Maryland State Standards for Science

Instructor: Eric Campos

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

Maryland uses the Next Generation Science Standards to provide a learning structure that enables students to grasp the scientific principles and skills needed for higher education or careers. Learn more about the framework and guiding principles of Maryland's science standards.

Maryland Science Standards Overview

Maryland adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013. These K-12 standards focus on developing skills that are applicable to all fields of science as well as other disciplines. They include practical skills, such as formulating ideas, seeking evidence to prove theories, and revising theories to adjust for the results of research or experimentation. Beyond learning facts about biology, chemistry, and other subjects, the standards focus on developing key critical thinking and inquiry skills. The overall framework of the standards is organized into three dimensions: practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas.


Practices refer to the methods and principles scientists apply to scientific inquiry. This dimension focuses on how scientific practices are applied in different ways to various types of scientific inquiry. NGSS provides the example of a scientist and an engineer. Both are essentially individuals that use an understanding of science to solve problems. The approach for each, while similar, is still distinct. The scientist uses the scientific method to form questions that can be answered through experimentation, observation, or other investigation. An engineer, however, would seek to solve an issue through designing a way to rectify it.

The standards for practices seek to implement teaching methods that help students learn ways to differentiate between which methods are necessary for each situation or field of study. These standards include developing and using models, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, and more. For example, in physical sciences for grades 6-8, students are expected to develop models that describe, test, and predict natural phenomena, such as the structure of molecules.

Crosscutting Concepts

The NGSS crosscutting concepts focus on interrelated concepts are incorporated into the various disciplines and areas of study. These include:

  • Cause and effect
  • Scale, proportion, and quantity
  • Energy and matter
  • Structure and function
  • Patterns, similarity, and diversity
  • Systems and system models
  • Stability and change

These crosscutting concepts inform instruction for specific content standards. For example, in life science courses, 5th graders are expected to know that matter is transported into, within, and out of systems as a means of incorporating the 'energy and matter' cross-cutting concept.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary core ideas focus curricula, assessments, and instruction on the most important science information. There are certain criteria associated with disciplinary core ideas, and while not all must be met, each standard ideally fulfills at least a few criteria. For example, core ideas might be able to be incorporated at varying levels of difficulty, connect to personal, social, or global concerns, or be applicable across disciplines.

Below is a breakdown of the four content domains and the disciplinary core ideas found within each one:

Content DomainPhysical SciencesLife ScienceEarth and Space ScienceEngineering and Technology
Core IdeasMatter and its interactions, motion, stability, forces, interactions, energy, waves and their applicationsMolecules, organisms, ecosystems, heredity, biological evolutionEarth's place in the universe, Earth's systems, human activity and EarthEngineering design, links between technology, engineering, science, and society Courses offers various science courses for grades K-12 that can help students meet the NGSS standards. These courses offer engaging video lessons, practice quizzes and tests, and assistance from our expert instructors. All of these materials are fully mobile, and can be accessed from any laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Check out:

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