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Introduction

This curriculum policy presents the compulsory Grade 9 science course, 2022 (SNC1W). This course supersedes the two Grade 9 courses outlined in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Science, 2008. Effective September 2022, all science programs for Grade 9 will be based on the expectations outlined on this site.

The Grade 9 science curriculum focuses on the fundamental concepts of science and on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills. It supports students in making connections between skills and concepts and the practical applications of science in their lives, and in learning about biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth and space science. This curriculum is designed to help students prepare for deeper levels of science as they continue in secondary school and beyond.

In addition to the considerations outlined in this curriculum context, all of the general “Program Planning” sections on this site apply to this course. Educators should review and implement these sections, as well as the components that appear below.

The vision of the Grade 9 science course is for students to acquire and develop the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in today’s rapidly changing world. As discoveries and innovations in STEM increasingly impact our lives, science continues to adapt and evolve. A central component of this curriculum is safe, practical, hands-on, experiential learning that will support students in becoming successful and discerning individuals who are scientifically literate.

Throughout the Grade 9 science course, students apply scientific and engineering design processes to develop their sense of wonder about the world, to explore their curiosity about what they observe, and to investigate problems relating to science, technology, society, and the environment. Students are encouraged to consider what practical steps they themselves can take to help solve some of these problems.

This curriculum provides numerous opportunities for students to develop essential STEM skills and to extend and deepen their understanding of the fundamental concepts of science. Students will continue to develop the ability to make connections that honour the complex, cross-curricular, and sometimes ambiguous nature of modern scientific problems. As they bring experiences from their own lives to the classroom, students are encouraged to see the connections between science and other subject areas.

Concepts and skills related to environmental education appear throughout the curriculum, providing students with opportunities to investigate the world around them and to build the skills and knowledge that serve as the foundation for deep understanding about complex and interconnected issues such as dynamic equilibrium, biodiversity, sustainability, and climate change. Learning in all strands is enriched when students think critically about environmental issues when relating science to society, or when developing innovative solutions through a scientific or engineering design process.

As students progress through the course, they gain an appreciation for the broad range of STEM fields and sectors, including skilled trades. They also come to realize that, while they are all impacted in various ways by discoveries and innovations in these areas, they can one day become contributing members of these fields and sectors and shape the direction of future scientific and technological innovation, to help support a better future for all.

While embodying optimism and hope for the future, this course provides opportunities to investigate exciting innovations, discoveries, and concepts in science. The curriculum also provides opportunities for students to consider the intended and unintended consequences of scientific progress as they relate science to our changing world, and as they investigate important issues such as climate change and issues related to the impact of emerging technologies, which can include bias, accessibility, and ethical concerns.

Ensuring that all students see themselves as confident, effective science learners and practitioners is at the forefront of the program. Students analyse scientific discoveries and innovations made by people with diverse experiences and integrate their own scientific skills and knowledge to enhance their learning in the classroom. Students explore Indigenous knowledges, which can broaden their understanding of and appreciation for Indigenous cultures and practices, and also provide them with valuable ways in which to investigate how diverse perspectives enrich scientific practices.

Finally, the science curriculum helps students develop important scientific literacy skills that will enable them to thrive in their future professional and personal lives, and to become discerning, knowledgeable, and active problem solvers in their communities.

In summary, the Ontario Grade 9 science course aims to provide all students with the skills and knowledge required to:

  • apply research, experimentation, and engineering design skills to help find solutions to complex problems in their own lives and in the lives of those in their communities;
  • understand the cross-curricular and cross-disciplinary nature of problem solving within the STEM fields;
  • appreciate the wonder and awe of the world and be optimistic and realistic about the power and limitations of science to solve environmental and social problems;
  • consider carefully the intended and unintended consequences of scientific progress;
  • develop scientific literacy and skills that will allow them to be discerning citizens and find answers to scientific questions;
  • see themselves as future contributing members of STEM fields and sectors, including skilled trades;
  • see themselves as confident, effective science learners, with rich social and cultural backgrounds that can help them to contribute to scientific discovery and related technological innovation;
  • discover effective, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable solutions to scientific and technological problems that impact their lives and the lives of those in their communities;
  • recognize the importance of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and of bringing diverse perspectives to current challenges within STEM fields.

