CKSciCore Knowledge Science

Rolling out now: Units for Grades 3, 4, and 5

A comprehensive program for elementary science, Core Knowledge Science™ (CKSci™) helps students to

  • build knowledge of core ideas in life, physical, and earth sciences, as well as engineering design;
  • develop scientific practices that give students’ firsthand experience in scientific inquiry, engineering, and technology; and, 
  • connect scientific learning to concepts across various disciplines, such as mathematics and literacy.

Units in the CKSci program are based on the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence, which supports educators as they address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)This optional Sequence is designed to meet the learning progressions outlined by the National Research Council’s Framework for K–12 Science Education.

Learn more about the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence

CKSci™ ComponentsCKSci Student Reader

  • Student Readers: engagingly written to bring the wonders of the world right into your classroom
  • Teacher Guides: with detailed lesson plans and activity page masters, including student investigation guides and assessments
  • Online Resource Guides: with links to resources that support learning and engagement with the core ideas in science and engineering

Core Knowledge Science is here!

Check out the first unit available for free download, CKSci Grade 4 Unit 1 Energy Transfer and Transformation

Planning for the future? See what’s coming next for CKSci:

CKSci Grades 3–5

Grade 3

Unit 1:
Investigating Forces

Unit 2:
Life Cycles, Traits, and Variation

Unit 3:
Habitats and Change

Unit 4:
Weather and Climate

Grade 4

Unit 1: Energy Transfer and Transformation

Unit 2:
Investigating Waves

Unit 3: Structures & Functions of Living Things

Unit 4:
Processes That Shape the Earth

Unit 5:
Using Natural Resources for Energy

Grade 5

Unit 1:
Investigating Matter

Unit 2:
Energy and Matter in Ecosystems

Unit 3:
Modeling Earth’s Systems

Unit 4:
Protecting Earth’s Resources

Unit 5:
Astronomy—Space Systems


  • The completed CKSci curriculum materials will be available for free download.
  • Please review the Terms of Use for free materials.
  • Print versions of CKSci materials for some units will be offered for pre-publication purchase in the spring of 2019.

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What about Core Knowledge Science for grades K–2?

The Core Knowledge Foundation is actively seeking philanthropic funding to support future work on CKSci K–2. We hope to begin developing K–2 after all 14 units in Grades 3–5 are posted online for free download.

Now Available: 2010 Sequence K–2 Knowledge Maps 

We are happy to share with you the working draft Knowledge Maps for grades K–2. While the forthcoming CKSci curriculum will not be directly based on these Knowledge Maps, we offer them as guidance to schools seeking to compare the 2010 Core Knowledge Sequence domains to the NGSS expectations and goals.

Download CKSci K–2 Knowledge Maps

For each topic, the Knowledge Map:

  • Organizes content from the 2010 Core Knowledge Sequence.
  • Includes alignment information and rationale for addressing the relevant Next Generation Science Standards.
  • Articulates common misconceptions to support teachers as they help children overcome obstacles to understanding.
  • Lists recommended content objectives for student mastery.
  • Outlines several possible activities and assessment ideas for each domain of study.

These K-2 Knowledge Maps offer support to educators as they work to bridge any gaps between the 2010 CK Sequence and the Next Generation Science Standards.

How does the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence differ from the 2010 Science Sequence?

Changes in grade level and content:
Some domains from the 2010 Sequence have been moved to different grade levels in the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence. For example, Meteorology has moved from Grade 4 in the 2010 Sequence to Grade 3 in the CK Next Gen Science Sequence. In this new grade 3 unit, titled “Weather and Climate,” some content specified in the 2010 Sequence has been removed, while some new topics have been added to align with NGSS expectations.

Click here for a comparison of units of study in the 2010 Science Sequence to those in the CK Next Gen Science Sequence.  

A new format:
The Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence guidelines are presented in the form of a three-column table.

