science education

Exploring Nature Science Education Resource:

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

Disciplinary Core Progression for 9-12

9-12 Earth Science Progression:

ESS1.A The universe and its stars
Light spectra from stars are used to determine their characteristics, processes, and life cycles. Solar activity creates the elements through nuclear fusion. The development of technologies has provided the astronomical data that provide the empirical evidence for the Big Bang theory.

ESS1.B Earth and the solar system
Kepler’s laws describe common features of the motions of orbiting objects. Observations from astronomy and space probes provide evidence or explanations of solar system formation. Changes in Earth’s tilt and orbit cause climate changes such as Ice Ages.

ESS2.D Weather and climate

The role of radiation from the sun and its interactions with the atmosphere, ocean, and land are the foundation for the global climate system. Global climate models are used to predict future changes, including changes influenced by human behavior and natural factors.
ESS2.E Biogeology
The biosphere and Earth’s other systems have many interconnections that cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and life on it.

ESS3.A Natural resources

Resource availability has guided the development of human society and use of natural resources has associated costs, risks, and benefits.

ESS3.B Natural hazards

Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales.

ESS3.C Human impacts on Earth systems

Sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources, including the development of technologies.

ESS3.D Global climate change

Global climate models used to predict changes continue to be improved, although discoveries about the global climate system are ongoing and continually needed.


9-12 Life Science Progression:

LS1.A Structure and  function

Systems of specialized cells within organisms help perform essential functions of life. Any one system in an organism is made up of numerous parts. Feedback mechanisms maintain an organism’s internal conditions within certain limits and mediate behaviors.

LS1.B Growth and development of organisms

Growth and division of cells in organisms occurs by mitosis and differentiation for specific cell types.

LS1.C Organization for matter and energy flow in organism

The hydrocarbon backbones of sugars produced through photo synthesis are used to make amino acids and other molecules that can be assembled into proteins or DNA. Through cellular respiration, matter and energy flow through different organizational levels of an organism as elements are recombined to form different products and transfer energy

LS1.D Information Processing


LS2.A Interdependent relationships in ecosystems

Ecosystems have carrying capacities resulting from biotic and abiotic factors. The fundamental tension between resource availability and organism populations affects the abundance of species in any given ecosystem.

LS2.B Cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems

Photosynthesis and cellular respiration provide most of the energy for life processes. Only a fraction of matter consumed at the lower level of a food web is transferred up, resulting in fewer organisms at higher levels.  At each link in an ecosystem elements are combined in different ways and matter and energy are conserved. Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are key components of the global carbon cycle.

LS2.C Ecosystem dynamics, functioning, and resilience

If a biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, including one induced by human activity, the ecosystem may return to its more or less original state or become a very different ecosystem, depending on the complex set of interactions within the ecosystem.

LS2.D Social interactions and group behavior

Group behavior has evolved because membership can increase the chances of survival for individuals and their genetic relatives.

LS3.A Inheritance of traits

DNA carries instructions for forming species’ characteristics. Each cell in an organism has the same genetic content, but genes expressed by cells can differ.

LS3.B Variation of traits

The variation and distribution of traits in a population depend on genetic and environmental factors. Genetic variation can result from mutations caused by environmental factors or errors in DNA replication, or from chromosomes swapping sections during meiosis.

LS4.A Evidence of common ancestry and diversity

The ongoing branching that produces multiple lines of descent can be inferred by comparing DNA sequences, amino acid sequences, and anatomical and embryological evidence of different organism.

LS4.B Natural selection
Natural selection occurs only if there is variation in the gene s and traits between organisms in a population. Traits that positively affect survival can become more common in a population.

LS4.C Adaptation
Evolution results primarily fro m genetic variation of individuals in a species, competition for resources, and proliferation of organisms better able to survive and reproduce. Adaptation means that the distribution of traits in a population, as well as species expansion, emergence or extinction, can change when conditions change.

LS4.D Biodiversity and humans

Biodiversity is increased by formation of new species and reduced by extinction. Humans depend on biodiversity but also have adverse impacts on it. Sustaining biodiversity is essential to supporting life on Earth.


9-12 Physical Science Progression:

PS1.A Structure of matter
The sub-atomic structural model and interactions between electric charges at the atomic scale can be used to explain the structure and interactions of matter, including chemical reactions and nuclear processes. Repeating patterns of the periodic table reflect patterns of outer electrons. A stable molecule has less energy than the same set of atoms separated; one must provide at least this energy to take the molecule apart.

PS1.B Chemical reactions
Chemical processes are understood in terms of collisions of molecules, rearrangement of atoms, and changes in energy as determined by properties of elements involved.

PS2.A Forces and motion
Newton’s 2nd law (F=ma) and the conservation of momentum can be used to predict changes in the motion of macroscopic objects.

PS2.B Types of interactions
Forces at a distance are explained by fields that can transfer energy and can be described in terms of the arrangement and properties of the interacting objects and the distance between them. These forces can be used to describe the relationship between electrical and magnetic fields.

PS3.A Definitions of energy
The total energy within a system is conserved. Energy transfer within and between systems can be described and predicted in terms of energy associated with the motion or configuration of particles (objects).

PS3.B Conservation of energy and energy transfer
Systems move toward stable states.

PS3.C Relationship between energy and forces

Fields contain energy that depends on the arrangement of the objects in the field.

PS3.D Energy in chemical processes and everyday life
Photosynthesis is the primary biological means of capturing radiation from the sun; energy cannot be destroyed, it can be converted to less useful forms.

PS4.A Wave properties
The wavelength and frequency of a wave are related to one another by the speed of the wave, which depends on the type of wave and the medium through which it is passing. Waves can be used to transmit information and energy.

PS4.B Electromagnetic radiation
Both an electromagnetic wave model and a photon model explain features of electromagnetic radiation broadly and describe common applications of electromagnetic radiation.

PS4.C Information technologies and instrumentation
Large amounts of information can be stored and shipped around as a result of being digitized.

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