CA Science Framework Description (Grade 6)

Highlighted Phenomena from Integrated Grade Six

  • People get thirsty when they eat salty foods.
  • It rains and snows a lot in the mountains. 
  • A horse can make water boil by running around in circles turning a metal cylinder.
  • During the last 150 years, the Northern Hemisphere has warmed more than the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Hundred-year-old ponderosa pines in one part of the Sierra Nevada foothills tower 150 feet tall, but the same age and same species in South Dakota average just 60 feet tall.

Introduction to Integrated Grade 6

The guiding concept for grade six in the framework is “Systems within organisms and between them are adapted to Earth’s climate systems.” Students focus on the interaction between living systems and their physical environment and use DCIs from physical science to explain processes within each of these systems.

The world is overwhelmingly complex, so scientists frequently think about the world in terms of systems that they can investigate and model in isolation. How do teachers introduce students to this idea of systems? Instructional segment 1 (Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science) introduces systems thinking with the Biosphere project, an experiment where scientists created a self-contained ecosystem and locked themselves inside. Students then compare that system to other simple systems from everyday life. An engineering connection illustrates that systems do not have to be physical objects; students design a system for recruiting more organ and tissue donors to help people when part of their body system fails. The framework helps teachers guide students to compare the human body and Earth, describing both as systems of interacting subsystems.

In IS2 (Earth System Interactions Cause Weather), students ask what causes different parts of California to experience different weather. By focusing on the energy driving these differences, the framework integrates physical science and Earth and space sciences. One snapshot shows how teachers can use a classic historical experiment to teach about energy conversion (friction allows a horse to make a pot of water boil as it walks in circles around a corral turning a large crank). In a vignette, students investigate changes of states of matter from solid to liquid to gas. They develop sophisticated models of matter and heat and link them to models of the water cycle. Students use their models to explain why it rains and snows so much in California’s mountains. The vignette requires students to analyze real-time rainfall data from California as evidence supporting their explanation. They apply their understanding to an engineering connection to determine the optimal location for a wind farm in their city.

Students consider weather patterns from a longer time scale and broader spatial scale in IS3 (Causes and Effects of Regional Climates). They build models of Earth’s energy budget by analyzing global temperature and precipitation data. They consider how consistent patterns in climate lead to consistent patterns in the organisms living in ecosystems. A snapshot helps teachers transition from these regional scales to the mechanisms of inheritance and variation that allow organisms to adapt to their environment.

Are humans disturbing this delicate balance between ecosystems and climate because of global warming? Students obtain information about the effects of temperature change on sea level, glaciers, or storm intensity. Students then quantify how Californians have a different impact than people from other parts of the world because of our per-capita energy consumption and fossil-fuel emissions. A snapshot describes a capstone project to monitor and mitigate human impacts on the environment.

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.

Integrated Grade 6 Storyline

Guiding Concept: Systems within organisms and between them are adapted to Earth’s climate systems.

Instructional Segment IS1
A cell, a person, and planet Earth are each a system made up of subsystems.
Weather conditions result from the interactions among different Earth subsystems.
Regional climates strongly influence regional plant and animal structures and behaviors.
Human activities can change the amount of global warming, which impacts plants and animals.
 Life Science (LS) All living things are made of cells. The body is a system made of interacting subsystems.   Variations of inherited strains arise from genetic differences. Genetic traits and local conditions affect the growth of organisms. Organisms rely on their body structures and behavior to survive long enough to reproduce. Local conditions affect the growth of organisms. Organisms rely on their body structures and behavior to survive, but these adaptations may not be enough to survive as the climate changes.
Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) Water cycles among the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Weather and climate involve interactions among Earth’s subsystems. The movement of water and interacting air masses helps determine local weather patterns and conditions. The ocean has a strong influence on weather and climate. Energy input from the Sun varies with latitude, creating patterns in climate. Energy flow through the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere affects local climate. Density variations drive global patterns of air and ocean currents. Human changes to Earth’s environment can have dramatic impacts on different organisms. Burning fossil fuels is a major cause of global warming. Strategic choices can reduce the amounts and impacts of climate change.
Physical Science (PS)   Temperature measures the average kinetic energy of the particles that make up matter. Energy transfers from hot materials to cold materials. The type and amount of matter affects how much an object’s temperature will change. The type and amount of matter affects how much an object’s temperature will change.  
Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science (ETS) Design criteria. Evaluate solutions. Design criteria. Evaluate solutions. Analyze data Iteratively test and modify.   Design criteria. Evaluate solutions. Analyze data.

Table Source: 2016 CA Science Framework