Science is the active study of the natural and human-made world, including the processes, structures, designs, and systems. Science students use their senses and tools to observe, record and analyze data about the world, develop explanations based on evidence, and design solutions to problems. Scientifically literate young people can understand basic science concepts, use skills for doing scientific investigations, solve technical problems and design technologies for today’s world.

Current Developments

Science Distance Learning and Return to School: Guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education for science instruction is available at the Student Instruction COVID-19 Resources page. The Minnesota Science Teachers Association (MnSTA) has a collection of resources for distance learning, including model lessons, a recorded webinar on “Promising Practices,” a forum, and links to outside resources. View the MnSTA Resources for Teaching Remotely.  The Council of State Science Supervisors is providing school closure guidance and instructional resources for district leaders, teachers, families and students at the CSSS Community Projects page.
Science Standards Implementation Delay
To provide flexibility for districts in implementing new standards as the state emerges from COVID-19, MDE will be delaying the required implementation of the Science and the English Language Arts standards to the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years, respectively. Implementation dates for each content area are set as part of the rulemaking process to allow flexibility for implementation needs. With both of these two content areas still in the rulemaking process, MDE will use that opportunity to update the proposed rule language to reflect the new implementation date. Since the MCAs are based on the standards, the Science MCA – IV will be delayed until the spring of 2025 for grades five, eight, and high school, and the Reading MCA – IV will be delayed until the spring of 2026 for grades three through eight and high school. Although districts are not required to begin work to implement the standards, MDE will continue to engage in test specifications and development to be prepared for the MCA – IVs in spring of 2025 and 2026. 

Science Standards Rulemaking
: The standards were submitted for Minnesota Rulemaking with a recommendation of full implementation by the 2024-25 school year. This process will likely take until the end of the 2020-21 school year. Consult the Science Rulemaking page for further information and new developments. 

Standards, Assessments and Graduation Requirements

Standards: The current Minnesota Academic Standards in Science were adopted in 2010 and were fully implemented in the 2011-12 school year. Literacy Standards in Science are included in the 2010 English/Language arts standards.
The science standards were reviewed in 2018-19. The final draft of the 2019 K-12 Academic Standards in Science has been approved by the Commissioner of Education for planning purposes.  The standards were submitted for Minnesota Rulemaking with a recommendation of full implementation by the 2024-25 school year. Consult the Science Rulemaking page for further information and new developments.
Assessments: The Science Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA ) III and the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) III assess the current science standards in grade 5 (for standards in grades 3-5), grade 8 (for standards in grades 6-8), and at the end of biology course (for 9-12 standards in the Nature of Science and Engineering and Life Science). The MCA IV and MTAS IV will begin assessing the 2019 standards in the year of full implementation of the 2019 Science Standards. More information and resources are at the MDE Statewide Testing page.
Graduation requirements: Students must successfully complete the following high school level credits: three credits of science, including at least one credit of biology, one credit of chemistry or physics, and one elective credit of science. The combination of credits under this clause must be sufficient to satisfy (i) all of the academic standards in either chemistry or physics and (ii) all other academic standards in science; Minnesota Statutes, section 120b.024.
Credit Equivalencies: An agriculture science or career and technical education credit may fulfill the elective science credit required under Minnesota Statutes, section 120b.024, subdivision 1, (4), if the credit meets the state physical science, life science, earth and space science, chemistry, or physics academic standards or a combination of these academic standards as approved by the district. An agriculture or career and technical education credit may fulfill the credit Minnesota Statutes, section 120b.024, subdivision 1, (4), if the credit meets the state chemistry or physics academic standards as approved by the district. A student must satisfy either all of the chemistry academic standards or all of the physics academic standards prior to graduation. An agriculture science or career and technical education credit may not fulfill the required biology credit. 

For more information, view the Graduation Requirements page.

Teaching Licenses: The Minnesota Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) regulates the awarding of teaching licenses and the courses the licenses may teach.  Currently the following licenses are available for teaching science: K-6, General Science 5-8, Chemistry 9-12, Earth and Space Science 9-12, Life Science 9-12, and Physics 9-12.  This document from PELSB and MDE clarifies the current licenses for the current and proposed science standards. 

Professional Learning and Coming Events

The Minnesota Department of Education is pleased to announce Minnesota’s Professional Development on Demand. Modules have been developed in our state Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) to provide PD on Demand for districts, schools and Minnesota learning communities to utilize in PLC or other small group settings. The following science modules are available: 
  1. Science and Engineering Practices in Action (SEPA): This professional development module was created as part of a partnership among the Minnesota Department of Education, Hamline University, and Anoka-Hennepin School District. This is a virtual course with six modules to explore each of the science and engineering practices that make up the new anchor standards for the revised science standards. The course is designed for science teachers in a professional learning community (PLC) or curriculum team (CT), at any grade level or mixed grade levels. Each module explores a single practice through a series of 20-30 minute segments totaling about 10 hours of professional development. The focus is on experiencing, discussing and enriching your teaching of the practices. The primary goal is to raise awareness of the importance of the practices and provide strategies for teaching science and engineering practices more directly and more often.
  2. Minnesota Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (MnSTELLA): This professional development module was created as part of a partnership among the Minnesota Department of Education, University of Minnesota, St. Paul Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools and BSCS. This is a videocase-based, analysis-of-practice PD program that supports teachers in creating equitable science instruction that is accessible to all students; includes modules for each grade band: elementary, middle school, and high school; and contains two modules for each grade band:
    • one focused on strategies to reveal, support, and challenge student thinking and
    • one focused on strategies to create a coherent science content storyline.  

Instructions for registering for and accessing these courses:

Legislative Initiatives and Special Projects

getSTEM is a web portal that connects more than a thousand Minnesota educators and businesses. The website provides a sharing network, allowing schools to request materials and human resources, such as equipment, volunteers, speakers and judges. Businesses, in turn, offer materials, programs, and presentations to schools. getSTEM is a collaborative project of MDE and the Minnesota High Technology Council. Visit getSTEM and get going!
The Minnesota STEM Network is a project to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education in Minnesota by addressing critical issues and forming collaborations across the state. The project is sponsored by SciMathMN. Visit the STEM Network website

Recognition and Awards Programs

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Two teachers from each state receive the award annually. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leadership in the improvement of science and mathematics education. Honorees receive a monetary award as well as a professional development opportunity in Washington, D.C. Visit the Presidential Awards website to learn more.
The Green Ribbon Schools Award from the U.S. Department of Education honors schools, districts and higher education institutions that save energy and reduce operating costs, create environmentally friendly learning spaces, promote student health, and incorporate environmental sustainability into the curriculum. Awardees receive a plaque for the school, local recognition, and an invitation to the national ceremony in Washington, D.C. Program information and the Minnesota application materials are at the MDE Green Ribbon Schools page.
The National Youth Science Camp scholarship provides two 12th-grade students a free, four-week summer science and outdoor experience in the mountains of West Virginia. Scientists from across the nation present lectures and hands-on science seminars and interact informally with student delegates. The experience includes overnight expeditions into the Monongahela National Forest, featuring backpacking, rock climbing, caving, mountain biking, or kayaking opportunities. A visit to Washington, D.C. permits delegates to visit some of the nation’s premier scientific, governmental, and cultural facilities. Applications are due in February. Contact the state science specialist for more information. 

Content Specialist Contact Information

For more information, contact John Olson, Science Education Specialist, at 651-582-8673,

Resources for Instruction and Learning

Support for 2009 Science Standards: The Frameworks for Minnesota Mathematics and Science Standards is an online resource for use by educators for planning instruction, professional development, curriculum design, and assessment. It provides instructional resources directly connected to each standard. It also has sections focused on best practices and standards implementation. The website is a collaboration of MDE and SciMathMN and reflects the expertise of teachers in identifying resources. View the Frameworks for Minnesota Mathematics and Science Standards.
Support for the 2019 Science Standards: A Framework for K-12 Science Education is the foundational document used to develop the 2019 Minnesota Science Standards. It combines the research on effective science learning and instruction, and applies it to the development of standards. The Framework was also use to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The appendices for the NGSS and the support documents on assessments, assessments, and implementation are helpful resources for the 2019 Minnesota Science Standards.
Science Lab Safety: The Minnesota State Fire Marshal has created a safety checklist for school science facilities and practices. View the checklist at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Additional safety guidelines and information are available in the Science Best Practices/Science Safety section of the Frameworks website and the National Science Teachers Association Safety Resources.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Minnesota has a statewide license for ESRI Geographic Information System (GIS) software, including online and desktop versions. This resource and associated apps supports science instruction through data collection, building maps with layers of information, analyzing existing maps with available lessons, and developing evidence-based arguments and stories. For more information go to the MDE GIS webpage.   
Minnesota Science Teachers Association: MnSTA provides the annual Minnesota Conference on Science Education, regional professional development, advocacy for science education, and resources for science instruction.
National Science Teaching Association: NSTA provides conferences, journals, books, webinars, advocacy, and resource collections. 

Standards and Related Information