Middle School Science Frameworks

MS-ESS1. Earth’s Place in the Universe

MS-ESS1-1: Develop and use a model of the Earth-Sun-Moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.

Clarification Statement

  • Examples of models can be physical, graphical, or conceptual.

MS-ESS1-4: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth’s 4.6 billion year old history.

Clarification Statement

  • Emphasis on how analyses of rock formations and the fossils they contain are used to establish relative ages of major events in Earth’s history.
  • Examples of Earth’s major events could range from being very recent (such as the last Ice Age or the earliest fossils of homo sapiens) to very old (such as the formation of Earth or the earliest evidence of life).
  • Examples can include the formation of mountain chains and ocean basins, the evolution or extinction of particular living organisms, or significant volcanic eruptions.
  • Assessment does not include recalling the names of specific periods or epochs and events within them.


MS-ESS2. Earth’s Systems

MS-ESS2-1: Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.

Clarification Statement

  • Emphasis is on the processes of melting, crystallization, weathering, deformation, and sedimentation, which act together to form minerals and rocks through the cycling of Earth’s materials.
  • Assessment does not include the identification and naming of minerals.

MS-ESS2-3: Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

Clarification Statement

  • Examples of data include similarities of rock and fossil types on different continents, the shapes of the continents (including continental shelves), and the locations of ocean structures (such as ridges, fracture zones, and trenches).
  • Paleomagnetic anomalies in oceanic and continental crust are not assessed.

MS-ESS2-4: Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.

Clarification Statement

  • Emphasis is on the ways water changes its state as it moves through the multiple pathways of the hydrologic cycle.
  • Examples of models can be conceptual or physical
  • A quantitative understanding of the latent heats of vaporization and fusion is not assessed.


MS-ESS3. Earth and Human Activity

MS-ESS3-1: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.

Clarification Statement

  • Emphasis is on how these resources are limited and typically non-renewable, and how their distributions are significantly changing as a result of removal by humans.
  • Examples of uneven distributions of resources as a result of past processes include but are not limited to petroleum (locations of the burial of organic marine sediments and subsequent geologic traps), metal ores (locations of past volcanic and hydrothermal activity associated with subduction zones), and soil (locations of active weathering and/or deposition of rock).

MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

Clarification Statement

  • Examples of the design process include examining human environmental impacts, assessing the kinds of solutions that are feasible, and designing and evaluating solutions that could reduce that impact.
  • Examples of human impacts can include water usage (such as the withdrawal of water from streams and aquifers or the construction of dams and levees), land usage (such as urban development, agriculture, or the removal of wetlands), and pollution (such as of the air, water, or land).

MS-ESS3-4: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems. 

Clarification Statement

  • Examples of evidence include grade-appropriate databases on human populations and the rates of consumption of food and natural resources (such as freshwater, mineral, and energy).
  • Examples of impacts can include changes to the appearance, composition, and structure of Earth’s systems as well as the rates at which they change. The consequences of increases in human populations and consumption of natural resources are described by science, but science does not make the decisions for the actions society takes.