NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) consist of three dimensions. One of those dimensions is the Science and Engineering Practices dimension (SEP). We reference these frequently in our discussion of our Science Reasoning Center activities in hopes of showing the connection between our activities and the standards. The Science and Engineering Practices listed below are from the Next Generation Science Standards website. Because our reference to the Science and Engineering Practices includes a decimal notation to refer to a specific elements of each SEP, we are listing them here with that decimal notation. This is done for clarity and convenience and is in no means an effort to make any claim of ownership or originality. The Science and Engineering Practices are the property of the NGSS.


#1 Asking Questions and Defining Problems

A practice of science is to ask and refine questions that lead to descriptions and explanations of how the natural and designed world(s) works and which can be empirically tested. Engineering questions clarify problems to determine criteria for successful solutions and identify constraints to solve problems about the designed world. Both scientists and engineers also ask questions to clarify ideas.
1.1 Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.
1.2 Ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.
1.3 Ask questions to determine relationships, including quantitative relationships, between independent and dependent variables.
1.4 Ask questions to clarify and refine a model, an explanation, or an engineering problem.
1.5 Evaluate a question to determine if it is testable and relevant.
1.6 Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.
1.7 Ask and/or evaluate questions that challenge the premise(s) of an argument, the interpretation of a data set, or the suitability of a design.
1.8 Define a design problem that involves the development of a process or system with interacting components and criteria and constraints that may include social, technical and/or environmental considerations.


#2 Developing and Using Models

A practice of both science and engineering is to use and construct models as helpful tools for representing ideas and explanations. These tools include diagrams, drawings, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations.  Modeling tools are used to develop questions, predictions and explanations; analyze and identify flaws in systems; and communicate ideas. Models are used to build and revise scientific explanations and proposed engineered systems. Measurements and observations are used to revise models and designs.
2.1 Evaluate merits and limitations of two different models of the same proposed tool, process, mechanism, or system in order to select or revise a model that best fits the evidence or design criteria.
2.2 Design a test of a model to ascertain its reliability.
2.3 Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system.
2.4 Develop and/or use multiple types of models to provide mechanistic accounts and/or predict phenomena, and move flexibly between model types based on merits and limitations.
2.5 Develop a complex model that allows for manipulation and testing of a proposed process or system.
2.6 Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.


#3 Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Scientists and engineers plan and carry out investigations in the field or laboratory, working collaboratively as well as individually. Their investigations are systematic and require clarifying what counts as data and identifying variables or parameters. Engineering investigations identify the effectiveness, efficiency, and durability of designs under different conditions.  
3.1 Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible variables or effects and evaluate the confounding investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled.
3.2 Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly.
3.3 Plan and conduct an investigation or test a design solution in a safe and ethical manner including considerations of environmental, social, and personal impacts.
3.4 Select appropriate tools to collect, record, analyze, and evaluate data.
3.5 Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.
3.6 Manipulate variables and collect data about a complex model of a proposed process or system to identify failure points or improve performance relative to criteria for success or other variables.


#4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Scientific investigations produce data that must be analyzed in order to derive meaning. Because data patterns and trends are not always obvious, scientists use a range of tools—including tabulation, graphical interpretation, visualization, and statistical analysis—to identify the significant features and patterns in the data. Scientists identify sources of error in the investigations and calculate the degree of certainty in the results. Modern technology makes the collection of large data sets much easier, providing secondary sources for analysis. Engineering investigations include analysis of data collected in the tests of designs. This allows comparison of different solutions and determines how well each meets specific design criteria—that is, which design best solves the problem within given constraints. Like scientists, engineers require a range of tools to identify patterns within data and interpret the results. Advances in science make analysis of proposed solutions more efficient and effective.
4.1 Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.
4.2 Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.
4.3 Consider limitations of data analysis (e.g., measurement error, sample selection) when analyzing and interpreting data.
4.4 Compare and contrast various types of data sets (e.g., selfgenerated, archival) to examine consistency of measurements and observations.
4.5 Evaluate the impact of new data on a working explanation and/or model of a proposed process or system.
4.6 Analyze data to identify design features or characteristics of the components of a proposed process or system to optimize it relative to criteria for success.


