science education

Exploring Nature Science Education Resource:

Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science Resources for K-12

Appendix F. Science & Engineering Practices

(Condensed)

By Grade Level

Next Generation Science Standards

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4.  Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

 

Practice 1 - Asking Questions and Defining Problems

A practice of science is to ask and refine questions that lead to descriptions and explanations of how the natural and designed world(s) works and which can be empirically tested.

K–2 Condensed Practices

Asking questions and defining problems in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to simple descriptive questions that can be tested.

  • Ask questions based on observations to find more information about the natural and/or designed world(s).
  • Ask and/or identify questions that can be answered by an investigation.
  • Define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.

3-5 Condensed Practices

Asking questions and defining problems in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to specifying qualitative relationships.

  • Ask questions about what would happen if a variable is changed.
  • Identify scientific (testable) and non-scientific (non-testable) questions.
  • Ask questions that can be investigated and predict reasonable outcomes based on patterns such as cause and effect relationships.
  • Use prior knowledge to describe problems that can be solved.
  • Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

6–8 Condensed Practices

Asking questions and defining problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to specifying relationships between variables, and clarifying arguments and models.

·      Ask question:

  • that arise from careful observation of phenomena, models, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.
  • to identify and/or clarify evidence and/or the premise(s) of an argument.
  •  to determine relationships between independent and dependent variables and relationships in models.
  •  to clarify and/or refine a model, an explanation, or an engineering problem
  • that require sufficient and appropriate empirical evidence to answer.
  • that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles. (Evaluate a question to determine if it is testable and relevant.)
  • that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.
  •  that challenge the premise(s) of an argument or the interpretation of a data set.

·      Define a design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes multiple criteria and constraints, including scientific knowledge that may limit possible solutions.

 

9-12 Condensed Practices (see pdf)

 

Practice 2 - Developing and Using Models

In science, models are used to represent a system (or parts of a system) under study, to aid in the development of questions and explanations, to generate data that can be used to make predictions, and to communicate ideas to others. Students can be expected to evaluate and refine models through an iterative cycle of comparing their predictions with the real world and then adjusting them to gain insights into the phenomenon being modeled. As such, models are based upon evidence. When new evidence is uncovered that the models can’t explain, models are modified.

K–2 Condensed Practices

Modeling in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to include using and developing models (i.e., diagram, drawing, physical replica, diorama, dramatization, or storyboard) that represent concrete events or design solutions.

  • Distinguish between a model and the actual object, process, and/or events the model represents.
  • Compare models to identify common features and differences.
  • Develop and/or use a model to represent amounts, relationships, relative scales (bigger, smaller), and/or patterns in the natural and designed world(s).
  • Develop a simple model based on evidence to represent a proposed object or tool.

3-5 Condensed Practices

Modeling in 3–5 builds on K–2experiencesand progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.

  • Identify limitations of models.
  • Collaboratively develop and/or revise a model based on evidence that shows the relationships among variables for frequent and regular occurring events.
  • Develop a model using an analogy, example, or abstract representation to describe a scientific principle or design solution.
  • Develop and/or use models to describe and/or predict phenomena
  • Develop a diagram or simple physical prototype to convey a proposed object, tool, or process.
  • Use a model to test cause and effect relationships or interactions concerning the functioning of a natural or designed system

6–8 Condensed Practices

  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.
  • Evaluate limitations of a model for a proposed object or tool.
  • Develop or modify a model—based on evidence –to match what happens if a variable or component of a system is changed.
  • Use and/or develop a model of simple systems with uncertain and less predictable factors.
  • Develop and/or revise a model to show the relationships among variables, including those that are not observable but predict observable phenomena.
  • Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.
  • Develop a model to describe unobservable mechanisms.
  • Develop and/or use a model to generate data to test ideas about phenomena in natural or designed systems, including those representing inputs and outputs, and those at unobservable scales. 

