6th Grade Science – Core Concepts

Scientific investigations and reasoning:

  • To develop a rich knowledge of science and the natural world, students must become familiar with different modes of scientific inquiry, rules of evidence, ways of formulating questions, ways of proposing explanations, and the diverse ways scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on evidence derived from their work.
  • Scientific investigations are conducted for different reasons. All investigations require a research question, careful observations, data gathering, and analysis of the data to identify the patterns that will explain the findings. Descriptive investigations are used to explore new phenomena such as conducting surveys of organisms or measuring the abiotic components in a given habitat. Descriptive statistics include frequency, range, mean, median, and mode. A hypothesis is not required in a descriptive investigation. On the other hand, when conditions can be controlled in order to focus on a single variable, experimental research design is used to determine causation. Students should experience both types of investigations and understand that different scientific research questions require different research designs.
  • Scientific investigations are used to learn about the natural world. Students should understand that certain types of questions can be answered by investigations, and the methods, models, and conclusions built from these investigations change as new observations are made. Models of objects and events are tools for understanding the natural world and can show how systems work. Models have limitations and based on new discoveries are constantly being modified to more closely reflect the natural world.

Matter and energy:

  • Matter can be classified as elements, compounds, or mixtures. Students have already had experience with mixtures in Grade 5, so Grade 6 will concentrate on developing an understanding of elements and compounds. It is important that students learn the differences between elements and compounds based on observations, description of physical properties, and chemical reactions. Elements are represented by chemical symbols, while compounds are represented by chemical formulas. Subsequent grades will learn about the differences at the molecular and atomic level.
  • Elements are classified as metals, nonmetals, and metalloids based on their physical properties. The elements are divided into three groups on the Periodic Table. Each different substance usually has a different density, so density can be used as an identifying property. Therefore, calculating density aids classification of substances.
  • Energy resources are available on a renewable, nonrenewable, or indefinite basis. Understanding the origins and uses of these resources enables informed decision making. Students should consider the ethical/social issues surrounding Earth’s natural energy resources, while looking at the advantages and disadvantages of their long-term uses.

Force, motion, and energy:

  • Energy occurs in two types, potential and kinetic, and can take several forms. Thermal energy can be transferred by conduction, convection, or radiation. It can also be changed from one form to another. Students will investigate the relationship between force and motion using a variety of means, including calculations and measurements.

Earth and space:

  • The focus of this strand is on introducing Earth’s processes. Students should develop an understanding of Earth as part of our solar system. The topics include organization of our solar system, the role of gravity, and space exploration.

Organisms and environments:

  • Students will gain an understanding of the broadest taxonomic classifications of organisms and how characteristics determine their classification. The other major topics developed in this strand include the interdependence between organisms and their environments and the levels of organization within an ecosystem.