NGSS Hub - Middle School Physical Sciences

Students in middle school continue to develop understanding of four core ideas in the physical sciences. The middle school performance expectations in the physical sciences build on the K – 5 ideas and capabilities to allow learners to explain phenomena central to the physical sciences but also to the life sciences and Earth and space sciences. The performance expectations in the physical sciences blend the core ideas with scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to support students in developing useable knowledge to explain real-world phenomena in the physical, biological, and Earth and space sciences. In the physical sciences, performance expectations at the middle school level focus on students developing understanding of several scientific practices. These include developing and using models, planning and conducting investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, and constructing explanations and using these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas. Students are also expected to demonstrate understanding of several of engineering practices, including design and evaluation.

Structure and Properties of Matter

The performance expectations in the topic MS. Structure and Properties of Matter help students formulate an answer to the questions: “How can particles combine to produce a substance with different properties? How does thermal energy affect particles?” This is accomplished by building understanding of what occurs at the atomic and molecular scales. By the end of middle school, students will be able to apply an understanding that pure substances have characteristic properties and are made from a single type of atom or molecule. They will be able to provide molecular-level accounts to explain states of matters and changes between states. The crosscutting concepts of cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; structure and function; interdependence of science, engineering, and technology; and influence of science, engineering and technology on society and the natural world are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In these performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in developing and using models and in obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. Students use these science and engineering practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

Chemical Reactions

The performance expectations in the topic MS. Chemical Reactions help students to formulate an answer to the questions: “What happens when new materials are formed? What stays the same and what changes?” This is accomplished by building understanding of what occurs at the atomic and molecular scales during chemical reactions. By the end of middle school, students will be able to provide molecular-level accounts to explain that chemical reactions involve regrouping of atoms to form new substances, and that atoms rearrange during chemical reactions. Students are also able to apply an understanding of design and process of optimization in engineering to chemical reaction systems. The crosscutting concepts of patterns and energy and matter are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In these performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in developing and using models, analyzing and interpreting data, and designing solutions. Students use these science and engineering practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

Force and Interactions

The performance expectations in the topic MS. Forces and Interactions focus on helping students understand ideas related to why some objects will keep moving, why objects fall to the ground and why some materials are attracted to each other while others are not. Students answer the question, “How can one describe physical interactions between objects and within systems of objects?” At the middle school level, the PS2 disciplinary core idea from the NRC Framework is broken down into two sub-ideas: Forces and Motion and Types of interactions. By the end of middle school, students will be able to apply Newton’s Third Law of Motion to relate forces to explain the motion of objects. Students also apply ideas about gravitational, electrical, and magnetic forces to explain a variety of phenomena, including beginning ideas about why some materials attract each other while other repel. In particular, students will develop understanding that gravitational interactions are always attractive but that electrical and magnetic forces can be both attractive and negative. Students also develop ideas that objects can exert forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact, through fields. Students are also able to apply an engineering practice and concept to solve a problem caused when objects collide. The crosscutting concepts of cause and effect; system and system models; stability and change; and the influence of science, engineering, and technology on society and the natural world serve as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In these performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in asking questions, planning and carrying out investigations, designing solutions, and engaging in argument and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

Energy

The performance expectations in the topic MS. Energy help students formulate an answer to the question, “How can energy be transferred from one object or system to another?” At the middle school level, the PS3 disciplinary core idea from the NRC Framework is broken down into four sub-core ideas: Definitions of Energy, Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer, the Relationship between Energy and Forces, and Energy in Chemical Process and Everyday Life. Students develop their understanding of important qualitative ideas about energy, including that the interactions of objects can be explained and predicted using the concept of transfer of energy from one object or system of objects to another and that that the total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system. Students understand that moving objects have kinetic energy and that objects may also contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions. Students will also come to know the difference between energy and temperature and begin to develop an understanding of the relationship between force and energy. Students are also able to apply an understanding of design to the process of energy transfer. The crosscutting concepts of scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; and energy are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. These performance expectations expect students to demonstrate proficiency in developing and using models, planning investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, designing solutions, and engaging in argument from evidence and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas in PS3.

Waves and Electromagentic Radiation

The performance expectations in the topic MS. Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation help students formulate an answer to the question, “What are the characteristic properties of waves and how can they be used?” At the middle school level, the PS4 disciplinary core idea from the NRC Framework is broken down into Wave Properties, Electromagnetic Radiation, and Information Technologies and Instrumentation. Students are able to describe and predict characteristic properties and behaviors of waves when waves interact with matter. Students can apply an understanding of waves as a means to send digital information. The crosscutting concepts of patterns and structure and function are used as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. These performance expectations focus on students demonstrating proficiency in developing and using models, using mathematical thinking, and obtaining, evaluating and communicating information and using these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.


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