 

9-12 Condensed Practices (see pdf)

 

Practice 3 - Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Scientists and engineers plan and carry out investigations in the field or laboratory, working collaboratively as well as individually. Their investigations are systematic and require clarifying what counts as data and identifying variables or parameters. Engineering investigations identify the effectiveness, efficiency, and durability of designs under different conditions.

K–2 Condensed Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to simple investigations, based on fair tests, which provide data to support explanations or design solutions.

  • With guidance, plan and conduct an investigation in collaboration with peers (for K).
  • Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer a question.
  • Evaluate different ways of observing and/or measuring a phenomenon to determine which way can answer a question.
  • Make observations (firsthand or from media) and/or measurements to collect data that can be used to make comparisons.
  • Make observations(firsthand or from media)and/or measurements of a proposed object or tool or solution to determine if it solves a problem or meets a goal.
  • Make predictions based on prior experiences.

3-5 Condensed Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to include investigations that control variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.

  • ·      Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, using fair tests in which variables are controlled and the number of trials considered.
  • Evaluate appropriate methods and/or tools for collecting data.
  • Make observations and/or measurements to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.
  • Make predictions about what would happen if a variable changes.
  • Test two different models of the same proposed object, tool, or process to determine which better meets criteria for success.

6–8 Condensed Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations in 6-8 builds on K-5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or solutions.

  • Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim.
  •  Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation.
  • Evaluate the accuracy of various methods for collecting data.
  • Collect data to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer scientific questions or test design solutions under a range of conditions.
  • Collect data about the performance of a proposed object, tool, process, or system under a range of conditions.

 

9-12 Condensed Practices (see pdf)

 

Practice 4 - Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Scientific investigations produce data that must be analyzed in order to derive meaning. Because data patterns and trends are not always obvious, scientists use a range of tools—including tabulation, graphical interpretation, visualization, and statistical analysis—to identify the significant features and patterns in the data. Scientists identify sources of error in the investigations and calculate the degree of certainty in the results. Modern technology makes the collection of large data sets much easier, providing secondary sources for analysis.

K–2 Condensed Practices

Analyzing data in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to collecting, recording, and sharing observations.

  • Record information (observations, thoughts, and ideas).
  • Use and share pictures, drawings, and/or writings of observations.
  • Use observations (firsthand or from media) to describe patterns and/or relationships in the natural and designed world(s) in order to answer scientific questions and solve problems.
  • Compare predictions (based on prior experiences) to what occurred (observable events).
  • Analyze data from tests of an object or tool to determine if it works as intended.

3-5 Condensed Practices

Analyzing data in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observations.

When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used.

  • Represent data in tables and/or various graphical displays (bar graphs, pictographs, and/or pie charts) to reveal patterns that indicate relationships.
  • Analyze and interpret data to make sense of phenomena, using logical reasoning, mathematics, and/or computation.
  • Compare and contrast data collected by different groups in order to discuss similarities and differences in their findings.
  • Analyze data to refine a problem statement or the design of a proposed object, tool, or process.
  • Use data to evaluate and refine design solutions.

6–8 Condensed Practices

Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis.

  • Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.
  • Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.
  • Distinguish between causal and correlational relationships in data.
  • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.
  • Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including mean, median, mode, and variability) to analyze and characterize data, using digital tools when feasible.
  • Consider limitations of data analysis (e.g., measurement error), and/or seek to improve precision and accuracy of data with better technological tools and methods (e.g., multiple trials).
  • Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings.
  • Analyze data to define an optimal operational range for a proposed object, tool, process or system that best meets criteria for success.

 

9-12 Condensed Practices (see pdf)

 

Practice 5 - Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

In both science and engineering, mathematics and computation are fundamental tools for representing physical variables and their relationships. They are used for a range of tasks such as constructing simulations; solving equations exactly or approximately; and recognizing, expressing, and applying quantitative relationships.

