What Science Is Taught In Fifth Grade?

Written by Dan

Last updated

Do you remember what it was like to experience the joy of learning science in school?

Even if it wasn’t your favorite subject, there’s something innately magical about unpacking the secrets of the scientific world; from experiments in physical sciences to uncovering life processes, fifth grade is a time for students to learn these principles and use their newfound knowledge as they expand their horizons.

So, exactly what will your 5th-grader be coming home knowing all about? Read on for our helpful guide on precisely which topics are typically taught during fifth grade science!

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Improve Writing In Fifth Grade  here.

What Science Is Taught In Fifth Grade?

Overview of What Science Is Taught in Fifth Grade

1. Earth and Space Science

In fifth grade, students begin to explore Earth and space science in more depth. They learn about the Earth’s layers, plate tectonics, and the formation of landforms.

They also study weather patterns, climate, and the water cycle. Additionally, students explore the solar system, learning about the planets, moons, and other celestial bodies, as well as the concept of gravity and its role in maintaining the orbits of celestial objects.

2. Physical Science

Fifth-grade physical science covers topics related to matter and energy. Students learn about the states of matter, their properties, and how they change through processes such as evaporation, condensation, and sublimation.

They also explore the basics of atomic structure, elements, and the periodic table. Concepts like force, motion, and energy are introduced, helping students understand how these principles govern the behavior of objects in the world around them.

3. Life Science

Life science in fifth grade encompasses the study of living organisms and their environments. Students explore ecosystems, food chains, and food webs, learning about the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers.

They also study the characteristics and needs of plants and animals, including their life cycles, adaptations, and interactions with their environments. Additionally, students are introduced to the basics of genetics, heredity, and the classification of living organisms.

4. Scientific Inquiry and Experimentation

Students are encouraged to develop their scientific inquiry and experimentation skills throughout the fifth-grade science curriculum. They learn how to form hypotheses, design experiments, conduct observations, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions.

This process helps students develop critical thinking skills, learn the importance of evidence-based reasoning, and understand the scientific method.

5. Environmental Science and Conservation

Fifth-grade students also learn about environmental science and conservation. They explore the importance of natural resources, the impacts of human activities on ecosystems, and the need for responsible resource management. Students are encouraged to think about their own actions and how they can contribute to a sustainable future.

Physical Science Concepts for Fifth Graders

Physical science studies the natural world around us, including things like energy, matter, and motion. Here are a few basic concepts that can be explained to fifth graders:

  1. Matter: Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass. Everything we see, touch, and feel is made up of matter. There are three common states of matter – solid, liquid, and gas. For example, ice is a solid, water is a liquid, and steam is a gas.
  2. Atoms: Atoms are the tiny building blocks that make up all matter. They are incredibly small and consist of a nucleus (made up of protons and neutrons) surrounded by electrons. Different types of atoms are called elements, like oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon.
  3. Chemical Reactions: A chemical reaction is when two or more substances combine to form new substances. This happens because the atoms rearrange themselves to create new molecules. For example, mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide gas.
  4. Force: A force is a push or pull on an object. Forces can cause objects to move, change direction, or stop. There are different types of forces, such as gravity (which pulls objects towards the Earth), friction (which slows down moving objects), and magnetism (which attracts or repels certain materials).
  5. Motion: Motion is the change in an object’s position over time. Objects can move in different ways, like in a straight line, in a circle, or back and forth. The speed of an object is how fast it is moving, and its velocity includes both its speed and the direction it is moving.
  6. Energy: Energy is the ability to do work or cause a change. There are many forms of energy, including kinetic energy (the energy of motion), potential energy (stored energy), and thermal energy (heat). Energy can be transferred or converted from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed.
  7. Simple Machines: Simple machines are tools that help us do work more easily. They include the lever, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, and screw. These machines make tasks easier by changing the direction or amount of force needed to complete them.

Life Sciences Concepts for Fifth Graders

Life science concepts for fifth graders are taught through engaging, age-appropriate methods that encourage curiosity and understanding of the natural world.

