School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Science, Grade 6




State Curriculum Toolkit

Tools aligned to State Curriculum indicators and/or objectives.

  • Introduction for Standard or Indicator
  • Public Release Items
    Actual MSA items and annotated student responses as appropriate

Standard 2.0 Earth/Space Science

Students will use scientific skills and processes to explain the chemical and physical interactions (i.e., natural forces and cycles, transfer of energy) of the environment, Earth, and the universe that occur over time.


A. Materials and Processes That Shape A Planet


  • 2. Cite evidence to demonstrate and explain that physical weathering and chemical weathering cause changes to Earth materials.
  1. Identify examples of physical weathering, such as the effect of wind, ice, etc. and describe the changes caused in each.
  2. Describe the changes in materials caused by each of the chemical weathering processes listed:
    • Rusting/tarnishing
    • Dissolving by acid rain
  3. Compare physical and chemical weathering and provide examples if changes caused in Earth materials or features by each of these processes.


  • 4. Differentiate among sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks based upon the processes by which they are formed.
  1. Identify and describe the processes that form sedimentary rock.
  2. Identify and describe the processes that form igneous rocks.
    • Volcanic eruptions
    • Igneous intrusions
  3. Identify and describe the processes that form metamorphic rocks.
  4. Cite features that can be used as evidence to distinguish among the three types of rocks and relate these features to the processes that form each rock type.
  5. Describe the processes that change one form of rock into another (rock cycle).


C. Plate Tectonics


  • 1. Recognize and describe the internal and external structure of the Earth.
  1. Recognize and describe that the Earth's mantle
  2. Recognize and describe that the Earth's core
    • Is at the center of the Earth
    • Is very hot
    • Is dense and metallic
  3. Identify and describe the Earth's crust.
    • The solid crust consists of separate plates
    • The plates constantly move in different directions due to convection currents
    • The plates interact with one another as a result of plate motion.


  1. Recognize and describe the evidence for plate movement.
  2. Recognize and explain that major geologic events (earthquakes, volcanic activity, sea floor spreading) occur along crustal plate boundaries.


D. Astronomy


  • 1. Recognize that objects of our solar system are interrelated.
  1. Recognize that Earth and its closest star, the sun, are part of a disk-shape galaxy of stars and that our galaxy is one of billions of galaxies.
  2. Construct models with accurate scale that represent the position of the Earth relative to the sun and to other planets.
  3. Identify and describe the general pattern of movement of all objects in our solar system.
  4. Recognize that the pull of gravity causes the pattern of motion of celestial objects.

Note: Highlighting identifies assessment limits. All highlighted Indicators will be tested on the Grades 5 and 8 MSA. The highlighted Objectives under each highlighted Indicator identify the limit to which MSA items can be written. Although all content standards are tested on MSA, not all Indicators and Objectives are tested. Objectives that are not highlighted will not be tested on MSA, however are an integral part of Instruction.

January 2008