Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? We have answers. Check out the following FAQ.
Frequently asked questions
What is Amplify Science California?
Amplify Science California is a flexible, blended K–8 science curriculum that addresses 100 percent of the Next Generation Science Standards for California, and a significant number of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects, and Math, as well as the California English Language Development Standards. Together, the units deliver three-dimensional instruction across the following disciplines: Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Engineering Design.
What is included in Amplify Science California?
Since Amplify Science California is a blended curriculum, districts who adopt it are outfitted with a variety of print and digital resources as well as hands-on materials kits. To explore the specific components of the program, visit the What’s Included portion of our site.
As our customers will tell you, when you adopt Amplify Science California, you aren’t just buying a science curriculum, you’re joining a family. As such, along with materials, your adoption of Amplify Science California also includes care and support through a variety of staff and resources, including customer support specialists, pedagogical support specialists, implementation specialists, professional learning specialists, educational partnership managers, and more.
I’ve heard Amplify Science California is a digital program that requires 1:1 student devices. Is this true?
Amplify Science California does indeed features some powerful and engaging digital components, which are gradually introduced beginning at grade 2. However, as a fully blended and flexible program, Amplify Science California can be (and has been) implemented in a wide variety of scenarios.
All lessons were designed with device sharing in mind, and never assume that every student has a separate device. While 1:1 scenarios are great, they aren’t required. When devices are necessary for students to fully experience a concept, teachers can opt to share devices across pairs or small groups, or simply display the Sim or Modeling Tool to the whole class and allow students to “drive” using your device.
How does Amplify Science California address the 5Es?
Rather than introducing a concept on Monday, testing for mastery on Friday, and knowing students will forget everything by the next Tuesday, we set out to help students build meaningful and lasting knowledge that they can retain and transfer over the course of the entire unit. We accomplish this by giving students multiple opportunities (a.k.a. “at-bats”) to encounter, explore, and experience a concept. Said another way, Amplify Science California is actually made up of a series of multi-modal “mini-lessons.” This intentional cyclical and iterative design mirrors the 5Es, allows teachers the flexibility to speed up or skip ahead once students have demonstrated mastery, and empowers students to learn concepts more deeply than any other program.
Does your middle school curriculum support the integrated model of instruction or the discipline-specific model?
We support both. No one solution works for everyone; therefore, in partnership with the Lawrence Hall of Science, we developed suggested sequences for both the integrated model of instruction and the discipline-specific model. Because it’s our goal to provide districts the maximum amount of flexibility, we’re also happy to support districts interested in implementing a different sequence of instruction.
Are the units themselves integrated?
Yes. Rather than separating Performance Expectations into physical science units, earth and space science units, and life science units, Amplify Science California units are organized around anchoring phenomena designed to give students opportunities to dive deeply into certain disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) while also drawing from or applying to others. In organizing the Amplify Science California middle school units, we’ve carefully sequenced these ideas within each grade level to support the development of deep and coherent understanding.
Many real-world phenomena cross the domain boundaries of life, physical, or earth and space science (as well as engineering). Each Amplify Science California unit begins with an intriguing real-world phenomenon that poses a problem that needs to be understood and/or solved. By the end of the unit, students will have analyzed the anchor phenomenon across multiple scientific domains, possibly designed and tested an engineering solution, and always applied what they’ve learned in a different context.
In the unit Light Waves, students investigate the anchoring phenomenon of why Australia has a much higher skin cancer rate than countries at similar latitudes like Brazil. The focus of this unit is on disciplinary core ideas related to wave properties (PS4.A) and electromagnetic radiation (PS4.B). Students explore these physical science ideas deeply within the unit, and also draw on ideas from earth science (e.g., latitudinal variation of the sun’s energy) and life science (e.g., the effect of energy on the DNA in the nucleus of a cell) in order to explain the central phenomenon.
Does your curriculum include hands-on activities?
Absolutely. Hands-on learning is at the heart of Amplify Science California. Integrated into every unit are opportunities for students to take on the role of scientists and engineers as they gather evidence, think critically, solve problems, and develop and defend their claims.
In addition, our unique combination of focus and flex activities means teachers have more options, opportunities, and materials to make learning active. Each hands-on activity provides clear instructions for the teacher, with more complex activities supported by video demonstrations and illustrations.
I’m used to using a program that delivers all instruction through hands-on activities? Amplify Science California doesn’t seem to do this. Why?
What’s important to remember is that more hands-on doesn’t necessarily mean better, at least according to the California NGSS. That’s because only two of the eight Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) are directly related to hands-on learning.
Just as scientists gather evidence from many types of sources, so do students in the Amplify Science California program. Like scientists, students gather evidence from physical models, digital models, texts, videos, photographs, maps, and data sets. By doing do, we provide students more opportunities than any other program to practice using all of the practices called out in the California NGSS Framework.
NGSS 8 Science Practices
- Asking questions
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations
- Engaging in arguments from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
While all of our units engage students in gathering evidence from a rich collection of sources, the reliance on different types of evidence (and evidence sources) varies according to unit. For instance, some units lend themselves to meaningful hands-on experiences, while in other units the phenomena students are investigating are too slow, too dangerous, or too big to be observed directly. In those units, students rely more heavily on other evidence sources such a physical models or simulations.
