experiment with a thermometer to see how high and low temperatures affect it

What’s the Matter?

  • Identify all matter as solid, liquid, or gas

  • Describe the properties of solids, liquids, and gases

  • Investigate sinking and floating properties of solids and liquids

  • Describe physical changes of matter such as melting and freezing

What's the Weather?

  • Identify a range of weather conditions and the appropriate clothing to wear for each

  • Record and graph weather patterns

  • Demonstrate how the sun warms the earth and how water goes into the air

  • Learn that wind is moving air, and that it can move objects

  • Know that clouds are moved by wind, are made of water, and have many different shapes and sizes

  • Explain that rain is water that falls from clouds

  • State that rainbows sometimes appear after a rain

  • Describe four types of severe weather: drought, flood, hurricane, and tornado


  • State that weather gets cooler in the fall, is coldest in the winter, becomes warmer in the spring, and is warmest in the summer

  • Identify the changes that happen to deciduous trees in the fall, winter, spring, and summer

  • Explain that some animals gather and store food during the fall

  • Describe different strategies animals use to make it through cold winters (for example, hibernating, storing food, actively searching for food and shelter, and migrating)

  • Recognize that many animals become more active and have babies in the spring

  • Recognize that the seasons continually cycle from one to the next

Planet Earth

  • Recognize that the earth is your home and that its shape is a sphere

  • Explain that land is made of rocks and soil and that rocks are found all over the earth—even under bodies of water

  • Identify mountains, hills, valleys, plains, and islands as land shapes

Taking Care of Our Earth

  • Identify resources you use in everyday life (water, trees, and energy)

  • Explain how you can conserve these resources (for example, by turning off the water faucet, recycling paper, and turning out the lights)

  • Identify sources of land and water pollution

  • State that Rachel Carson was a conservationist who studied how all of nature is connected


  • Describe the major components of farms such as crops, livestock, the farmer, farm buildings, farm machinery, and farmland

  • Explain the daily duties on four types of farms: poultry farms, dairy farms, wheat farms, and cotton farms

  • Identify some differences between raising livestock and growing crops

  • Identify key steps in the movement of food products from the farm to your home

Make It Move

  • Recognize that motion is a change in position

  • Describe the motion that results from a push or a pull

  • Examine both the pushing and pulling properties of magnets

  • Identify some uses for magnets in everyday situations


  • Describe the size of the sun compared with that of Earth

  • Identify the Big Dipper and Little Dipper

  • Describe land features on the surface of the moon

  • Recognize some important firsts in space exploration, such as the first man to walk on the moon and the first American woman in space


1st Grade:


Course Overview

Students learn to perform experiments and record observations and understand how scientists see the natural world. They germinate seeds to observe plant growth and make a weathervane. Students will explore topics such as:

  • Matter—states of matter; mixtures and solutions

  • Weather—cloud formation; the water cycle

  • Animal Classification and Adaptation—insects; amphibians and reptiles; birds; mammals

  • Habitats—forests, deserts, rain forests, grasslands, and more; naturalist John Muir and conservation

  • Oceans—waves and currents; coasts; coral reefs and kelp forests; oceanographer Jacques Cousteau

  • Plants—germination, functions of roots, stems, flowers, chlorophyll, and more

  • Human Body—major systems; Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor

  • Light—how light travels; reflections; inventor Thomas Edison


Course Outline

Acting Like a Scientist

  • Learn how to use tools and equipment to measure distance in centimeters, mass in grams, volume in milliliters, and temperature in degrees Celsius

  • Follow steps in the scientific process

  • Compile data in tables, draw graphs, and interpret results


  • Identify matter as a solid, liquid, or gas

  • Explain the properties of each type of matter

  • Learn about the relative motion of molecules in each state

  • Demonstrate that matter can change states by heating or cooling

  • Become familiar with mixtures, solutions, and surface tension

Everyday Weather

  • Understand what causes the seasons

  • Construct a rain gauge and weathervane to measure weather conditions

  • Use equipment to record observations on a weather calendar

  • Learn about cloud formation, cloud type, precipitation, condensation, evaporation, and the water cycle

Animal Classification

  • Classify major animal groups according to their identifying characteristics

  • Study mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and fish


  • Discover how animals use their characteristics to thrive in their environment

  • Learn how to infer what animals eat from the shapes of their teeth

  • Study animal defense and behavior


  • Learn to recognize plants and animals common to a variety of habitats

  • Study food chains

  • Learn about endangered plants and animals

  • Read about John Muir’s tireless work to preserve the wilderness

Oceans and Undersea Life

  • Discover the diversity and dangers of the oceans

  • Explore tide pools and the depths

  • Find out how waves and currents move

  • Read about the life and major accomplishments of Jacques Cousteau

Light Up Your Life

  • Explore how light behaves

  • Investigate how light reflects off different surfaces

  • Demonstrate how light travels in straight lines

  • Classify objects according to how much light the objects transmit

  • Learn about Thomas Edison’s life and his major achievements

The Human Body

  • Become familiar with the major systems of the human body

  • Learn about Elizabeth Blackwell’s determination to become the first woman to earn a medical degree

Our Green World

  • Study the functions of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds

  • Examine fibrous and tap roots

  • Observe stems transporting water from roots to leaves

  • Dissect and germinate seeds

  • Match fruits to seeds

  • Learn that flowers turn into fruit

  • Learn that chlorophyll is the substance that allows plants to manufacture food


2nd Grade:


Course Overview

Students perform experiments to develop skills of observation and analysis and learn how scientists understand the world. They demonstrate how pulleys lift heavy objects, make a temporary magnet, and test its strength, and analyze the parts of a flower. Students will explore topics such as:

  • Metric System—liters and kilograms, and how scientists use them

  • Force—motion and simple machines; physicist Isaac Newton

  • Magnetism—magnetic poles and fields; how a compass works

  • Sound—how sounds are made; inventor Alexander Graham Bell

  • Human Body—cells; the digestive system

  • Geology—layers of the earth; kinds of rocks; weathering; geologist Florence Bascom

  • Life Cycles—plants and animals


Course Outline

Metrics and Measurements

  • Measure length, mass, weight, temperature, and liquid volume using a metric ruler, a balance, a spring scale, a thermometer, and a graduated cylinder, and then express those measurements in standard metric units of centimeters, grams, newtons, degrees Celsius, and milliliters

  • Distinguish the difference between mass and weight

  • Recognize some common equivalencies within the metric system such as 1,000 milliliters in 1 liter, 100 centimeters in 1 meter, and 1,000 grams in 1 kilogram

  • Identify the boiling and freezing points of water and the average body temperature in degrees Celsius and compare them with points on the Fahrenheit scale

  • Use the scientific method to ask questions, make hypotheses, collect data, analyze results, and formulate conclusions

Forces and Motion

  • Demonstrate that a force is a push or a pull that can make an object move; an object changes position when moved; and the size of the change is related to the strength, or the amount of force, of the push or pull

  • Determine that moving heavy objects requires more force than moving light objects

  • Observe how the force of friction affects the movement of objects, know that friction works in the direction opposite the motion to slow down or stop sliding objects, and know that friction occurs whenever two types of matter move against each other

  • Identify gravity as the force that causes all things to fall toward the Earth

  • Observe that gravity makes objects fall at the same rate

  • Observe that when an object falls, the force of friction pushes the object upward as the force of gravity pulls it downward; all objects experience friction when they fall; and shapes with large surfaces are most affected by friction

Simple Machines

  • Explain how machines make work easier

  • Explain that wheels help reduce friction by allowing surfaces to roll instead of slide

  • Categorize common objects such as a lever, inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, pulley, and screw

  • Demonstrate how force is transferred between a wheel and an axle

  • Use moveable and fixed pulleys to lift loads

  • Demonstrate that it takes less force to pull a load up an inclined plane than it does to lift the load to the same height, but the load must travel a longer distance


  • Observe that you can use magnets to make some objects move without touching them

  • State that magnets have two poles (north and south) and that similar poles repel each other, and opposite poles attract each other

  • Observe that magnets are strongest at the poles, and compare relative strengths of magnets

  • Construct a temporary magnet and observe its magnetic properties

  • Recognize that the earth is a large magnet, with magnetic poles and fields

  • Observe that the north-seeking pole of a bar magnet points to the north

  • Recognize that the true north (the geographic North Pole) and the magnetic north pole are close to, but not exactly at, the same location