The three main goals of the Grade 9 science course are for students:

  1. to develop the skills and make the connections needed for scientific investigation
  2. to relate science to our changing world, including technology, society, the economy, and the environment
  3. to investigate and understand scientific concepts

Achieving these three goals will enable students to develop a high degree of scientific literacy.

STEM education is the cross-curricular study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and the application of those subjects in real-world contexts. As students engage in STEM education, they develop the transferable skills that they need to meet the demands of today’s global economy and society, and to become scientifically literate citizens.

STEM education helps students develop an understanding and appreciation of each of the core subjects of science, technology, and mathematics. At the same time, it supports a more holistic understanding and application of skills and knowledge related to engineering design and innovation. STEM learning integrates and applies concepts, processes, and ways of thinking associated with these subjects to enable students to design economical, ethical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to technical and complex real-world problems.

Skills developed through STEM education include computational thinking, coding, innovation, and scientific and engineering design. These skills are in high demand in today’s globally connected world, as advancements in science continue to impact all areas of our lives, and they form a critical component of the Grade 9 science course. Students use an engineering design process and associated skills to design, build, and test devices, models, structures, and systems and they write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts.

Approaches to STEM education may vary across Ontario schools. STEM-related subjects may be taught separately, but cross-curricular connections should form a part of student learning. Strand A of the Grade 9 science course focuses on the STEM skills and connections that frame learning in the other four strands: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth and Space Science. Strand A also provides opportunities for critical cross-curricular learning as students consider the connections between science and other subject areas. The Grade 9 science course also encourages students to examine various STEM-related careers, including skilled trades.

Classroom activities focused on solving real-world problems and on understanding practical applications of concepts can combine components from two or more STEM-related subjects and can include contexts related to the student’s home and community or to various occupations, including the skilled trades. The integration of a number of STEM-related subjects can reinforce students' understanding of each subject and of the interrelationships among them.

Curriculum expectations related to exploring Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing can create opportunities for inclusive and impactful integrative studies. Diverse perspectives engage students in a variety of creative and critical thinking processes that are essential for developing innovative, ethical, and effective solutions to societal and environmental problems.

The themes and components of STEM education are woven throughout the Grade 9 science curriculum to ensure that Ontario educators and students become innovators and leaders for ethical and sustainable change in society and the workforce, and to create opportunities in our diverse communities to foster integrative thinking and problem solving. The curriculum also supports the development of scientific literacy in students, enabling them to better appreciate, understand, and navigate the world in which they live.

Curiosity and wonder are at the core of scientific disciplines and should be at the core of student-centred science education. Students come to school with a natural curiosity about the way in which the world works, and as they learn about natural phenomena, scientific concepts and theories, and scientific discoveries and innovations made by diverse individuals, they can be amazed and inspired. The Ontario science curriculum strives to nurture and support curiosity and wonder in order for all students to enjoy science, to be engaged and achieve success within the program, and to see themselves as confident learners and as scientifically literate individuals. The curriculum also strives to inspire students with a spirit of inventing, designing, making, and entrepreneurship as they use their knowledge from the classroom to develop innovative, made-in-Canada solutions to global issues.

Within the science classroom, students’ curiosity may be expressed explicitly, with direct questions, such as “How does that work?”, or expressed subtly as they consider the results of an experiment or the results of testing an engineered design. They may bring questions into the classroom about scientific phenomena they have observed in their own lives, or initial classroom investigations may lead them to extend their thinking and further compare and analyse concepts. Processes such as scientific research, scientific experimentation, and engineering design provide a framework within which to situate and nurture this curiosity. Students can revise and refine their initial questions, and then proceed through a formal process to seek answers or develop solutions.

Wonder is exhibited as students are surprised at the results of their research, experimentation, or engineered design, or as they admire the natural processes that make up our world. By offering a wide variety of investigations, the Ontario curriculum provides opportunities for students to appreciate and wonder about scientific concepts and processes, as well as current and emerging technologies and innovations.

The excitement and promise of discoveries and innovations is balanced with an awareness of the limitations, and potentially harmful impacts, of science. Students should develop an understanding of the types of problems that can be solved by science, as well as of the critical role that human creativity, empathy, and ethics have in innovations and solutions that support accessibility, inclusivity, and equity for all.

In addition to being at the core of scientific disciplines, curiosity and wonder should be integral components of helping students develop the skills and make the connections needed for scientific investigation; develop the ability to relate science to our changing world; explore and understand concepts; and develop as scientifically literate individuals.