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6th Grade Illinois Science Standards

Instructor: Shelby Golden
This article covers the science standards Illinois uses for 6th grade. Find out what middle schoolers in the state will study and check out examples of what a 6th grade curriculum might include. You'll also find study resources that students can use.

Illinois Science Standards for 6th Grade

Illinois uses the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These standards are not divided between different grade levels. Instead, the concepts of physical science, life science, earth and space science and engineering science interconnect throughout grades 6-8. Because the NGSS do not offer specific standards for each grade, there is not a single set of expectations for what students will learn in 6th grade in Illinois. However, many school districts do offer a science curriculum for this grade.

Science Foundations for NGSS

While the standards found on curricula can vary, students can generally be expected to study:

Physical Science

Physical science topics typically cover the properties of matter, including what different substances are made of and how their structure relates to their properties. Other common concepts include light energy, motion, waves and information transfer.

Kids can work on this online physical science course to go over the physical science concepts they're studying in class. This could also be a valuable resource for teachers to use in the classroom.

Life Science

Life science topics appropriate for the 6th grade can include the relationship between prey and predator, group behaviors, animal habitats, cycles of matter, heredity and development of living organisms. High-level concepts for life sciences consist of molecular biology, organism structures, ecosystems, heredity and biological evolution.

This life science for middle schoolers course is a great way for students to review the facts associated with this facet of scientific knowledge. Show these short video lessons to supplement your classroom lessons or assign them as homework help.

Earth and Space Science

The standards for Earth and space sciences cover the universe, Earth's systems and human activity on Earth. Fascinate your 6th graders with astronomy lessons in what the sun is made of, how placement of the planets determines the probability of life, what the Earth is made out of and the immensity of the Earth in relation to the entire universe. Introduce students to the causes and effects of natural hazards, like volcanoes and earthquakes, and discuss weather patterns, geologic time, pollution, climate change and energy resources.

Students can get extra study time by checking out this earth science course, which is available whenever they want to study. The lessons in this course can help teachers cover the science standards in class.

Engineering Design

With technology so prevalent in almost every facet of life, you can teach your students how technology is created and used as well as how problems are solved with technology. Show kids how to develop creative solutions using technologies or to fix technology issues. Other topics applicable to the 6th grade level include scientific inquiry, theories, evidence and experimentation.

Students can supplement their learning with lessons on scientific instruments and measurements, data collection and communication, and technology. Teachers can also supplement class time with these short videos and helpful handouts.

Practices and Concepts

In addition to these content standards, 6th graders need to develop certain scientific and engineering skills. These skills are learned and practiced across all grades in the Illinois science curriculum. Your 6th graders should learn to ask questions, complete investigations, use models and mathematics, understand data, come up with solutions, apply information and use evidence to argue a scientific opinion or theory.

Kids study the connection between scientific knowledge and evidence, as well as how science helps explain natural phenomena. The role of humanity in science should be explored, as well as the effect of science on the world.

Finally, the NGSS include crosscutting concepts that apply throughout different grades and subject areas, allowing students to develop their scientific comprehension. Your 6th graders could work on understanding:

  • Observed patterns
  • Causal relationships
  • Systems through system models
  • Energy and matter in systems
  • Evolution and stability
  • Measures of size
  • Properties and functions of living things

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