Core Curriculum Content Standards

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NJ World Class Standards
Content Area: Science

Content Area



5.4 Earth Systems Science: All students will understand that Earth operates as a set of complex, dynamic, and interconnected systems, and is a part of the all-encompassing system of the universe.


A. Objects in the Universe: Our universe has been expanding and evolving for 13.7 billion years under the influence of gravitational and nuclear forces. As gravity governs its expansion, organizational patterns, and the movement of celestial bodies, nuclear forces within stars govern its evolution through the processes of stellar birth and death. These same processes governed the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

By the end of grade

Content Statement


Cumulative Progress Indicator (CPI)


The Sun is a star that can only be seen during the day. The Moon is not a star and can be seen sometimes at night and sometimes during the day. The Moon appears to have different shapes on different days.


Determine a set of general rules describing when the Sun and Moon are visible based on actual sky observations.


Objects in the sky have patterns of movement. The Sun and Moon appear to move across the sky on a daily basis. The shadows of an object on Earth change over the course of a day, indicating the changing position of the Sun during the day.


Formulate a general description of the daily motion of the Sun across the sky based on shadow observations. Explain how shadows could be used to tell the time of day.


The observable shape of the Moon changes from day to day in a cycle that lasts 29.5 days.


Identify patterns of the Moon’s appearance and make predictions about its future appearance based observational data.


Earth is approximately spherical in shape. Objects fall towards the center of the Earth because of the pull of the force of gravity.


Generate a model with explanatory value that explains both why objects roll down ramps as well as why the Moon orbits Earth.


Earth is the third planet from the Sun in our solar system, which includes seven other planets.


Analyze and evaluate evidence in the form of data tables and photographs to categorize and relate solar system objects (e.g., planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, and comets).


The height of the path of the Sun in the sky and the length of a shadow change over the course of a year.


Generate and analyze evidence (through simulations) that the Sun’s apparent motion across the sky changes over the course of a year.


Earth’s position relative to the Sun, and the rotation of Earth on its axis, result in patterns and cycles that define time units of days and years.


Construct and evaluate models demonstrating the rotation of Earth on its axis and the orbit of Earth around the Sun.


The Sun’s gravity holds planets and other objects in the solar system in orbit, and planets’ gravity holds moons in orbit.


Predict what would happen to an orbiting object if gravity were increased, decreased, or taken away.


The Sun is the central and most massive body in our solar system, which includes eight planets and their moons, dwarf planets, asteroids, and comets.


Compare and contrast the major physical characteristics (including size and scale) of solar system objects using evidence in the form of data tables and photographs.


The relative positions and motions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon result in the phases of the Moon, eclipses, and the daily and monthly cycle of tides.


Analyze moon-phase, eclipse, and tidal data to construct models that explain how the relative positions and motions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon cause these three phenomena.


Earth’s tilt, rotation, and revolution around the Sun cause changes in the height and duration of the Sun in the sky. These factors combine to explain the changes in the length of the day and seasons.


Use evidence of global variations in day length, temperature, and the amount of solar radiation striking Earth’s surface to create models that explain these phenomena and seasons.


Gravitation is a universal attractive force by which objects with mass attract one another. The gravitational force between two objects is proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the objects.


Predict how the gravitational force between two bodies would differ for bodies of different masses or bodies that are different distances apart.


The regular and predictable motion of objects in the solar system (Kepler’s Laws) is explained by gravitational forces.


Analyze data regarding the motion of comets, planets, and moons to find general patterns of orbital motion.


Prior to the work of 17th-century astronomers, scientists believed the Earth was the center of the universe (geocentric model).


Explain how new evidence obtained using telescopes (e.g., the phases of Venus or the moons of Jupiter) allowed 17th-century astronomers to displace the geocentric model of the universe.


The properties and characteristics of solar system objects, combined with radioactive dating of meteorites and lunar samples, provide evidence that Earth and the rest of the solar system formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas 4.6 billion years ago.


Collect, analyze, and critique evidence that supports the theory that Earth and the rest of the solar system formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas 4.6 billion years ago.


Stars experience significant changes during their life cycles, which can be illustrated with an Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) Diagram.


Analyze an H-R diagram and explain the life cycle of stars of different masses using simple stellar models.


The Sun is one of an estimated two hundred billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, which together with over one hundred billion other galaxies, make up the universe.


Analyze simulated and/or real data to estimate the number of stars in our galaxy and the number of galaxies in our universe.


The Big Bang theory places the origin of the universe at approximately 13.7 billion years ago. Shortly after the Big Bang, matter (primarily hydrogen and helium) began to coalesce to form galaxies and stars.


Critique evidence for the theory that the universe evolved as it expanded from a single point 13.7 billion years ago.


According to the Big Bang theory, the universe has been expanding since its beginning, explaining the apparent movement of galaxies away from one another.


Argue, citing evidence (e.g., Hubble Diagram), the theory of an expanding universe.