Next Generation Science Standards

By: Christine Allen

Why We Need NGSS & How It Was Developed from the Framework

The Next Generation Science Standards are a cohesive, functional collection of disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices. This new set of standards will help encourage all participants in the education world to enhance the way we teach and learn scientific content. Students will be 21st century learners and thinkers, and with the NGSS students will be better prepared for careers in science and engineering. With the NGSS, students will be utilizing higher-order thinking skills by designing solutions to real-world problems and evaluating and defending solutions. With a select number of topics, students will be able to have a deeper understanding of content, and have time to practice science and engineering skills. We need the NGSS to increase our level of rigor in this increasingly important and necessary field.

The NGSS were developed from the Framework by creating performance expectations that combine disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices. Connections were made among these three core areas to generate specific guidelines for each grade level to master. Content was specifically selected so that teachers would have the opportunity to thoroughly teach each subject and allow for utilizing the science and engineering practices.

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Science and Engineering Practices

There are eight science and engineering practices. Students will demonstrate their knowledge of science by utilizing these practices. The practices exemplify both knowledge and skill, and allow students to be true scientists and engineers. By using the practices, student are training for careers and understanding how people in those careers obtain new knowledge. These practices overlap and can be used in connection with one another. They are real tools that scientists and engineers use to complete their jobs. By using these in addition to science content, students will have a more well-rounded approach. The eight practices are listed below:

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


Students in first grade can plan and investigate how different vibrations make sounds, and that sound can make vibrations. They can also analyze the effect of placing different materials in front of light.

Crosscutting Concepts

The concepts help build connections amongst scientific content. These are ideas that can be found in many different areas of science. There are seven different concepts that are evident in many core ideas of science. These concepts help students better understand their content and develop a scientific view of the world. The concepts also help students understand the practices, as they go along smoothly together. There is common vocabulary between multiple different areas of science, and students will become more familiar with the terms of the crosscutting concepts as they are used across grade levels and classes. These crosscutting concepts will become more sophisticated as students progress through their schooling.

1. Patterns
2. Cause and effect
3. Scale, proportion, and quantity.
4. Systems and system models.
5. Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation
6. Structure and function.
7. Stability and change

Students can analyze patterns of the sun, moon, and stars in first grade. They can analyze how the sun's location in the sky changes, and what is causing this pattern. They can make predictions for future locations of the sun during the day. They can also use patterns of the sun to understand the amount of daylight hours at different times of the year.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

The disciplinary core ideas are a collection of scientific and engineering information students are expected to learn from kindergarten to twelfth grade. There are core ideas that students continue to build on throughout their education. There is a selective, limited number of topics that teachers and students will delve deep into to ensure a thorough understanding of the content. Learning this information will also incorporate the science and engineering practices, and the crosscutting concepts to make a complete, scientific lesson. Students will study physical sciences, life sciences, Earth and space sciences, and engineering.

First graders will learn the following DCIs: 1-PS4, 1-LS1, 1-LS3, 1-ESS1, and K-2-ETS1.

Students in first grade will learn about light and sounds waves, animals parts and their functions, how offspring are similar and different from their parents, and patterns in space.
They will need to understand how different objects affect light waves, and how vibration produces sound. In life science they will need to learn about how animals use different parts for different functions, and how humans can use this as a model for developing devices. First graders will be introduced to heredity and how offspring inherit traits, and in Earth and space science, students will learn about patterns of the Earth, moon, and stars.

Engineering Integration

Engineering is very relevant to the world today and is composed of many essential skills that children today will need for the future. Engineering helps design solutions for problems that our world currently faces. It is crucial for teachers to teach both science and engineering to prepare students as twenty-first century learners and citizens. When students are being engineers during their science education, they are designing solutions to human problems. Students will be in charge of identifying problems, and designing means to solve real-world issues. They will also have to analyze and critique different plans and determine the most efficient course of action, and defend their decisions with evidence. Their final design is one that is well evaluated and thoroughly discussed.


The Next Generation Science Standards will improve my science instruction. I think my students will have to think more critically and engage in a higher level of thinking while performing scientific investigations and engineering designs. I think they will be better prepared for careers and making decisions later in life about our world. Students will better master their content by having the opportunity to spend more time on fewer topics. My students will be completing new engineering practices that encompass the NGSS and be well equipped to develop their knowledge throughout each grade level.