The Performance Expectations in Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems (Ecology Unit) help students formulate answers to the questions: “How do organisms obtain and use matter and energy? How do matter and energy move through an ecosystem?” Middle school students can use conceptual and physical models to explain the transfer of energy and cycling of matter as they construct explanations for the role of photosynthesis in cycling matter in ecosystems. They can construct explanations for the cycling of matter in organisms and the interactions of organisms to obtain the matter and energy from the ecosystem to survive and grow. Students have a grade-appropriate understanding and use of the practices of investigations, constructing arguments based on evidence, and oral and written communication. They understand that sustaining life requires substantial energy and matter inputs and the structure and functions of organisms contribute to the capture, transformation, transport, release, and elimination of matter and energy.
The Performance Expectations in Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (Ecology Unit) help students formulate an answer to the question, “How do organisms interact with other organisms in the physical environment to obtain matter and energy? To answer the question, middle school students construct explanations for the interactions in ecosystems and the scientific, economic, political, and social justifications used in making decisions about maintaining biodiversity in ecosystems. Students can use models, construct evidence-based explanations, and use argumentation from evidence. Students understand that organisms and populations of organisms are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other organisms and with nonliving factors. They also understand the limits of resources influence the growth of organisms and populations, which may result in competition for those limited resources.
The Performance Expectations in Natural Selection and Adaptations (Ecology Unit) help students formulate answers to the questions: “How does genetic variation among organisms in a species affect survival and reproduction? How does the environment influence genetic traits in populations over multiple generations?” Middle school students can analyze data from the fossil record to describe evidence of the history of life on Earth and can construct explanations for similarities in organisms. They have a beginning understanding of the role of variation in natural selection and how this leads to speciation. They have a grade-appropriate understanding and use of the practices of analyzing graphical displays; using mathematical models; and gathering, reading, and communicating information.
The performance expectations in History of Earth (Earth Science Unit) help students formulate answers to the questions: “How do people figure out that the Earth and life on Earth have changed over time?” and “How does the movement of tectonic plates impact the surface of Earth?” Students can examine geoscience data in order to understand the processes and events in Earth’s history. An important aspect of the history of Earth is that geologic events and conditions have affected the evolution of life, but different life forms have also played important roles in altering Earth’s systems.
The performance expectations in Earth’s Systems (Earth Science Unit) help students formulate answers to the questions: “How do the materials in and on Earth’s crust change over time?” and “How does water influence weather, circulate in the oceans, and shape Earth’s surface?” Students understand how Earth’s geosystems operate by modeling the flow of energy and cycling of matter within and among different systems. Students can investigate the controlling properties of important materials and construct explanations based on the analysis of real geoscience data. Of special importance in both topics are the ways that geoscience processes provide resources needed by society but also cause natural hazards that present risks to society; both involve technological challenges, for the identification and development of resources and for the mitigation of hazards.
The performance expectations in Human Impacts help students formulate answers to the questions: “How can natural hazards be predicted?” and “How do human activities affect Earth systems?” Students understand the ways that human activities impacts Earth’s other systems. Students can use many different practices to understand the significant and complex issues surrounding human uses of land, energy, mineral, and water resources and the resulting impacts of their development.
- NGSS 2017