#5 Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

In both science and engineering, mathematics and computation are fundamental tools for representing physical variables and their relationships. They are used for a range of tasks such as constructing simulations; solving equations exactly or approximately; and recognizing, expressing, and applying quantitative relationships.  Mathematical and computational approaches enable scientists and engineers to predict the behavior of systems and test the validity of such predictions.
5.1 Decide if qualitative or quantitative data are best to determine whether a proposed object or tool meets criteria for success.
5.2 Create and/or revise a computational model or simulation of a phenomenon, designed device, process, or system.
5.3 Use mathematical, computational, and/or algorithmic representations of phenomena or design solutions to describe and/or support claims and/or explanations.
5.4 Apply techniques of algebra and functions to represent and solve scientific and engineering problems.
5.5 Use simple limit cases to test mathematical expressions, computer programs, algorithms, or simulations of a process or system to see if a model “makes sense” by comparing the outcomes with what is known about the real world.
5.6 Apply ratios, rates, percentages, and unit conversions in the context of proposed solutions to an engineering design problem, complicated measurement problems involving quantities with derived or compound units (such as mg/mL, kg/m3 , acre-feet, etc.).


#6 Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

The end-products of science are explanations and the end-products of engineering are solutions. The goal of science is the construction of theories that provide explanatory accounts of the world. A theory becomes accepted when it has multiple lines of empirical evidence and greater explanatory power of phenomena than previous theories. The goal of engineering design is to find a systematic solution to problems that is based on scientific knowledge and models of the material world. Each proposed solution results from a process of balancing competing criteria of desired functions, technical feasibility, cost, safety, aesthetics, and compliance with legal requirements. The optimal choice depends on how well the proposed solutions meet criteria and constraints.
6.1 Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.
6.2 Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
6.3 Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to provide an explanation of phenomena and solve design problems, taking into account possible unanticipated effects.
6.4 Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.
6.5 Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.


#7 Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Argumentation is the process by which evidence-based conclusions and solutions are reached. In science and engineering, reasoning and argument based on evidence are essential to identifying the best explanation for a natural phenomenon or the best solution to a design problem. Scientists and engineers use argumentation to listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on merits. Scientists and engineers engage in argumentation when investigating a phenomenon, testing a design solution, resolving questions about measurements, building data models, and using evidence to evaluate claims.
7.1 Compare and evaluate competing arguments or design solutions in light of currently accepted explanations, new evidence, limitations (e.g., trade-offs), constraints, and ethical issues.
7.2 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and/or reasoning behind currently accepted explanations or solutions to determine the merits of arguments.
7.3 Respectfully provide and/or receive critiques on scientific arguments by probing reasoning and evidence and challenging ideas and conclusions, responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, and determining what additional information is required to resolve contradictions. 
7.4 Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument or counter-arguments based on data and evidence.
7.5 Make and defend a claim based on evidence about the natural world or the effectiveness of a design solution that reflects scientific knowledge, and student-generated evidence.
7.6 Evaluate competing design solutions to a real-world problem based on scientific ideas and principles, empirical evidence, and/or logical arguments regarding relevant factors (e.g. economic, societal, environmental, ethical considerations).


#8 Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Scientists and engineers must be able to communicate clearly and persuasively the ideas and methods they generate. Critiquing and communicating ideas individually and in groups is a critical professional activity. Communicating information and ideas can be done in multiple ways: using tables, diagrams, graphs, models, and equations as well as orally, in writing, and through extended discussions. Scientists and engineers employ multiple sources to obtain information that is used to evaluate the merit and validity of claims, methods, and designs.

8.1 Critically read scientific literature adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas or conclusions and/or to obtain scientific and/or technical information to summarize complex evidence, concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
8.2 Compare,integrate,and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.
8.3 Gather, read, and evaluate scientific and/or technical information from multiple authoritative sources, assessing the evidence and usefulness of each source.
8.4 Evaluate the validity and reliability of and/or synthesize multiple claims, methods, and/or designs that appear in scientific and technical texts or media reports, verifying the data when possible.
8.5 Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically).