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

Unit Title

Description

Unit Duration

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addresses

Launch:

Microbiome

 

As microbiological researchers, students must figure out why a fecal transplant cured a patient suffering from a deadlyC.difficileinfection. In the process they learn about cells and about interactions among organisms.

10days

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.

19days

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.

10days

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.

19days

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.

19days

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.

 

19days

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

19days

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.

 

19days

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.

 

10days

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

 

 


Unit Title

Description

Unit Duration

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addresses

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.

.

 

 

10days

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.

19days

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.

10days

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.

 

 

19days

ESS2-1: Earth’s Materials

ESS2-2: Earth’sProcessesReproduction

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.

19days

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.

19days

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.

19days

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.

19days

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, flowsthrough bioticand abiotic components of an ecosystem.

10days

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

 


Unit Title

Description

Unit Duration

WA State Science Standards (NGSS) Addresses

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.

.

 

 

10days

PS3-5: Motion and Energy Transfer

PS1-3: Synthetic Materials

PS3-1: Kinetic Energy: Mass & Speed

PS3-2: Potential Energy andNon­TouchingForces

 

 

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.

 

19days

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.

 

10days

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.

 

 

19days

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.

 

19days

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.

 

 

19days

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.

 

19days

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.

 

19days

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.

 

10days

LS4-1: Fossils

LS4-2: Comparative Anatomy

 

LS4-3: Embryonic Development

ESS1-4: Strata and Earth Age