The Performance Expectations in Growth, Development, and Reproduction of Organisms help students formulate an answer to the question, “How do organisms grow, develop, and reproduce?” Students understand how the environment and genetic factors determine the growth of an individual organism. They also demonstrate understanding of the genetic implications for sexual and asexual reproduction. Students can develop evidence to support their understanding of the structures and behaviors that increase the likelihood of successful reproduction by organisms. They have a beginning understanding of the ways humans can select for specific traits, the role of technology, genetic modification, and the nature of ethical responsibilities related to selective breeding. At the end of middle school, students can explain how selected structures, functions, and behaviors of organisms change in predictable ways as they progress from birth to old age. Students can use the practices of analyzing and interpreting data, using models, conducting investigations and communicating information.
The Performance Expectations in Structure, Function, and Information Processing help students formulate an answer to the question, “How do the structures of organisms contribute to life’s functions?” Middle school students can plan and carry out investigations to develop evidence that living organisms are made of cells and to determine the relationship of organisms to the environment. Students can use understanding of cell theory to develop physical and conceptual models of cells. They can construct explanations for the interactions of systems in cells and organisms and how organisms gather and use information from the environment. By the end of their studies, students understand that all organisms are made of cells, that special structures are responsible for particular functions in organisms, and that for many organisms the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems that form a hierarchy from cells to the body.
The performance expectations in Space Systems help students formulate answers to the questions: “What is Earth’s place in the Universe?” and “What makes up our solar system and how can the motion of Earth explain seasons and eclipses?” Middle school students can examine the Earth’s place in relation to the solar system, Milky Way galaxy, and universe. There is a strong emphasis on a systems approach, using models of the solar system to explain astronomical and other observations of the cyclic patterns of eclipses, tides, and seasons. There is also a strong connection to engineering through the instruments and technologies that have allowed us to explore the objects in our solar system and obtain the data that support the theories that explain the formation and evolution of the universe.
The performance expectations in Weather and Climate help students formulate an answer to the question: “What factors interact and influence weather and climate?” Students can construct and use models to develop understanding of the factors that control weather and climate. A systems approach is also important here, examining the feedbacks between systems as energy from the sun is transferred between systems and circulates though the ocean and atmosphere.
- NGSS 2017