Transforming science education through research-driven innovation

High School Physical Science Course Co-Design and Development

Announcing BSCS Physical Science, a one-year high school physical science course for the 21st Century!

  • BSCS Physical Science is being designed to serve as a foundational 9th grade science course.
  • This new course will be available on a limited basis for implementation in the 2025-26 school year and will enter broad distribution for 2026-27. 
  • At this time, BSCS Science Learning is seeking 10-20 district partners to participate in the development of the course.

Course Overview

Many districts across the country teach a physical science course in ninth grade. These courses typically consist of a mix of chemistry and physics, and they lay the foundation for high school biology and more advanced study in physics, chemistry, and Earth/space science in subsequent years. BSCS is designing BSCS Physical Science to play this role in districts whose standards are based on the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education or the Next Generation Science Standards. BSCS Physical Science will cover a full year’s worth of physical science disciplinary core ideas as indicated in the NGSS and the Framework for K-12 Science Education.  

Recognizing that many students are not yet receiving high-quality science instruction in middle school, this course will be designed to meet students where they are while building full mastery of high school level disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. Formative assessments that are integrated into instruction will enable teachers to track their students’ progress toward the three-dimensional, phenomena driven objectives of the course and adjust their instruction accordingly.  By supporting the transition from middle school, BSCS Physical Science will lay a foundation for students to be successful in BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life or any of the OpenSciEd High School science courses in subsequent years. 

BSCS will be developing teacher professional learning resources for BSCS Physical Science as part of the course development. Through our leadership development group, we will be offering leadership development to districts to prepare their personnel to provide professional learning workshops and ongoing support to their physical science teachers. We will also offer professional learning programs led by our certified providers directly to teachers.

Suggested Scope of the Course

Graphic of an atom


Graphic of energy transfer

Energy Transfer

Graphic of Juvale Newton's Cradle Balance Pendulum

Motion and Forces

Graphic of a beaker and chemicals

Chemical Reactions

Graphic of electromagnetic radiation

Electromagnetic Radiation

Key Components of the Course

  • The course will be organized around problems and phenomena, not topics.
    • Units will be anchored in complex, real-world, relevant phenomena and problems. 
    • Units will be structured so that learning is driven by students’ own knowledge and questions.
    • BSCS’s Anchored Inquiry Learning will be used as the instructional model. 
  • Lessons and assessments will be designed to leverage all three dimensions: disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts.
    • The course will equip students with abilities and inclinations to apply in their personal, professional, and civic lives. 
  • Support for equitable instruction will help teachers remove barriers to science learning for many students.
    • Students will be provided multiple ways to experience phenomena and encouraged to express their understanding through multiple modalities.
    • Materials will incorporate specific supports for English language learners and for students who have not achieved academic success in English language arts in the past.
    • The diversity of science and scientists will be represented throughout the program in ways that support development of science identity and agency for all students.
BSCS Physical Science process for co-design and development

The Development Process

To develop this course, BSCS will leverage the substantial investment that leading national foundations have made in the OpenSciEd High School Science program. BSCS will draw from units created for the tenth and eleventh grade OpenSciEd High School physics and science courses and revise them to construct BSCS Physical Science.  

With the assistance of Partner Districts, we will select a theme for the course that gives students a compelling motivation to learn physical science on top of academic success. The theme will connect to their lives and communities (e.g., safety, sustainability), then we will identify units from the OpenSciEd physics and chemistry courses to draw from. We will revise them to be coherent with the theme and to provide suitable entry points for ninth grade students. We will also create new units as needed. Finally, we will modify the activity structures, assessments, and tutorials to improve coherence and usability. All the course materials will be field-tested in collaboration with Partner Districts and revised prior to release.

District Partnership Program

BSCS is exploring an innovative development model for this new course. We are seeking districts to serve as development partners. In exchange for providing financial support for the course development, Partner Districts will have the opportunity to provide input into the design of the course and to participate in a field test of the materials and professional learning resources during the 2024-2025 school year. They will also receive rights to use the course materials in perpetuity. Finally, Partner Districts will have exclusive access to the completed materials in the 2025-26 school year—a year before the materials will be available to others. 

BSCS’s plan for funding the course development is to divide the development costs across Partner Districts. Each district’s share of the cost would depend on their student enrollment. Our goal is to recruit a sufficient number of Partner Districts to reduce the cost to each district well below the cost of purchasing a one-year, high school science course in the current marketplace. Districts will have the option of paying through one of two arrangements with BSCS that are being designed to meet the procurement requirements of typical school districts. Partner Districts will be able to enter into a fee-for-service contract to support the development of the course materials or a purchase agreement for the completed course materials. Both agreements will confer the full benefits of being a Partner District. 

As part of the field test, all Partner Districts will have the opportunity to enroll district personnel in leadership development programs led by BSCS that will prepare participants to lead professional learning for classroom teachers in their districts. District Partners will also have the option to engage BSCS as a professional learning provider for their teachers or leaders for an additional fee.

About BSCS Science Learning

BSCS Science Learning is an independent nonprofit dedicated to transforming science learning through research-driven innovation. For more than 65 years, BSCS has been setting the standard in science learning with its programs, professional services, and research findings. Today we offer classroom-tested instructional materials, immersive professional learning and leadership development experiences that meet the needs of diverse populations and educational contexts.

Building on our history of offering unparalleled high school biology courses, BSCS recently released BSCS Biology: Understanding for Life, the first and only high school course in any discipline to receive green ratings for quality across the board from EdReports. BSCS also led the development of the OpenSciEd Middle School Science program and is leading the development of the Physics + Earth Systems Science course in the OpenSciEd High School science program.