Kansas State Science Standards

Instructor: Bill Sands
If you're looking to learn more about science education in Kansas, this article can help familiarize you with the state's standards. Learn about expectations for students of all ages, and explore educational resources that students can use to hone their science skills.

Science Standards in Kansas

The Kansas State Department of Education has elected to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS. Developed by committee, the NGSS are accompanied by the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a comprehensive guide that lays out current techniques in science education and the most effective teaching strategies. Using this guide, science instructors in Kansas focus on helping students meet a series of learning objectives centered around Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), which are concepts and topics in science that have been identified as especially important.

Elementary School Standards

Beginning in kindergarten and leading up to fifth grade, students will be introduced to the most basic concepts, with the goal of providing a solid foundation that students can use to understand more complex topics as they progress through middle and high school. K-5 instruction focuses on four DCIs: life sciences; space and earth sciences; physical sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science. Younger students begin by building pattern recognition skills and observing the world around them. They might perform such tasks as comparing pushes and pulls on an object or examining the ways plant and animal parents are similar to their offspring. Students in later grades should be proficient in gathering and implementing data concerning the natural world. Possible course objectives at this level include collecting and using data to decipher weather patterns for each season.

Students can receive extra study help in these areas through this online Science for Kids course, which includes short, engaging lessons accompanied by quizzes useful for checking students' understanding of each course topic.

Middle School Standards

Having mastered basic concepts in elementary school, students in middle school will continue their exploration of the same four DCIs in greater detail. Study of the life, earth, physical, and engineering sciences at this level takes on a multi-disciplinary approach, with students taking a closer look at concepts that can be applied across all disciplines. Students also continue learning how to perform investigations, build models, and apply computational thinking in order to approach more theoretical topics and complete advanced projects. They might use Newton's laws of motion to observe collisions between two objects, analyze the impact of air masses on the weather, or compare and contrast the genetic traits of organisms that reproduce asexually and sexually.

Middle school students can develop their science knowledge and hone their research skills through these courses, which focus on Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science.

High School Standards

Toward the end of their journey through the public school system, students should be prepared to use the skills and knowledge acquired in earlier years to analyze complex ideas. Prior knowledge of scientific principles is crucial at this stage, as students will be required to apply Newton's laws to the study of macroscopic objects and gravitational force, use their knowledge of Earth systems to investigate the effects of geological changes on climate, and explain the role of DNA in the variation of genetic traits, among other tasks. Students also use their scientific research and engineering skills to create, test, and model a solution designed to solve a real-world problem.

These advanced Earth Science, Biology and Physical Science and Chemistry courses provide high-level instruction in topics that high school students can expect to encounter.

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