Illinois Science Standards

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Read this article to learn about the science standards used in Illinois. You can find out what students will study from kindergarten to graduation. You'll also get information about study resources that students can use throughout their education.

Science Standards in Illinois

The state of Illinois used Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to guide the scientific educational of students. These standards focus on helping students learn about earth and space science, life science and physical science. Students also learn about engineering. These standards also include scientific skills that students will develop throughout their time in school, and concepts that connect different grades and aspects of science to one another.

Elementary School Science Standards in Illinois

The NGSS for elementary school are broken down by grade level. Students in these grades can check out this science for kids course to get extra study help.


Students will learn about pushes, pulls and motion. They'll study the importance of food and water, and the relationships between animal and plants and their environments. Kindergarteners will also focus on sunlight and what causes weather.

1st Grade

1st graders will have the chance to learn about wave properties and light. They'll study external parts of living organisms, the connection between parents and offspring and differences between the same kinds of organisms. The motion of celestial objects and seasonal changes will be considered.

2nd Grade

Class time will be spent covering different kinds of matter and the effects of heat and cold. Students will focus on the needs of plants. They'll also consider events on Earth, the power of wind and water, and the various kinds of water found on Earth.

3rd Grade

Patterns of motion and effects of force will be considered. Third graders will also work on applying knowledge of magnets to design problems. Students will explore how organisms act in a group, fossil evidence, ways that organisms adapt and what happens when habitats change. They'll also learn about inheritance and natural selection, as well as seasons and climates.

4th Grade

During 4th grade students will study energy, forces and natural resources. They'll learn about the properties of waves, as well as the functions of structures found in living organisms. Rock formations, rainfall and risks associated with natural processes will be considered.

5th Grade

5th graders will learn more about matter and how to mix different substances. They'll learn about energy and food, in addition to how matter cycles in an environment. They'll focus on major Earth systems and how they are affected by humans. Finally, kids will consider gravity, stars and the orbit of Earth.

Elementary Engineering Design

In K-5 grades, students will begin to use engineering designs to better understand problems and solutions. They will draw simple sketches, compare and contrast objects, carry out their own tests, and reflect on design issues. In addition, elementary school students will assess varying solutions to a single problem.

Middle School Science Standards in Illinois

The NGSS do not break down middle school standards into separate grade levels. Students in these grades can check out these life science, physical science and earth science courses to go over what they're learning.

Middle School Life Science

Middle schoolers will learn about the structures and functions of cells, as well as sense receptors found in living things. They'll study how living organisms use energy. Additionally, students will consider food webs and the chemical reactions involved with photosynthesis and respiration. Students will discuss biodiversity, reproduction, the traits of living creatures and natural selection. Finally, kids will learn about fossils and adaptation.

Middle School Physical Science

Studying physical science allows middle schoolers to learn about atoms, chemical reactions and different kinds of energy. They'll consider the properties of matter, electricity, magnetism, gravity and other forces. Types of energy, energy transfer and the relationship between energy and forces will be discussed. Students will also study waves and electromagnetic radiation.

Middle School Earth and Space Science

The motion of celestial objects will be studied, along with the formation of the solar system. Students will learn about the history of the planet, Earth's systems, plate tectonics and the importance of water on Earth. They'll find out more about natural resources, weather, climate and climate change. Different natural hazards and the effects of humans on the natural world will be covered.

Middle School Engineering Design

In grades 6-8, engineering skills in using scientific principles to better understand problems will be practiced. Students will compare and contrast various designs to determine the best solution to a problem. They will also evaluate data and develop their own models of design.

High School Science Standards in Illinois

High school science standards are also grouped together in Illinois. These biology, physical science and earth science courses can help students as they learn about the following concepts.

High School Life Science

The functions of cells and structures of multicellular organisms will be covered in these grades. Students will learn about photosynthesis, cellular respiration and solar energy. They'll focus on the carrying capacity of ecosystems, anthropogenic changes, group behavior and biodiversity. DNA, physical traits and reproduction will be considered, along with evolution, natural selection and adaptation.

High School Physical Science

Students in high school will study protons, neutrons, electrons, the periodic table and nuclear processes. They'll learn about molecules and chemical properties of elements. They'll also focus on Newton's laws, magnetic fields and electrical energy. Manifestations of energy, the conservation of energy and energy storage will be discussed. Finally, students will learn about wave properties and electromagnetic radiation.

High School Earth and Space Science

Stars, the Big Bang Theory and Kepler's laws will be discussed in high school. Students will learn about the history of Earth, connections between Earth systems and plate movements. They'll also consider radioactive decay, the importance of water, global climate, atmospheric changes and biogeology. Students will focus on the Earth's orbit, approaching climate changes and natural resources and hazards.

High School Engineering Designs

High school students will build skills in using engineering concepts to break down problems and propose solutions. They will work on solving real-world problems by evaluating criteria and using computer simulations to understand the impact of suggested solutions.

K-12 Scientific Practice Standards

NGSS emphasize combining content standards with scientific inquiry and engineering practices. Across all grades in Illinois, students will practice asking questions, using math, conducting experiments, finding and analyzing data, using models to better understand systems, creating solutions, using evidence, and communicating information. These skills will help students understand how scientists work and relate inquiry to design.

Students will also build skills in crosscutting concepts that apply both to science and engineering. These skills include:

  • Observing patterns
  • Understanding causal relationships
  • Considering size, time and proportion
  • Using models to better define systems
  • Grasping limitations involving energy and matter
  • Comprehending the functions of objects and living things
  • Investigating change and stability in systems

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