Main navigation

Science Curriculum

Middle School Science

Science Curriculum

Amplify Science is the adopted Science curriculum for grades 6-8 in Seattle Public Schools.  Amplify Science was written by the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley (creators of the FOSS Science kits) and integrated into a digital platform developed by Amplify. 

The curriculum meets the performance expectations outlined in the 2013 WA State Science Learning Standards (known nationally as the Next Generation Science Standards or NGSS) for grades 6-8.  These innovative science learning standards were collaboratively developed by scientists, engineers, and educators and are remarkable for their depth, complexity, and relevance.  The standards are comprised of the three dimensions of science knowledge which include Disciplinary Core Ideas, Scientific and Engineering Practices, and Cross-cutting Concepts which are integrated into individual performance expectations.

The curriculum scope and sequence was designed to reflect the ”integrated progression” outlined in the middle school science standards, in which the performance expectations for Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science and Engineering Design are integrated within each grade level at grades 6, 7, and 8. The unit scope and sequence adopted for grades 6-8 in SPS integrates performance expectations from the domains of Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Engineering Design within each grade level at middle school.

The Amplify Science instructional model allows students to access their prior knowledge to connect past learning experiences to the present and emphasizes the use of evidence-based reasoning for scientific explanations and engineering solutions in order to communicate recommendations to address real world problems. Each unit is constructed as a compelling storyline which begins by engaging learners in a puzzling, relevant scientific phenomenon or engineering problem.

Throughout the unit, students develop the scientific understanding needed to explain the phenomenon or design a solution through the collection of evidence, and in this way they are engaged and challenged to “figure out,” not simply “learn about,” important science concepts. Students have the opportunity to ask questions and define problems about the natural and designed world, design investigations in which they collect and analyze trends and patterns in their data, closely read and annotate science texts, engage in argument form evidence in both writing and through discourse with their peers, develop conceptual scientific models of physical phenomena, and communicate their findings from their investigations. Amplify provides both online and offline instructional platforms with embedded flexibility for educators to adapt learning activities and differentiate instruction to accommodate students with diverse learning needs including students with IEPs, highly capable students, and English language learners.

The adoption of a common curriculum and a consistent, standardized unit scope and sequence at grades 6-8, as well as at K-5 and 9-12, has provided equitable access to the rigorous, robust, and culturally relevant science pedagogy called for in the WA State Science Standards for all students, and provides a baseline of high expectations in every science classroom. This commitment to standards-alignment at grades K-12, including learning progressions of core science ideas and practices, will ensure that students in Seattle Public Schools have the foundational underpinnings needed for success in science as they move from elementary to middle school, and from middle school to high school and will no longer experience redundancies or gaps in their science learning.

Assessment

Unit Level Assessments

The Assessment System for each Amplify Science Middle School unit is designed to provide teachers with actionable and diagnostic information about students’ progress toward the three-dimensional learning goals for the unit. Assessments are grounded in the unit’s Progress Build, which describes how student understanding is likely to develop and deepen through engagement with the unit’s learning experiences. The levels of the Progress Build describe the progression of students’ expected explanatory understanding of disciplinary core ideas and application of crosscutting concepts to unit phenomena. 

The Amplify Assessment System includes formal and informal opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding and for teachers to gather information throughout the unit. Built largely around instructionally embedded performances, these opportunities encompass a range of modalities that, as a system, attend to the three-dimensional nature of science learning specified in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the National Research Council’s Framework for K–12 Science Education (2012). Each assessment was developed for a particular purpose. 

Each unit includes a pre-unit assessment is designed to elicit students’ prior knowledge and gauge their facility for using the science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts. This pre-unit assessment also serves as a baseline to show growth over time when compared to the end-of-unit assessment of the same format.

Critical Juncture assessment signifies the point in the unit at which it is especially important that all students understand the content so they are well-positioned for the learning experiences to come. The Critical Juncture Assessment provides formative information about students’ progress in the unit, aligned to the Progress Build, and can be used to group students for the differentiated lesson that follows it. This offers an opportunity to provide more personalized learning experiences to students with different levels of understanding.

The end-of-unit assessment indicates where students’ understanding is located along the levels of the Progress Build after instruction. When analyzed with the pre-unit assessment and the Critical Juncture Assessment, results from the end-of-unit assessment indicate students’ growth over the course of the unit. 

