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The Program in Science

The Grade 9 science course builds on the elementary science and technology program and is based on the same broad areas of learning. The first strand focuses on investigation skills. Each of the other four strands focuses on one of the scientific subdisciplines – biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth and space science. The transition from Grade 8 to Grade 9 is a smooth one because the strands of the elementary science and technology curriculum are closely aligned with those of the Grade 9 science course.

The Grade 9 science course is designed to be inclusive of all students in order to facilitate their transition from the elementary grades to the secondary level. It offers opportunities for all students to build a solid foundation in science, broaden their knowledge and skills, and begin to see themselves as scientists. This approach allows students to make informed decisions in choosing future science courses based on their interests, and in support of future plans for apprenticeship training, university, college, community living, or the workplace.

Similar to the elementary curriculum, the Grade 9 course adopts a strong focus on the processes that best enable students to understand scientific concepts and learn related skills. Attention to scientific and engineering design processes is considered essential to a balanced science program. In this course, these processes include a scientific research process, a scientific experimentation process, and an engineering design process.

Throughout the course, students make connections to real-life applications and to their lived experiences. Teachers implement the curriculum through effective assessment and instructional practices that are rooted in culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy (CRRP). Teachers utilize a variety of assessment and instructional approaches that provide students with multiple entry points to access science learning and multiple opportunities to demonstrate their achievement in science.

This course continues the learning from the elementary science and technology curriculum and prepares students for success in all senior secondary science courses in all pathways moving forward. Students who successfully complete the Grade 9 science course may proceed to a science course in Grade 10.

The course information that appears in the next section is in effect starting in the 2022–23 school year. The 2008 science curriculum for Grade 10 and the 2008 science curriculum for Grades 11–12 remain in effect. All references to Grade 9 that appear in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Science, 2008 and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: Science, 2008 have been superseded by the section below.

Science

Grade Course Name Course Type Course Code Prerequisite
9 Science De-streamed SNC1W None
10 Science Academic SNC2D Grade 9 Science, De-streamed (2022), or
Grade 9 Science, Academic (2008), or Grade 9 Science, Applied (2008)
10 Science Applied SNC2P Grade 9 Science, De-streamed (2022), or Grade 9 Science, Academic (2008), or Grade 9 Science, Applied (2008)
12 Science University/College SNC4M Grade 10 Science, Academic, or any Grade 11 university, university/college, or college preparation course in science
12 Science Workplace SNC4E Grade 10 Science, Applied, or a Grade 10 Locally Developed Compulsory Credit (LDCC) course in science

Biology

Grade Course Name Course Type Course Code Prerequisite
11 Biology University SBI3U Grade 10 Science, Academic
11 Biology College SBI3C Grade 10 Science, Academic or Applied
12 Biology University SBI4U Grade 11 Biology, University

Chemistry

Grade Course Name Course Type Course Code Prerequisite
11 Chemistry University SCH3U Grade 10 Science, Academic
12 Chemistry University SCH4U Grade 11 Chemistry, University
12 Chemistry College SCH4C Grade 10 Science, Academic or Applied

Earth and Space Science

Grade Course Name Course Type Course Code Prerequisite
12 Earth and Space Science University SES4U Grade 10 Science, Academic

Environmental Science

Grade Course Name Course Type Course Code Prerequisite
11 Environmental Science University/College SVN3M Grade 10 Science, Academic or Applied
11 Environmental Science Workplace SVN3E Grade 9 Science, De-streamed (2022), or Grade 9 Science, Academic (2008), or Grade 9 Science, Applied (2008), or a Grade 9 or 10 Locally Developed Compulsory Credit (LDCC) course in science

Physics

Grade Course Name Course Type Course Code Prerequisite
11 Physics University SPH3U Grade 10 Science, Academic
12 Physics University SPH4U Grade 11 Physics, University
12 Physics College SPH4C Grade 10 Science, Academic or Applied

Note: Each of the courses listed above is worth one credit.

This is a graphic representation of all the science courses from Grades 9 to 12. This graphic shows the links between courses and the possible prerequisites for them. It does not attempt to depict all possible movements from course to course.

Note: For students who completed any of the Grade 9 science courses prior to September 2022, refer to the prerequisite chart on page 13 of The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Science, 2008.

Half-Credit Courses

The course outlined in this curriculum is designed to be offered as a full-credit course. However, it may also be delivered as two half-credit courses. Half-credit courses, which require a minimum of fifty-five hours of scheduled instructional time, must adhere to the following conditions:

  • The two half-credit courses created from a full course must together contain all of the expectations of the full course.
  • Students must successfully complete both parts of the course if it is to be used as a prerequisite for another course.
  • The title of each half-credit course must include the designation Part 1 or Part 2. A half credit (0.5) will be recorded in the credit-value column of both the report card and the Ontario Student Transcript.

Boards will report all half-credit courses to the ministry annually in the School October Report.

The Ontario Curriculum, Grade 9: Science, 2022 identifies the expectations for the course and describes the skills and knowledge that students are expected to acquire, demonstrate, and apply in their class work and investigations, and in various other activities on which their achievement is assessed and evaluated.

