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 scientist 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.

  • Example - Kindergarten students consider cause-and-effect relationships (a crosscutting concept) as they design and test solutions (an engineering practice) that use forces to change a pinball's motion (core science ideas). Students engage in the three dimensions of the NGSS as they build their understanding of concepts and skills, which they can use in their everyday lives.

Pinball picture

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. 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 hands-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.

Example of Science Kit: Grade 3 Environments and Survival Unit

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 understandings of concepts in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by engaging in activities embedded in real-world phenomenon.

District Adopted Curriculum:  Amplify Science

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

 Grade Level Science Unit


English / Spanish

  • Needs of Plants and Animals
  • Pushes and Pulls
  • Sunlight and Weather

First Grade

English / Spanish

  • Animal and Plant Defenses
  • Light and Sound
  • Spinning Earth

 Second Grade

English / Spanish

  • Plant and Animal Relationships
  • Properties of Materials
  • Changing Landforms

 Third Grade 

English / Spanish

  • Balancing Forces
  • Inheritance and Traits
  • Environments and Survival
  • Weather and Climate

 Fourth Grade

English / Spanish

  • Energy Conversions
  • Vision and Light
  • Earth's Features
  • Waves, Energy and Information

 Fifth Grade

English / Spanish

  • Patterns of Earth and Sky
  • Modeling Matter
  • The Earth System
  • Ecosystem Restoration






















Resources for Families:

Family Guide to Next Generation Science Standards

Amplify Resources - The Amplify program includes materials for hands-on investigations and books for students in grades K-5. Students in grades 2-5 access digital science tools and simulations via Clever on their district device.

Amplify Unit Overview

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