California students learn science standards through investigation and experimentation in the field as well as the classroom.
California’s schools concentrate on a varied science curriculum, including physical science, life science, Earth science and a variety of investigative and experimental activities. The variety of the kindergarten through fifth grade science programs provides the background students need to explore each of the disciplines further. In sixth grade, the students focus on Earth science, seventh grade’s focus is life science and the eighth-graders focus on physical science. In high school, students take a variety of classes, including chemistry, biology, Earth science and physics, as outlined in the California state science standards.
Physical Science Standards
Acid, base or neutral pH levels are explored in the fifth grade California classroom.
Students begin their study of physical science in kindergarten, exploring matter. They can define the material items are made of, exploring the items’ physical properties. Students in California know the three states of matter: solid, liquid, gas. Their physical science exposure continues as they progress through the grades. They learn about heat, energy, light, electricity, magnets and sound waves. In fifth grade, students learn about the elements, the periodic table, compounds, mixtures and atoms in physical science.
Life Science Standards
Biology students learn about systems of the human body.
Students in California science classes learn there are different types of plants and animals that serve different functions in a variety of habitats. They learn what a plant or animal needs to survive and how its physical characteristics affect its survival. They learn the life cycle of plants and animals. They are introduced to photosynthesis, respiration and reproduction in plants. Students learn about the digestive, circulatory and excretory systems in the fifth grade science classroom.
Earth Science Standards
California students know the sun is made of mostly hydrogen and helium.
Earth science standards begin in kindergarten. Learning about land forms — mountains, rivers, valleys –and identifying local land forms is a beginning step. Students progressively learn about weather, starting with changes in daily weather, steps to measure weather, and how the water cycle affects weather. Students also learn about a variety of weather disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis. California children also learn about the materials that compose the earth’s crust. In fourth grade, they focus on rocks, minerals and the effects of erosion. The solar system — sun, moon, stars, planets — is emphasized in the third and fifth grades.
Investigation and Experimentation Standards
Classrooms can compare and sort the flowers around the campus to fulfill investigation and experimentation standards.
The investigation and experimentation standards are the guidelines to achieve all of the other standards in the science classroom. Students in kindergarten are asked to observe and sort items according to the item’s attributes. In subsequent years, they should be able to record their observations, observe sequential order, make predictions and use measurement tools properly. Students in fourth grade need to be able to discern between evidence and opinion. In fifth grade, students need to develop a testable question, complete an experiment, record the data and present the results.