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 3.0 Life Science

The students will use scientific skills and processes to explain the dynamic nature of living things, their interactions, and the results from the interactions that occur over time.



  1. Cite examples and describe that small differences between parents and offspring can accumulate (through selective breeding) in successive generations so that descendants are very different from their ancestors.
  2. Explain that in all environments-freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others-organisms with similar needs may compete with one another for resources, including food, space, water, air, and shelter.
  3. Explain that in any particular environment individual organisms with certain traits are more likely than others to survive and have offspring.
  4. Explain, with examples, ways that people control some characteristics of plants and animals they raise by selective breeding.
  5. Describe ways in which changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.
  6. Describe how sediments of sand and smaller particles (sometimes containing the remains of organisms) are gradually buried and are cemented together by dissolved minerals to form solid rock; and describe that such fossils provide evidence for the long history of changing life forms whose remains are found in the rocks.
  7. Explain that the more recently deposited rock layers are likely to contain fossils resembling existing species.


F. Ecology


  • 1. Give reasons supporting the fact that the number of organisms an environment can support depends on the physical conditions and resources available.
  1. Explain that populations increase or decrease relative to the availability of resources and the conditions of the environment.
  2. Identify and describe factors that could limit populations within any environment, such as disease, introduction of a nonnative species, depletion of resources, etc.
  3. Explain that within any environment organisms with similar needs may compete with one another for resources.
  4. Cite examples to illustrate that competition is reduced when organisms use different sets of resources, such as birds in a forest eat different kinds and sizes of seeds.

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