Washington State Science Standards

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Make sure you understand the science standards used in Washington State by checking out this article. Find out what students will study at different grade levels and learn about educational resources that can be used both in class and at home to help students succeed.

Science Standards in Washington State

The state of Washington adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, and they will be used in all science classrooms throughout the state by the 2016-2017 school year. These standards include core science ideas in life and physical sciences as well as earth and space science. In each grade, students will also spend some time working with engineering design standards that they can use to discover resolutions to real life problems through the use of technology, science and engineering.

They also include science and engineering practices that help students learn scientific skills. Finally, the NGSS include crosscutting concepts that span every aspect of science from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Elementary School Science Standards in Washington State

Throughout elementary school, students will discover scientific concepts that will help expand their understanding of the world. These science lessons can help elementary schoolers reinforce what they're learning in:


Kindergartners will learn about pushing, pulling and other interactions between objects. They'll consider how to solve problems. Kids will also focus on the importance of food, water and sunlight to various living beings. They'll learn how living things can change the environment. They will also study weather.

1st Grade

In 1st grade, students will study sound, light and how it moves and communication devices. Parts of organisms and how they're used will be discussed, along with parents and offspring. They'll learn about the motion of celestial objects and changes associated with seasons.

2nd Grade

Students will consider states of matter and how small things can be combined to create different objects. They'll also learn what plants need to live and different organisms that exist together. Wind, water, changes to the Earth and the significance of maps will be discussed.

3rd Grade

Forces and motion will be considered in this grade. Students will explore the effects of environmental changes, group behaviors, extinct organisms and how organisms adapt to their surroundings. They'll focus on reproduction, inherited characteristics, effects of the environment on characteristics and natural selection. Weather and natural hazards will be studied.

4th Grade

Kids will learn about energy, light and natural resources. They'll study waves and digitized information. Students will have the chance to focus on the structures of living creatures and sense receptors. Rock formations, rainfall, earthquakes, volcanoes and additional natural hazards will be considered.

5th Grade

In this grade, students will discuss the properties of matter and chemical reactions. They'll learn about energy in food, connections in ecosystems and the cycle of matter. Earth's systems, water and the impact of humanity on the Earth will be covered. Students will focus on gravity, the locations of stars and the Earth's orbit and rotation.

Middle School Science Standards in Washington State

Middle school science standards aren't divided by grade level in the NGSS. Instead, learning goals are divided between physical science, life science and earth and space science. You can assign these life, earth and physical science courses to your students to give them extra study help.

Middle School Physical Science

Middle schoolers will learn about atoms, molecules, pure substances, gases, liquids and solids. They'll explore chemical reactions, heat and a system's temperature. The physical and chemical properties of substances will be covered, along with how substances react chemically, the conservation of mass and energy associated with chemical reactions. Kids will learn about force, motion, electromagnetism and gravity. Different types of energy will be considered. Students will focus on the properties of waves.

Middle School Life Science

In these grades, students will study cells, cell structures and multicellular organisms. They'll become informed about photosynthesis and its importance, food and its connection to chemical reactions, what food webs show us, cellular respiration ad connections between organisms and their environment. Predatory behavior and biodiversity will be studied, along with reproduction, genetic inheritance, artificial selection and ways that traits can vary in reproduction. Students will explore the fossil record, natural selection and adaptation.

Middle School Earth and Space Science

Students will focus on the motion of celestial objects, the link between gravity and galaxies and the formation of the solar system. They'll work to understand geologic time, tectonic processes, weathering and erosion. The flow of energy in the Earth, the water cycle and Earth's resources will be covered, in addition to weather patterns, climate and climate change. The effects of humanity on the natural world will be considered.

High School Science Standards in Washington State

As in middle school, the NGSS don't separate high school standards according to grade level. High schoolers can improve their knowledge base with these life science, physical science and earth science courses.

High School Physical Science

Atoms, the periodic table, nuclear processes and electric charges will be studied in high school. Students will learn about stable molecules and chemical processes. They'll learn about Newton's Laws, momentum and electrical energy. Students will explore the manifestations of energy, the conservation of energy and uncontrolled systems. Additionally, students will focus on solar cells, waves, electromagnetic radiation and technology.

High School Life Science

Studying life science will help students learn about specialized cells, DNA, multicellular organisms, feedback mechanisms, photosynthesis and cellular respiration. The carrying capacity of an ecosystem, changes to ecosystems, group behavior, speciation, extinction and humanity will be covered. Students will also discuss genetic information, mitosis, chromosomes and sexual reproduction. Finally, they'll learn about evolution, natural selection and adaptation.

High School Earth and Space Science

Students will explore the life of the sun, the Big Bang Theory, nuclear fusion and Kepler's Laws. They'll find out more about the history of Earth, geologic processes, plate tectonics, plate movements and spontaneous radioactive decay. The layers of the Earth, the importance of water, Earth's global climate, atmospheric changes and climate changes will be considered. Students will focus on the Earth's orbit, weather prediction, energy production, sustainability and discoveries regarding the Earth.

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