TheMonitoring Progress Assessments are a set of assessments that can be used to monitor students’ progress, including embedded formative assessments that provide teachers with actionable information and instructional suggestions for supporting students’ learning and keeping all students on track, as well as assessments that help students monitor their own progress. 

Explanations and Explanatory Modelsat the end of each chapter provide students with an the opportunity to show their understanding of the unit content thus far through writing and/or creating models. These assessments can provide evidence of students’ progress with core concepts aligned to the Progress Build and can also provide insight into students’ developing facility with the science and engineering practices of Constructing Explanations, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and Developing and Using Models. 

In the End-of-Unit Performance Science Seminar, students engage in a multicomponent performance task that requires integrated engagement with several science and engineering practices including: Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information. This three-lesson learning and assessment experience culminates in students’ written scientific arguments, which the teacher can evaluate by using the provided rubrics for assessing core unit concepts (disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts) and for assessing students’ developing facility with the science and engineering practices of Explanation and Argumentation.

Benchmark Assessments

Standards-aligned Benchmark Assessments provide insight into how students are progressing toward mastery of the WA State ScienceStandards (NGSS) at each grade level district-wide. The benchmark assessments measure and report on the three dimensions (Disciplinary Core Ideas, Scientific and Engineering Practices, and Cross-cutting Concepts) and performance expectations of the NGSS. They are designed to test all standards across all grades. At grade 6, 7, and 8, the assessments are given three times per year, and are delivered after specific units in the recommended Amplify Science unit scope and sequence.These benchmark assessment allow us to monitor student growth against specific learning standards at each grade level across the district between September and June. 

 

State Level Assessment: Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

The WCAS assessment is given at the end of grades 5, 8, and 11 in order to fulfill federal requirements that students be tested in science once at elementary, middle, and high school level.

WCAS is a computer-based assessment with digitally-interactive components. Students complete a variety of item types which assess their mastery of the Washington State K-12 Science Learning Standards, which are based on the Next Generation Science Standards.

Paper WCAS Individual Score Reports (ISRs) for performance on the Spring 2019 WCAS will arrive in districts in early October.

For more information, please visit  OSPI’s Science Assessment webpage

Launch: Microbiome

Description: As microbiological researchers, students must figure out why a fecal transplant cured a patient suffering from a deadly C.difficile infection. In the process they learn about cells and about interactions among organisms.

Duration: 10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • LS1-1: Living Things Made of Cells
  • LS2-1: Resources and Populations
  • LS2-2: Ecosystem Relationships

Metabolism

Students take on the role of medicalresearchers, anddiagnose a patient whose body systems aren’t working. They learn about cellular respiration and how body systems work together to get molecules to the cells.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • LS1-3: Body Systems
  • LS1-7: Cellular Respiration
  • LS1-1: Living Things Made of Cells
  • LS1-8: Sensory Receptors
  • LS1-2: Cell Parts

Engineering Internship: Metabolism

As food engineer interns, students apply their knowledge of human metabolism. as well as engineering and design concepts, to design a recipe for an energy bar that meets the needs of populations in areas devastated by natural disasters.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ETS1-1: Criteria and Constraints
  • ETS1-3: Analyzing Results
  • ETS1-2: Evaluating Solutions
  • ETS1-4: Modeling and Iterative Testing
  • LS1-7: Cellular Respiration
  • LS1-5: Growth

Traits and Reproduction

Working as biomedical scientists, students investigate the causes of surprising variation in spider silk flexibility. Students learn why organisms – even parents. offspring, and siblings – vary in their traits.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • LS3-1: Gene, Protein, Trait. & Mutation
  • LS3-2: Sexual Vs.Asexual Reproduction
  • LS1-1: Living Things Made of CellsLS4-5 Artificial Selection & Genetic Engineering
  • LS1-2: Cell PartsLS1-4: Behaviors & Structures; Reproduction
  • LS1-5: Growth

Thermal Energy

In their role as thermal scientists, students evaluate competing proposals for heating a school, applying what they learn about matter, energy, and temperature.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • PS3-3: Thermal Energy Transfer
  • PS3-4: Energy and Temperature
  • PS1-1: Atomic Theory/Molecules
  • PS3-5: Motion and Energy Transfer

Ocean, Atmosphere, & Climate

As climatologists, students must explain the pattern of temperature changes in El Niño years, which are impacting agriculture around the Pacific. They learn about how sunlight, ocean, and atmosphere interact to produce regional climate.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ESS2-6: Climate Patterns