  • Construct and use a compass to locate directions

Sounds Around Us

  • Describe the sounds that a variety of objects make

  • Identify the sources of natural and man-made sounds

  • Explain how sound vibrations and sound waves travel

  • Differentiate between pitch and volume

  • Explain how pitch and volume change on a stringed instrument

  • Explain the nature of vocal cords

  • Tell about the life and accomplishments of Alexander Graham Bell

The Human Body

  • Explain that all living things are made of cells

  • Identify the three main parts of an animal cell as the cell membrane, cytoplasm, and nucleus

  • Identify cells and their functions

  • Recognize that the digestive system breaks down the food you eat to provide your body with energy to live and grow

  • Describe the process of digestion and the functions of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine

  • Identify the functions of the parts of the excretory system

  • Identify proper nutrient requirements using a food pyramid

Rock Hounds

  • Name the three layers of the earth (crust, mantle, and core) and describe their characteristics

  • Recognize that rocks are made of minerals, and that minerals form in certain shapes called crystals

  • Use Moh’s Scale of Hardness to test and identify minerals

  • Identify igneous rock as cooled lava from a volcanic eruption

  • Explain that sedimentary rock forms over a long period of time from layers of sediment

  • State that metamorphic rock is sedimentary or igneous rock that has been changed by heat and pressure

  • Demonstrate that a fossil is a plant, an animal, or an imprint of a plant or animal that has turned to stone

  • Recognize that fossils give us information about plants and animals that lived long ago

Weathering, Erosion, and Soil

  • State that soil is a mixture of minerals, humus, air, and water

  • Identify humus as part of soil that is composed of things that were once living

  • Recognize that clay, silt, and sand are names for different sizes of mineral particles

  • Explain that soils vary in texture, color, and ability to hold water

  • Describe weathering as the process by which rocks break down into smaller pieces

  • Describe erosion as the carrying away of soil and weathered rock

  • Recognize that plant roots help reduce erosion by trapping soil

  • Evaluate soils by observing, measuring, and graphing the height of bean plants grown in different soils

Circle of Life, Plants

  • Explain that the series of changes through which a living thing passes during its lifetime is called its life cycle

  • Put the various stages in the life cycle of a plant into proper order

  • Recognize that plants can grow from parts other than seeds, such as bulbs, tubers, and runners

  • Identify various parts of a flower, including sepals, petals, stamens, and pistil

  • Recognize that the force of gravity causes roots to grow downward

  • Demonstrate that plants grow toward light

  • Give examples of how seeds are dispersed (for example, hitchhiking, blowing in the wind, gravity, and being eaten by animals)

Circle of Life, Animals

  • Put into proper order the stages of life cycles of insects, fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, and mammals (including humans)

  • State that the changes insects and frogs go through during their lives is called metamorphosis

  • Recognize that as adults, both plants and animals reproduce to make more of their kind

  • Tell how plant and animal life cycles differ (for example, plants grow from seeds, while animals hatch from eggs or are born live)

3rd Grade:


Course Overview

Students learn to observe and analyze through hands-on experiments and gain further insight into how scientists understand our world. They observe and chart the phases of the moon, determine the properties of insulators and conductors, and make a three-dimensional model of a bone. Students will explore topics such as:

  • Weather—air pressure; precipitation; clouds; humidity; fronts; forecasting

  • Vertebrates—features of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals

  • Ecosystems—climate zones; tundra, forests, desert, grasslands, freshwater, and marine ecosystems

  • Matter—phase changes; volume; mass; atoms; physical and chemical changes

  • Human Body—the musculoskeletal system; the skin

  • Energy—forms of energy; transfer of energy; conductors and insulators; renewable and nonrenewable energy resources

  • Light—light as energy; the spectrum; how the eye works

  • Astronomy—phases of the moon; eclipses; the solar system; stars and constellations; the Milky Way


Course Outline


  • Identify forms of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, and hail) and explain how they form

  • Use appropriate tools to measure and record weather conditions, including air temperature, wind direction, wind speed, humidity, and pressure

  • Explain that air masses meet at fronts and that most weather changes occur along fronts

  • Explain how air moves in cold and warm fronts and identify common weather patterns associated with each

  • Identify humidity as the amount of water vapor in the air

  • Identify common weather patterns associated with changes in air pressure

  • Recognize that meteorologists rely on data collected from various resources, such as weather stations, weather balloons, weather satellites, and weather radar

  • Interpret weather maps and their symbols, including those for cloud cover, precipitation, temperature, pressure, and fronts

Classification of Vertebrates

  • Distinguish between vertebrates and invertebrates

  • Recognize that some animals have constant internal body temperatures and others have internal body temperatures that fluctuate depending on the temperature of their surroundings

  • Identify different groups of vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) according to their common characteristics


  • Explain than an ecosystem includes all living things in a particular region

  • Describe climate as the usual weather in a certain area over many years

  • Identify the three main climate zones as tropical, temperate, and polar

  • Recognize that scientists use patterns of climate, vegetation, and animal life to identify different ecosystems

  • Describe different ecosystems: tundra, boreal forest, temperate deciduous forest, tropical rain forest, grasslands, desert, freshwater, and marine

  • Recognize that living things have physical and behavioral adaptations that enable them to survive in a particular ecosystem

Ecosystems of the Past

  • Recognize that many organisms that once lived on Earth are extinct, and while some of them resembled animals and plants alive today, others were quite different

  • Compare modern ecosystems with similar ecosystems from Earth’s geologic past (for example, reef, tundra, and forest)

  • Recognize methods (fossils, tree rings, and ice) scientists use to study past ecosystems

Properties of Matter

  • Identify forms of matter: solid, liquid, and gas

  • Describe the properties of solids, liquids, and gases (for example, solids have a definite shape and a definite volume; liquids have a definite volume but no definite shape; gases have neither definite shape nor definite volume)

  • Recognize that all matter is made of particles called atoms, which are constantly in motion and much too small to be seen with the naked eye

  • Describe the motion of atoms in solids, liquids, and gases: atoms in solids vibrate slightly but do not change positions; atoms in liquids vibrate too much to stay in a fixed position; and atoms in gases move freely

  • Describe how matter changes states when heated (from solid to liquid to gas) or cooled (from gas to liquid to solid)

  • Use appropriate tools to measure the length, volume, mass, and weight of objects in metric units

  • Convert measurements from one metric unit to another, such as millimeter (mm) to centimeter (cm)

  • Define volume as the amount of space occupied by matter

  • Recognize that mass is the resistance of an object to acceleration by a force

  • Recognize that the mass of an object stays the same, but its weight changes depending on where it’s weighed

Physical and Chemical Changes of Matter

  • Identify a physical change as either a change in size and shape (by cutting, breaking, or grinding) or a change in phase (by melting, boiling, freezing, evaporating, or condensing)

  • Classify changes in matter as chemical or physical

  • Identify clues that suggest a chemical change (for example, producing heat or light, or changing color)

  • Recognize that atoms of different elements can combine to form compounds, such as when hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water

  • Recognize that scientists organize all known chemical elements in the Periodic Table, representing each element with a symbol

Human Body

  • Explain that bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments make up the skeletal system

  • Identify bones by shape (flat, curved, long, short, and irregular), name (skull, backbone, ribs, pelvis, and femur), and function (protection, support, and movement)

  • Examine the internal structure of bones

  • Observe that bones have tiny passageways containing nerves, blood vessels, and marrow where blood cells are made

  • Identify musculoskeletal connections such as joints (ball and socket, hinge, pivot, and gliding), ligaments, and tendons, and describe how they function

  • Examine how the human body heals and repairs broken bones

  • Describe different types of muscles as skeletal, smooth, or cardiac and identify them as voluntary or involuntary

  • Recognize that most skeletal muscles work in pairs: flexors contract to move a bone as extensors relax

  • Identify the skin as the body’s largest organ

  • Explain the main functions of the skin (protecting, cooling, and sensing)

  • Identify and describe the skin’s two main layers (epidermis and dermis) and its structures, such as sweat glands, hair follicles, oil glands, and sense receptors


  • Identify the earth’s major source of energy as the sun, and recognize that you see and feel this energy as light and heat and that this energy makes life on Earth possible

  • Recognize that energy can be stored in many forms, such as food, fuel (for example, coal, oil, gas, wood, and batteries), and even coiled springs and stretched rubber bands

  • Recognize that energy is used to do work

  • Recognize that machines and living things convert stored energy into different forms of energy, such as heat, light, and motion

