The study of science allows Wisconsin students to experience the richness and excitement of the natural world. As adults they will face complex questions requiring scientific thinking, reasoning, and the ability to make informed decisions. Scientific knowledge prepares students for the future and helps them acquire skills needed to hold meaningful and productive jobs. These content and performance standards recognize that science is for all students-the essence of science literacy.
Clarity and Specificity
Citizens of Wisconsin are the primary audience for the science standards. The standards set clear and specific goals for teaching and learning, and they are not meant to supplant curriculum. Instead, they should help school districts to develop curriculum units that focus on specific academic results. Districts are encouraged to engage in professional conversations suggested by this document and by the National Science Education Standards* (see Glossary of Terms). Parents and citizens in the district should be a part of this conversation.
The Wisconsin science standards follow the format and content of the National Science Education Standards. Three of the content standards (D. Physical Science; E. Earth and Space Science, and F. Life and Environmental Science) address the knowledge-base of science, while the other content standards address the application of knowledge. A reader looking for more of the details inherent in the content standards may refer to the National Science Education Standards.
Advanced Science Content
Not all students will elect to pursue the more advanced science courses often considered college preparatory or advanced placement courses (Physics II, for example). The science standards do not represent the level of achievement expected in these higher level courses. Rather, they try to capture the knowledge and skills needed to be a scientifically literate citizen.
Examples of Science in Wisconsin
These standards reflect change and reform taking place in science education. They recognize that students and teachers learn together. They also illustrate that science education is an active process that embodies intellectual and cultural traditions important in the practice of contemporary science. Such traditions are honored in every school district in Wisconsin. School districts are encouraged to incorporate the richness of their state and local area in a curriculum aimed at achieving the standards.
Although the standards illustrate the importance of content in earth and space, life and environmental, and physical sciences, they also reflect the interconnectedness of science through inquiry, communication, and applications. Each standard is connected to other standards so that the student gains a better understanding of science through a systemic approach to learning. Further, this interconnectedness of the sciences can be applied to all areas of learning. Students and teachers are encouraged to work together by using inquiry methods each day of class instruction.
It is assumed that standards achieved at early levels will be maintained and developed at later levels. To avoid repetition, knowledge and skills that first appear by grade four may not be repeated at subsequent levels, even though students are expected to retain them.
Safety is a fundamental concern in all experimental science. Teachers of science must know and apply the necessary safety regulations in the use, storage, and care of materials used by students. Safety while learning science requires thorough planning, management, and continuous monitoring of student activities both at school and during any science-related activities. Students must also take responsibility for their own safety and perform experiments as instructed.
In the content or performance standards linked below, terms with an asterisk (*) are defined and/or exemplified in the Science Glossary of Terms.