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December, 1998

Science Curriculum Framework Work Group

Jan Blanchard - Putney Central School

Barb Borek - Vernon School

Lynda Jewet-Bell - Academy School

Lynn Leighton - Green Street School

Eric Rhomberg - BUHS

Paul Smith - Guilford Central School


with assistance from

Casey Murrow - Synergy Learning

Julie Chickering - BUHS


Table of Contents

A few notes about what is provided
Science as Inquiry
Science Process Skills Matrix
Recommended Scope and Sequence K-6
Recommended Scope and Sequence 9-12
K-2 Curriculum Framework
3-4 Curriculum Framework
5-6 Curriculum Framework
7-8 Curriculum Framework
9-12 Curriculum Framework


A Few Notes About What's Provided

How to read this Framework

This document consists of sections for each of the grade level groups; K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12. Within each section are two-page spreads which identify each of the four major science content standards, and topics that could be used to help students achieve that standard. Reading across the page, each topic has associated with it Big Ideas, Focusing Questions, and Sample Activities that help give an idea of how to move from a standard to actual work in the classroom. The diagram below points out the various components of this framework document.

Emerging Science Process Skills refers to those skills which we expect students to be developmentally prepared to practice at this level.

Embedding Other Standards gives some examples of how other standards from the State and WSESU frameworks could be utilized in the units covered in this grade-level section

Recommended Scope and Sequence: For reference, the relevant section of the Scope and Sequence presented in the front of this document is given here.

Standards: Each of the four main science standards (taken directly from the Vermont Framework and the WSESU Framework) is given here.

Topics: Each topic is a suggestion for subject matter (content) that could be taught to help students reach the particular standard. Evidence - taken directly from the Vermont Framework - relating to this topic is presented beneath each topic.

Big Ideas state the important concepts being taught by this topic.

Focusing Questions are questions asked by the teacher or by students that help focus student learning. Sample Activities present some suggestions for activities that might be useful in developing this topic with students. It is by no means a prescription nor an exhaustive list. The Ý indicates activities that include a design technology (Standards 7.16 - 7.19) component.

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Science as Inquiry

Science is a way of knowing about the world. Science encourages us to wonder, to explore and seek to explain the phenomena we experience. It promotes understanding through inquiry. Thus, the process of learning in science requires active, hands-on investigation that allows students to build their own understanding of concepts. These two elements; active inquiry and building conceptual frameworks based on personal understanding are inextricably intertwined. The bulk of the material presented in this curriculum framework speaks to the concepts that we want our students to build. We want to be clear, however, that it is the inquiry component of science that is most crucial. Occasionally, the understandings of science can change as new information is gained. The process of science as inquiry does not change.

Our thoughts in this regard are represented in the diagram on the following page. Here, students are at the center of science learning. Their questions, curiosity, and sense of wonder lead to the process of INQUIRY - EXPERIMENTATION - EXPLANATION. The conceptual basis of science is represented by the four topic areas (taken from the VT. Framework and the WSESU Learning Framework); "Space, Time, Matter", "The Human Body", "The Living World" and "Earth, the Universe and the Environment". Finally, other content that we believe should be a part of science learning- other science content and math content as well as content and skills that span across curricular areas ( the "Vital Results" from the VT. Framework) - is represented at the outer edges of the diagram.


Development of the document

In 1997, the WSESU Learning Framework was published and adopted by school boards in the Supervisory Union. This document set out educational standards for all students in WSESU and laid the groundwork for development of curriculum frameworks for each subject area. Starting in the Spring of 1998, a group of K-12 representatives from WSESU schools began a series of meetings to develop a curriculum framework for science. This document is the result of our work.


In the process of developing this science curriculum framework, we determined that our task was NOT to provide a document that prescribed exactly what science content would be taught in each grade. Rather we have tried to provide a model showing how teachers can move from the standards identified in the Vermont Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities and the WSESU Learning Framework to actual classroom activities. In other words, what is presented here is ONE WAY of ensuring that all students are given the opportunity to learn what they need to meet ALL of the science standards. It is not the only way of doing so.