  • Explain that a conductor is a substance that allows energy to pass through it easily, while an insulator is a substance that allows little or no energy to pass through it

  • Classify energy sources as either renewable (wind, wood, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal) or nonrenewable (natural gas, oil, coal, and nuclear)


  • Explain that when light strikes an object, it can be reflected, transmitted, or absorbed

  • Recognize that as light travels from one medium to another it refracts (bends)

  • Explain that the color of an object is due, in part, to the color of light that is reflected back to your eyes

  • Explain that a dark surface absorbs more light than a light surface and a light surface reflects more light than a dark surface

  • Recognize that vision is one of your primary senses and that your vision relies on light energy

  • Recognize that when an object is seen, light rays enter the eye and are interpreted by the brain

  • Identify various parts of the eye: cornea, iris and pupil, lens, retina, optic nerve, rods, and cones

Sun, Earth, and Moon

  • Describe the rotation and revolution of Earth: Earth completes one rotation on its axis every 24 hours, while it completes one orbit around the sun, or revolution, every year

  • Explain how the tilt of Earth’s axis causes the seasons

  • State that the moon orbits Earth, and explain that the moon makes one revolution around Earth and one rotation in approximately one month

  • Explain that the moon does not produce its own light, but that the moon is visible from Earth because sunlight reflects off its surface

  • Describe the way in which the moon’s appearance changes during the phases of the lunar cycle: new, full, quarter, crescent, and gibbous

  • Explain that when Earth blocks sunlight from the moon, a lunar eclipse occurs; when the moon blocks sunlight from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs

  • Describe the features of the lunar landscape, such as craters, lowlands (maria), valleys (rilles), highlands, and soil

  • Identify the moon as Earth’s natural satellite, and give a simplified current explanation of how the moon was formed

The Solar System and Beyond

  • Describe our solar system as a collection of nine planets, moons, and numerous other objects (such as asteroids and comets) with the sun at its center

  • State that the force of gravity keeps the planets in orbit around the sun

  • Name the planets in our solar system in order starting with the planet closest to the sun

  • Identify the layers of the sun: core, photosphere, and corona

  • Explain that stars are located far outside our solar system and are much farther away from Earth than the nine planets in our solar system

  • Recognize that stars are classified according to their brightness, or magnitude, and that the brightness of a star in the sky has to do with its size and distance from Earth

  • Recognize some prominent stars, such as Polaris, Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Rigel, and constellations, such as the Little Dipper, the Big Dipper, and Orion

  • State that our solar system is part of the Milky Way galaxy

  • Recognize that telescopes magnify the appearance of some distant objects in the sky, such as the moon and the planets, and increase the number of visible stars

4th Grade:


Course Overview

Students develop scientific reasoning and perform hands on experiments in Earth, Life, and Physical Sciences. They construct an electromagnet, identify minerals according to their properties, use chromatography to separate liquids, and assemble food webs. Students will explore topics such as:

  • The Interdependence of Life—producers, consumers, and decomposers; food webs

  • Animal and Plant Interactions—populations; competition; predators and prey; symbiosis; animal behavior

  • Invertebrates—sponges; worms; mollusks; arthropods; echinoderms

  • Chemistry—mixtures vs. solutions; distillation, evaporation, and chromatography

  • Forces and Fluids—pressure; forces in flight; density; buoyancy

  • Human Body—nervous system (senses, reflexes, nerves, and brain); endocrine system (hormones, glands, growth, and digestion)

  • Electricity and Magnetism—charges; magnets; static electricity; currents and circuits; electromagnetism

  • Rocks and Minerals—the earth's interior; crystals; minerals; rock cycle; plate tectonics; volcanoes, earthquakes

  • The Fossil Record and the History of Life—types of fossils; the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras

Course Outline

Ecosystems: Interdependence of Life

  • Explain that ecosystems are characterized by both their living and nonliving parts

  • Explain that an environment is the nonliving part of an ecosystem

  • Describe some ways in which organisms are dependent on each other for survival, including the need for food, pollination, and seed dispersal

  • Recognize that all organisms need some source of energy to stay alive

  • Explain that, in all environments, organisms are constantly growing, reproducing, dying, and decaying

  • Explain that certain organisms, such as insects, fungi, and bacteria, depend on dead plants and animals for food

  • State that sunlight is the major source of energy for ecosystems, and describe how its energy is passed from organism to organism in food webs

  • Explain how producers and consumers (herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and decomposers) are related in food chains and food webs in an ecosystem

  • Recognize that cycles in nature provide organisms with the food, air, and water they need

  • Recognize that conditions within an ecosystem are constantly changing, further recognize that some plants and animals survive because they either adapt to such changes or move to another location, while others die

Plant and Animal Interactions

  • State that a population is a group of individuals of the same type living in a certain area

  • Describe some factors that change the growth of a population

  • Explain that living things cause changes in their ecosystems, some of which are detrimental to other organisms, while others are beneficial

  • Recognize that organisms in an ecosystem can compete for resources such as food, shelter, and water

  • Classify organisms as predators and prey

  • Identify various symbiotic relationships between organisms as mutualism, commensalism, or parasitism

  • Explain that an animal's behavior helps it survive

  • Identify behaviors as either inborn or learned

Chemistry of Solutions

  • Identify a mixture as a combination of two or more substances that are not chemically bound

  • Identify a solution as a mixture in which two or more substances are evenly mixed and do not settle

  • Identify a solute as a substance that is dissolved and a solvent as a substance that does the dissolving

  • Recognize that solutions can be made from combinations of gases, liquids, or solids

  • Identify different ways to separate solutions such as chromatography, distillation, or evaporation

  • Identify some ways to change the rate at which solids dissolve in liquids, including grinding, stirring, and increasing the temperature

  • Recognize that not all substances can dissolve in water in the same amounts

  • Compare the concentrations of different solutions

Forces in Fluids

  • Define pressure as the force exerted on a surface per unit area and recognize that pressure is measured in units called pascals

  • Explain that atmospheric pressure decreases with height above sea level while water pressure increases with depth below sea level

  • Describe the forces present in flight, including lift, weight, thrust, and drag

  • Measure the density of a solid and compare its mass with its volume displacement in water to predict whether it will sink or float

  • Recognize that an object denser than water will sink unless it is shaped such that the weight of the water it displaces is greater than the weight of the object itself

The Human Body

  • Explain that the various systems of the human body function because the cells, tissues, and organs all work together

  • Explain that the brain gets information about the rest of the body, and the outside world, through nerves, and likewise use nerves to direct actions in other parts of the body

  • Define senses, reflexes, voluntary nervous system, and involuntary nervous system

  • Identify various parts of the nervous system (such as the brain, spinal cord, nerves, nerve cells, and neurotransmitters) along with their structures and functions

  • Explain that the endocrine system is composed of glands and chemical messengers called hormones, which function over a wide range of time scales

  • Identify the locations of some major glands of the endocrine system (such as the adrenals, thyroid, pituitary, and pancreas)

  • Describe how glands and their hormones affect major body processes, including growth, stress, digestion, and the sleep-wake cycle

Classification of Invertebrates

  • Identify different groups of invertebrates, such as sponges, cnidarians, worms, mollusks, arthropods, and echinoderms, according to their common characteristics

Electricity and Magnetism

  • Recognize that objects with the same electrical charges repel, while those with different electrical charges attract

  • Demonstrate that magnets have two poles (north and south) and that like poles repel while unlike poles attract

  • Describe the earth's magnetic field, and identify magnetic north and south

  • Explain how to construct a temporary magnet

  • Explain that friction can build up static electrical charge when two objects are rubbed together by transferring electrons from one surface to the other

  • State that electric currents flow easily through materials that are conductors and do not flow easily through materials that are insulators

  • Identify the parts of a circuit: battery, light, wire, and switch

  • Differentiate between series and parallel circuits

  • State that electric currents produce magnetic fields, and that an electromagnet can be made by wrapping a wire around a piece of iron and then running electricity through the wire

  • Recognize that electromagnets are used in a variety of everyday devices, including electric motors, generators, doorbells, and earphones

Rocks and Minerals

  • Identify and describe the properties of the earth's layers: crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core

  • Explain that rock is composed of different combinations of minerals

  • Recognize that minerals have their own distinct crystal shape, determined by the arrangement of their atoms

  • Identify common rock-forming minerals using their physical properties: color, streak, luster, and hardness

  • Recognize that ore is rock with a high metal content and that most metals come from minerals mined from the earth's crust

