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Frequently asked questions about our elementary & middle school science curriculum

Still have questions? We have answers. Check out the following FAQ.

An illustration of two animals from Amplify Science

Frequently asked questions about our elementary & middle school science curriculum

<p>Still have questions? We have answers. Check out the following FAQ.</p>

Program questions

  • What exactly is included in Amplify Science?

    Amplify Science is a flexible, blended K-8 science curriculum that addresses the following disciplines: Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Engineering Design. Together, the units address 100% of the Next Generation Science Standards for grades K-8 and a significant number of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects, and Math. School districts that implement our elementary and middle school science curriculum are outfitted with print and digital resources as well as hands-on materials kits and engage with highly-qualified professional learning specialists to start strong.

  • Does your middle school curriculum support the integrated model of instruction or the discipline-specific model?

    We support both. The Lawrence Hall of Science has spoken to thousands of districts across the country and one of the many things they learned was that no one solution works for everyone; therefore, they developed Amplify Science to provide the maximum amount of flexibility so each district wouldn’t be forced into a single model of instruction.

    We have suggested sequences for both the integrated and discipline-specific models. If you have a specific sequence that you want to teach, we can work with you to design a sequence that meets your needs.

  • 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 units are organized around anchoring phenomena designed to give students opportunities to dive deeply into certain disciplinary core ideas while also drawing from or applying to others. In organizing the Amplify Science middle school units, we have 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 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 have learned in a different context.

    For example:
    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?

    Yes. We believe hands-on experiences are critical to the study of science. Every unit in our curriculum comes with a kit of hands-on materials to allow students to roll up their sleeves and conduct hands-on investigations.

  • Is the curriculum appropriate for STEM programs?

    Absolutely. Amplify Science integrates all four STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and math—in addition to English language arts throughout the curriculum.

  • What are your connections to CCSS ELA and CCSS Math?

    Every lesson in Amplify Science explicitly calls out which CCSS Math and CCSS ELA standards are addressed. Amplify Science 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 summative assessments opportunities.

    • End-of-Unit Assessments: Targeted conversations (K–1), written responses (grades 2–5) or a combination of auto-scored multiple-choice questions and rubric-scored written responses (grades 6–8). 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 NGSS.
    • Grades 6–8 Science Seminars and final written arguments (formative and summative components): Culminating performance task for each core unit where students are introduced to a new real-world problem, 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 specifies prerequisites for each unit in the event that teachers are interested in using an Amplify Science unit in combination with other materials.

  • Our school curriculum requires 180 days of instruction. Will Amplify Science have enough lessons to fill out a school year?

    Amplify Science provides enough instructional content to fill 180 days of instruction.

    For grades K-2, we offer 66 lessons that will address 100% of the NGSS and a substantial number of the CCSS-ELA for each grade.

    For grades 3-5, we offer 88 lessons that will address 100% of the NGSS for each grade and a substantial number of the CCSS-ELA.

    For grades 6-8, we offer 146 lessons that will address 100% of the NGSS for Middle School and a substantial number of the CCSS-ELA. Each lesson is designed to last 45 minutes; therefore, it will take some teachers more than 146 classroom days to teach all the 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 curriculum with some of their own favorite lessons. Lastly, the 146 lessons account for the inevitable assembly days, class trips, testing schedules, etc. We also offer a number of additional lessons that are not core to each unit, in the event teachers want to go deeper or expand upon a unit topic.

  • How many minutes per day should I devote to Amplify Science?

    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.

    It is not a problem if you do not allocate 45 mins of science instruction at K-1, or 60 mins at 2-5. Since there are a total of 66 lessons to address 100% of NGSS at grades K-2, and 88 lessons to address 100% of NGSS at 3-5, you can easily teach the lessons in smaller blocks and cover all of the content over the course of the school year.

Technical questions

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.