Science Literacy - Categories Organization Compared

Four Categories Necessary to Define any Subject

Why these?

New Framework for K-12 Science Education Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

| Catgories chart |

National Science Standards Categories

Project 2061 Categories
1991, 1994

Science Inquiry Knowledge

  • The basic assumptions and ideas used to construct understanding of ideas in a subject or discipline.


Process skills

  • The system of actions, procedures, and, ideas that are used to create knowledge in a subject or discipline.

Scientific and Engineering Practices

EP1: Asking questions (science) and defining problems (engineering)

EP2: Developing and using models

EP3: Planning and carrying out investigations

EP4: Analyzing and interpreting data

EP5: Using mathematics and computational thinking

EP6: Construting explanations (science) and designing solutions (engineering)

EP7: Engaging in argument from evidence

EP8: Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

2. Crosscutting Concepts

CC1: Patterns

CC2: Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation

CC3: Scale, proportion, and quantity

CC4: Systems and system models

CC5: Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation

CC6: Structure and functions

CC7: Stability and change

Science as Inquiry

  • Inquiry is the process of investigation to make discoveries.

Unifying Concepts

Systems, Order, and Organization

Evidence, Models, and Explanations

Constancy, Change, and Measurement

Evolution and Equilibrium

Form and Function

Nature of science:

  • world view,
    inquiry skill,
    science enterprise

Common Themes:





Content Knowledge

  • The ideas (facts, concepts, generalizations, principles, theories, and or laws) that are created by doing the subject.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Physical science

  1. PS1: Matter and its interactions
  2. PS2: Motion and stability: Forces and interactions
  3. PS3: Energy
  4. PS4: Waves and their applications in technologies for information transfer

Life Science

  1. LS1: From molecules to organisms: Structures and processes
  2. LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics
  3. LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and variation of traits
  4. LS4: Biological evolution: Unity and diversity

Earth's systems

  1. ESS1: Earth's place in the universe
  2. ESS2: Earth's systems
  3. ESS3: Earth and human activity


Content Ideas

Physical science

  • Materials can exist in different states- solids, liquids, and gas. Some common materials, such as water, can be changed from one state to another by heating or cooling.

Life science

  • Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms.

Earth science

  • The surface of the earth changes. Some changes are due to slow processes, such s erosion and weathering, and some changes are due to rapid processes, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

Content Ideas

Physical Universe:

  • Universe, Earth, processes shape earth, structure of matter, energy transformations, motion, forces of nature


  • Diversity of life, heredity, cells, interdependency of life, flow of matter and energy, evolution of life,

Human organism:

  • Human identity, human development, basic functions, learning, physical health, mental health



  • The relationship of the different dimensions of a subject or discipline to its other dimensions and to its whole as well as the subject's or discipline's relative significance for explaining and understanding the world.


  1. Engineering, technology, and the Applications of Science

  2. ETS1: Engineering design
  3. ETS2: Links among engineering, technology, science, and society



Science and Technology


Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

History & Nature of Science

Science and technology


Nature of science:

  • Technology and science, design and systems, issues of technology

Historical perspective


  • The diposition and values that people have that increase their likelihood of success in the subject or discipline.



Habits of mind

  • Values and attitude

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©