  • Know how to differentiate among igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks by referring to both their properties and methods of formation

  • Explain that the surface of the earth is made of rigid plates that are in constant motion, and that the motion of these plates against, over, and under each other causes earthquakes, volcanoes, and the formation of mountains

  • Identify the various structures of volcanoes, describe the types of eruptions that form them, and explain how they change the landscape

  • Describe what happens during an earthquake and how the landscape can change as a result

Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition

  • Explain both the physical and the chemical weathering of rocks

  • Describe a soil profile and explain how new soil forms as a result of many years of weathering

  • Explain that soil is a mixture of weathered rock, humus, air, and water

  • Describe how gravity, moving water, wind, and glaciers reshape the surface of the land by weathering, eroding, and transporting sediment from one location to another

Fossils and Geologic Time

  • Describe the conditions under which fossils may form and distinguish among the different types, such as petrified, molds, casts, and trace fossils

  • Explain that fossils provide information about organisms that lived long ago and that they help scientists reconstruct the history of life on Earth

  • State that fossils provide evidence that many types of organisms that once lived on Earth are now extinct

  • Recognize that scientists divide geologic time into four eras (Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic) and that each era covers one major stage in Earth's history

  • Name one major event that occurred in each of the four geologic eras: Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic


5th Grade:


Course Overview

Students perform experiments, develop scientific reasoning, and recognize science in the world around them. They build a model of a watershed, test how cell membranes function, track a hurricane, and analyze the effects gravity. Students will explore topics such as:

  • Water Resources—water pollution; conservation; aquifers; watersheds; wetlands

  • The World's Oceans—properties of ocean water; currents, waves, and tides; the ocean floor; marine organisms

  • Earth's Atmosphere—layers; weather patterns, maps, and forecasts; fronts; El Niño; and the greenhouse effect

  • Forces of Motion—types of pushes or pulls; position and speed; inertia; energy as a measure of work; gravity and motion

  • Chemistry—structure of atoms; elements and compounds; the Periodic Table; chemical reactions; acids and bases

  • Cells and Cell Processes—structure; membrane function; respiration and photosynthesis; growth cycles; genes and DNA

  • Taxonomy of Plants and Animals—levels of classification; plants, animals, monerans, viruses, protists, and fungi

  • Animal Physiology—circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, and immune systems

Course Outline

Water Resources

  • Identify the various sources of water, its uses, and different ways to conserve it

  • Identify the typical steps that water-treatment plants go through to purify drinking water

  • Describe how both natural processes and human activities affect water quality in watersheds

  • Differentiate between point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution, and identify some ways by which they can both be reduced

  • Identify and describe the different parts of a watershed

  • Interpret a topographic map to identify the boundaries of a watershed

  • Explain how a model of something differs from the real thing, but can be used to learn about the real thing

  • Explain why wetlands are important to watersheds and how they can improve water quality

The World's Oceans

  • Explain that water covers approximately three-quarters of the Earth's surface and that, since all the earth's oceans are connected, their water circulates through them all

  • Define salinity and explain how the density of ocean water changes as salinity levels and temperature change

  • Describe the movements of both the ocean's surface currents and its deep-water currents

  • Explain how ocean waves form, identify their properties (such as height, length, crest, and trough), and describe their motions

  • Explain how the combined gravitational pull of the sun and moon causes daily high and low tides

  • Explain that the monthly cycle of spring and neap tides results when the earth, sun, and moon change their relative positions

  • Describe characteristics of ocean habitats, and explain how various organisms are adapted to living in them

  • Explain that the continental margin extends into the ocean and has three regions: the continental shelf, the continental slope, and the continental rise

  • Describe some major features of the ocean floor, such as abyssal plains, trenches, ridges, seamounts, and reefs

  • Identify some devices scientists use to study the ocean, including submersibles, sonar, and satellites

  • Identify some ocean resources, such as fish, oil, and minerals, and describe how each one is obtained

Earth's Atmosphere

  • Describe some properties of the atmosphere, such as its composition, density, and pressure, and explain how air density is related to both temperature and pressure

  • Identify the five layers of the atmosphere: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere

  • Explain that the uneven heating of the earth's surface transfers heat through convection currents in the atmosphere

  • Define humidity as the amount of water vapor in the air, and the dew point as the temperature at which the air cannot hold any more water vapor

  • Explain how clouds form, and identify common weather patterns associated with different types of clouds

  • Identify types of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, and hail) and explain how each type forms

  • Identify some sources of air pollution

  • Identify the three main types of storms and describe the air movements that produce them

  • Identify the four types of fronts (cold, warm, stationary, and occluded) and describe how air masses interact

  • Interpret weather maps to forecast the weather1

  • Distinguish between weather and climate, and describe some factors that influence climate (such as latitude, altitude, and ocean currents)

  • Describe possible causes of climate changes (such as El Niño and the Greenhouse Effect) and their potential effects on climate

Motion and Forces

  • Plot the movement of an object across a surface as separate horizontal and vertical movements

  • State that moving objects always travel in one direction with constant speed unless a force—a push or a pull—is applied to them

  • Describe the mass of an object as a measure of how difficult it is to change the object's speed or direction

  • Identify different pushes and pulls (spring-driven, muscular, wind-driven, magnetic, or electric) as forces that can change an object's speed and direction

  • State that every push or pull on one thing causes a balancing push or pull in the other direction on something else, and demonstrate in some actual situations in which these two sides of any given force are always present

  • Identify the forces that are in balance when an object's speed and direction stay constant

  • State that energy is a measure of how much work an object, or set of objects, can do

  • State that the total amount of energy in a system always remains constant

  • Recognize that moving objects have energy (kinetic energy), and that the position of an object may give it the ability to do work (potential energy)

  • Describe how levers change the effects of pushes and pulls

  • Recognize that for an object to continue moving in a circle, a force must pull the object toward the center of the circle, and predict that if the force disappears, the object will continue to move in a straight line

  • Recognize that objects are pulled toward the earth by a force known as gravity

  • Recognize that, regardless of the mass of a falling object, its speed toward the ground increases at the same rate as that of any other object

  • State that any two masses have a gravitational pull between them, but this pull is easily noticeable only if at least one mass is very large

  • Recognize that the pull decreases as the masses move farther apart, and increases as the size of either mass increases

  • Recognize that gravity causes the moon to orbit the earth and the planets to orbit the sun

  • Recognize that gravity is the primary force that shapes everything from clusters of stars to enormous galaxies

  • Describe how our attempt to understand gravity has led to changes in our understanding of our solar system, our galaxy, and even our universe


  • Explain that atoms are composed of a nucleus containing protons (with positive charge) and neutrons (with a neutral charge)

  • Explain that negatively charged electrons move around the nucleus in paths called shells

  • Describe a compound as a substance made of two or more elements

  • Explain that the properties of a compound differ from the properties of the elements that make it up

  • Recognize that each element is made of only one kind of atom

  • Explain that all the elements are organized in the Periodic Table of the Elements according to their chemical properties

  • Describe some properties of metals and nonmetals

  • Identify some common elements and compounds by both their chemical symbols and their formulas

  • Recognize that in chemical reactions, the original atoms rearrange themselves into new combinations, and that these new combinations have properties differing from those of the reacting compounds

  • Write chemical equations to show what happens in a chemical reaction

  • Use the pH scale to determine whether a solution is acidic or basic

  • Recognize that compounds can be identified by chemical reactions

  • Recognize that a wide variety of materials, and indeed living organisms, are often composed of just a few elements

  • Explain that all chemical reactions require energy

  • Describe how reaction rates increase with temperature, surface area, concentration, and the presence of a catalyst

Cells and Cell Processes

  • Explain the major ideas of the cell theory

  • Identify the major structures of cells, and describe their functions

  • Compare plant and animal cells

  • Explain that different types of substances move across the cell membrane by means of diffusion, osmosis, and carrier molecules

  • Explain that plant cells store energy through photosynthesis, and that plant and animal cells release energy during respiration

  • Explain that all cells have a cycle of growth, called interphase, and a cycle of division, called mitosis

  • Identify the four stages of mitosis: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase

  • Explain that all the information an organism needs to live and reproduce is contained in its DNA

  • Explain that traits are passed from parents to offspring and are determined by a pair of genes, one of which comes from each parent

Taxonomy of Plants and Animals

  • Recognize that living things are classified according to shared characteristics, and that there are seven major levels of classification: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species