Weather Patterns

Students play the role of forensic meteorologists who must explain why powerful storms have increased after a manmade lake was built. They learn how air masses, water, and energy from the Sunproduce weather phenomena

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ESS2-4: The Water Cycle
  • ESS2-5: Air Masses
  • ESS3-2: Natural Hazards

Earth’s Changing Climate

In their role as climatologists, students must explain why Earth’s ice is melting. They learn about how changes in the atmosphere are affecting the energy balance in the Earth’s system, and about humans’ role in these changes.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ESS3-5: Factors for Global Temperature
  • ESS3-3: Designs to Minimize Impact
  • ESS3-1: Distribution of Natural Resources
  • ESS3-4: Human population
  • ESS3-2: Natural Hazards

Engineering Internship: Earth’s Changing Climate

As civil engineering interns, students apply design and engineering concepts as they create a plan for making changes to building rooftops. Their goal is to make a city more energy efficient, and thus reduce the carbon dioxide produced from combustion.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ETS1-1: Criteria and Constraints
  • ETS1-3: Analyzing Results
  • ETS1-2: Evaluating Solutions
  • ETS1-4: Modeling and Iterative Testing
  • ESS3-3: Designs to Minimize Impact
  • ESS3-5:Factorsfor Global Temperature

Launch: Geology on Mars

As planetary geologists, students analyze data about geoscience processes on the surface of Mars in order to decide whether Mars could have been habitable.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ESS1-3: Scale in the Solar System
  • ESS2-2: Earth’s Processes

Plate Motion

Students play the role of geologists trying to explain the concentration of gold in certain parts of the seafloor. They use fossil evidence to support an explanation involving plate motion.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ESS2-3: Evidence for Plate Motion
  • ESS1-4: Strata and Earth Age
  • ESS2-2: Earth’s Processes
  • ESS3-1: Distribution of Natural Resources

Engineering Internship: Plate Motion

In their role as geohazards engineering interns, students design a tsunami warning system. They apply ideas about plate motion and natural hazards as well as engineering and design concepts.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ETS1-1: Criteria and Constraints
  • ETS1-3: Analyzing Results
  • ETS1-2: Evaluating Solutions
  • ETS1-4: Modeling and Iterative Testing
  • ESS3-2: Natural Hazards
  • ESS2-2: Earth’s Processes
  • ESS2-3: Evidence for Plate Motion
  • ESS3-1: Distribution of Natural Resources
  • ESS1-4: Strata and Earth Age

Rock Transformations

As geologists, students investigate the mystery of how 2-billion-year-old sand grains could be found on an island that formed only 9millionyearsago.They apply ideas about cycling of Earth materials.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ESS2-1: Earth’s Materials
  • ESS2-2: Earth’s Processes Reproduction
  • LS1-5: Growth

Phase Change

Students, in their role as student chemists, investigate the mystery of disappearing methane lakes on Saturn’s moon, Titan. They must apply what they learn about phase change, matter, and energy.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • PS1-4: Phase Change
  • PS3-4: Energy and Temperature
  • PS1-1: Atomic Theory/Molecules
  • PS3-5: Motion and Energy Transfer

Engineering Internship: Phase Change

As chemical engineering interns, students design and test plans for an incubator for premature and low birth weight babies, applying ideas about phase change and the engineering and design process.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ETS1-1: Criteria and Constraints
  • ETS1-3: Analyzing Results
  • ETS1-2: Evaluating Solutions ETS1-4: Modeling and Iterative Testing
  • PS1-4: Phase Change
  • PS3-3: Thermal Energy Transfer

Chemical Reactions

Students play the role of forensic chemists, applying what they learn about matter and chemical reactions to solve the mystery of mysterious substances appearing in a county’s water supply.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • PS1-1: Atomic Theory/Molecules
  • PS1-2: Chemical Reactions
  • PS1-5: Atoms Conserved
  • PS1-3: Synthetic Materials
  • LS1-6: Photosynthesis
  • PS1-6: Thermal Energy & Chemical Processes
  • LS1-7: Cellular Respiration

