CA Science Framework Description (Grade 4)

Highlighted Phenomena from Grade Four

  • When a big toy car collides with a small toy car, the small car moves farther than when two small cars collide.
  • In a plastic tub that models a river, water erodes more material when the slope is steeper.
  • The amplitude of shaking varies during an earthquake.
  • Some animals have eyes on the sides of their heads, but others have eyes that face forward.


Introduction to Grade 4

The framework provides example phenomena for science that connect to the focus on California in fourth grade history–social science. California’s history is intimately intertwined with its geography, and grade-four students ask questions about the forces shaping California’s landscape. In IS3 (Sculpting Landscapes), students observe weathering and erosion on their schoolyard and then create a physical model of a river that they can observe. They use this physical model to develop a conceptual model of how rocks form at Earth’s surface, including the deposits of gold that were so important to California history. Students use their model in an engineering connection to design solutions that minimize erosion and protect property today.

California’s historical earthquakes provide a tangible phenomenon for studying the energy of waves. In IS4 (Earthquake Engineering), students describe the shaking in terms of wave motion. In an engineering connection, they design an earthquake-resistant structure and test it on a shake table.

A vignette in IS5 (Animal Senses) allows students to obtain information about California’s diverse habitats and then explain how different living things have specific body parts that help them survive in each habitat. Students then focus on how animals sense their environment (including a snapshot investigating how termites use scents to follow paths).

The framework also prepares students to meet California’s future energy challenges. In grade four, students develop the abstract concept of energy through hands-on investigations with toy cars in IS1 (Car Crashes). Students revisit the phenomena of objects colliding in every grade span during the CA NGSS, building more detailed understanding each time. By tracking the flow of energy in a collision, students recognize that energy is never created but is simply transferred from one object to another. In IS2 (Renewable Energy), they recognize that energy for electricity and fuel must come from somewhere and that obtaining that energy can impact the environment. In an engineering connection, students design a renewable energy device such as a windmill or solar heater. They describe how their device converts energy from one form to another while reducing the environmental impact. 

from d’Alessio, Matthew A. (2018). Executive Summary: Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Sacramento: Consortium for the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Overview of Instructional Segments for Grade 4

Grade 4 - IS - Overview

Image Source: 2016 CA Science Framework