The Unit 4 Science Team is committed to implementing the Illinois Learning Standards in Science/Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in a student-centered environment.

The NGSS implemented throughout Unit 4 in Grades K-12 foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and data analysis. Students learn how to make sense of the world around them and to cultivate skills to prepare students for college and careers. Our NGSS-aligned curriculum also builds scientific literacy that empowers students to interpret and make informed decisions about the relevant issues they face today and in the future.



3D Learning

  • The three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards include disciplinary core ideas (the content), crosscutting concepts (the big ideas that span all science areas), and science and engineering practices (how scientists investigate). Students at Unit 4 learn science through investigating phenomenon using the science and engineering practices to develop their understanding of science concepts. Students gain a deeper understanding of scientific concepts when they are coupled with scientific practices and overarching crosscutting concepts as compared to when they learn about the three dimensions separately. 

Hands-On Learning

  • The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for students to engage in hands-on learning to ensure an understanding of science concepts that goes far beyond the pages of a book. At Unit 4, students are able to observe and experiment using scientific equipment and everyday materials to form and deepen their understanding of why their world works the way it does. We know that students come to our classrooms with a diversity of background knowledge which they leverage as they seek to create a common understanding of the shared hands-on experience.
  • K-8 Science Center - At Unit 4, we ensure access for all students to materials for hand-on learning through our Science Center. For each unit of study in Grades K-8, supplies are organized and delivered to each classroom to ensure that all students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich learning experience to meet the high expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Phenomena Based Inquiry

  • What is a phenomenon? A phenomenon is something that a student might observe or experience either in everyday life, or provided through a hands-on investigation that causes the student to wonder and seek to explain.
  • At Unit 4, we anchor student learning in the context of a phenomenon to support student agency for wanting to build science and engineering knowledge. Students are able to identify an answer to "why do I need to learn this?" before they even know what the "this" is. By centering science education on phenomena that students are motivated to explain, the focus of learning shifts from learning about a topic to figuring out why or how something happens. 


Claims, Evidence, Reasoning

  • As students have built on their understanding of the NGSS through hands-on learning and investigation of phenomena, they are asked to make a claim and provide evidence they collected from their hands-on investigations to support their reasoning about how a phenomenon works.


Students will develop understanding of concepts in the NGSS for Middle School Science by engaging in activities embedded in real-world phenomenon.

Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology, IQWST by Activate Learning


The table below outlines the units of study across grade band at Unit 4:

Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology, IQWST 
 Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
 Grade 6

 Life Science 1: 

Where have all the creatures gone?

Earth Science 1: 

How does water shape our world?

 Physical Science 1: 

Can I believe my eyes?

Chemistry 1: 

How can I smell things from a distance?

 Grade 7

 Physical Science 2: 

Why do some things stop while others keep going?

Chemistry 2: 

How can I make new stuff from old stuff?

Life Science 2: 

What is going on inside me?

Earth Science 2: 

What makes the weather change?

 Grade 8

 Life Science 3: 

Why do organisms look the way they do?

Earth Science 3: 

How is the Earth changing?

Chemistry 3: 

How does food provide my body with energy?

Physical Science 3: 

How will it move?



Resources for Families:

Family Guide to Next Generation Science Standards - English / Spanish

IQWST Resources - Students can login using their Google accounts to access IQWST materials at:

Through IQWST, students have access to the following resources for learning:

  • Digital Journals - students will record predictions, observations, and conclusions from in-class hand-on activities
  • Videos
  • Simulations
  • Readings, including audio versions
  • Students will receive feedback from their teachers through the IQWST platform that guides students in recognizing their strengths and provides opportunities for growth.
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