Populations and Resources

In their role as biologists, students work to uncover the cause of the moon jelly population explosion in Glacier Sea. They learn about how organisms interact in an ecosystem to get the resources they need.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • LS2-1: Resources and Populations
  • LS2-2: Ecosystem Relationships
  • LS2-4: Changes Affect PopulationsLS2-5: Ecosystem Services
  • LS1-4: Behaviors & Structures; Reproduction

Matter and Energy in Ecosystems

Students act as ecologists to investigate a failed biodome. In the process they learn about how matter, carbon in particular, flows through biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • LS1-6: Photosynthesis
  • LS2-3: Flow of Energy and Cycling of Matter
  • LS1-2: Cell Parts
  • LS2-5: Ecosystem Services
  • LS2-4: Changes Affect Populations

Launch: Harnessing Human Energy

In their role as energy scientists, students learn about energy transfer and conversion as they design a system to power the electronic devices of rescue workers.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • PS3-5: Motion and Energy Transfer
  • PS1-3: Synthetic Materials
  • PS3-1: Kinetic Energy: Mass & Speed
  • PS3-2: Potential Energy and Non­-Touching Forces

Force and Motion

As student physicists at the fictional Universal Space Agency, students must analyze what went wrong in a space station docking failure. To do so, they need to apply what they learn about forces, changes in motion, and collisions.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • PS2-1: Newton’s 3rd Law (Equal & Opposite Forces)
  • PS2-2: Sum of Forces
  • PS3-1: Kinetic Energy: Mass & Speed
  • PS3-5: Motion and Energy Transfer

Engineering Internship: Force and Motion

As mechanical engineering interns, students apply ideas about force and motion, as well as engineering and design concepts, to design supply pods to be dropped in disaster areas.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ETS1-1: Criteria and Constraints
  • ETS1-3: Analyzing Results
  • ETS1-2: Evaluating Solutions
  • ETS1-4: Modeling and Iterative Testing
  • PS2-1: Newton’s 3rd Law (Equal & Opposite Forces)
  • PS2-2: Sum of Forces

Magnetic Fields

In their role as student physicists, students must analyze why the new magnet-driven space jet launcher is not working as expected. They apply ideas aboutnon­ touching forces and potential energy.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • PS2-5: Force Fields and Non-Touching Forces
  • PS3-2: Potential Energy andNon­TouchingForces
  • PS2-3: Strength of Magnetic and Electric ForcesPS2-4: Gravity Depends on Mass
  • PS3-5: Motion and Energy Transfer

Light Waves

In their role as spectroscopists, students learn about light waves and how they interact withmatter, andapply this knowledge to investigate Australia’s elevated skin cancer rate.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • PS4-1: Amplitude and Waves
  • PS4-2: Waves Interact with Materials
  • PS4-3: Digitized Signals and Waves
  • PS4-3: Digital is Best

Earth, Moon, and Sun

Students play the role of student astronomers who must learn about the Earth-Moon-Sun system, including phases and eclipses, in order to advise anastrophotographerwho is photographing Moon features.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ESS1-1: Earth, Sun, Moon System
  • ESS1-2: Gravity
  • ESS1-3: Scale in the Solar System

Natural Selection

In the role of biologists, students investigate how a population of rough­ skinned newts in Oregon State Park become incredibly poisonous. They learn about variation, adaptation, and the mechanism of natural selection.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • LS4-4: Genetic Variation in Populations
  • LS4-6: Changes in Traits in Populations via Natural Selection
  • LS3-1: Gene, Protein, Trait, & MutationsLS1-4: Behaviors & Structures: Reproduction
  • LS4-5: Artificial Selection & Genetic Engineering

Engineering Internship: Natural Selection

As clinical engineers, students apply what they have learned about natural selection as well as engineering and design concepts to develop, test and refine treatments for drug-resistant malaria.

19 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • ETS1-1: Criteria and ConstraintsETS1-3: Analyzing Results
  • ETS1-2: Evaluating SolutionsETS1-4: Modeling and Iterative Testing
  • LS4-4: Genetic Variation in Populations
  • LS3-1: Gene, Protein, Trait, & Mutations

Evolutionary History

In the role of paleontologists, students investigate a fossilrecently excavated in Egypt that could be more closely related to whales or to wolves. They learn how the fossil record helps provide evidence for evolutionary relationships.

10 days

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed:

  • LS4-1: Fossils
  • LS4-2: Comparative Anatomy
  • LS4-3: Embryonic Development
  • ESS1-4: Strata and Earth Age