National Science Standards for Elementary School

Instructor: Shelby Golden
In 2013, the National Science Education Standards were replaced by the Next Generation Science Standards for all grade levels. Find out what standards are used for elementary school now. You'll also find some helpful learning resources that can be used by both teachers and students.

Science Standards for Elementary School

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been adopted for use by many states throughout the country. However, you should be aware that not all states use these standards, as it is not required. Check out your state's Department of Education to find out if they are using the NGSS or another form of standards for science.

The NGSS include 3 important areas. These standards include Science and Engineering Practices that help ensure students develop good scientific skills. They also include Crosscutting Concepts that can be applied in different grades. Finally, instruction using the NGSS focus on 4 main areas of scientific learning that are formally known as the Disciplinary Core Ideas. They include specific scientific facts that students will study in each grade. These core ideas are:

  • Life science
  • Earth and space science
  • Physical science
  • Engineering

Science Standards by Grade Level

Students will study a wide variety of topics throughout elementary school. They can review what they're learning in class and get extra help studying these concepts with this online science course for kids.


In kindergarten, students will learn how motion is changed by pushes and pulls. They'll get information about the needs of living organisms and how the sun, water and wind influence the weather.

1st Grade

1st graders will learn how vibrations create sounds. Teachers will provide instruction regarding the external parts of living organisms and the relationship between parents and their offspring. Kids will also study how the stars, the moon and the sun move through the sky.

2nd Grade

Students in this grade will focus on the forms of matter. The special reproductive needs of plants will be discussed. Additionally, students will be able to get information about the states of water and where we can find water on our planet.

3rd Grade

Ways that motion can be predicted using what we know about past motion will be considered in this grade. Students will explore ways that organisms behave in groups and the connections between living things and their environment. Furthermore, they'll learn about the importance of reproduction. Kids will find out how humans try to handle natural hazards.

4th Grade

The many options for transferring energy from one location to another will be discussed in 4th grade. Students will also learn about the movement of waves. The ways that living creatures use their senses will be considered. Kids will learn why earthquakes and volcanoes occur in specific locations and focus on the role of water in shaping Earth.

5th Grade

5th graders will be taught about the conservation of matter and the matter cycle. They'll focus on the importance of plants in the food chain. Students will also learn about the different systems of the Earth and how they interact with one another. The patterns caused by the Earth's orbit and rotation will be considered.

Engineering Design Standards for all Grade Levels

Engineering standards for elementary school are divided into two grade bands; kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade. The standards for third through fifth grade build on the skills that students acquired in kindergarten through second grade.

In kindergarten through second grade, students will create models and drawings, learn observation skills and how to ask questions. They'll evaluate data and come up with solutions to problems. In third through fifth grade, students will figure out various solutions to a problem, and choose the best solution. They'll test models and create solutions.

Use these lessons on defining a problem in engineering and the engineering design cycle to create your own lessons to explain these processes to students.

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