Next Generation Science Standards

What are the NGSS? The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are national standards developed to increase science proficiency in K-12 education. They provide a three-dimensional learning framework designed to elicit science proficiency through the learning of content, practices and concepts. The three- dimensions are:

  • Disciplinary core ideas (physical science, life science, earth and space science, engineering and technology),
  • Crosscutting concepts (patterns, cause and effect, system and system models, etc.) which can be applied throughout all domains
  • Practices (asking questions, developing and using models, analyzing and interpreting data, etc.).

Why use NGSS?  Integration of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) or a state’s science standards within program development can help provide alignment with the curriculum taught in classrooms.  

  • NGSS can provide informal educators with a deeper understanding of the learning expectations at grade levels and what content should be addressed.
  • Applied NGSS standards will make wildlife center outreach programs more appealing to teachers.

Life Sciences Standards for Wildlife Center Programs/ Lessons

Disciplinary Core Ideas- for more information visit

1st Grade:

LS1.A: Structure and Function

  • All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow. (1-LS1-1)

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms

  • Adult plants and animals can have young. In many kinds of animals, parents and the offspring themselves engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive. (1-LS1-2)

LS1.D: Information Processing

  • Animals have body parts that capture and convey different kinds of information needed for growth and survival. Animals respond to these inputs with behaviors that help them survive. Plants also respond to some external inputs. (1-LS1-1)

3rd Grade:

LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior

  • Being part of a group helps animals obtain food, defend themselves, and cope with changes. Groups may serve different functions and vary dramatically in size (Note: Moved from K–2). (3-LS2-1)

LS4.C: Adaptation

  • For any particular environment, some kinds of organisms survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all. (3-LS4-3)

LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

  • Populations live in a variety of habitats, and change in those habitats affects the organisms living there. (3-LS4-4)

Middle School:

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

  • Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. (MS-LS2-1)
  • In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction. (MS-LS2-1)
  • Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. (MS-LS2-1)
  • Similarly, predatory interactions may reduce the number of organisms or eliminate whole populations of organisms. Mutually beneficial interactions, in contrast, may become so interdependent that each organism requires the other for survival. Although the species involved in these competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial interactions vary across ecosystems, the patterns of interactions of organisms with their environments, both living and nonliving, are shared. (MS-LS2-2)

LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

  • Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations. (MS-LS2-4)
  • Biodiversity describes the variety of species found in Earth’s terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health. (MS-LS2-5)

LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

  • Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources, such as food, energy, and medicines, as well as ecosystem services that humans rely on—for example, water purification and recycling. (secondary to MS-LS2-5)

High School

LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

  • A complex set of interactions within an ecosystem can keep its numbers and types of organisms relatively constant over long periods of time under stable conditions. If a modest biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, it may return to its more or less original status (i.e., the ecosystem is resilient), as opposed to becoming a very different ecosystem. Extreme fluctuations in conditions or the size of any population, however, can challenge the functioning of ecosystems in terms of resources and habitat availability. (HS-LS2-2),(HS-LS2-6)
  • Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species. (HS-LS2-7)

LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior

  • Group behavior has evolved because membership can increase the chances of survival for individuals and their genetic relatives. (HS-LS2-8)

LS4.C: Adaptation

  • Evolution is a consequence of the interaction of four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for an environment’s limited supply of the resources that individuals need in order to survive and reproduce, and (4) the ensuing proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in that environment. (HS-LS4-2)
  • Natural selection leads to adaptation, that is, to a population dominated by organisms that are anatomically, behaviorally, and physiologically well suited to survive and reproduce in a specific environment. That is, the differential survival and reproduction of organisms in a population that have an advantageous heritable trait leads to an increase in the proportion of individuals in future generations that have the trait and to a decrease in the proportion of individuals that do not. (HS-LS4-3),(HS-LS4-4)
  • Adaptation also means that the distribution of traits in a population can change when conditions change. (HS-LS4-3)
  • Changes in the physical environment, whether naturally occurring or human induced, have thus contributed to the expansion of some species, the emergence of new distinct species as populations diverge under different conditions, and the decline–and sometimes the extinction–of some species. (HS-LS4-5),(HS-LS4-6)
  • Species become extinct because they can no longer survive and reproduce in their altered environment. If members cannot adjust to change that is too fast or drastic, the opportunity for the species’ evolution is lost. (HS-LS4-5)

LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

  • Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value. (HS-LS4-6) (Note: This Disciplinary Core Idea is also addressed by HS-LS2-7.)