Unit types in grades K-5
In each K–5 grade, there is one unit that emphasizes investigation, one that emphasizes modeling, and one that emphasizes design. In addition, in grades 3–5, there is also one unit that emphasizes argumentation.
Unit types in grades 6-8
Each 6–8 grade features three types of units: Launch, Core, and Engineering Internships. Each year has one Launch unit, six Core units, and two Engineering Internships.
For teachers who want to supplement the lessons with even more hands-on activities, optional “flextension” activities are included in many units.
Is the curriculum appropriate for STEM programs?
Yes indeed. Amplify Science California integrates all four STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and math—in addition to English Language Arts—throughout the curriculum. In addition, each grade level features specific units that emphasize engineering design.
What are your connections to CCSS ELA and CCSS Math?
Every lesson in Amplify Science California explicitly calls out which CCSS ELA and CCSS Math standards are addressed. That said, this is not a math program, nor an ELA program; therefore, it does not address all of the Common Core standards. But the program does address a significant number of the standards as they pertain to science.
Do you include summative assessments (preparation for high-stakes tests)?
Yes, the program includes multiple opportunities for summative assessments.
End-of-unit assessments: At grades K–1 these look like targeted conversations, at grades 2–5 we incorporate written responses, and at grades 6–8 we assess through a combination of auto-scored multiple-choice questions and rubric-scored written responses. These summative assessments for each unit are designed to provide valid, reliable, and fair measures of students’ progress and attainment of three-dimensional learning.
Benchmark assessments: Delivered four times per year in grades 3–5 and three times per year in grades 6–8, benchmark assessments report on students’ facility with each of the grade-level appropriate DCIs, SEPs, CCCs, and performance expectations of the California NGSS.
Science Seminars and final written arguments (formative and summative components): In grades 6–8, culminating performance tasks for each core unit invite students to figure out a new real-world problem. They collect and analyze evidence, examine a number of claims, and then engage in a full-class discussion where they must state which claims are best supported by the evidence, all while making clear their reasoning that connects the evidence to the claims. After the seminar, students then individually write their final scientific argument, drawing on the DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs they have used over the course of the unit to develop a sophisticated and convincing argument that addresses the problem they’ve been investigating. Rubrics, scoring guides, and examples of student responses at each scoring level are provided to teachers to support the assessment of students’ understanding of concepts and specific practices.
Do I have to teach the program in the suggested sequence?
No. While we do provide suggested sequences for integrated and domain courses, there are other logical ways to sequence the units and we expect that teachers will present the units in a variety of different orders and in any combination. There are a few notable exceptions. For example, students completing the Metabolism Engineering Internship should have completed the Metabolism core unit beforehand, or a unit that provides students with the same information. Amplify Science California specifies prerequisites for each unit in the event that teachers are interested in using an Amplify Science California unit in combination with other materials.
Our school curriculum requires 180 days of instruction. Will Amplify Science California have enough lessons to fill out a school year?
The typical elementary classroom delivers science instruction only two times per week. Yet, most curricula provide 180 days of lessons. Rather than asking teachers to wade through unnecessary content, we designed a program that addresses 100 percent of the NGSS in just 66 days at grades K–2 and 88 days at grades 3–5. With plenty of wiggle room built right into the program, teachers can relax knowing that there’s ample time to get it all done.
Amplify Science California provides more than enough instructional content to fill 180 days of instruction. However, unlike other programs that expect you to complete 180 discrete lessons, Amplify Science California includes built in wiggle room.
For example, the typical elementary classroom delivers science instruction only two times per week. Rather than asking teachers to wade through unnecessary content, we designed our program to address 100 percent of the California NGSS in just 66 days at grades K–2 and 88 days at grades 3–5. When it comes to middle school, we address 100 percent of the California NGSS in 146 lessons.
Some classes might last longer than one session due to a number of reasons (e.g., enthusiastic student conversations, challenging topics requiring deeper dives, more time needed to accommodate diverse learners, etc.). Also, teachers might want to supplement Amplify Science California with some of their own favorite lessons. Lastly, we’ve accounted for the inevitable assembly days, class trips, testing schedules, et cetera. For teachers that want to go deeper or expand upon a unit topic, we also offer a number of additional lessons that are not core to each unit.
How many minutes per day should I devote to Amplify Science California?
Amplify Science California lessons are designed to be completed in the following timeframes:
Grades K-1 lessons are designed for 45 minutes of science instruction.
Grades 2-5 lessons are designed for 60 minutes of science instruction.
Grades 6-8 lessons are designed for 45 minutes of science instruction.
That said, it’s not a problem if you can’t allocate 45 mins of science instruction every day at K-1, or 60 minutes per day at 2-5. Since there are a total of 66 lessons to address 100 percent of California NGSS at grades K-2, and 88 lessons to address 100 percent of California NGSS at grades 3-5, you can easily teach the lessons in smaller blocks and cover all of the content over the course of the school year.
To ensure that your hardware and network meet the minimum technical requirements for optimal performance and support of your digital curriculum products please see Amplify’s customer requirements page.