Transforming science education through research-driven innovation



Forces at a Distance


This 8th grade unit launches with a slow motion video of a speaker vibrating. After developing a model of sound in the previous unit, students now have the chance to explore the cause of a speaker’s vibration as opposed to the effect.

Students dissect speakers to explore what’s inside, and they build homemade cup speakers. They identify that speakers of all kinds have some of the same parts—a magnet, a coil of wire, and a membrane. Students investigate each of these parts to figure out how they work together in the speaker system. Along the way, students manipulate the parts to see how this technology could be modified to apply to systems in very different contexts, like MagLev trains, junkyard magnets, and electric motors.

Forces at a Distance is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and is now freely available for download. This unit is part of the OpenSciEd middle school science program, currently being developed and rolled out in phases through winter 2022. BSCS Science Learning leads a consortium of organizations and science education experts in the development of this three-year program for grades 6-8.

For a school district, the adoption of instructional materials is a costly investment with long-term impacts. This decision-making process is critically important because instructional materials can either support or inhibit improvements in teaching and learning.

Historically, the selection process can be as simple as an individual leafing through materials—sometimes referred to as a “thumb test”—or as intensive as a year-long process involving teams of teachers and administrators. BSCS Science Learning and its collaborators have designed the NextGen TIME program for districts that are prepared to make an investment in the process to go beyond mere selection of materials to planning for implementation in order to maximize the benefit of their instructional materials.

NextGen TIME is a suite of tools and processes designed for professional development of leaders at the state, district, and school levels. Over the course of the NextGen TIME program, teams of educators are guided through the evaluation, selection, and planning for implementation of materials that will help teachers enact the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in their classrooms. All program tools are freely available.


This resource was developed in partnership with Achieve K-12 and Alliance at WestEd

and was funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

In this 8th grade unit, students investigate how sounds can cause objects at a distance to move. Motivated by a video of windows shaking when a truck outside plays loud music, students investigate what happens when an object makes sound. Over the course of the unit, they build a model that describes what happens when sounds are created that can explain the shaking windows and other examples of sounds causing objects to move.

In this unit, students use a particle model of air to build an understanding of how sounds move that explains the effect of sounds on other objects. They work on the practices of planning and conducting investigations, using mathematical and computational thinking, and evidence-based argumentation.

Sound Waves is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and is now freely available for download. This unit is part of the OpenSciEd middle school science program, currently being developed and rolled out in phases through winter 2022. BSCS Science Learning leads a consortium of organizations and science education experts in the development of this three-year program for grades 6-8.

This 6th grade unit on thermal energy engages students in a design challenge to create a cup that keeps drinks cold longer. They identify the features that make some cups better at keeping drinks cold, and they construct their own models to explain how those features prevent the transfer of thermal energy.

In this unit, students build an understanding of energy transfer within and between materials based on a particle model, and they work on the practices of modeling, conducting investigations, constructing explanations, arguing from evidence, and designing solutions.

Thermal Energy is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and is now freely available for download. This unit is part of the OpenSciEd middle school science program, currently being developed and rolled out in phases through winter 2022. BSCS Science Learning leads a consortium of organizations and science education experts in the development of this three-year program for grades 6-8.