Curriculum» National Standards

River City and the National Science Standards

The National Science Education Standards list seven content standards for K-12 school science (National Research Council, 1996). River City maps to five of these standards.

  1. CONTENT STANDARD A: As a result of activities in grades 5-12, all students should develop:
    • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
    • Understandings about scientific inquiry
      1. River City is an inquiry-based project;
      2. As an inquiry-based project, students gather data, hypothesize, use tools to test, analyze and make conclusions;
      3. Students are guided to learn the skills necessary to conduct scientific inquiry;
      4. Simultaneously, they engage in an authentic and personal inquiry investigation.
  2. CONTENT STANDARD C: As a result of their activities in grades 5-12, all students should develop understanding of:
    • Structure and function in living systems (grades 5-8)
    • Populations and ecosystems (grades 5-8)
    • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (grades 5-8)
    • Interdependence of organisms (grades 9-12)
      1. River City helps students understand disease and three forms of disease transmission;
      2. Students are guided to understanding the effect of disease on humans;Students investigate the niche of microorganisms;
      3. Students see the interactions between humans, microorganisms and the ecosystem they both inhabit;
      4. Students learn the role of microorganisms in causing disease.
  3. CONTENT STANDARD E: As a result of activities in grades 5-12, all students should develop:
    • Abilities of technological design
    • Understandings about science and technology
      1. Students are asked to design virtually an intervention that will potentially solve the River City epidemic;
      2. Students evaluate their intervention to see if it did indeed affect the spread of disease;
      3. Students learn that technological inventions such as microscopes drive scientific discoveries by expanding scientists' ability to make observations;
      4. Students investigate the intended and unintended consequences of a newly introduced technological invention.
  4. CONTENT STANDARD F: As a result of activities in grades 5-12, all students should develop understanding of Personal health
    • Community Health (grades 9-12)
    • Populations, resources, and environments (grades 5-8)
    • Environmental quality (grades 9-12)
    • Natural hazards
    • Human-induced hazards (grades 9-12)
    • Risks and benefits
    • Science and technology in society
      1. Students explore three different diseases with varying health impact;
      2. Students discover that there are human-caused health hazards in the river;
      3. Students' investigations lead them to understand that the causes of these hazards stem from natural occurrences such as heavy rain, water stagnation as well as human impact;
      4. Through experimentation, students are able to test out their hypothesis of the cause of the sudden increase in disease before making recommendations;
      5. Students need to weigh the advantages and drawbacks to various interventions before choosing what they view as the best option;
      6. Students join politicians, doctors, and university professors in working together to understand the impact on the poorest segment of the River City population.
  5. CONTENT STANDARD G: As a result of activities in grades 5-12, all students should develop understanding of: Science as a human endeavor
    • Nature of science (grades 5-8) and of scientific knowledge (grades 9-12)
    • History of science (grades 5-8)
    • Historical perspectives (grades 9-12)
      1. Students participate in science along with men and women in various virtual roles;
      2. Students are exposed to concepts of nature of science;
      3. Students are encouraged to base their conclusions and decisions on evidence and to re-evaluate them in light of new evidence;
      4. Students travel back in time to experience the “dawn of microbiology” along with the culture and habits typical of that time


National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards: Observe, interact, change, learn. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 9980464, 0296001, 0202543, 0310188, and 0532446. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.