  • Name the five kingdoms (plants, animals, monerans, protists, and fungi) and identify some organisms from each

  • Describe vascular plants as plants that have systems for transporting water, sugar, and minerals, whereas nonvascular plants lack these structures

  • Explain how sugar, water, and minerals are transported in vascular plants

  • Compare the common characteristics, adaptations, and life cycles of gymnosperms and angiosperms

Animal Physiology

  • Recognize that all body systems play a role in maintaining a constant internal environment

  • Describe how the circulatory system transports oxygen and nutrients to cells while removing carbon dioxide and other wastes

  • Recognize that many organisms have specialized structures for respiration, digestion, waste disposal, and immune response, and that these structures are responsible for the transportation of materials such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nutrients

  • Explain how blood flows through the human heart

  • Describe how the respiratory system exchanges carbon dioxide and oxygen in the lungs

  • Put the various steps in digestion into correct order, describing the function of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and liver

  • Explain how the urinary system removes cellular waste from the blood, converts it to urine, and stores it in the bladder until the waste leaves the body

  • Identify the types of organisms that can cause diseases and explain how they spread

  • Describe ways in which the body's immune system recognizes and destroys pathogens


6th Grade - 8th Grade:



Earth Science:


Course Overview

The Earth Science curriculum builds on the natural curiosity of students. By connecting them to the beauty of geological history, the amazing landforms around the globe, the nature of the sea and air, and the newest discoveries about our universe, it gives students an opportunity to relate to their everyday world. Students will explore topics such as:

  • Fundamentals of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy

  • Earth’s minerals and rocks

  • Earth’s interior

  • Plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the movements of continents

  • Geology and the fossil record

  • Oceans and the atmosphere 

  • The solar system and the universe

Course Outline

Earth’s Surface

Our earth is right here under our feet, and a lot of knowledge can be gained from looking down at terra firma. This unit introduces the surface of our earth. Students learn about mapping the earth as it is, and then learn how the surface of the earth changes due to weathering and erosion. In a hands-on laboratory, students study earth’s soils, comparing and contrasting them and examining how desertification takes place.

  • Introduction to Earth Science

  • Spheres of the Earth

  • Mapping the Earth

  • Weathering

  • Erosion

  • Soils of the Earth

  • Soil Profiles

  • Laboratory: Desertification

Rocks and Minerals

The beauty of minerals and the earthiness of rocks form the basis for this unit. Students start by examining and defining crystals, with lots of hands-on activity. The three kinds of rocks are examined, and then students tackle the rock cycle, which shows the interrelationships between the various rock types. The rock cycle is an underlying, unifying feature, a "big idea" of geology.

  • Identifying Minerals and Crystals

  • Laboratory: Minerals and Crystals

  • Laboratory: Mineral Identification

  • Igneous Rocks

  • Sedimentary Rocks

  • Metamorphic Rocks

  • The Rock Cycle

  • Laboratory: Rock Cycle

Geologic History

This unit deals with the changes that earth has undergone over time. What can we learn from fossils, how can we understand the lessons that are in rocks, and how can the layering of the earth tell us what might have happened in the past? Students see a broad picture of an earth that has changed over time and examine the evidence for it. Importantly, students understand that the processes that occurred in the past are the same that are still occurring on our earth.

  • Linking Past to Present

  • Earth's Age

  • Fossils

  • Records in Rocks

  • Laboratory: Index Fossils

  • Geologic Time

Plate Tectonics

The overriding theory of geology is the theory of plate tectonics. This theory explains the drift of the continents, earthquakes, and volcanoes and thus unifies much of our experience under a single idea. This unit is a thorough explanation of plate tectonics, its processes, and results. In a hands-on laboratory, students build their own seismograph—but more importantly, they understand the causes of earth movements as a direct result of the movement of earth's plates.

  • Center of the Earth

  • Continental Drift

  • Seafloor Geography

  • Seafloor Spreading

  • Plate Tectonics

  • Convection

  • Plate Boundaries

  • Landforms

  • Laboratory: Plate Boundaries

  • Earthquakes

  • Laboratory: Seismographs

Air, Weather, and Climate

Is it rainy, windy, or sunny with blue skies? Do you live in an area with lots of rain all year or a desert with limited rainfall? Weather and climate are phenomena familiar to all of us and both have a huge bearing on our lives. In this unit students will study weather, including air masses and patterns of air circulation. What is the difference between weather and climate and in what ways has climate changed over time?

  • Layers of the Atmosphere

  • Conduction, Convection, Radiation

  • Daily Weather

  • Air Circulation

  • Air Masses

  • Weather Fronts

  • Meteorology

  • Laboratory: Working with Weather

  • Weather and Climate

  • Factor Affecting

  • Laboratory: Global Warming

Water on Earth

So much of the earth is covered with water. Water is the basis of all life and the water cycle ensure that water is constantly being replenished on our earth. Of all the places that water resides none is more important than our oceans. Ocean water, tides, and currents affect all of our lives, and this unit lets students take a good look at the "water planet."

  • Water and the Water Cycle

  • Ocean Water

  • Ocean Currents

  • Ocean Waves

  • Ocean Tides

Energy and Earth Resources

One of the most important issues facing us today is our use of energy. Whether it is our relationship to fossil fuels or our concern with nuclear energy, we need to understand and make wise decisions about our resources and the energy we can get from them. What are the issues and debates surrounding our consumption of natural resources? How can we ensure that the next generation will have enough resources to advance? In this unit students will study the science of resources, which will give them a basis to participate in one of our society's most important debates.

  • Energy Resources

  • Fossil Fuels

  • Consumption and Environmental Effects

  • Alternative Energy Resources

  • Resource Management

  • Laboratory: Power from Tides

Our Place in the Universe

We on earth are part of a solar system, which is part of a galaxy called the Milky Way, which is part of a universe of almost unfathomable size. Students in this unit get a chance to understand our place in the universe. Starting at the level of the universe and then narrowing focus, students learn about the planets of the solar system, about how the earth rotates, the seasons, and about phenomena involving the moon. This unit provides a broad picture of our earth in space and concludes with an examination of how we have sought over time to understand space through exploration.

  • Origin of the Universe

  • Galaxies

  • Gravitation Forces

  • Rotation and Revolution

  • Solar System

  • Inner Planets

  • Outer Planets

  • Earth’s Seasons

  • Asteroids and Comets

  • Moon

  • Moon Phases

  • Eclipses

  • Space Exploration

  • People in Space

Scientific Investigation

In this unit students get a chance to do a personal scientific investigation. They will learn about and follow scientific methods to set up, conduct, analyze, and make conclusions based on a hands-on investigation. Students will create a display of their investigation and then they will prepare to give an oral report.

  • Scientific Methods

  • Set up an Experiment

  • Data Collection

  • Data Analysis

  • Reporting Conclusions

  • Create a Display

  • Oral Presentation

Life Science:


Course Overview

The Life Science program invites students to investigate the world of living things—at levels both large and small—by reading, observing, and experimenting with aspects of life on earth. Students explore an amazing variety of organisms, the complex workings of the cell, the relationship between living things and their environments, and discoveries in the world of modern genetics. Practical, hands-on lesson activities help students discover how scientists investigate the living world. Students perform laboratory activities and a full unit investigation to learn about the application of scientific methods.

Students will study a variety of topics in biology, including:

  • The chemical building blocks of life

  • Fundamentals of ecology and life's environments

  • The biology of organisms from bacteria to mammals

  • The life processes of plants

  • The variety of cell structure and how cells perform the tasks necessary for life

  • Fundamentals of genetics

Course Outline


From giant redwoods to tiny algae, and from lumbering elephants to "no-see-em" gnats, the diversity of life on earth delights, startles, and amazes. But all living things share some common characteristics. What are the characteristics of life? What is the chemical basis for life? What molecules support life? In this course you will explore these questions and more.

  • Introduction to Life Science

  • Diversity of Life

  • Challenges of Life

  • Characteristics of Life

  • Classification of Living Things

  • Domains of Life

  • Chemistry of Life

  • Single-Celled Organisms

  • Multicellular Organisms


They are everywhere, and they control our lives. What are they? Alien invaders? No. They are cells. They are inside us and all around us, in every living thing on earth. They are constantly growing, reproducing, communicating, and using energy. They sense, respond, and adapt to their environment. You have probably never thought much about cells, but there is much to discover about their intriguing lives.

