The Science content area of the Colorado Academic Standards contains three standards: Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth Systems Science. Content about the nature of scientific inquiry, which is similar to the preschool subdomain Scientific Skills and Methods, is embedded within each of these standards for grades K–3. This section provides a broad overview of the requirements for each standard for children in kindergarten through third grade and explains how the content in these Guidelines at earlier ages prepares children for meeting these standards in their formal schooling.
The first standard in the Science content area focuses on children’s understanding of common properties, forms, and changes in matter and energy. The Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years provide a foundation for these skills within the Science Knowledge and Skills domain, which specifies that preschoolers may observe, describe, and discuss the properties of materials and transformation of substances. As they enter kindergarten, children build on this knowledge by describing the ways that objects can move (e.g., speed, direction) and how objects can be sorted by physical properties. Children in first grade learn about the differences between solids and liquids, children in second grade learn how changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces, and children in third grade learn how matter can change from one state (e.g., solid, liquid, gas) to another.
The second standard focuses on children’s understanding of the characteristics and structure of living things, the processes of life, and how living things interact with each other and their environment. The Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years provide a foundation for these skills within the Science Knowledge and Skills domain, which specifies that children observe and describe living things and natural process and infer patterns based on those observations, such as the needs of animals and life cycles. Children in grades K–3 continue to learn about the physical characteristics of organisms and learn how to describe and sort them. By the end of first grade, children understand that offspring have characteristics similar to their parents and that their characteristics help them survive. By the end of second grade, children understand how organisms rely on specific habitat and behaviors, and by the end of third grade, children understand that duration and timing of life cycle events such as reproduction and longevity vary across organisms and species.
Earth and Space Science
The third standard focuses on children’s understanding of the processes and interactions of Earth’s systems and the structure and dynamics of Earth and other objects in space. The Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years provide a foundation for these skills within the Science Knowledge and Skills domain, which indicate that children observe objects in the sky, daily weather, and seasonal changes. These basic observations expand in kindergarten through third grade as children develop an understanding that the sun provides heat and light to Earth (kindergarten), that Earth’s materials can be compared and classified based on their properties (first grade), that weather and seasons impact the environment and living organisms (second grade), and that Earth’s materials can be broken down and/or combined into different materials, such as rocks and minerals (third grade).