Handout: Changes in Science

In an increasingly scientific and technological society it is important that all students gain scientific literacy. Scientific literacy enables people to use scientific principles and processes to make personal decisions and to participate in discussions of scientific issues that affect society (National Research Council [NRC], 1996). The Minnesota science standards and benchmarks describe a connected body of science and engineering knowledge acquired through active participation in science experiences. These experiences include hands-on laboratory activities rooted in scientific inquiry and engineering design.

The 2009 Minnesota Science Standards were primarily based on the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS], 1993) and the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996). Resources for teaching the science standards are posted on the website Frameworks for the Minnesota Mathematics and Science Standards. (SciMathMN, 2012)

The foundational document for the 2019 Science Standards is A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). It identifies three “dimensions” that outline the knowledge and skills that all students should learn:

· Dimension 1: Scientific and Engineering Practices used by professionals and needed by students

· Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts that have applications across science disciplines

· Dimension 3: Core Ideas in the science and engineering disciplines

These dimensions should be woven together throughout science curricula, instruction and assessments.

The following are key shifts called for by the 2019 Minnesota science standards:


Less of

More of

Explaining phenomena and designing solutions to problems

Acquiring disconnected science facts as the only goal of lessons for students and teachers.

Making sense of phenomena and/or designing solutions to problems drives student learning of science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts so that important science facts are learned in context.

Three-dimensional learning

Students learn skills of science and the content of science as separate bodies of knowledge passively by listening to lectures, reading about topics, and participating in intermittent labs that confirm lecture or readings.

Students learn science by directly engaging in the practices that scientists and engineers do (e.g., planning and carrying out investigations) to learn and deepen their understanding of science knowledge, including making connections within and across science domains and progressing through key science ideas that can be used to make sense of the world and solve problems. Students do this by developing, using, and integrating knowledge and practice across the “three dimensions” of science: Science and engineering practices (the behaviors and approaches scientists use), the crosscutting concepts (ideas that are used to make sense of science across domains, like systems thinking), and disciplinary core ideas (the most important terms, formulas, concepts, and ideas in each science domain that all students.

Building K–12 progressions

Concepts disconnected from prior learning and may be implicit or tangential to the core concepts.

Explicit K–12 learning progressions, both within and across years, for science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, nature of science, engineering, and computer science. Less gaps in learning than 2009 standards.

Equity and access

Science, especially advanced topics, is only for those interested in STEM careers. Science opportunities are inconsistent for all K–12 students.

The science standards highlight important learning for all students at all grades K–12. Cultural connections, especially for American Indian tribes and communities are explicit.


National Research Council (NRC). (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

National Research Council (NRC). (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

SciMathMN, & Minnesota Dept. of Education. (2012). Frameworks for Minnesota Science and Mathematics Standards. www.scimathmn.org/stemtc

Achieve (2017) NGSS District Implementation Workbook. www.nextgenscience.org/state-and-district-implementation/state-and-district-implementation