Science High School Learning Objectives

To become ready for college and career, high school students blend core science ideas with scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts. This practice supports students in developing useable knowledge to explain ideas across all the science disciplines: life, earth, and physical.

At the high school level students engage with major global issues at the interface of science, technology, society, and the environment, and to use the analytical and strategic thinking that prior training and increased maturity make possible. They will examine, review, and evaluate their own knowledge and ideas and critique those of others.

Over the course of their high school studies, students will become increasingly proficient at posing questions that request relevant empirical evidence; that seek to refine a model, an explanation, or an engineering problem; or that challenge the premise of an argument or the suitability of a design.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

Your child will take coursework in the life, physical, and earth science disciplines. They will have experience such as:

  • Represent and explain phenomena with multiple types of models—for example, represent molecules with 3-D models or with bond diagrams.
  • Obtain and evaluate evidence of the factors in an ecosystem related to survival and provide an argument for how these and other observed changes affect a species of interest.
  • Use to subatomic and subcellular explanations in describing phenomena in the life and physical sciences.
  • Recognize that different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied, for example, classifications based on DNA comparisons will differ than those based on visible characteristics.
  • Use mathematical models to describe and predict the effects of gravitational and electrostatic forces between distant objects.
  • Predict and describe system behavior using models of the concept of conservation of energy.
  • Plan experimental or field-research procedures, identifying relevant independent and dependent variables, recognizing that it is not always possible to control variables and that other methods can be used in such cases.
  • Ask probing questions that seek to identify the premises of an argument, request further elaboration, refine a research question or engineering problem, or challenge the interpretation of a data set—for example: How do you know? What evidence supports that argument?
  • Explain how claims to knowledge are judged by the scientific community today and articulate the merits and limitations of peer review and the need for independent replication of critical investigations.
  • Engage in a critical reading of primary scientific literature (adapted for classroom use) or of media reports of science in order to communicate understanding, ask questions, and discuss the validity and reliability of data, hypotheses, and conclusions using appropriate scientific vocabulary, tables, diagrams, graphs, and mathematical expressions. (Earth and Space)

Source: Iowa Core Parent Guides from the Iowa Department of Education.
Read the Iowa Core Parent Guide (English) and Iowa Core Parent Guide (Spanish).
Read the complete standards at