As part of this framework, we have developed a "Recommended Scope and Sequence" outlining topics that could be taught at each grade level. We see this scope and sequence as a starting point for curriculum development. In creating it, we sought a way to make sure that students were exposed to information that would help them meet all of the standards. The topics we have outlined represent our best effort to address each of the pieces of evidence given in the Vermont Framework. If teachers choose to negotiate with their colleagues in order to teach other units - that is left to them, as long as all of the pieces of evidence for each of the standards is addressed. For example, If a fourth grade teacher wanted to teach magnets and electricity and the third grade teacher was willing to teach forces and motion, a switch could easily be made. More problematic would be a switch between, say a fourth and a fifth grade teacher because different levels of evidence are addressed. Even here, however, a switch could be made as long as the fourth grade students were addressing the standard using the higher level of evidence.

It should also be noted that in the scope and sequence, topics addressed at one grade level grouping reemerge at subsequent levels. For example, a unit on the properties of matter is first presented - in a very basic way - in Kindergarten. The topic comes up again in a unit at sixth grade and then again in 9-12. That is not to say that those are the only grades at which students encounter the properties of matter. It is at K, 6 and 9-12 that a unit is devoted to the topic.

Following the Scope and Sequence and a matrix of science process skills, we have organized the document into grade level groups: K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-12. Within each grade level group section is an introductory page containing a description of science process skills (INQUIRY - EXPERIMENTATION - EXPLANATION) that students at that grade level group should be practicing and a subsection of the scope and sequence relevant to that grade level group. Also in the introductory section is a set of suggestions for using other standards (from Framework Vital Results, other science and math standards) while teaching the topics we have suggested. Embedding other standards into core science topics is critical. It is the only way that students will be able to meet ALL of the standards laid out in the Vermont Framework and the WSESU Framework.

Following the introductory section is the curriculum framework itself, given as a series of two page spreads. Each of the main science standards (taken directly from the Vermont Framework and the WSESU Framework) is presented, running across the two page spread. Moving from left to right underneath each standard are suggested Topics, Big Ideas, Focusing Questions and Sample Activities. Topics are suggested content upon which units of study could be based. Along with the topic is given the evidence (again taken directly from the Vermont Framework) that would show that a student has achieved the standard. Pieces of evidence are lettered in the same way that they are in the Vermont Framework; that is, evidence at the K-4 level is given a single letter, evidence at 5-8 level is given two letters and 9-12 evidence is given three letters. To the right of the Topics are the Big Ideas. These are statements that describe important concepts that should be presented in the unit of study. To the right of the Big Ideas are Focusing Questions. These are sample questions that students and/or teachers might ask and that could be investigated in the Unit of Study. We have included these not only to clarify the process of moving from standards to classroom activities but also to encourage teachers to include inquiry (asking and answering questions) in every part of units of study. Farthest to the right are Sample Activities. These give teachers concrete suggestions for activities that could be used in the unit. Activities marked with a Ý are activities that involve elements of design technology.

As a final note, we should make it clear that this is but the first of many, many revisions of this document. We are looking to teachers in WSESU to provide us with feedback - both in terms of how we can improve the understandability of the document but also in terms of new activities that teachers have found to be useful in teaching the topics outlined. Over the years, through an interactive process of feedback and revision, we hope to create a curriculum framework that both assists teachers in their teaching and reflects the best of what is taught.