Mandatory learning is described in the overall and specific expectations of the curriculum.

Two sets of expectations – overall expectations and specific expectations – are listed for each strand, or broad area of the curriculum, in Grade 9 science. The strands include Strand A: STEM Skills, Careers, and Connections and four other strands, lettered B, C, D and E. Taken together, the overall and specific expectations represent the mandated curriculum.

The overall expectations describe in general terms the skills and knowledge that students are expected to demonstrate by the end of the course. The specific expectations describe the expected skills and knowledge in greater detail. The specific expectations are organized under numbered subheadings, each of which indicates the strand and the overall expectation to which the group of specific expectations corresponds (e.g., “B2” indicates that the group relates to overall expectation 2 in Strand B). This organization is not meant to imply that the expectations in any one group are achieved independently of the expectations in the other groups, nor is it intended to imply that the learning associated with the expectations happens in a linear, sequential way. The numbered headings are used merely as an organizational structure to help teachers focus on particular aspects of knowledge, concepts, and skills as they develop various lessons and learning activities for students. 

In the Grade 9 science course, the overall expectations outline the fundamental concepts and skills that are required for students to become scientifically literate global citizens. The curriculum focuses on connecting, developing, reinforcing, and refining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students acquire as they work towards meeting the overall expectations in the course. This approach reflects and accommodates the progressive nature of development of knowledge, concepts, and skills in science learning. In the course, the two overall expectations in each strand are developed in related sets of specific expectations.

Teacher Supports

Specific expectations are accompanied by supports such as examples and/or instructional tips. The examples are meant to clarify the requirement specified in the expectation, illustrating the kind of skill or knowledge, the specific area of learning, the depth of learning, and/or the level of complexity that the expectation entails. The instructional tips suggest instructional strategies and authentic contexts for the effective modelling, practice, and application of scientific concepts. The examples and instructional tips are optional supports that teachers can draw on to support teaching and learning, in addition to developing their own supports that reflect a similar level of complexity. Whatever the specific ways in which the requirements outlined in the expectations are implemented in the classroom, they must be inclusive and, wherever possible, reflect the diversity of the student population and the population of the province.

This course provides numerous opportunities for students to develop essential STEM skills and make important connections that will allow them to deepen their understanding of the fundamental concepts and big ideas of science. The fundamental concepts in science provide a framework for the development of scientific knowledge. They also help students to integrate scientific knowledge with knowledge in other subject areas, such as technological education, mathematics, geography, and the arts. The fundamental concepts that are addressed in the Ontario science curriculum are matter, energy, systems and interactions, structure and function, sustainability and stewardship, and change and continuity. These fundamental concepts are described in the following chart.

Fundamental Concepts
Matter Matter is anything that has mass and occupies space. Matter has particular structural and behavioural characteristics.
Energy Energy comes in many forms, and can change forms. Energy is required to make things happen (to do work). Work is done when a force causes movement.
Systems and Interactions A system is a collection of living and/or non-living things and processes that interact to perform some function. A system includes inputs, outputs, and relationships among system components. Natural and human-made systems develop in response to, and are limited by, a variety of environmental factors.
Structure and Function This concept focuses on the interrelationship between the function or use of a natural or human-made object and the form that the object takes.
Sustainability and Stewardship Sustainability is the concept of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Stewardship involves understanding that we need to use and care for the natural environment in a responsible way and making the effort to pass on to future generations no less than what we have access to ourselves. Values that are central to responsible stewardship are as follows: using non-renewable resources with care; reusing and recycling what we can; and switching to renewable resources where possible.

Change and Continuity Change is the process of becoming different over time, and can be quantified.

Continuity represents consistency and connectedness within and among systems over time. Interactions within and among systems result in change and variations in consistency.

In this course, “big ideas” describe the aspects of the fundamental concepts that are addressed in each strand. Developing an understanding of the big ideas requires students to consider and apply STEM skills as they engage in investigative processes and make connections between related scientific concepts, between science and other disciplines, and between science and everyday life.

The relationships between the fundamental concepts, STEM skills and connections, big ideas, goals of the science program, and overall and specific expectations of this curriculum are indicated in the following chart.

This diagram represents the relationships between the goals, strands, fundamental concepts, and big ideas of the Grade 9 science course. 
Students appear at the centre of the diagram, encircled by rounded arrows indicating that the components of the diagram work together to support students. 
At the top of the diagram is goal 1, to develop the skills and make the connections needed for scientific investigation. This goal connects to Strand A: STEM Skills, Careers, and Connections, which is an overarching strand connected to goals 2 and 3 below it. 
Goal 2 is to relate science to our changing world, and goal 3 is to investigate and understand scientific concepts. Goals 2 and 3 connect to the overall and specific expectations in strands B to E: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth and Space Science. The overall and specific expectations in these strands reflect and are connected to the fundamental concepts of Matter, Energy, Systems and Interactions, Structure and Function, Sustainability and Stewardship, and Change and Continuity. 
Connected to the fundamental concepts are the big ideas, which describe the aspects of the fundamental concepts that are addressed in each strand.

