National Science Standards

Game designers at Michigan State University have used example national science standard test questions in preliminary research to refine the game content and optimize learning outcomes.

The following National Science Education Standards for grades 5-8 and 9-12 are touched upon by the Life Preservers Game.

A. Science as Inquiry


5-8 Students should base their explanation on what they observed, and as they develop cognitive skills, they should be able to differentiate explanation from description--providing causes for effects and establishing relationships based on evidence and logical argument. This standard requires a subject matter knowledge base so the students can effectively conduct investigations, because developing explanations establishes connections between the content of science and the contexts within which students develop new knowledge.

C. Life Sciences


9-12 The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits. Some traits are inherited and others result from interactions with the environment.


9-12 Regulation of an organism's internal environment involves sensing the internal environment and changing physiological activities to keep conditions within the range required to survive

9-12 Behavior is one kind of response an organism can make to an internal or environmental stimulus. A behavioral response requires coordination and communication at many levels, including cells, organ systems, and whole organisms. Behavioral response is a set of actions determined in part by heredity and in part from experience.

5-8 and 9-12 An organism's behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. How a species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger are based in the species' evolutionary history.


9-12 Populations of organisms can be categorized by the function they serve in an ecosystem. Plants and some micro-organisms are producers--they make their own food. All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other organisms. Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem.


5-8 and 9-12 Millions of species of animals, plants, and microorganisms are alive today. Although different species might look dissimilar, the unity among organisms becomes apparent from an analysis of internal structures, the similarity of their chemical processes, and the evidence of common ancestry.

5-8 and 9-12 Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations. Biological adaptations include changes in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.

5-8 and 9-12 Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival. Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct. Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist.


5-8 and 9-12 Fossils provide important evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed.

F. Science in Personal and Social Perspectives


5-8 and 9-12 Internal and external processes of the earth system cause natural hazards, events that change or destroy human and wildlife habitats, damage property, and harm or kill humans. Natural hazards include earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, floods, storms, and even possible impacts of asteroids.

5-8 and 9-12 Human activities also can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste disposal. Such activities can accelerate many natural changes.


5-8 and 9-12 Individuals can use a systematic approach to thinking critically about risks and benefits. Examples include applying probability estimates to risks and comparing them to estimated personal and social benefits.

9-12 Important personal and social decisions are made based on perceptions of benefits and risks.