Mathematical and computational approaches enable scientists and engineers to predict the behavior of systems and test the validity of such predictions.

K–2 Condensed Practices

Mathematical and computational thinking in K–2 builds on prior experience and progresses to recognizing that mathematics can be used to describe the natural and designed world(s).

  • Decide when to use qualitative vs. quantitative data.
  • Use counting and numbers to identify and describe patterns in the natural and designed world(s).
  • Describe, measure, and/or compare quantitative attributes of different objects and display the data using simple graphs.
  • Use quantitative data to compare two alternative solutions to a problem.

 

3-5 Condensed Practices

Mathematical and computational thinking in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative measurements to a variety of physical properties and using computation and mathematics to analyze data and compare alternative design solutions.

  • Decide if qualitative or quantitative data are best to determine whether a proposed object or tool meets criteria for success.
  • Organize simple data sets to reveal patterns that suggest relationships.
  • Describe, measure, estimate, and/or graph quantities such as area, volume, weight, and time to address scientific and engineering questions and problems.
  • Create and/or use graphs and/or charts generated from simple algorithms to compare alternative solutions to an engineering problem. 

 

6–8 Condensed Practices

Mathematical and computational thinking in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to identifying patterns in large data sets and using mathematical concepts to support explanations and arguments.

  • Use digital tools (e.g., computers) to analyze very large data sets for patterns and trends.
  • Use mathematical representations to describe and/or support scientific conclusions and design solutions.
  • Create algorithms (a series of ordered steps) to solve a problem.
  • Apply mathematical concepts and/or processes (such as ratio, rate, percent, basic operations, and simple algebra) to scientific and engineering questions and problems.
  • Use digital tools and/or mathematical concepts and arguments to test and compare proposed solutions to an engineering design problem.

 

9-12 Condensed Practices (see pdf)

 

Practice 6 - Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

The end-products of science are explanations. The goal of science is the construction of theories that provide explanatory accounts of the world. A theory becomes accepted when it has multiple lines of empirical evidence and greater explanatory power of phenomena than previous theories.

 

K–2 Condensed Practices

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to the use of evidence and ideas in constructing evidence-based accounts of natural phenomena and designing solutions.

 

3-5 Condensed Practices

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to the use of evidence in constructing explanations that specify variables that describe and predict phenomena and in designing multiple solutions to design problems.

  • Use information from observations (firsthand and from media) to construct an evidence-based account for natural phenomena.
  • Use tools and/or materials to design and/or build a device that solves a specific problem or a solution to a specific problem.
  • Generate and/or compare multiple solutions to a problem.
  • Construct an explanation of observed relationships (e.g., the distribution of plants in the back yard).
  • Use evidence (e.g., measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation or design a solution to a problem.
  • Identify the evidence that supports particular points in an explanation.
  • Apply scientific ideas to solve design problems.
  • Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design solution.

 

6–8 Condensed Practices

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

  • Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s)and/or describe(s)phenomena.
  • Construct an explanation using models or representations.
  •  Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
  • Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events.
  • Apply scientific reasoning to show why the data or evidence is adequate for the explanation or conclusion.
  • Apply scientific ideas or principles to design, construct, and/or test a design of an object, tool, process or system.
  • Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints.
  • Optimize performance of a design by prioritizing criteria, making tradeoffs, testing,revising, and re-testing.

 

9-12 Condensed Practices (see pdf)

 

Practice 7 - Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Argumentation is the process by which evidence-based conclusions and solutions are reached.

In science and engineering, reasoning and argument based on evidence are essential to identifying the best explanation for a natural phenomenon or the best solution to a design problem. Scientists and engineers use argumentation to listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on merits.

Scientists and engineers engage in argumentation when investigating a phenomenon, testing a design solution, resolving questions about measurements, building data models, and using evidence to evaluate claims.

 

K–2 Condensed Practices

Engaging in argument from evidence in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to comparing ideas and representations about the natural and designed world(s).