  • The Cell

  • Differing Cells

  • Cell Organelles

  • Looking at Cells

  • DNA Makes RNA Makes Proteins

  • Plant and Animal Cells

  • Cells and Energy

  • Diffusion and Osmosis

  • Cell Division

  • Mitosis

Living Systems

Organisms must meet many challenges to survive. The systems in multicellular organisms are like the different parts of a computer. Just as all the parts of a computer must function individually so that the computer will work, all the systems in an organism work together in a coordinated manner to keep the organism alive. What are these systems? How are they related? This unit will explore living systems and how they function.

  • From Cells to Organs

  • Muscular and Skeletal Systems

  • Respiratory System

  • Circulatory System

  • Digestive and Excretory Systems

  • Immune System

  • How Systems Work Together

  • Comparison within Species

  • Continuation of Species

  • Cells for Reproduction

  • Life Cycles

Interdependence of Life

Look at everything in an aquarium. How do you think each of the organisms in the aquarium survives? If you were to draw a diagram of the interactions that take place in an aquarium, you would see a complex series of relationships. In the living world, no organism can survive by itself. Living things depend on other organisms and their environment to supply them with their needs.

  • Organisms and Their Needs

  • Staying Balanced

  • Responses

  • Ecosystems

  • Populations

  • Cycles in Nature

  • Energy Flow in Ecosystems

  • Food Chains

  • Food Webs

  • Competitive Relationships

  • Cooperative Relationships

Adaptation and Change

Every organism lives in a particular type of environment. In this unit, we will explore how populations change over time to survive in their environments, and what happens when the environment changes.

  • Change Over Time

  • Structural Adaptations

  • Behavioral Adaptations

  • Extinct or Endangered?

  • Changes in Ecosystems

  • Rates of Environmental Change

  • Population Changes

  • The Human Factor


Individuals that reproduce sexually have many characteristics that make them different from each other. In this unit, you will learn about the mechanisms responsible for these differences.

  • Mendel's Pea Plants

  • Genes and Alleles

  • Inheritance

  • Punnett Squares

  • Similarities Among Organisms

  • Chromosomes

  • Meiosis

  • Meiosis and Mitosis

  • Mutations

  • Genetic Engineering

History of Life on Earth

Galaxies teeming with stars. Mysterious black holes. Exploding supernovas. The far reaches of the universe are filled with wonders. Right here on our own planet, however, is perhaps the greatest wonder of all: life. Scientists currently know of no other place in the universe where life exists. This unit explores scientists, ideas about how life originated on earth and how it has changed over its long history.

  • Origin of Life on Earth

  • The Theory of Evolution

  • Natural Selection

  • Origin of New Species

  • Development of Life

Science Investigation

  • Scientific Methods

  • Design and Set Up Your Experiment

  • Data Collection

  • Data Analysis

  • Reporting Conclusions


Physical Science:


Course Overview

Our Middle School Physical Science course presents the fundamentals of physics and chemistry. Students explore the amazing universe we live in, including motion, energy, the nature of matter and atoms, how chemicals mix and react, and the forces that hold the universe together.

Among other subjects, students’ study:

  • Structure of atoms

  • Elements and the Periodic Table

  • Chemical reactions

  • Forces, including gravitational, motion, acceleration, and mass

  • Energy, including light, thermal, electricity, and magnetism

Course Outline

Introduction to Physical Science

What does physical science cover? Everything physical, which covers quite a lot. Begin your journey into physical science by learning about measurements and how to do proper lab procedures. You will also be introduced to lessons that will prepare you for standardized tests in science.

  • Introduction to Physical Science

  • Physical Systems

  • Measurement and the International System

  • Laboratory: Measured Steps

  • Laboratory: Density

  • Working with Model Problems

  • Model Problems


Have you ever played solitaire, where you arrange cards horizontally and vertically looking for connections? Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev did, and he was inspired to create the pattern of the Periodic Table. This pattern displayed in the periodic table helps us understand atoms, chemical reactions, chemical formulas, chemical compounds, atomic mass, and other concepts covered in this unit.

  • Atoms

  • Atomic and Mass Numbers

  • Elements and the Periodic Table

  • Design of the Periodic Table

  • Molecules

  • Properties of Matter

  • States of Matter

  • Physical and Chemical Changes


When you see the word chemistry, you may have an image of someone in a lab wearing goggles pouring liquids from one beaker to another. But chemistry surrounds you every day. Cars are built with chemicals and run on chemical fuel. Chemicals make up the clothes you wear and the food you eat. You breathe chemicals, your computer and radio are composed of chemicals, and our world today is dependent on chemicals.

  • Chemical Bonding

  • Chemical Reactions

  • Chemical Formulas

  • Laboratory: Testing and Producing Gases

  • Rates of Chemical Reactions

  • Chemical Equations

  • Laboratory: Dissolving Metals

  • Mixtures

  • Separating Mixtures

  • Solutions

  • Substances

  • Laboratory: Separating Ingredients

  • Acids and Bases

  • Model Problems

Force and Motion

When you roll a marble across a room, you open the door to understanding the same rules of motion that keep airplanes flying and pendulums swinging. What are these forces? What are the "laws" of motion? Come learn about displacement, speed, acceleration, Newton's laws of motion, and gravitation.

  • Force

  • Gravitational Force

  • Motion

  • Laboratory: Calculating Speed

  • Speed and Velocity

  • Measuring Speed and Velocity

  • Acceleration

  • Newton's First Law of Motion

  • Mass and Weight

  • Newton's Second Law of Motion

  • Newton's Third Law of Motion

  • Buoyant Forces

  • Laboratory: Precious Cargo

  • Model Problems


Nothing stays the same, at least not in our universe. Energy is constantly changing from one form to another, whether it is the light in your house or the sound of a horn. The good thing is you can use this changing energy to do all sorts of work. Scientists can use mass to create energy, use explosions for transportation, and use electricity to make our work easier. Learn about the different energy that constantly surrounds you, and how you use this energy in your everyday life.

  • Energy

  • Work

  • Kinetic Energy

  • Potential Energy

  • Laboratory: The Pendulum

  • Laboratory: Using a Lever

  • Simple Machines

  • Compound Machines

  • Laboratory: Heat Flow

  • Thermal Energy

  • Temperature

  • Model Problems

Waves, Sound, and Light

At this very moment, you have a lot of waves traveling to your body. You have sound waves you can hear and light waves you can see, but there is even more that you cannot see. There are radio waves, radiation, magnetism, and other invisible waves that you use to cook with, navigate by, and communicate. Explore the different waves you are being exposed to every second of every day.

  • Waves

  • Electromagnetic Waves

  • Light Waves

  • Laboratory: Path of Light

  • Reflection and Refraction

  • Lenses

  • Model Problems

Electricity and Magnetism

You have investigated forces, learned about energy, and examined waves; now look at electricity and magnetism, two particular forms of energy that are quite important to you. Yes, electricity keeps your computer on and your mp3 player going. But do you know why electricity is so useful? Do you wonder how to build your own circuits and currents? Do you know how to build a basic motor?

  • Electric Charge

  • Electric Currents

  • Electric Circuits

  • Laboratory: Series and Electric Circuits

  • Magnetism

  • Electricity and Magnetism

  • Laboratory: Motoring On!

  • Motors and Generators

  • Model Problems

Scientific Investigation

Scientists conduct experiments and form conclusions. Now you can do the same thing. Be a scientist as you design and carry out your own experiment. Discover how the scientific process works, what makes it different from just guessing, and why it is the most powerful and successful way of figuring out how the forces of nature work.

  • Scientific Methods

  • Design and Set-Up Your Experiment

  • Data Collection

  • Data Analysis

  • Reporting Conclusions

  • Create a Display

  • Oral Presentation


Advanced Earth Science:


Course Overview

Our Middle School Earth Science curriculum presents the fundamentals of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy. Students explore amazing landforms around the globe, the nature of the sea and air, the wonders of geological history, and recent discoveries about our universe. Practical, hands-on lesson activities help students discover how scientists investigate the living world. Students perform laboratory activities and a full unit investigation to learn about the application of scientific methods. Students will explore topics such as:

  • Mapping and maps of the earth

  • Minerals

  • Rocks

  • The interior of the earth

  • Plate tectonics and continental drift

  • Forces that shape the surface of the earth

  • Fossils and their importance

  • Oceans

  • Weather and climate

  • Resources, renewable and nonrenewable

Course Outline

Mapping the Earth

If everything on Earth were the same, our planet would look like a big, smooth ball—uniform and not very interesting. Instead, Earth is like a giant jigsaw puzzle, made of many different parts, from the layers of rock beneath our feet to the atmosphere above our heads. Driven by energy, these puzzle pieces of Earth are always moving—the oceans, the mountains, and even the land we stand on. Learn what these various parts are, the kinds of energy that drive them, and how they fit together in the living planet we call home.

