The Shift to NGSS

Why the NGSS?

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a holistic approach to  science education. Instead of just teaching content, the focus will be on developing the science and engineering practices, or skills.  The way students learn my classroom  is from 3-dimensions. Each dimension represents a different aspect of the science process. They come together to create a complete representation of what science is and helps to deepen the understanding of the science curriculum. 

Simply being able to list facts you can easily Google does not mean a student understands the information. The student's knowledge and understanding will be assessed by his or her ability to think, analyze and apply information, and then communicate the outcome or results. 

Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI)

The disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) are the science CONTENT you need to learn to show mastery of the topics taught.  You can think about the DCI's as the "stuff" you need to know. You will be asked to apply the knowledge learned through the disciplinary core ideas using the science and engineering practices with a focus of a cross cutting concept. The DCIs or content of the course work in service of the Science and Engineering Practices and the Cross Cutting Concepts.

The Disciplinary Core Ideas in the Next Generation Science Standards are arranged into four domains:

  • Life Sciences (LS)

    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes 

    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy. & Dynamics

    • LS3: Heredity: Inheritances & Variation of Traits

    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity & Diversity

Additional Resources on the Disciplinary Core Ideas:


Science & Engineering Practices (SEP)


The Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) are the SKILLS necessary to think, act and communicate ideas like a scientist. These skill are necessary to explore the world around you. These skills are transferable to situations outside of science; the SEPs are skills important for our students to be a successful, informed adult.

  • Asking Questions … asking and refining questions to lead to explanations about how the natural world works. 

  • Using Math & Computational Thinking… applying skills from math class to understand and explain the natural world. 

  • Developing & Using Models… using and creating models as helpful ways for representing ideas and explanations and show the relationships between parts of a system.

  • Constructing Explanations… creating explanations and solutions with the purpose of defining our world. 

  • Planning & Carrying Out Investigations… creating and completing a systematic scientific experiment to explain a phenomenon or test a engineering design solution

  • Arguing from Evidence… listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on merits (information presented). 

  • Analyzing & Interpreting Data… graphing and organizing data and performing statistical analysis to determine the patterns and relationships in the data 

  • Obtaining, Evaluating & Communicating Information… scientists must clearly and persuasively communicate and represent their ideas to peers and the scientific community.

Additional Resources on the Science and Engineering Practices:

Cross Cutting Concepts


The Cross Cutting Concepts (CCC) are the THEMES of science. These themes act as "lenses" though which we can see the world. Any topic we cover or even any situation in the natural world can explained using these "lenses". A measure of understanding of content is the ability to present content from the different Cross Cutting Concepts.


  • Patterns … regularly occurring shapes or structures, in repeating events and relationships, etc.

  • Systems and Systems Models… parts work together make a system and a system will perform a task. 

  • Cause and Effect… one event/ stimulus triggers another event/ consequence/ outcome. 

  • Energy and Matter… energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed; it cycles and changes form.

  • Structure and Function… the shape and/or design of things, systems, body parts, etc. is specific to or dictates its function or job.

  • Stability and Change… the natural world in a constant flux between things staying the same (stability) and things changing.

  • Scale, Proportion & Quantity… concepts and systems can be viewed in terms of scale and magnitude, and in relation to one another. 

Additional Resources on the Cross Cutting Concepts Practices:

A Science Classroom For The Next Generation