NYS Science Curriculum


As I reviewed the set curriculum guidelines for the sciences from grades P-12 there are some things that I have observed. For one, as the grade levels progressed, the curriculum became heavier and more specific. This is common sense because the older you get, the harder your school work will become. 

There are repetitive pieces in this curriculum spread amongst the elementary, middle and high school curriculums. The higher the grade level, the more in depth the information will be and the more teachers will expect from you. Some common topics I noticed were: 

  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Matter, Energy, Waves and Forces 
  • Ecosystems, Evolution and the Environment 
  • Weather and Climate 
  • Basic Physics and Chemistry
  • The Life Cycle 
  • Reproduction and Traits 
  • History of the Earth
  • Engineering 

All of these topics build as the years go on and it is important to know the foundation of all these topics before progressing further. 

One of the chapters in the high school curriculum, Inheritance and Variation of Traits requires students to be able to draw, understand and identify many different things. For starters: 

  • Students are required to be able to draw and demonstrate cellular division (mitosis) This is extremely important because this is how our bodies function and how our cells reproduce nonstop, day after day. It is also important to know that excessive cell division leads to cancer.
  • Students should know what DNA is, what it stands for and have a general idea of what chromosomes are coding for. Chromosomes are passed down from parent to offspring and code for the different traits that the offspring ends up with. 
  • Other traits and inheritances may come from the following: different genetic combinations in meiosis, errors during replication, mutations and genetic engineering. 
  • A little math is also required in order to benefit the most from science courses. Statistics and probability are the most common forms of higher math needed. (Although I don't find math to be extremely important when it comes to biology, it is definitely helpful in some places.) 
  • Human reproduction and development is one of the more important pieces. Learning about this allows us to understand what is keeping us alive, why and how every part of the body has specific jobs in order to keep out bodies functioning properly. 
  • Students need to understand that it is ok to ask questions because that helps them better learn the material. 
  • Students need to be able to read charts, data and graphs properly because a lot of science books use charts to explain information. 


In the Living Environment Regents August 2017, there are a total of 85 questions. 

  • 51 are multiple choice (17 include graphs, charts or pictures)
  • 34 are short answer (10 include graphs, charts or pictures)
  • Overall, about 1/3 of the exam included graphs, charts or pictures. 
  • A little less than 1/3 of the exam contained writing bases questions
  • 5 questions include a reading comprehension paragraph with questions to follow it.
  • 1 question asks the student to graph data that is given to them. 
  • The most common topics found on this exam seem to be: 
    • Reproduction and Development (about 1/4 of exam)
    • Human Impact on the Environment. (about 1/4 of exam)
    • Homeostasis - human body systems & human reproduction. (about 1/4 of exam) 
    • Genetics, Evolution, Beaks of Finches, Lab skills and Organization of life seem to just about take up the other 1/4 of the exam.

What I find very interesting about this exam is organized in a very unique way. Also, now as I am observing this exam and remembering my experiences from taking the living environment regents five years ago some things just don't change. Questions are still worded a little strange and with certain questions, more than one answer may seem right so that will leave students confused. I like the use of graphs, charts and tables because it creates a better visual and allows students a better chance in understanding the question and chasing/writing the correct answer. 


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