Academic standards list

Science - Grade 4 — Science (2009-2018)


Academic standards define the expectations for knowledge and skills that students are to learn in a subject by a certain age or at the end of a school grade level. This page contains a list of standards for a specific content area, grade level, and/or course. The list of standards may be structured using categories and sub-categories.

Embedded Inquiry

Standard INQ — Embedded Inquiry
Science is a relentless quest for understanding how the natural world works. All of science is driven by the premise that the world is capable of being understood. Yet, scientists believe that currently accepted explanations of natural phenomena or events are never perfect or fully complete and are always amenable to revision in light of new scientific evidence. Each scientific discipline uses its distinctive tools and techniques to investigate phenomena associated with the physical, geological, or living worlds. All rely upon theories from which the development of hypotheses emerge, the collection of data, and the interpretation of evidence as the foundation for reaching logical conclusions and making reasoned predictions.Conceptual StrandUnderstandings about scientific inquiry and the ability to conduct inquiry are essential for living in the 21st century.Guiding QuestionWhat tools, skills, knowledge, and dispositions are needed to conduct scientific inquiry?
Grade Level Expectation
Explore different scientific phenomena by asking questions, making logical predictions, planning investigations, and recording data.
Select and use appropriate tools and simple equipment to conduct an investigation.
Organize data into appropriate tables, graphs, drawings, or diagrams.
Identify and interpret simple patterns of evidence to communicate the findings of multiple investigations.
Recognize that people may interpret the same results in different ways.
Compare the results of an investigation with what scientists already accept about this question.
State Performance Indicator
Select an investigation that could be used to answer a specific question.

Embedded Technology/Engineering

Standard T/E — Embedded Technology/Engineering
Scientific inquiry is fueled by the desire to understand the natural world; technological design is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems. Technology exerts a more direct effect on society than science because it is focused on solving human problems, helping humans to adapt to changes, and fulfilling goals and aspirations. The engineering design cycle describes the worklives of practicing engineers. The design cycle describes a series of activities that includes a background research, problem identification, feasibility analysis, selection of design criteria, prototype development, planning and design, production and product evaluation. Because there are as many variations of this model, practicing engineers do not adhere to a rigid step-by-step interpretation of this design cycle.Conceptual StrandSociety benefits when engineers apply scientific discoveries to design materials and processes that develop into enabling technologies.Guiding QuestionHow do science concepts, engineering skills, and applications of technology improve the quality of life?
Grade Level Expectation
Describe how tools, technology, and inventions help to answer questions and solve problems.
Recognize that new tools, technology, and inventions are always being developed.
Identify appropriate materials, tools, and machines that can extend or enhance the ability to solve a specified problem.
Recognize the connection between scientific advances, new knowledge, and the availability of new tools and technologies.
Apply a creative design strategy to solve a particular problem generated by societal needs and wants.
State Performance Indicator
Select a tool, technology, or invention that was used to solve a human problem.
Recognize the connection between a scientific advance and the development of a new tool or technology.


Standard 1 — Cells
...I could exceedingly plainly perceive it to be all perforated and porous, much like a honey-comb, but that the pores of it were not regular...these pores, or cells,...were indeed the first microscopical pores I ever saw. With these simple words, Robert Hooke announced his startling finding about cork cells to the world in the mid 17th century. Hooke continued to notice cells in whatever living matter he studied. Today, the fundamental theory that cells are the building blocks of all living things is universally accepted. Increasingly sophisticated experimental procedures and investigatory technologies have enabled scientists to probe deeper and deeper into cells where they continue to make astonishing discoveries about these amazing pieces of living machinery.Conceptual StrandAll living things are made of cells that perform functions necessary for life.Guiding QuestionHow are plant and animals cells organized to carry on the processes of life?
Grade Level Expectation
Recognize that cells are the building blocks of all living things.
State Performance Indicator
Compare basic structures of plant and animal cells.


Standard 2 — Interdependence
The biosphere includes the narrow layer of Earth inhabited by living things. Elements of the biosphere interact with the lithosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), and atmosphere (air) to result in the conditions that we find on earth. The biosphere includes all of the different ecosystems in which life is found from the tundra of the Arctic to the African savannah. Many of the macroscopic interactions, such as predation and competition for limited resources are well understood. Other interactions such as the spread of disease, the impact of invasive species, and human influenced depletion of natural resources are less understood and remain the topics of active investigation.Conceptual StrandAll life is interdependent and interacts with the environment.Guiding QuestionHow do living things interact with one another and with the non-living elements of their environment?
Grade Level Expectation
Analyze the effects of changes in the environment on the stability of an ecosystem.
State Performance Indicator
Recognize the impact of predation and competition on an ecosystem.

Flow of Matter and Energy

Standard 3 — Flow of Matter and Energy
Matter and energy move freely between and among living things and the physical environment in which they live. Life ultimately depends on the suns energy that is transformed by plants into energy-bearing food through the process of photosynthesis. Energy flows among living things through the food web and is used by all living things for energy, growth, and repair. Molecules of the substances found in living things are continually recycled between organisms themselves and the natural world. In the earth system, the total amount of matter and energy remains constant, even though their forms, availability, and where they are found in any moment are continually changing.Conceptual StrandMatter and energy flow through the biosphere.Guiding QuestionWhat scientific information explains how matter and energy flow through the biosphere?
Grade Level Expectation
Demonstrate that plants require light energy to grow and survive.
Investigate different ways that organisms meet their energy needs.
State Performance Indicator
Determine how different organisms function within an environment in terms of their location on an energy pyramid.


Standard 4 — Heredity
Offspring are similar to, but somewhat different than their parents. Gregor Mendel noticed this phenomenon and through a series of experiments with pea plants discovered the general principles by which traits are transmitted between generations. The laws of probability govern how instructions for development are passed from parents to offspring in thousands of discrete genes, each of which is a segment of a molecule of DNA. The discovery of the structure of DNA was one of the crowning achievements of molecular biology and set the stage for a dramatic reconceptualization of Medelian inheritance.Conceptual StrandPlants and animals reproduce and transmit hereditary information between generations.Guiding QuestionWhat are the principal mechanisms by which living things reproduce and transmit information between parents and offspring?
Grade Level Expectation
Recognize the relationship between reproduction and the continuation of a species.
Differentiate between complete and incomplete metamorphosis.
State Performance Indicator
Draw conclusions about the relationship between reproduction and the survival of a species.
Distinguish between complete and incomplete metamorphosis.

Biodiversity and Change

Standard 5 — Biodiversity and Change
Current day life demonstrates a staggering number of forms. Yet, when viewed through the lens of the fossil record, what appears on earth today is a mere smidgen of the variety of life that one time or another wandered this planet. Contemporary science has discovered that within this amazing array of living things there are many structural and biochemical similarities that argue for the existence of ancestral relationships. The fossil record also provides evidence for the connection between present and ancestral species. These lines of evidence support a unifying principle for understanding the history of life on earth, relationships among all living things, and the dependence of life on the physical environment.Conceptual StrandA rich variety of complex organisms have developed in response to a continually changing environment.Guiding QuestionHow does natural selection explain how organisms have changed over time?
Grade Level Expectation
Analyze physical and behavioral adaptations that enable organisms to survive in their environment.
Describe how environmental changes caused the extinction of various plant and animal species.
State Performance Indicator
Determine how a physical or behavioral adaptation can enhance the chances of survival.
Infer the possible reasons why a species became endangered or extinct.

The Universe

Standard 6 — The Universe
The universe includes the sum total of everything that exists including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. As someone once said, what makes the universe so hard to comprehend is that there is nothing to compare it with. The most widely accepted model for the origin of the universe is the Big Bang. According to this theory, the universe is 13.7 billion years old, was infinitely hot at birth, and has cooled down as it has expanded. Even with technologies that allow different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum to be recorded, only a small fraction of the universe is open to exploration.Conceptual StrandThe cosmos is vast and explored well enough to know its basic structure and operational principles.Guiding QuestionWhat big ideas guide human understanding about the origin and structure of the universe, Earths place in the cosmos, and observable motions and patterns in the sky?
Grade Level Expectation
Analyze patterns, relative movements, and relationships among the sun, moon, and earth.
State Performance Indicator
Organize the phases of the moon in the correct sequence.
Infer that the moons phases are caused by the revolution of the moon and earth around the sun.

The Earth

Standard 7 — The Earth
The Earths crust, including its continents and ocean basins, consists of large crustal plates that overlie a hot, almost molten layer. The interior of the earth, under great pressure from the weight of overlying layers, is hot and dense. In areas where moving plates collide, earthquakes and mountains are common. New sea floor forms where the plates pull apart. Waves, wind, water, and ice carve the earth's surface into distinctive landforms. Much of the landscape of todays Northern Hemisphere was shaped by the regular advance and retreat of huge continental glaciers. Wind and water erode loose surface materials and deposit them elsewhere. Conceptual StrandMajor geologic events that occur over eons or brief moments in time continually shape and reshape the surface of the Earth, resulting in continuous global change.Guiding QuestionHow is the earth affected by long-term and short term geological cycles and the influence of man?
Grade Level Expectation
Investigate how the earths geological features change as a result of erosion (weathering and transportation) and deposition.
Evaluate how some earth materials can be used to solve human problems and enhance the quality of life.
State Performance Indicator
Design a simple model to illustrate how the wind and movement of water alter the earths surface.
Analyze how different earth materials are utilized to solve human problems or improve the quality of life.

The Atmosphere

Standard 8 — The Atmosphere
Events that occur in this layer of gases surrounding the Earth control its weather and climate. The atmosphere contains oxygen needed for life and carbon dioxide used by plants during photosynthesis. Nitrogen is the most abundant element found in the atmosphere. By blocking some solar radiation, the atmosphere protects living organisms from genetic damage. The composition of this thin envelope of gases developed over time as plants evolved and in response to physical conditions on the earth's surface. Any serious alteration in the concentration of its natural components is apt to have dire consequences for life on Earth.Conceptual StrandThe earth is surrounded by an active atmosphere and an energy system that controls the distribution of life, local weather, climate, and global temperature.Guiding QuestionHow do the physical characteristics and the chemical makeup of the atmosphere influence the surface processes and life on earth?
Grade Level Expectation
Recognize the major components of the water cycle.
Differentiate between weather and climate.
State Performance Indicator
Identify the basic features of the water cycle and describe their importance to life on earth.
Distinguish between weather and climate.


Standard 9 — Matter
The physical world consists of an amazing variety of materials whose differences can be described in terms of their physical and chemical properties. Depending on temperature and pressure, every substance also exists in different states. What materials share in common is that they are all derived from various combinations of approximately 100 naturally occurring elements which in turn consist of different kinds of atoms. All atoms consist of a central, positively charged nucleus surrounded by a cloud of much lighter, negatively charged electrons. When the atoms of two or more substances interact to form something new the elements of which they are composed enter into new combinations. The properties of these new compounds are likely to be different from the original substances.Conceptual StrandThe composition and structure of matter is known, and it behaves according to principles that are generally understood.Guiding QuestionHow does the structure of matter influence its physical and chemical behavior?
Grade Level Expectation
Collect data to illustrate that the physical properties of matter can be described with tools that measure weight, mass, length, and volume.
Explore different types of physical changes in matter.
State Performance Indicator
Choose an appropriate tool for measuring a specific physical property of matter.
Determine the mass, volume, and temperature of a substance or object using proper units of measurement.
Interpret the causes and effects of a physical change in matter.


Standard 10 — Energy
Energy is what causes things to happen. Simply stated, energy is the ability to do work. Energy exists in a number of different forms. The various forms of energy include: chemical, electrical, heat (thermal), light (radiant), mechanical, and nuclear. Fortunately energy can be transformed from one type to another. A battery operated car will transfer electrical energy produced either from nuclear or chemical (coal or gas) into chemical energy stored into its batteries, into mechanical energy as it moves. Energy can also transferred from place to place or between objects. When this happens, energy always flows from where it is at higher levels to where it is lowest.Conceptual StrandVarious forms of energy are constantly being transformed into other types without any net loss of energy from the system.Guiding QuestionWhat basic energy related ideas are essential for understanding the dependency of the natural and man-made worlds on energy?
Grade Level Expectation
Distinguish among heat, radiant, and chemical forms of energy.
Explain how energy is transferred in a simple electrical circuit.
Investigate how light travels and is influenced by different types of materials and surfaces.
State Performance Indicator
Identify different forms of energy, such as heat, light, and chemical.
Determine which surfaces reflect, refract, or absorb light.
Determine whether a material is transparent, translucent, or opaque.


Standard 11 — Motion
Motion is one part of what physicists call mechanics. Everything in the universe displays some type of movement. In physics, motion is defined as a change in position of an object with respect to time. Scientists have discovered the major laws that explain the motion of objects. Unless they are living, objects do not change position on their own. Forces need to act upon an object to get it moving, or to change its direction or speed. The mass of the object and the magnitude and direction of the force are what ultimately determines how the object responds to an external force.Conceptual StrandObjects move in ways that can be observed, described, predicted, and measured.Guiding QuestionWhat causes objects to move differently under different circumstances?
Grade Level Expectation
Recognize that the position of an object can be described relative to other objects or a background.
Design a simple investigation to demonstrate how friction affects the movement of an object.
Investigate the relationship between the speed of an object and the distance traveled during a certain time period.
State Performance Indicator
Describe the position of an object relative to fixed reference points.
Identify factors that influence the motion of an object.
Determine the relationship between speed and distance traveled over time.

Forces in Nature

Standard 12 — Forces in Nature
Every event that occurs in the universe is governed by forces that are capable of acting at a distance, that is, no direct interaction among the objects is required. Gravity is the weakest of all forces, but the most pervasive because it is generated by all bodies that have mass. Electromagnetic forces which act between electrically charged particles are responsible for all chemical reactions and the most recognizable physical properties, such as heat and light. These forces along with those that control interactions within atoms are the fundamental forces that govern all known natural phenomena.Conceptual StrandEverything in the universe exerts a gravitational force on everything else; there is an interplay between magnetic fields and electrical currentsGuiding QuestionWhat are the scientific principles that explain gravity and electromagnetism?
Grade Level Expectation
Explore the interactions between magnets.
Observe that electrically charged objects exert a pull on other materials.
Explain how electricity in a simple circuit requires a complete loop through which current can pass.
State Performance Indicator
Identify how magnets attract or repel one another.
Determine how an electrically charged material interacts with other objects.
Determine the path of an electrical current in a simple circuit.
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