  • Identify arguments that are supported by evidence.
  • Distinguish between explanations that account for all gathered evidence and those that do not.
  • Analyze why some evidence is relevant to a scientific question and some is not.
  • Distinguish between opinions and evidence in one’s own explanations.
  • Listen actively to arguments to indicate agreement or disagreement based on evidence, and/or to retell the main points of the argument.
  • Construct an argument with evidence to support a claim.
  • Make a claim about the effectiveness of an object, tool, or solution that is supported by relevant evidence.

 

3-5 Condensed Practices

Engaging in argument from evidence in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to critiquing the scientific explanations or solutions proposed by peers by citing relevant evidence about the natural and designed world(s).

  • Compare and refine arguments based on an evaluation of the evidence presented.
  • Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in an explanation.
  • Respectfully provide and receive critiques from peers about a proposed procedure, explanation or model, by citing relevant evidence and posing specific questions.
  • Construct and/or support an argument with evidence, data, and/or a model.
  •  Use data to evaluate claims about cause and effect.
  • Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem by citing relevant evidence about how it meets the criteria and constraints of the problem.

 

6–8 Condensed Practices

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s).

  • Compare and critique two arguments on the same topic and analyze whether they emphasize similar or different evidence and/or interpretations of facts.
  • Respectfully provide and receive critiques about one’s explanations, procedures, models and questions by citing relevant evidence and posing and responding to questions that elicit pertinent elaboration and detail.
  • Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem.
  • Make an oral or written argument that supports or refutes the advertised performance of a device, process, or system, based on empirical evidence concerning whether or not the technology meets relevant criteria and constraints.
  • Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.

9-12 Condensed Practices (see pdf)

 

 

Practice 8 - Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Scientists and engineers must be able to communicate clearly and persuasively the ideas and methods they generate. Critiquing and communicating ideas individually and in groups is a critical professional activity.

Communicating information and ideas can be done in multiple ways: using tables, diagrams, graphs, models, and equations as well as orally, in writing, and through extended discussions. Scientists and engineers employ multiple sources to obtain information that is used to evaluate the merit and validity of claims, methods, and designs.

 

K–2 Condensed Practices

  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2 builds on prior experiences and uses observations and texts to communicate new information.
  • Read grade-appropriate texts and/or use media to obtain scientific and/or technical information to determine patterns in and/or evidence about the natural and designed world(s).
  • Describe how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) support a scientific or engineering idea. Obtain information using various texts, text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons), and other media that will be useful in answering a scientific question and/or supporting a scientific claim.
  • Communicate information or design ideas and/or solutions with others in oral and/or written forms using models, drawings, writing, or numbers that provide detail about scientific ideas, practices, and/or design ideas. 

 

3-5 Condensed Practices

  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to evaluating the merit and accuracy of ideas and methods.
  • Read and comprehend grade-appropriate complex texts and/or other reliable media to summarize and obtain scientific and technical ideas and describe how they are supported by evidence.
  • Compare and/or combine across complex texts and/or other reliable media to support the engagement in other scientific and/or engineering practices.
  • Combine information in written text with that contained in corresponding tables, diagrams, and/or charts to support the engagement in other scientific and/or engineering practices.
  • Obtain and combine information from books and/or other reliable media to explain phenomena or solutions to a design problem.
  • Communicate scientific and/or technical information orally and/or in written formats, including various forms of media as well as tables, diagrams, and charts.

 

6–8 Condensed Practices

  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 6–8 builds on K–5 experience sand progresses to evaluating the merit and validity of ideas and methods.
  • Critically read scientific texts adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas and/or obtain scientific and/or technical information to describe patterns in and/or evidence about the natural and designed world(s).’
  • Integrate qualitative and/or quantitative scientific and/or technical information in written text with that contained in media and visual displays to clarify claims and findings.

 

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