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The fifth-grade standards emphasize the importance of selecting appropriate instruments for measuring and recording observations. The organization, analysis, and application of data continue to be an important focus of classroom inquiry. Science skills from preceding grades, including questioning, using and validating evidence, and systematic experimentation, are reinforced at this level. Students are introduced to more detailed concepts of sound and light and the tools used for studying them. Key concepts of matter, including those about atoms, molecules, elements, and compounds, are studied, and the properties of matter are defined in greater detail. The cellular makeup of organisms and the distinguishing characteristics of groups of organisms are stressed. Students learn about the characteristics of the oceans and the Earth’s changing surface.
The fifth-grade standards focus on student growth in understanding the nature of science. This scientific view defines the idea that explanations of nature are developed and tested using observation, experimentation, models, evidence, and systematic processes. The nature of science includes the concepts that scientific explanations are based on logical thinking; are subject to rules of evidence; are consistent with observational, inferential, and experimental evidence; are open to rational critique; and are subject to refinement and change with the addition of new scientific evidence. The nature of science includes the concept that science can provide explanations about nature, can predict potential consequences of actions, but cannot be used to answer all questions.