CA Science Framework Description (Grade 6)

Highlighted Phenomena from Discipline Specific Grade Six

  • The Moon is attracted by Earth’s gravity but does not come crashing down.
  • Lake Tahoe typically receives more than 10 feet of snow each winter, while it has only snowed five times in San Diego during the last 125 years.
  • The average beef burger takes four times more water to produce than an average soy burger that provides the same number of calories.
  • Sediment cores taken from lakes in the Sierra Nevada include an ash layer that matches the chemical composition of rocks of the Long Valley Caldera.
  • Underwater mountain ranges are located exactly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Introduction to Discipline Specific Grade Six

Grade six builds directly on ideas from grade five that Earth can be thought of as a series of interconnected subsystems. The instructional segments in grade six focus on the internal workings of these subsystems and how they interact with one another.

Students begin by putting the Earth system in its context within the solar system. Students recognized patterns in the motion of the Sun, Moon, and stars in earlier grades, and now they are ready to develop a detailed model that explains them. A vignette in IS1 (Earth’s Place in the Solar System) presents a variety of models to explain the phases of the Moon, providing examples of how teachers can ensure that students truly grasp the complex spatial relationships and how they affect what people on Earth observe. 

Students extend these models in IS2 (Atmosphere: Flows of Energy) by showing how the energy flow in the Earth–Sun system affects Earth’s seasons and overall climate. They use the model to explain patterns of temperature and precipitation on Earth, and they begin to ask questions about what has caused the global average temperature to increase so quickly in the last century. 

In IS3 (Atmosphere/Hydrosphere: Cycles of Matter), students take on the role of weather forecaster, analyzing data and applying models of how air masses move through the atmosphere and water cycles move through the hydrosphere. Instructional segment 3 emphasizes how humans depend on abundant clean water for drinking and growing food, and students obtain information about the amount of water required to grow different varieties of meats and vegetables so that they can make informed dietary choices. An engineering connection focuses on water quantity as students design a system that diverts water flowing along a street into the groundwater and provides the maximum filtration of that water. 

Students learn that every rock records a story in IS4 (Geosphere: Surface Processes). They investigate differences between materials on their schoolyard and use them to ask and answer questions about how rocks form at Earth’s surface. In an engineering connection, students design and test different mixtures of concrete. Students then relate the process they used to create the concrete mixtures to the natural processes that create sedimentary rocks.

As far back as grade two, students have been describing California’s rugged landscape. In IS5 (Geosphere: Internal Processes), they develop a model of plate motions that they can use to explain why California has mountains and valleys and how this landscape relates to the damaging earthquakes that plague the state. In an engineering connection, students design an earthquake early warning system for California that notifies residents a few seconds before strong shaking reaches their homes.

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.

Discipline Specific Grade 6 Storyline

Grade 6 DS - IS - Overview

Image Source: 2016 CA Science Framework