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Science Process Skills Matrix

An overview of the developmental stages of the Inquiry process

K-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-12
Inquiry (Questions, Hypotheses) Young children demonstrate a natural curiosity about the world around them, using their senses to observe their environment. They progress from "why" questions to "what" and "how" questions and begin to use logic and prior knowledge to make predictions. Students begin to pose "what" and "how" questions about things not directly observable and recognize types of questions that lead to a scientific investigation. They notice details beyond the obvious and observe events many times to validate findings. Students formulate detailed questions, including cause and effect, that arise from a study. They note very specific detailed information and bring prior knowledge to observations. They make predictions and hypotheses based on their observations. Students are able to make predictions and develop multiple hypotheses based on their own observations Students ask questions in a way that leads to a testable hypothesis.
Experimentation (Experimental Design, Data Collection & Analysis) Students begin to seek answers through active investigations. They are able to collect, count, measure and sort objects. They identify and use simple scientific tools. Students design simple investigations which include the notion of a "fair test". Students are exposed to a wider variety of tools. their uses, and applications. They gather, organize, and display data that reflect the process of their thinking. Students design "fair" tests with a control and one or two variables. They can apply the scientific method independently, use tools with increased accuracy and continue to gather, organize and display data that shows the process of their thinking. Students are increasingly able to conduct their own investigations. They can identify and control variables, choose appropriate tools and methods and conduct investigations of increasing duration. Students are able to design increasingly complex experiments, choose sophisticated tools for investigation and apply scientific knowledge and processes to real world situations.
Explanation (Application, Explanation and Conclusions) Students are able to identify patterns, similarities and differences and logically explain why objects are categorized in a certain way. They begin to organize and interpret data using lists, graphs, charts, tallies, words, symbols, pictures and models. Students classify according to specific properties. They read, create graphs or charts, and base conclusions and predictions on them. Students use information from observations and experiments to explain and form conclusion with increasing independence.

Students use several sources to explain their thinking Students are able to make general statements about the validity of the results of their experimentation. After drawing a conclusion, they are able to ask further questions connecting to new work. Students can identify trends in experimental data and represent them in a variety of graphical formats. They can recognize the relationship between explanation and evidence. They are able to identify sources of error in 'fair-test' experimental results. Students are able to manipulate data to show trends and provide explanations. They are able to use statistics and probability and modeling in explaining results. They are able to find anomalous data, analyze accuracy of data and sample size, and improve experimental design. They are able to communicate the results of their own investigations in the light of broader scientific theories. Students understand the limits of scientific methods in terms of making broad conclusions. Students write formal reports using established conventions. Finally, students are able to integrate scientific knowledge with other fields of knowledge.

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 WSESU - Recommended Science
Scope and Sequence K-6

...A starting point for negotiating curriculum with colleagues, students, yourself......

  K 1 2 3 4 5 6
Space, Time, Matter Properties of Matter States of Matter & Behavior of Gasses Sound, Heat & Light Magnets, Electric Charge & Conductors Forces, Motion and Simple Machines Forms of Energy Matter: Physical and Chemical Change; States and Properties
The Living World Living & Non-living Life Cycles of Plants Life Cycles of Animals Aquatic Environ-ments Adaptations & Habitats Ecosystems Cells
The Human Body Our Body (incl. 5 senses) Nutrition & Digestion Human Development & Inheritance, Skeletal & Muscular Systems Circulatory, Respiratory Systems Immune System & Disease Nervous & Endocrine Systems Repro-ductive System
Earth, Universe & Environ-ment Our Earth Earth, Sun, Moon System Earth's Changing Surface Water Cycle, Weather, Water Properties Natural Resources & Recycling Solar System & Cyclic Events Geology (rock cycle, plates, ...)

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WSESU - Recommended Science
Scope and Sequence 7-12

  7-8 9-12
Space, Time, Matter Laws of Motion, Common Forms of Energy Electricity & Magnetism, Gas Laws Structure, Properties & Reactions of Matter Energy and Entropy Motion and Forces Interactions of Energy and Matter
The Living World 5 Kingdoms (anatomy & classification) Ecology & Evolution The Cell Classification Ecology Evolution
The Human Body Human Inheritance Nature vs. Nurture Heredity Physiology Human Health & Disease Human Development
Earth, Universe & Environ-ment Global Weather Systems, Natural Resources & Conservation The Universe Shaping Earth Energy and Earth Systems Astronomy & Space Environmental Studies

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Updated: March 9, 2011