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Last updated August 2023


Our mission in DCPS is for our students to think and behave the way scientists and engineers do, which means that we should see students engaging daily in one or more of the Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to gather, reason, and communicate their own understandings of the natural world. 

Curriculum and Assessment

Science Curriculum Guides for middle school and select high school courses (Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Physics) include specific guidance for Tier 1 instruction. Additionally, the curriculum guides include suggestions for supplemental resources and activities to support Tier 2, Tier 3, and acceleration. 

  • STEMscopes is the primary DCPS curricular resource for science in grades K-5 and grades 7-12. STEMscopes is a digital resource that was intentionally designed to address the NGSS. Content is organized into 5E lesson sequences called scopes, each of which are grounded in an anchoring phenomenon that addresses a single NGSS performance expectation. 
  • Amplify Science is a new middle school curriculum that we will begin implementing in grade 6 Earth Science in SY23-24, with expansion to grade 7 (in SY24-25) and grade 8 (in SY25-26). Amplify Science is a phenomenon-based science curriculum that blends hands-on investigations, literacy-rich activities, and interactive digital tools to empower students to do what real scientists and engineers do every day.

Major Units of Study

Middle School
Grade 6 Earth Science Grade 7 Life Science Grade 8 Physical Science
  • Geology on Mars
  • Plate Motion
  • Rock Transformations
  • Earth, Sun, and Moon
  • Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate
  • Weather Patterns
  • Earth’s Changing Climate
  • Structure, Function, and Information Processing
  • Growth and Development of Organisms
  • Inheritance and Variation of Traits
  • Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
  • Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
  • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • Energy Transfer in Temperature
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Kinetic and Potential
  • Energy
  • Forces and Motion
  • Waves and their Application
High School

Anatomy & Physiology

Biology Chemistry Environmental Science Physics
  • Cytology and Histology
  • Support and Movement
  • Transport
  • Absorption, Excretion, and
  • Hormonal Balance
  • Molecules of Life
  • Ecosystems and the Environment
  • Organization of Systems and Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Understanding Matter and Energy
  • Thermodynamics and Periodicity
  • Interactions of Matter
  • Equilibrium

  • Ecology and the Natural World
  • Resources from Air, Water, and Land
  • Earth’s Resources and Energy
  • Sustainability
  • The Physics of Motion
  • Forces at a Distance
  • Energy
  • Waves

District Partnerships

Community partnerships help make science learning meaningful and relevant by offering students and educators a chance to engage with dynamic organizations and local phenomena.  Notable partnerships include:

  • The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project provides professional learning opportunities and materials for student exploration in sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change, and energy careers.  NEED, in partnership with Pepco and the Exelon Foundation, provide the Energizing Student Potential Program (ESP) and the Exelon Foundation STEM Leadership Academy for students in DC and the surrounding area.
  • EcoRise works with DCPS schools to engage local students and teachers in promoting sustainability and develop climate leaders through a range of curricula and programs for students and teachers designed to advance environmental literacy, sustainable schools, and equitable access to green career pathways.
  • MIT Scheller Teacher Education partners with DCPS to design, pilot, and launch a series of inquiry-driven lessons and learning experiences that integrate block coding and computational modeling into all high school science classes.  Students develop computer models to simulate and study complex systems using mathematical data and use scientific principles in real-world inquiry driven experiences.

Program Highlights

We know from research that students learn best through a combination of first-hand experience and many opportunities for reflection about their work. To that end, we have made major commitments to ensuring that students have ample opportunities to design investigations, engage in scientific reasoning, manipulate equipment, record data, analyze results, and discuss their findings. In 2022, the district invested in hands-on materials to support STEMscopes and Amplify curricula. In addition, the district also invests in supplemental resources such as ExploreLearning Gizmos (interactive science simulations that help reinforce lab experiences) and Discovery Education Science Techbook (another digital curricular resource that includes dynamic multimedia content such as videos and virtual labs). 

Contact Information

James Rountree, Director of K-12 Science