WV Next Generation Standards for Science

Instructor: Jessica Keys
Effective for the 2016/2017 school year, West Virginia has adopted Next Generation Standards (WV NxGen) for use in its K-12 public school classrooms. These standards apply to all academic subjects, including science. Read on for a content overview of these new science standards.

The Next Generation in Science Education

So far (as of December, 2016), 18 states and the District of Columbia have decided to integrate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into their grade school curriculums. In response to this changing educational landscape, West Virginia has updated its own scientific curriculum to correlate with both the NGSS and the Common Core literacy standards for history/social studies, science and technical subjects.

NGSS and WV NxGen

On the national level, NGSS stresses science education on a more holistic level, with a hands-on approach to learning. Students will learn the material in an open-ended environment, one that fosters curiosity through student-led investigation. Theoretical concepts are presented in real-world contexts, and students are given more opportunities to develop their own questions, arguments and experiments.

WV NxGen Science is a distinct entity, albeit one that was developed with NGSS as a guide. The standards outlined in WV NxGen are intended to provide students with a solid and functional foundation in several different science disciplines, as well as scientific literacy and technology.

Science Standards

General Science

Designed for K-8 students, the general science standard covers basic content in the physical and life sciences, plus Earth and space science and engineering. It is intended to serve as an introduction to science on its most conceptual levels, allowing young students to make meaningful connections between several different scientific disciplines.

Earth and Space Science

At its heart, this K-12 content standard covers three core ideas:

  • Earth's Place in the Universe
  • Earth's Systems
  • Earth and Human Activity

In the earlier grades, students will observe weather and climate phenomena, while using hands-on experience to form their own questions and predictions. These observations and topics increase in scale as students progress through each grade level, moving towards topics in Earth systems, outer space, the stars and the solar system. The human impact on such systems is also investigated, as students gain an understanding of how Earth systems connect and interact with one another.

Help your students parse the intricacies of our planet with's Elementary, Middle School and High School Earth Science courses, featuring fast and fun video lessons and quizzes.

Life Science

The four core ideas covered in this K-12 standard are:

  • From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
  • Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics
  • Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits Across Generations
  • Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

In the earliest levels, young students will learn about animals, plants and their relationships to the ecosystems they inhabit. These topics gradually become more complex, eventually covering the life processes of single and multi-celled organisms, biodiversity, life cycles and food chains, natural selection and reproduction.

Learners of all ages can give their studies a boost with our own easy to follow courses in Middle School Life Science and High School Biology. There's even a Plants and Animals course for kids.

Physical Science

This standard is also for K-12 students and covers the following broad concepts through the study of chemistry and physics topics:

  • Matter and Its Interactions
  • Motion and Stability, Forces and Interactions
  • Energy
  • Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer

In kindergarten, students begin by studying pushes and pulls as interactive forces. This content standard strives to help students understand the nature of the physical world by having them answer such questions as What is this made of? or Why does this happen? As students progress through the grades, they begin to develop an understanding of such topics as energy transference and energy in living organisms through the study of the chemistry and physics concepts outlined below.

Our self-paced lessons in Middle School Physical Science and High School Physical Science can help students gain a better understanding of these concepts before diving into deeper waters.


Branching off the above, this content standard delves deeper into two core ideas:

  • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • Chemical Reactions

The chemistry standard provides students with an in-depth study of chemical compositions, processes, theories and laws, while also tying these concepts into physical, life and Earth sciences. Also covered are the periodic table, stoichiometry, molarity and gas laws, as well as the effects of chemical concentration and temperature on different substances.

Check out these online courses designed to bring chemistry to life for your elementary, middle and high school students.


Also a branch of physical science, this standard focuses on:

  • Forces and Interactions
  • Energy
  • Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation

This standard takes a closer look at more advanced topics in physics, such as fluid dynamics, projectile motion, collisions, vectors, optics and electrical currents. Both the physics and chemistry standards place special emphasis on the role of these topics in other scientific disciplines, as well as engineering. Within either standard, students will conduct independent investigations, develop models and interpret data, while developing skills in computation and analysis.

To help supplement the instruction your students receive in class, consider using the fun video lessons found in these online Physics for Kids and High School Physics courses.

Environmental Content

The six core ideas covered in this content standard are:

  • Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Energy Conservation
  • Ecosystems
  • Oceans and Climate
  • Water Management
  • Land Use

The objectives of this standard involve imparting a multi-faceted understanding of our ecosystem as a whole, including our impact on the environment and different ways of approaching current issues. The successful integration of good scientific practices, such as data analysis, evidence-based argument construction and communication, is essential to this content standard.

Forensic Science

In this content standard, students will apply previously learned concepts in other scientific and technical disciplines to civil and criminal law. While learning practical skills as they apply to modern criminal investigation (such as investigation protocol, data collection and communication), the relevance of scientific principles and practices is constantly reinforced.

Human Anatomy and Physiology

The functions and structure of the human body are the focus of this content standard, which interweaves concepts from both the life science and physical science standards. Once again, an emphasis is placed on good scientific practices and an interdisciplinary approach to studying the human body, its systems and processes.

You can find illustrated video lessons and quizzes useful for helping your students review a specific body system or strengthening their understanding of key concepts in this study guide on Anatomy and Physiology.

Engineering, Technology and Applications of Science

Throughout the entire curriculum, ETS standards are also implemented progressively at different levels from kindergarten through high school. The purpose of the ETS standards is to give students an opportunity to understand the interplay between engineering, technology and science, and to better understand processes involved in developing new technologies to solve problems.

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