New Mexico State Standards for Science

Instructor: Eric Campos

Eric has tutored in English, writing, history, and other subjects.

The state of New Mexico provides science standards for all students in grades K-12. Read on to learn more about these standards and their impact on students.

New Mexico's Science Standards

The science standards for New Mexico are composed of three strands. It's important to not confuse the content standards with the curriculum. The state standards don't mandate specific lesson plans; teachers have full autonomy on what they teach and how they conduct the classroom. Instead, the standards provide guidance on what skills the curriculum should foster in students and how to monitor progress in these skills.

Each of the standards is composed of benchmarks. These benchmarks highlight knowledge and skill-sets that students should accumulate within the standards, and become more complex as experience and grade level increase. The benchmarks are categorized into 3 grade categories: K-4, 5-8, and 9-12.

The performance standards outline the proficiency expected at each level of the standards, what the students should be capable of doing. This ensures students are actively progressing in their scientific literacy, as well as other general skills. Below are brief overviews of the individual science content standards, along with examples of corresponding benchmarks and performance standards.

Strand 1: Scientific Thinking And Practice

The scientific thinking and practice strand focuses on introducing learners to the processes involved in scientific investigations. Students should also be competent in the scientific methods involving observation, prediction, experimenting, and validating information in order to think critically. The benchmarks for this standard revolve around developing these principles and applying them with a deep understanding in order to effectively gather, evaluate, and assess scientific data.

One of the benchmarks for K-4 can be summarized as: students use vocabulary and math to evaluate facts, recognize the connections between relationships and patterns, and then successfully communicate results. Below are a some of the performance standards linked to the first standard and the K-4 category.

Grade Level Performance Standard
Kindergarten Ask and answer questions about surroundings and share
First Grade Explain relationships that exist between objects and guess how relationships can change between them
Second Grade Use tools such as magnifiers and thermometers to help make observations to collect data and interpret it
Third Grade Differentiate between opinions and concrete data
Fourth Grade Perform trials to try out a prediction, make conclusions, and create and/or interpret graphs

Strand II: Content of Science

The second strand actually contains 3 distinct standard components: physical science, life science, and Earth and space science.

Physical science standard: Students must gain knowledge of the structure and properties of matter, energy, and how matter and energy interact.

Life science standard: Students must learn how living organisms function, as well as their properties and structures. Students must also learn basic information about the environment.

Earth and space science standard: Students must be exposed to the Earth's physical structure, the solar system, and universe.

Here's an example of one of the 5th-8th grade benchmarks for the physical science standard: students should able to explain the physical processes that take place when energy is changed, transferred, or conserved. Below are a few performance standards for the physical science standard in the 5-8 category.

Grade Level Performance Standard
Fifth Grade Explain the phases that matter goes through
Sixth Grade Identify substances based on properties
Seventh Grade Give a description of how matter moves between the environment and various life forms, as well as how matter is conveyed between various life forms
Eighth Grade Know the structure of matter, and understand how protons, neutrons, and electrons function in atoms, which make up physical matter

Strand III: Science And Society

The final strand and standard focus on teaching students about the history and impact of scientific discoveries. Students must be taught how science has shaped our society and the individuals who pioneered scientific development and understanding.

An example of a 9th-12th grade benchmark would be for students to evaluate and comprehend the ways in which scientific discoveries have affected the world. Students should also be able to competently explain how the society of the time influenced these scientific inquiries and applications. The performance standards for 9-12 are collectively grouped instead of broken down by individual grade level as with the previous strands. Below are a few examples:

Performance Standards
Understand the scientific foundations of current technologies
Explain how scientific knowledge helps decision makers with local, national, and global challenges
Describe New Mexico's contributions to nuclear science
Understand that science plays a role in many different kinds of activities and careers

Study.com Science Resources

Science can be a challenging subject at any grade level, which is why Study.com has developed resources to help learners of all ages. Teachers can use our courses to provide students with engaging lessons while students can use these courses to expand scientific knowledge. Delve into biology, Earth science, physical science, and other science topics with our self-paced virtual courses that will allow students to study wherever and whenever they want. Lessons are composed of written transcripts, video lessons, and even practice quizzes and tests to make sure students are on the right track. Below is a small sampling of courses that can be used to help meet the New Mexico science standards.

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