The curriculum introduces students to fundamental life sciences concepts, such as ecosystems, plant and animal adaptations, and human body systems. Here are some ways Life Sciences Concepts are taught for fifth graders:

  1. Interactive lessons: Teachers use interactive lessons to engage students in learning. These lessons may involve hands-on activities, group discussions, and multimedia presentations to help students visualize and better understand complex concepts.
  2. Inquiry-based learning: Students are encouraged to ask questions, explore their surroundings, and conduct experiments to learn more about life sciences. This approach fosters critical thinking skills and helps students better understand the subject matter.
  3. Real-world examples: Teachers often use real-world examples to help students relate the concepts they are learning to everyday life. For example, discussing how plants adapt to different environments or how animals use camouflage to survive can make the content more relatable and interesting for students.
  4. Field trips and outdoor learning: Field trips to local parks, nature centers, or botanical gardens can provide students with hands-on experiences to observe living organisms and ecosystems up close. Outdoor learning activities, such as exploring a school garden or observing wildlife, can also help students connect with the concepts they are studying.
  5. Visual aids and models: Teachers may use visual aids, such as diagrams, posters, and models, to help students better understand complex concepts. For example, a plant cell model can help students visualize the different parts of the cell and understand their functions.
  6. Collaborative learning: Group projects and activities encourage students to collaborate, share ideas, and develop problem-solving skills. These activities can also help students learn from each other and gain different perspectives on the subject matter.
  7. Assessments and feedback: Regular assessments, such as quizzes and tests, help teachers gauge students’ understanding of the material and provide feedback on areas where they may need additional support. Formative assessments, like class discussions or group projects, can also provide valuable insights into students’ progress.

Earth and Space Sciences Concepts for Fifth Graders

Earth and Space Sciences concepts are taught to fifth graders using a variety of techniques and approaches. The goal is to make the learning experience engaging, interactive, and age-appropriate. Here are some ways these concepts are typically taught:

  1. Hands-on activities: Teachers often use hands-on experiments and activities to help students understand Earth and space science concepts. For example, they might create a model of the solar system, build a volcano, or simulate an earthquake.
  2. Visual aids: Visual materials such as posters, charts, diagrams, and multimedia presentations can be used to illustrate key concepts. These visual aids help students grasp complex ideas more easily, making the learning experience more enjoyable.
  3. Group projects: Collaborative group projects encourage students to work together to explore Earth and space science concepts. This approach fosters teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills.
  4. Field trips: Visiting local museums, planetariums, and geological sites can provide students with real-world exposure to Earth and space sciences. Field trips help reinforce classroom learning and spark students’ interest in further exploration.
  5. Storytelling and role play: Teachers can use storytelling and role play to explain complex concepts fun and engagingly. For example, students can act out the roles of planets in the solar system or pretend to be geologists exploring Earth’s layers.
  6. Inquiry-based learning: Encourage students to ask questions and seek answers through research and experimentation. This approach promotes curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
  7. Integration with other subjects: Earth and space science concepts can be integrated with mathematics, language arts, and history. This interdisciplinary approach helps students see the connections between different areas of knowledge and makes learning more meaningful.
  8. Assessment: Regular assessment through quizzes, tests, and class discussions helps teachers gauge student understanding and adjust their teaching methods accordingly. Assessment also helps students track their own progress and identify areas where they need to improve.

Strategies to Help Your Child Learn Science Better at Home

As a parent, you can support your fifth grader’s science education at home by using various strategies that promote curiosity, critical thinking, and hands-on learning. Here are some suggestions to help your child learn science better at home:

  1. Encourage curiosity: Start conversations about science-related topics and encourage your child to ask questions. Discuss the natural world around them and help them make connections between what they learn in school and their daily lives.
  2. Create a conducive learning environment: Set up a dedicated space for your child to study, complete homework, and conduct experiments. Ensure this area is well-lit, quiet, and free from distractions.
  3. Hands-on activities: Engage your child in fun, hands-on science activities and experiments. This could include growing plants, observing insects, creating a simple weather station, or making a model of the solar system. These activities help solidify classroom concepts and foster a love for science.
  4. Explore educational resources: Utilize online resources, science apps, and educational videos to supplement your child’s learning. These tools can provide engaging and interactive ways to explore various science topics.
  5. Visit local science centers and museums: Plan visits to local museums, planetariums, botanical gardens, and other science-related venues. These experiences can spark your child’s interest in science and provide real-world examples of what they are learning in school.
  6. Read science books together: Encourage your child to read age-appropriate science books and articles. Discuss the content and ask open-ended questions to stimulate critical thinking and comprehension.
  7. Connect science to other subjects: Help your child see the connections between science and other subjects, such as math, language arts, and social studies. This interdisciplinary approach can make learning more meaningful and enjoyable.
  8. Monitor progress and provide support: Keep track of your child’s progress in school and offer assistance with homework and studying when needed. Communicate with their teacher to stay informed about their learning needs and areas where they might struggle.
  9. Celebrate achievements: Acknowledge your child’s achievements in science, no matter how small. This can boost their confidence and motivate them to continue learning.
  10. Be a role model: Show your child that you value science by expressing your own curiosity and interest in the subject. Share your enthusiasm for scientific discoveries and discuss how science impacts our everyday lives.

Overall, fifth grade science instruction is important to give students a comprehensive knowledge base in the subject matter. Teaching fifth graders about life and physical sciences as well as the scientific process helps them become critical thinkers and problem solvers.

This educational foundation not only prepares them for fourth grade, but also sets them up for the more complex science courses they will take in higher grades.

Science can be extremely fun and engaging if it’s taught in the right way. So let’s get our kids off on the right foot! If you enjoyed this article, check out our other articles about fifth grade science and how it’s taught worldwide. Thanks for reading!


1. What are some effective science teaching strategies?

Some effective science teaching strategies include inquiry-based learning, hands-on experiments, problem-based learning, project-based learning, and the 5E instructional model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate).

2. How can I make science lessons more engaging for students?

To make science lessons more engaging, incorporate real-world examples, use multimedia resources (such as videos and interactive simulations), encourage student collaboration, and provide opportunities for hands-on learning.

3. What is inquiry-based learning in science?

Inquiry-based learning is a teaching strategy that encourages students to ask questions, explore concepts, and develop their own understanding of scientific principles through investigation and experimentation.

4. How can I differentiate instruction in my science classroom?

Differentiate instruction by providing multiple pathways for students to learn and demonstrate their understanding, such as varying the complexity of tasks, offering assignment choices, and incorporating different learning styles and modalities.

5. How can I assess student learning in science?

Assess student learning using a variety of assessment methods, such as formative assessments (e.g., quizzes, exit tickets, and class discussions), summative assessments (e.g., tests, projects, and lab reports), and performance assessments (e.g., presentations, experiments, and models).

6. How can I promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills in my science classroom?

Promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills by encouraging students to ask questions, analyze data, draw conclusions, and apply their knowledge to new situations. Provide opportunities for students to work on complex, real-world problems and engage in collaborative learning activities.

7. What role should technology play in the science classroom?

Technology can enhance science instruction by providing access to multimedia resources, simulations, and data collection tools. It can also facilitate student collaboration and communication and help them develop digital literacy skills.

8. How can I support English Language Learners in my science classroom?

Support English Language Learners by providing clear visuals, using graphic organizers, simplifying language, and building on their prior knowledge. Encourage collaboration with native English speakers and allow for extra time to process information and complete tasks.

9. How can I create a safe and inclusive science learning environment?

Create a safe and inclusive learning environment by establishing clear expectations for behavior, promoting respect and empathy, encouraging participation from all students, and being sensitive to cultural differences.

10. How can I stay current with new developments in science education?

Stay current with new developments in science education by participating in professional development opportunities, joining science teacher associations, attending conferences, and staying active in online communities and social media groups focused on science education. Regularly read articles and research studies to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in science teaching.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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