School Login

6th Grade California Curriculum

In 6th grade, students are engaged as scientist and engineers as they explore natural phenomena and design problems across nine, month-long units that integrate Earth and space, life, and physical sciences and technology/engineering. As scientists and engineers, students use models and collect evidence to support their claims and explanations about patterns, systems, and structure-function relationships in various contexts.
6-CA-Sample.png

Download Sample Unit

Select Unit Overview

  • Unit 1
  • Unit 1: Gravity and Motion

    In Unit 1 Gravity and Motion, students investigate the relationship between gravity and motion as they explore the world’s tallest waterslide and roller coaster energy systems.

    • Students design and carry out an experiment to explore the relationship between the gravitational potential energy of a bouncy ball and its resulting bounce height.
    • Students use inclined planes, marbles, and obstructions to design and carry out an experiment to investigate the amount of energy transferred by moving marbles of different masses.

    Focus Standard: MS-PS3-5

    Supporting Standards: MS-PS2-4, MS-PS3-1, MS-PS3-2

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Gravity and Motion - MS-PS3-5
  • Unit 2
  • Unit 2: Atoms and Molecules

    In Unit 2 Atoms and Molecules, students explore the phenomenon of desert glass formation by investigating the relationship between energy and matter, focusing on the structure and properties of atoms and molecules.

    • Students create models to analyze the structure and composition of atoms based on information found in the Periodic Table of Elements.
    • Students use molecular sets to model the atomic composition of molecules with varying levels of complexity.
    • Students carry out an experiment to analyze the temperature change of endothermic chemical reactions.

    Focus Standards: MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-PS3-5

    Supporting Standards: MS-PS1-1, MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-4, MS-PS1-5

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Atoms and Molecules - MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-PS3-5
  • Unit 3
  • Unit 3: Satellites

    In Unit 3 Satellites, students investigate patterns in the Earth-sun-moon system to explore how gravity pulls objects including satellites into orbit and how artificial satellites use waves to transmit information.

    • Students work in small teams to develop physical and visual models of the sun-Earth-moon system to investigate the phenomena of the moon’s changing appearance over a month and solar and lunar eclipses.
    • Students use slinky springs to develop mathematical representations of simple waves to describe how different materials interact with light waves.
    • Students carry out a simulation to investigate the reliability of digital vs. analog signals.
    • Students apply concepts related to heat transfer and light reflection, absorption, and transmission to engineer an insulator that protects a satellite by minimizing thermal energy transfer into and out of the satellite’s structure.

    Focus Standards: MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-5, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    Supporting Standards: MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, MS-PS2-4, MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-PS4-3

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Satellites - MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-5, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4
  • Unit 4
  • Unit 4: Climate and Human Activity

    In Unit 4 Climate and Human Activity, students explore how scientists use data from the Aquarius satellite to investigate how the sun powers the global water cycle, which in turn has local impacts that affect regional climates around the world.

    • Students develop models to compare and contrast the cycling of water through a watershed in east-central New Hampshire to determine how water inputs, outputs, and storage might change during the summer and winter seasons.
    • Students design and carry out an experiment to explore the effect of evaporative water loss on ocean water density.
    • Students analyze and compare regional climate data in four different U.S cities to explore why each city experiences such differences in climate.
    • Students work in small teams to design and build a rainwater harvesting prototype system for a city that needs to solve the problem of conserving water reservoirs during periods of drought-related water shortages.

    Focus Standards: MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-6, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-5, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Climate and Human Activity - MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-6, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-5, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4
  • Unit 5
  • Unit 5: Landforms

    In Unit 5 Landforms, students investigate how the processes of weathering, erosion, and convection in the mantle cycle Earth materials.

    • Students design and carry out an experiment to observe how the atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere interact by analyzing how plants affect the amount of sand eroded from dunes by the wind.
    • Students use convection current models to observe how energy within Earth’s interior powers plate tectonics, which in turn drives the cycling of materials on Earth’s surface.
    • Students analyze and correlate sets of simulated rock strata to observe how evidence in rock layers can be used to organize Earth’s history.

    Focus Standard: MS-ESS2-4

    Supporting Standards: MS-ESS1-4, MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS2-3

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Landforms - MS-ESS2-4
  • Unit 6
  • Unit 6: Biodiversity

    In Unit 6 Biodiversity, students explore the diversity of life, analyzing how scientists use the fossil record to tell how life has evolved over time.

    • Students carry out an investigation where they analyze fossil patterns in rock strata and compare anatomical similarities in modern, living organisms with fossil organisms to explore evidence for the diversity of life on Earth and evolutionary relationships among organisms.
    • Students use microscopes to compare the form and structural differences between different types of cells.
    • Students carry out an investigation to analyze the external structures of oyster mushrooms they have cultivated in the classroom to examine how some fungi grow and reproduce.
    • Students use a simulation and Punnett squares to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction in Poeciliid fish as they pass on their genes to offspring in a hostile environment.

    Focus Standards: MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS3-2

    Supporting Standards: MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-4

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Biodiversity - MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS3-2
  • Unit 7
  • Unit 7: Cells to Systems

    In Unit 7 Cells to Systems, students explore the structure and function of specialized cells, tissues, and organs in complex multicellular organisms.

    • Students create models that show the hierarchical organization within a human organ system and analyze how different organ systems rely on each other for an organism to function.
    • Students use microscopes to observe different human cell and tissue samples to relate the form and appearance of cells and tissues to their function.
    • Students carry out several investigations to analyze how sense receptors for touch, smell, and sight respond to different inputs, transmitting them to the brain for immediate use or for storage as memories.

    Focus Standards: MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-8

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Cells to Systems - MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-8
  • Unit 8
  • Unit 8: Forests

    In Unit 8 Forests, students explore forest ecosystems, studying the interactions between living things and the environment and how resource availability affects the growth of different organisms.

    • Students design and carry out an experiment to test how different light conditions affect the rate of photosynthesis in aquatic plants.
    • Students develop models to analyze the impact of drought on temperate deciduous forest food webs in Massachusetts.
    • Students examine tree ring cross-sections and analyze growth and precipitation data in West Virginia to observe how environmental factors can affect the growth of trees.

    Focus Standards: MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5

    Supporting Standards: MS-LS1-6, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Forests - MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5
  • Unit 9
  • Unit 9: Civil Engineering

    In Unit 9 Civil Engineering, students explore how engineers and architects design structures that help human populations survive and thrive in their environment.

    • Students use various materials and earthquake shake tables to design skyscraper prototypes that resist the forces of compression, tension, shear, and torsion from a simulated earthquake.
    • Students solve the problem of replacing old automobile bridges in the state of Massachusetts by engineering a bridge prototype that resists tension and compression forces while meeting specific length and load bearing strength.

    Focus Standards: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    Supporting Standards: MS-PS1-3, MS-ESS3-2

    California 6th Grade STEM Curriculum - Civil Engineering - MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    Take the Next Step

    Talk to Curriculum Specialist