Depending upon their state and school district, students entering ninth grade will most likely study earth science, biology or physical science -- a combination of chemistry and physics. Developed through a collaboration of 26 states, and adopted by several more as of July 2013, the Next Generation Science Standards outline how each topic is covered through the study of four themes: physical sciences; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and the application of sciences.
Physical science classes most often focus on chemistry and physics though they will also sometimes include components of earth science. This is generally a survey class in which students study the physical sciences in a broader sense before focusing on particular sciences in later grades. According to the Next Generation Science Standards, physical science includes the structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, forces and interactions, energy and waves, and electromagnetic radiation.
Often called biology, life science classes are also a popular course of study for students entering the ninth grade. Expanding on earlier experiences with the life sciences, students continue to explore key concepts in this field. Biology classes generally focus on structures and functions, inheritance and variation of traits, matter and energy in organisms and ecosystems, interdependent relationships in ecosystems, and natural selection and evolution. The goal of life science classes is to teach students how organisms live and grow, interact with their environment and pass on characteristics from one generation to the next.
Earth and Space Sciences
Most commonly called earth science, this ninth-grade science class generally focuses on Earth's place in the universe, Earth's systems, and Earth and human activity. The Big Bang Theory, astronomy, meteorology, seismology, geology, topography and the co-evolution of Earth's systems and life on Earth are all parts of the earth and space sciences. Students also study theories and effects of climate change, human use and management of natural resources, and the use of technology to monitor, evaluate and reduce human impact on the Earth's systems.
In some schools, students have the option to take advanced placement, or AP, courses in place of or in addition to their standard science classes. Offered through the College Board, students completing these classes take an exam for which they can earn credit that is accepted at most colleges. These exams are graded on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. Schools currently can offer students AP classes in biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images