  • Welcome to Earth Science

  • Spheres of the Earth

  • Map Essentials

  • Cartography

  • Laboratory: Map Projections


Find out what makes one mineral different from another and learn some simple tests to show what kinds of fascinating minerals make up common rocks. Discover, too, that almost half the earth's crust is made of one very important thing—oxygen.

  • Identifying Minerals and Crystals

  • Classification of Minerals

  • Laboratory: Mineral Identification


Do you know where that big rock in your backyard came from? What about the little, flat rocks you skip across a lake? Why are rocks different colors? Why is one smooth and another jagged? Learn how rocks are "born" and then how they are "reborn." Discover different types of rocks, how they are made, what they are made of, and how they are constantly changing.

  • Igneous Rocks

  • Sedimentary Rocks

  • Metamorphic Rocks

  • Laboratory: Rocks in the Rock Cycle

Earth's Interior

Our home planet is like a giant onion. Explore Earth's interior by peeling back each layer to uncover what lies beneath. Find out what the layers are made of, how they move and alter the landscape, and how scientists have used seismographs to learn about the mysteries of our planet's depths.

  • Structure of the Earth's Interior

  • Using Seismic Waves to Map the Earth's Interior

  • Laboratory: Using a Seismograph in Earthquake Engineering

Plate Tectonics

Scientists think that, from one supercontinent that broke apart into smaller continents hundreds of millions of years ago, the continents have been moving around ever since. Explore the forces driving this large-scale motion and discover what happens when two continents meet on a collision course.

  • Drifting Continents

  • Seafloor Geography

  • Plate Tectonics

  • Advanced Earth Science

  • Divergent and Transform Plate Boundaries

  • Convergent Plate Boundaries

  • Folding and Faulting

  • Laboratory: Convection and Plate Motion

  • Laboratory: Plate Motion and Geography

Forces Reshaping Earth's Surface

How can simple things—gusts of wind, drops of water—cause Earth's surface to change? How does a young river affect the land? What about an old river? How can rivers be "young" or "old"? What does a glacier do to the land? Explore the relentless processes of weathering, erosion, and mass wasting on Earth's landforms, and learn how they work together over time to change the way our planet looks.

  • Weathering and Soil Formation

  • Surface Water and Ground water

  • Glaciers

  • Laboratory: Desertification

The Fossil Record

The past is still with us today if you know how to look for it. More than a million living things have left traces of their bodies in the earth. Dig up some fossils and discover how things looked in the distant past, from ancient environments to long-ago animals and plants. Learn how to play detective and read the clues told by the walls of the Grand Canyon.

  • Steno's Principles

  • Fossil Succession and Uniformitarianism

  • Geochronology: Dating the Past

  • A Geologic Tour of North America

  • Laboratory: Index Fossils and Paleoenvironments


If you could stand on the moon and look at the Earth, you would see a big, blue ball. Why blue? Most of Earth's surface is water—lakes, seas, and deep oceans. Learn more about all the splashing, sloshing stuff that covers three-fourths of the planet. Explore tides, waves, thermoclines, and water temperatures. And find out about a phenomenon called El Niño and its effects on our world.

  • Welcome to Earth Science, Semester 2

  • Properties of Ocean Water

  • Surface Currents

  • Deep water Currents

  • Ocean Waves and Tides

  • Laboratory: Tidal Power: Benefits and Costs

Weather and Climate

Snow usually falls quietly and softly, yet it has the power to bring down power lines and shatter tree branches. Rain can cause the land to bloom with flowers and crops, but it is also capable of washing away fields and trees. Winds can do everything from mussing up your hair to rearranging the face of a rugged cliff. Learn what weather really is—where it comes from, why it happens the way it does, and how constant changes in weather are part of what happens in the energy-filled outer shell of Earth known as the atmosphere.

  • Daily Weather

  • Air Masses and Fronts

  • Weather Versus Climate

  • Climate Control

  • Ocean, Land, and Air: Water and Energy Budgets

  • Laboratory: Changing Climates: Global Warming

Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources

What happens to the soda can tossed into a recycling bin? Learn about the potential and perils associated with both renewable and nonrenewable resources.

  • Energy Resources: Overview

  • Nonrenewable Energy: Fossil Fuels, Part 1

  • Nonrenewable Energy: Fossil Fuels, Part 2

  • Nonrenewable Energy: Nuclear

  • Laboratory: Consuming Fossil Fuels

  • Renewable Energy: Hydroelectric Power

  • Renewable Energy: Alternate Energy Resources

  • Laboratory: Energy from Wind

Project: Scientific Investigation

Become a scientist as you design and carry out your own experiment. Discover how the scientific process works, what makes it different from just guessing, and why it is the most powerful and successful way of figuring out how the forces of nature work.

  • Scientific Process: Selecting a Research Topic

  • Making a Hypothesis and Experimental Design

  • Step-by-Step Experimenting

  • Data Collection: Data Types

  • Data Tables

  • Data Analysis

  • Conclusions and Lab Reports

  • Writing a Bibliography and Making a Display

  • Preparing for an Oral Presentation and Final Check

  • Science Investigation Presentation

Our Place in the Universe

What does a faraway star in the night sky have in common with our own blazing sun? What causes the sun to burn so brightly and with such heat? Explore comets, asteroids, meteorites, and asteroids. There is much to learn about the amazing universe—from a theory called the big bang, which explains how the entire universe was formed, to the reason why days are longer in summer and shorter in winter.

  • Origin of the Solar System

  • Star Qualities

  • Sun Fusion

  • Planets of the Solar System

  • Stars

  • Expanding Universe

  • Laboratory: Earth Seasons, Moon Phases, and Eclipses

Advanced Life Science:


Course Overview

Advanced Life Science is a rigorous middle school course, conceived for the student who loves biology and is ready for an extra challenge. Practical, hands-on lesson activities help students discover how scientists investigate the living world. Students perform laboratory activities and a full unit investigation to learn about the application of scientific methods. Students will explore topics such as:

  • Life on earth (including chemistry of life)

  • Ecology

  • History of life on earth

  • Prokaryotes and other microorganisms

  • Survey of the groups of animals

  • Systems of organisms

  • Plants: structure and function

  • Cell structure and function

  • Cellular respiration and other processes in the cell

  • Cell division

  • Genetics and gene expression

Course Outline

Life on Earth

What are some of the characteristics of life? What is the relationship between the chemicals that make up our world and living things? These and other question are asked and answered in this unit. Students will also do a laboratory on the chemical breakdown of proteins.

  • Introduction to Life Science

  • Diversity of Life

  • Characteristics of Life

  • Chemistry of Life

  • Laboratory: Protein Breaks Down Protein

The Organisms in Their Worlds

This unit gives a big picture of life on earth by placing organisms in their environments. The study of ecology involves studying the interrelationships between an organism and its physical and biological surroundings. A laboratory involving testing for toxicity brings home the concept that the health of an organism is directly tied to the quality of its ecological world.

  • The Organism and Its Environment

  • Behavior and Symbiotic Relationships

  • Food Chains and Food Webs

  • The Ecosystem and Energy Flow

  • Energy and Biomass Pyramids

  • Populations and Biomes

  • Laboratory: Toxicity Testing

History of Life on Earth

This unit deals with evolution and its relationship to life on earth. Students are introduced to the concept of natural selection and how it affects populations. Students learn that the modern view of evolution involves an understanding of genetics. A laboratory on the relationship between predator and prey helps students master some aspects of the concept of survival of the fit.

  • Origin of Life on Earth

  • Evidence for Change Over Time

  • Natural Selection

  • Types of Natural Selection

  • Modern Views of Evolution

  • Your Choice

  • The Origin of New Species

  • Laboratory: Natural Selection: Predator vs. Prey

Prokaryotes, Fungi, Protists, and Viruses

Students begin their study of life by examining microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, protists, and fungi. They learn the characteristics of each group of organisms and are given a primer on naming and organizing the many kinds of life on earth. They conduct an experiment involving nitrogen-fixing bacteria to give them hands-on experiments with one type of microorganism.

