Next Generation Science Standards for Middle School

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
The Next Generation Science Standards for middle school refine and improve the skills and knowledge acquired during elementary school. Read on to learn about the expectations and objectives for middle school students.

Middle School Next Generation Science Standards

According to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), students entering middle school should already possess fundamental knowledge of the core disciplines defined by NGSS: life sciences, physical sciences, earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science. The NGSS performance expectations for middle school build upon that knowledge. Also, the scope of engineering and science practices and crosscutting concepts applicable to each standard grows in complexity during the middle school years.

NGSS Required Learning for Middle School

NGSS performance expectations for middle school require students to improve their scientific investigation, model development, data analysis, mathematical thinking and explanatory skills within the context of learning core discipline concepts. See the tables below for an overview of the knowledge and skills that students are expected to possess in each discipline by the time they finish middle school.

Physical Sciences

Topic Knowledge Acquired in Middle School
Structure and Properties of Matter The combination of particles and the production of new substances, the impact of thermal energy on particles
Chemical Reactions The process of new material formation
Forces and Interactions The interaction of individual objects within systems
Energy The transference of energy
Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation Properties and usage of waves

Life Sciences

Topic Knowledge Acquired in Middle School
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes The role of cells in the performance of living things
Interactions, Energy and Dynamic Relationships in Ecosystems The operations of an ecosystem and how they impact the organisms within it
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits How traits are carried on through generations
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity The role of the environment in evolution

Earth and Space Sciences

Topic Knowledge Acquired in Middle School
Space Systems How Earth relates to the universe, the composition of the solar system, the Earth's impact on seasonal changes and eclipses
History of Earth Changes on Earth throughout history, the impact of the Earth's tectonic plates
Earth's Systems The evolution of the Earth's crust, the impact of water on weather and the Earth's composition
Weather and Climate The causes for weather and climate changes
Human Impacts The impact of humans on the Earth

Engineering Design

Topic Skills Acquired in Middle School
Defining Problems Precision in identifying needs and goals, foreseeing the negative and positive effects of designs
Developing Solutions Critiquing and testing the effectiveness of design ideas
Improving Design Analyzing the results of tests, redesigning solution concepts to perfect them

Resources to Master NGSS Requirements for Middle School

Need to brush up on the skills and knowledge required by NGSS at the middle school level?'s online middle school science courses offer dozens of chapters that feature video lessons and short quizzes covering all these concepts. They are a great resource both for teachers seeking supplemental NGSS lessons and for middle school students in need of help in mastering certain topics. See, for example:

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.