Nevada State Science Standards

Instructor: A Ray Tatum

A. Ray has taught junior high, high school and college English and has a master's degree in curriculum.

The State of Nevada adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for science education in 2014. This article discusses those updates and presents resources that can help students meet these standards.

Nevada Academic Content Standards for Science (NVACSS) Framework

Based on the NGSS Science Standards A-Framework, the Nevada Academic Content Standards for Science are intended to facilitate college and career readiness in students. The standards outline key concepts and skills for science learning through grades K-12. They are divided into three broad areas:

Disciplinary Core Ideas: Earth and space science, engineering design, life science, and physical science

Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns; scale, proportion, and quantity; cause and effect; systems and system models; stability and change; structure and function; and energy and matter, which includes flows, cycles, and conservation

Science and Engineering Practices: Developing of scientific questions and explanations, defining engineering problems and developing solutions, using models and mathematical and computational thought, analyzing data, engaging in scientific inquiry and investigation, developing arguments from evidence, and gathering evaluating, and presenting information

Elementary Standards

Science instruction from kindergarten to fifth grade introduces students to a foundational understanding of earth, space, physical and life science concepts. Students also begin to develop skills in the fields of engineering and technology as well as applied science. Early elementary students look for scientific patterns and come up with questions and answers about their environment and the surrounding world. By the end of elementary schools, students should be able to show that they can find information, interpret it correctly, and demonstrate describe what they've learned. Science topics for elementary grades include:

  • Motion and stability
  • Energy
  • Molecules and organisms
  • Earth's systems
  • Human activity
  • Waves
  • Heredity and evolution
  • The universe
  • Matter
  • Ecosystems
  • Engineering design

Elementary students can use the following resources to supplement the science concepts they are learning in class:

Middle School

Sixth through eighth graders build upon the scientific skills and concepts taught in elementary school to investigate more complex concepts and systems. Instruction is divided across life science, physical science, and earth and space science. Engineering design concepts are incorporated into these areas of study as the practice of defining problems, choosing solutions, and improving the design of these solutions.

With physical science instruction, students are introduced to the principles of chemistry to explore molecular structure and interactions, looking at how these elements explain the world around us. Students examine laws pertaining to motion and force as well as the transfer of energy.

For life science, students study cell theory and its importance to all living things. They should be able to understand energy flow within ecosystems as well as interactions between different organisms. Instruction also covers the hereditary development of species and humans over time and adaptation of organisms to their environment.

Earth and space science in middle school looks at Earth's position and movement within the solar system. Day and night, seasons, and other cyclic patterns should be covered. Students are expected to understand the importance of the moon to ocean waves. Instruction also focuses on the Earth's structure, including plate tectonics. Human activity on Earth is also a focus, including climate change and resource consumption.

The following resources can help middle school students attain proficiency in the areas outlined by the standards:

High School

High school standards are a continuation and expansion of the four core disciplines.

Physical science builds upon middle school studies by providing more experience working with matter and its interactions, motion and Newton's laws, waves as they relate to technology, and energy its conversion.

Life science topics focus on cell function and reproduction, ecosystems and what affects them, heredity and traits, and biological evolution.

Earth and space sciences study the universe and Earth's place within it; changes on Earth's surface, and the effects humans have had on the planet.

Engineering and technology concepts are used throughout high school to collect information and data, model understanding of a problem and come up with possible solutions. At this level, students focus on broader social global issues relating to the environment and technology development. science resources for high school students include: