Science Education

  • Our vision of science in D65 is that:

    • All students are authentically engaging in the practices of a scientist
    • All students figure out the complex scientific concepts expected of their grade level
    • All students see themselves as scientists

    Our mission is to build student-driven learning of rich scientific concepts through phenomenon-based curriculum and research-based instructional routines and practices that have students consistently following a cycle of noticing, wondering, designing investigations to answer questions, and generating conclusions based on their findings. We believe that our mission will lead to our vision.

    We carry out our mission by following the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and implementing best practices including the utilization of storylines in our classrooms. Storylines provide authentic opportunities for students to figure out science ideas. This explicitly means that students are never told scientific ideas. In District 65, students are not learning about science, they are being scientists.  This means that they are figuring out scientific concepts by employing scientific practices and exploring rich phenomena.

    These practices emphasize the key aspects of our overall STEM vision. We strive for:

    • Grade Level Work and Expectations. This includes clear learning expectations, clear guidance for standards-aligned resources, and regular monitoring of student performance
    • A Feeling of Agency & Identity. This includes student ownership of learning, students' sense of self as “belonging” in Math and Science (“I am a scientist/engineer/mathematician”), and students' noticings & wonders acting as the driver of learning (What do students notice? What do they wonder? How will they answer their questions?)
    • Collective Learning. This means that discourse drives further thinking, multiple perspectives & multiple methods. It also means that communication (supporting thinking with evidence) is understood as a foundation of genuine understanding.


      • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

        The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education on February 19, 2014. Through a combination of highly-rated curriculum and strongly supported educators, and with the strategic partnership of Northwestern University, District 65 continues to invest in adoption of these standards.

        This work has included:

        • Adoption of Great Minds PhD Science in grade 3-5, and consideration of adoption in grade K-2
        • Adoption of OpenSciEd materials in the middle grades
        • Continued professional support for educators as they increase their ability to enact NGSS in the classroom

        The vision of NGSS amplifies our vision as a district. Students are:

        • Introduced to phenomena that are of genuine interest to students
        • Discover new scientific knowledge in order to understand why the phenomena happen
        • Driving the classroom discussion
        • Conceptualizing ideas that drive investigations that reveal additional knowledge and additional questions
        • Feeling a combination of excitement, ownership and a collective spirit as they grow in their scientifica knowledge.

      NGSS Summary

      If you are having trouble viewing the document, you may download the document.

      What are Students Learning?

      • Units of study for science in the 2021-2022 school year are:

        • Kindergarten: Wild Weather, Circle of Seasons, Plant and Animal Secrets, Sunny Skies, and Forces Olympics
        • 1st Grade: Plant & Animal Superpowers, Spinning Sky, Lights & Sounds
        • 2nd Grade: Material Magic, Plant Adventure, Animal Adventures, Work of Water
        • 3rd Grade: Weather & Climate, Survival
        • 4th Grade: Earth's Features, Energy
        • 5th Grade: Matter, Ecosystems, Health and Human Development
        • 6th Grade: Light &Matter, Thermal Energy, Weather, Climate and Water Cycling, Climate Action Project
        • 7th Grade: Metabolic Reactions, Matter Cycling & Photosynthesis, Ecosystem Dynamics, Sexual Health
        • 8th Grade: Contact Forces, Earth in Space, Genetics


      • At-Home Learning Resources

        If you are looking for additional science learning opportunities beyond the district's science curriculum, consider any of the following educational links, which have a variety of activities, lessons, demonstrations, experiments, online games and information on an assortment of science topics. Please note that this is a curated list for the purpose of supporting at-home interest in further science learning. Listing of a resource on this page is not an endorsement of the provider by District 65.

        Road Trip from Home: Virtual Field Trips
        These are fun and wonderful websites that will show you different parts of the world, famous landmarks, beautiful works of art, historical marvels, science adventures and so much more!

        Hands on Science Lessons
        An assortment of lesson ideas from the Math-Science Learning Coalition. The site offers lessons for early elementary and late elementary students organized by grade level or subject.

        Science at Home
        The Museum of Science and Industry has created "Science at Home" - Keep learning in place and at your pace with science activities and topics you can access anytime.

        TERC is keeping a collection of free resources to help educators, parents, students, and others cope with school closings and quarantines - ways to keep students' minds engaged. These resources are created by their math and science education and research experts and funded by the National Science Foundation along with other funding agencies.
        Dense-making tasks that teachers and families can use to engage students
        The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) offers a "Daily Do" - available below.

        NASA e-Clips
        Providing educators with standards-based videos, activities and lessons to increase STEM literacy through the lens of NASA.

        Parents Magazine
        Parents Magazine offers the following science ideas for caregivers to do with their children.

        National Geographic Resource Library
        National Geographic Resource Library is searchable by grade level.

        Free Remote & E-learning Projects
        A list of free remote & e-learning projects.

        PHET's Interactive Simulations for Elementary Students
        Provides some interesting explorations for kids. See their quick tips. You can search by subject area as well.

        Virtual Field Trips
        This list of virtual field trips includes a view of artwork at the Louvre, a number of live cams at zoos, and a way to explore Mars.

        Scholastic Learn at Home
        A number of grade-level projects are established that are a blend of science and social studies.
        Created by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), this site is "a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages". Each day, they pose a new question—the Wonder of the Day®—and explore it in a variety of ways. Students can also submit their own questions.

        PBS Kitchen Chemistry
        In the virtual kitchen, your student can perform a number of chemistry-related experiments. In the real kitchen, learners are asked to do experiments at home, record and share their results online and get rewards.

        NASA for Kids and the NASA Kid’s Club
        These websites provide access to materials that are age appropriate for K-8 learners. The Kids Club also has a varied of online games that connect with astronomy topics.