Minnesota Science Standards

Instructor: Shelby Golden
This article covers the science standards used in Minnesota. You can find information about what students will study at different grade levels. You'll also find resources that can help students study concepts covered in the standards.

Science Standards in Minnesota

Minnesota breaks its science standards down into four major strands:

  • Nature of Science and Engineering
  • Physical Science
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Life Science

Most grades include instruction in all of these strands, though some high school classes focus solely on individual subjects. Below, you will find a more in-depth explanation of the standards at each grade level. Click on the links in each section to discover valuable resources that can be used to enhance learning the content of the standards.

Standards for Elementary School

Elementary schoolers in Minnesota will focus on developing a foundational understanding of the sciences. Each grade level will build on the information covered the previous year.


In kindergarten, students will learn about the processes involved in scientific inquiry. They will study natural and manmade objects. Kids will also learn how to describe the weather. The characteristics of living creatures will be discussed, along with the components of natural systems.

1st Grade

1st graders will examine how scientists can work on their own or in different groups. Examples of different types of people who have completed scientific endeavors will be discussed. Time will be spent studying systems that are designed or naturally occurring. Characteristics of earth materials will be studied. Students will focus on the diversity of living things, as well as the interactions that occur in natural systems. Time will be spent on the life cycles of living creatures.

2nd Grade

Approaches to scientific inquiry will be covered in this grade, as well as the process of engineering design. The properties of different objects and materials will be studied. Kids will learn how objects move. The life science subjects that appeared in 1st grade, such as life cycles, natural systems and living things will be refined at this grade level.

3rd Grade

Students in 3rd grade will study scientific communication and the importance of asking questions. Kids will learn about scientific tools and the uses of mathematics. Sound and light energy will be discussed. The sun, moon and other objects in the solar system will be studied. Teachers will cover reproductive characteristics of living creatures, as well as differences between parents and offspring.

4th Grade

Standards for this grade level cover the role of engineering and engineering design in improving human life. Students will learn about the properties of solids, gases and liquids. Heat and electromagnetic energy will be a focus for learning. Kids will study energy transformation and transfer. Class time will be spent on the water cycle and learning about microorganisms.

5th Grade

In this grade, kids will learn to define science and scientific inquiry. Time will be spent learning more about scientific tools. Motion and speed will be covered, as well as changes to the Earth's surface. Students will examine how humans interact with Earth systems, including changes that humans have made to the environment.

Standards for Middle School

Middle schoolers in Minnesota will focus on studying earth science, life science and physical science.

6th Grade

Students will explore the responsibilities of engineers in this grade. They will study how systems interact with one another, as well as technology that deals with these interactions. Students will learn about pure substances. They will also focus on physical changes to different substances. Movement, waves, energy and forces will be discussed.

7th Grade

The characteristics and processes of scientific discovery will be studied. Students will learn about current technologies. Teachers will provide instruction about matter, atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, organs and organ systems. The functions of cells will receive special attention. The movement of energy and matter in an ecosystem will be considered. The processes of heredity and reproduction will also be examined. Students will learn about the effects of humanity on ecosystems and other organisms.

8th Grade

In 8th grade, students will study the components of scientific study. Possible chemical and physical changes will be considered. Kids will have a chance to learn more about rocks, rock formation, landforms and tectonic plate movement. The importance of the sun will be covered, in addition to the placement of Earth in the solar system. Students will study atmospheric movement and the water cycle.

Standards for High School

Minnesota includes general standards for earth science, physical science and life science instruction in high school, as well as standards for individual high school classes.

9th - 12th Grade

Throughout these grades, students will be sharpening their grasp of scientific principles, scientific inquiry and engineering. They will determine how these concepts interact with society as a whole.

Students will learn about the structure of atoms and chemical reactions. They will examine the relationship between mass and motion. The transfer and uses of energy will be discussed.

Students will also work on understanding earthquakes, volcanoes and other factors related to plate tectonics. Instruction will be provided about geologic time and the formation of the solar system, including the big bang theory. Kids will study the global climate.

The processes involved with homeostasis in organisms will be studied, along with the functions of cells and cell structures. Genetic information and inheritable characteristics will be covered, along with natural selection. How humans interact with the ecosystem will be considered.


Students studying chemistry will learn about models and the periodic table. They will focus on the importance of the chemical and physical properties associated with matter. Chemical bonds and reactions will be discussed, in addition to the states of matter.


In physics, students will learn about inertia, forces and motion. Sound and heat energy will also be covered, as well as electric and magnetic fields and how they create electromagnetic waves.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.