  • Naming and Organizing Life

  • Prokaryotes

  • Protists and Fungi

  • Viruses

  • Laboratory: Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria

Survey of Animals

When most students think of biology, the first idea that comes to their mind is the animals. This unit surveys animals, both invertebrates and vertebrates. Students do a clam dissection to get them in touch with the anatomy of an invertebrate. From sponges to mammals, the animal kingdom opens up to the students.

  • Sponges and Flatworms

  • Cnidarians, Roundworms, and Mollusks

  • Annelids, Arthropods, and Echinoderms

  • Fish and Amphibians

  • Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals

  • Lab: Clam Dissection

Comparing Animal Systems

In Unit 5 students surveyed animal systems. In this unit they will survey the various systems that make up living things. They will study circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, and other systems and how they vary between groups. Students will dissect a chicken wing and draw its structure.

  • Circulatory and Respiratory Systems

  • Circulatory Systems

  • Comparing Digestive Systems

  • Comparing Nervous Systems

  • Comparing Other Systems

  • Laboratory: Chicken Wing Anatomy Laboratory


Plants are all around us and make up a large part of the biological world. Students will survey the plants of the world and learn about their biology. They will study how plants grow and reproduce. Students will perform botanical illustration as a way of taking a close look at plant structure.

  • Survey of Plants

  • Plant Reproduction

  • Plant Growth and Responses

  • Laboratory: Botanical Illustration

The Functional Cell

The cell is the fundamental building block of living things and in this unit, students take a close look at the structure and inner workings of cells. Starting with the cell membrane and then moving inside the cell to study organelles, students explore the relationship of cell structure to its function. A laboratory follows that allows students to see the insides of cells.

  • Cell and Boundary

  • The Plasma Membrane

  • Across the Plasma Membrane

  • Inside the Cell

  • Cell Communication

  • Lab: Looking Inside a Cell

Cells and Energy

Where does a cell get the energy to carry out all of its functions? In this unit students trace the pathways of energy in the cellular world. Photosynthesis, cellular respiration, fermentation, and the role of ATP in the cell are all explored. A laboratory examining the process of photosynthesis gives students a hands-on experience with cell functions.

  • Photosynthesis

  • Phases of Photosynthesis

  • Breaking Down Glucose

  • Making ATP

  • How ATP Works in the Cell Climates: Global Warming

  • Laboratory: Fermentation

Cell Division and Heredity

In the previous units’ students learned about the structure of cells, their functions, and the role that sunlight and chemical energy plays in the energetics of cells. In this lesson students examine two closely related cellular phenomena—cell division and heredity. Students examine the processes of mitosis and meiosis with special emphasis on chromosome numbers. They then use this knowledge to work on problems involving heredity and even work a genetics problem in a laboratory on a genetic cross.

  • Chromosomes

  • Mitosis and Cell Division

  • Meiosis and Gamete Formation

  • Mendelian Genetics

  • Mendelian Genetics II

  • Lab: Incomplete Dominance Cross

How the Gene Works

Modern biology as practiced around the world in our century is often directed towards understanding the roles of RNA, DNA, and proteins in the cell. In this unit students learn about the relationships between genes and the functions of the cells, connecting the roles of DNA, RNA, and proteins and how they make the cell the central building block of life.

  • Structure of DNA and RNA

  • DNA Replication

  • What Is a Gene?

  • DNA Makes RNA Makes Protein

  • What Proteins Do

  • Gene Expression

  • Differentiation in Cells

  • Laboratory: Amino Acids and Proteins

Scientific Investigation

In this middle school program, students conduct a scientific investigation following scientific methods for each discipline. Students choose a research topic, develop a hypothesis, experiment, take and organize data, and develop a science presentation. This is a hands-on unit that gives students the feel of conducting scientific research.

  • Scientific Process, Selecting a Topic, Research

  • Making a Hypothesis and Experimental Design

  • Step-by-Step Experimenting

  • Data Collection

  • Data Analysis

  • Conclusions and Lab Reports

  • Writing a Bibliography and Making a Display

  • Complete Display Poster and Rehearse

  • Oral Presentation

  • Oral Presentations


Advanced Physical Science:


Course Overview

Advanced Physical Science is a rigorous middle school course, conceived for the enthusiastic science student who is ready for an extra challenge. Students learn about the physical world and tackle topics such as matter, energy, atoms, motion, thermodynamics and other aspects of chemistry and physics. Practical, hands-on lesson activities help students discover how scientists investigate the living world. Students perform laboratory activities and a full unit investigation to learn about the application of scientific methods. Students will study:

  • Problem solving in chemistry and physics

  • Matter and its properties

  • Chemistry, from atoms to chemical reactions

  • Motion, including harmonics and projectiles

  • Forces and Newton's Laws of Motion

  • Types of energy

  • Laws of thermodynamics

  • Light and sound

  • Electricity and magnetism

Course Outline

Introduction and Chemistry

In this unit students launch their excursion into the world of physical science. They begin by understanding some of the rudiments of the metric system and doing a laboratory exercise. Students then begin to examine some aspects of matter, including a look at its various states, physical and chemical changes, and mixtures. A laboratory in separating solutions gives them a chance to make and use a distillation apparatus.

  • Introduction to Physical Science

  • Laboratory: Measured Steps

  • Physical Systems

  • Fundamental Quantities and Measurement

  • Working with Model Problems

  • Laboratory: Separating Ingredients

  • Properties of Matter

  • Classification of Matter

  • Solids, Liquids, and Gases

  • Physical and Chemical Changes

  • Mixtures and Solutions

  • Structure of the Atom

Chemistry 2

The world of chemistry opens up for student in this lesson. Students perform two laboratories to get hands on experience with chemical procedures. They also learn chemical subjects such as atomic numbers, types of chemical reactions, balancing chemical reactions, types of bonding, and acids and bases. This gives students a solid understanding of the basic areas of chemistry.

  • Laboratory: Chemical Reactions

  • Atomic and Mass Numbers

  • Periodic Table

  • Ionic and Covalent Compounds

  • Chemical Formulas

  • Chemical Reactions

  • Laboratory: Titrating Vinegar

  • Balancing Chemical Equations

  • Rates of Chemical Reactions

  • Acids and Bases

Motion and Forces

This unit deals with physics, focusing on aspects of motion and forces. Students have hands-on experience doing a laboratory on the topic of speed. Motion and forces are explored in such subjects as the pendulum, motion in two directions, and gravity. This unit includes a semester review and test.

  • Laboratory: Calculating Speed

  • Displacement, Speed, and Velocity

  • Acceleration

  • Newton's First Law

  • Newton's Second Law

  • Equal and Opposite Forces

  • The Pendulum 1

  • Motion of a Projectile

  • Motion in a Circle

  • Harmonic Motion

  • The Pendulum 2

  • Gravitation I

  • Gravitation II

Energy and Thermodynamics

Students delve more deeply into physics in this unit. They begin by studying problems in work and energy, using simple machines as a starting point. They then move into a related study—thermodynamics, the study of heat. Along the way students do laboratories on using a lever and the flow of heat. Energy is the key word in this lesson and students gain a lot of experience in using this term correctly.

  • Laboratory: Using a Lever

  • Energy: Conservation and Transformation

  • Work

  • Simple Machines

  • Work and Kinetic Energy

  • Potential Energy

  • Linear Momentum

  • Collisions

  • Laboratory: Heat Flow

  • Thermal Energy

  • Temperature

  • First Law of Thermodynamics

  • Second Law of Thermodynamics

Waves, Light, Electricity, and Magnetism

Energy continues to be the central core of student learning in this lesson. Students learn about the characteristics of waves and apply that knowledge to a study of light and sound. They then turn their attention to electricity and magnetism, building a motor in a laboratory to gain experience in working with electrical currents.

  • Laboratory: Path of Light

  • Characteristics of Waves

  • Sound Waves

  • Understanding Light

  • Reflection and Refraction

  • Laboratory: Motoring On!

  • Electric Charge

  • Electric Fields and Potentials

  • Circuits

  • Magnetism

  • Currents and Magnetic Fields

Research Project

In this middle school program, students conduct a scientific investigation following scientific methods for each discipline. Students choose a research topic, develop a hypothesis, experiment, take and organize data, and develop a science presentation. This is a hands-on unit that gives students the feel of conducting scientific research.

  • Science Research Topic

  • Design and Set Up Your Experiment

  • Data Collection

  • Data Analysis

  • Writing a Research Paper

  • Construct a Display Poster

  • Oral Presentation

bottom of page