  • Column 1: Core Knowledge Sequence This first column should be familiar—like the 2010 Sequence, it identifies specific content and skills for building knowledge coherently from grade to grade.
  • Column 2: Suggested Learning Objectives These objectives—for example, “Conduct an investigation to show how the speed of a moving object is related to its energy”—are designed to help Core Knowledge teachers in guiding students to meet the NGSS “Performance Expectations,” which describe specific cumulative learning goals for students. In the CK Next Gen Science Sequence, the suggested learning objectives may be modified to meet state and local standards as well as the needs of specific schools and classrooms.
  • Column 3: Language of Instruction This word list provides a sampling of the vocabulary to which students should be repeatedly exposed during instruction. The list is not intended for use in isolated drill or memorization, but as a reminder of the critical “word knowledge” in which students cognitively encode their “world knowledge.”

If my school has already developed Science lessons based on the 2010 Sequence, do we have to change to the CK Next Gen Science Sequence?

Longtime followers of the Core Knowledge Sequence are not expected to abandon what they have been doing. Any Core Knowledge school that has already developed effective lessons and gathered high-quality materials based on the 2010 Science Sequence should feel free to continue following that instructional path.

Core Knowledge schools in states that have adopted NGSS (or NGSS-influenced standards) will find the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence is a useful guide to pursuing a new path aligned with state standards. Planning, communication, and collaboration will be critical in making the transition from the 2010 Science Sequence to the CK Next Gen Science Sequence, to avoid gaps and ensure continuity in building knowledge grade by grade.

How does CKLA relate to Core Knowledge Science?

CKLA offers early exposure to many of the same Disciplinary Core Ideas as CKSci, supporting a student’s learning progression toward an ever more complex understanding of science.

CKSci explicitly and coherently builds knowledge, as well as the scientific practices and habits of mind, outlined by the NRC’s A Framework for K–12 Science Education. CKLA lays a foundation of knowledge and literacy about a topic before students are expected to investigate phenomena through the lens of scientific practices and crosscutting concepts. CKLA covers many of the same topics (e.g., light, sound, habitats, etc.) that are part of CKSci, specifically for the purpose of building background knowledge and literacy for/with informational texts. Certain topics and content in the CKLA Knowledge Strand (a.k.a. the Listening and Learning Strand) are presented at one grade earlier than expected by the Next Generation Science Standards, but within the correct grade band progressions outlined by the National Research Council.

For a detailed look at how CKLA domains relate to the Next Generation Science Standards, review this NGSS alignment. Domain titles are specially found in the left-hand column for each grade.

What about the Core Knowledge Science units on the human body?

Because human anatomy and physiology are not included in the NGSS requirements, the CK Next Gen Science Sequence does not include the Human Body units featured in the 2010 Sequence. Those units, however, have long been reported as favorites by many Core Knowledge teachers. In time, the Core Knowledge Foundation plans to update those 2010 guidelines and incorporate them into the CK Next Gen Science Sequence as a coherent series of units on “Health and the Human Body.”

For now, we encourage all Core Knowledge schools to continue teaching units on the Human Body as specified in the 2010 Sequence.

Why align Core Knowledge Science to NGSS?

Given the growing influence of NGSS, the Core Knowledge Foundation decided to update the 2010 Science Sequence to support teachers by providing them with revised Core Knowledge guidelines and curricular materials more likely to align with their state-required standards in Science.

According to the National Science Teachers Association, “Nearly two-thirds of U.S. students live in states that have education standards influenced by the Framework for K-12 Science Education and/or the Next Generation Science Standards.” (The Framework, a 2011 report from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, provided the research base and structural recommendations that underlie NGSS.)

Terms of Use

The CKSci materials made available for download are freely available for anyone to use, adapt, and share (with attribution), but no one is permitted to sell either the original program, an adaptation of it, or lesson plans that reproduce any part of it. For more information, see the Guidelines to Core Knowledge and the Creative Commons License.