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  • Middle School

    Matter and Its Interactions

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. MS-PS1-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-PS1-1)


  • 6.RP.A.3 - Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations. (MS-PS1-1)
  • 8.EE.A.3 - Use numbers expressed in the form of a single digit times an integer power of 10 to estimate very large or very small quantities, and to express how many times as much one is than the other. (MS-PS1-1)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-PS1-1)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (MS-PS1-1)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • In this lesson, students develop a model for the organization of elements in the periodic table based upon their properties. By organizing various elements with their varying properties, such as state, reactivity and valence, students will understand ...

  • Learners with little or no prior knowledge of atomic or molecular structure can follow simple directions to digitally “build” a wide variety of molecules out of three atoms: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. This educational game received a 2 ...

  • This rich digital resource explores the versatile RNA molecule through a highly engaging computer game and short explanatory videos.  The game is designed on three levels of increasing complexity, which are unlocked as students correctly perform ...

  • Students will have fun constructing simple molecules with this simulation, while also gaining insight into molecular structure and chemical nomenclature. The activity gives learners tasks to build molecules from “kits” of elements. The ta ...

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  • Future Goals - Hockey Scholar™ brings science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts to life using the exciting, fast-paced game of hockey. Through immersive real-life simulations, students build their understanding of fundamental STE...

  • In this series of games, your students will learn about the building blocks of matter. The Atoms and Elements learning objective — based on NGSS and state standards — delivers improved student engagement and academic performance in your classroom, as...

  • In this series of games, your students will learn the different types of solids and their properties. The Solids learning objective — based on NGSS and state standards — delivers improved student engagement and academic performance in your classroom,...

  • Includes: an example of a 6th grade unit incorporating Depth of Knowledge (DOK), New Taxonomy (Marzano and Kendall, 2007), and bundled NGSS Performance Expectations for Matter and Its Interactions; example student-reflection, guide of how to populat...

  • This interactive animation focuses on the carbon cycle and includes embedded videos and captioned images to provide greater clarification and detail of the cycle than would be available by a single static visual alone.

  • This short activity provides a way to improve understanding of a frequently-published diagram of global carbon pools and fluxes. Students create a scaled 3-D visual of carbon reservoirs and the movement of carbon between reservoirs.

  • In this activity, students use a physical model to learn the basics of photosynthesis and respiration within the carbon cycle.

  • In this short, hands-on activity, students build simple molecular models of 4 atmospheric gases (O2, N2, C02, and methane), compare their resonant frequencies, and make the connection between resonant frequency and the gas's ability to absorb infrare...

  • Middle & High School Standards related to Develop & Use a Model (SEP2)AND Structure & Properties of Matter (PS1-1.A)

  • From TeachEngineering - Students use gumdrops and toothpicks to make lithium atom models. Using these models, they investigate the makeup of atoms, including their relative size. Students are then asked to form molecules out of atoms, much in the sam...

  • Animated video for grades 4 to 8 about the size of atoms in our bodies.

  • This animated video compares the number of atoms in your body to the same number of sand grains. That amount of sand would cover the whole planet in a beach 20 km deep.

  • This animated video describes how atoms are the building blocks for all physical things.

  • Mission KT is based on the Stardust story "we are made of Stardust that was once in the body of Albert Einstein and the Last T-Rex. This learning game about atoms is for 4 internet connected players on Windows or Mac computers

  • An animated video that compares the electrons orbiting the nucleus in an atom to planets orbiting the sun in the Solar system..

  • The Stardust Mystery is an amazing transmedia story supported by the National Science Foundation that has the theme "we are made of Stardust that was once in the body of Albert Einstein and the Last T-Rex." The Story is told in Video Games, a book, ...

  • The Stardust Mystery illustrated book is a companion to The Stardust Mystery video game. It follows the adventures of cousins Lizzy, Milo, VC and Neddy as they unravel the Stardust Mystery through the history of the Earth and the Universe. Traveling ...

  • I found this website really helpful for my virtual students who need more practice on certain basic concept. This website gives them opportunity to redo activity until they get mastery in it.

Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.