Big Ideas

Biology

  • Environmental sustainability depends on the dynamic equilibrium of ecosystems.
  • The cycling of matter and flow of energy within and between Earth’s four spheres are natural processes that help maintain balance in ecosystems.
  • Human activities, including activities that contribute to climate change, impact environmental sustainability, and it is our collective responsibility to mitigate these impacts.

Chemistry

  • Atoms are the building blocks of matter.
  • There is a relationship between the atomic structure of elements, their properties, and the organization of the periodic table.
  • Elements and compounds have specific physical and chemical properties, which determine their uses.
  • The use of elements and compounds in consumer products and chemical technologies has both positive and negative impacts on society, the economy, and the environment.

Physics

  • The distinct properties of static and current electricity can be explained by the behaviour of electric charges.
  • Electrical energy can be produced from renewable and non-renewable sources and converted to other forms of energy to meet various needs.
  • The production and consumption of electrical energy has social, economic, and environmental impacts that can be addressed through sustainable practices.

Earth and Space Science

  • The solar system and the universe have various components with distinct characteristics that can be investigated and quantified.
  • The Sun plays a critical role in sustaining life on Earth and in contributing to renewable energy production.
  • Space observation, space exploration, and associated space exploration technologies advance our understanding of the universe, and have social, economic, and environmental impacts.

The expectations in the science curriculum are organized into five distinct but related strands. Strand A is an overarching strand that focuses on the STEM skills and connections that will enable students to investigate concepts and integrate knowledge from each of the other strands and to make connections between science and other subject areas. This strand also encourages students to examine various STEM-related careers, including skilled trades. In Strands B through E, students integrate Strand A expectations as they develop their understanding of strand-specific concepts, investigate phenomena, and make meaningful connections to the real world.

Throughout the course, learning related to the expectations in Strand A occurs in the context of learning related to the other four strands.

The five strands are as follows:

  • A. STEM Skills, Careers, and Connections
  • B. Biology
  • C. Chemistry
  • D. Physics
  • E. Earth and Space Science

The chart below illustrates the relationship between Strand A and the other four strands.

This diagram represents the relationships between the five strands in the Grade 9 science course. 
Strand A: STEM Skills, Careers, and Connections appears in a large, overarching box at the top. Below it are the four other strands: Strand B: Biology, Strand C: Chemistry, Strand D: Physics, and Strand E: Earth and Space Science. 
Strand A and the other four strands are connected with circular arrows indicating that the learning related to the expectations in Strand A occurs in the context of learning related to the other four strands, and that the concepts and skills in the different strands are related, and mutually support each other.

Strand A – STEM Skills, Careers, and Connections

Strand A focuses on the STEM skills that will enable students to explore and investigate scientific concepts. Students apply these skills as they integrate knowledge from the other four strands and as they make connections between these skills, their scientific knowledge, real-world issues in science, and various STEM-related occupations, including skilled trades.

In this strand, students use scientific research, scientific experimentation, and engineering design processes to carry out investigations, design solutions to problems, develop a conceptual understanding of the science they are learning, and communicate their findings. Students also use coding to investigate and model scientific concepts and relationships. Through the planning and conducting of hands-on investigations, students apply knowledge and understanding of established health and safety procedures.

In Strand A, students design an experiment or a prototype to explore a problem relevant to a STEM-related occupation or skilled trade. Students continue to develop and apply scientific literacy skills to examine local and global social and environmental issues, and assess how the development and application of science is influenced by social, economic, and cultural contexts. Students analyse the contributions to science by people with diverse lived experiences and from various communities and have the opportunity to learn about Indigenous sciences and to make connections to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit knowledge systems and perspectives.

Strand B – Biology 

In this strand, students develop an understanding of sustainable ecosystems and how sustainability is related to various ecological factors and processes, such as biodiversity, air and water quality, and soil health. Students assess how human activities impact the environment, including how they contribute to climate change, and explore ways to address some of the impacts. Students investigate the flow of energy and the cycling of matter in the environment and the importance of these natural processes in maintaining a dynamic equilibrium in ecosystems. 

Strand C – Chemistry

In this strand, students explore the relevance of chemistry to their daily lives by investigating the use and safe disposal of various elements and compounds. Additionally, they assess the impacts of chemical processes and technologies on society and the environment. Students investigate the nature of matter by studying properties of elements and compounds, the structure of atoms, and the relationship between the atomic structure of elements and the organization of the periodic table.

Strand D – Physics

In this strand, students develop an understanding of the impacts of electrical energy production and consumption on society, the environment, and the economy, and explore ways to achieve sustainable practices. Students also investigate the nature of electric charges, including properties of static and current electricity, and explain the relationships between various electrical quantities.

Strand E – Earth and Space Science

In this strand, students investigate the impacts of space exploration on society, the environment, and the economy, and the importance to society of technological innovations resulting from space exploration. Students also learn about the components of the solar system and the universe and the Sun’s relationship to processes on Earth.

Topics in Grade 9 Science

Strands B through E in the Grade 9 course cover the four major scientific subdisciplines – biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth and space science. They are designed to build on the required knowledge and skills of the elementary science and technology curriculum, especially the curriculum for Grades 6, 7, and 8, while at the same time expanding and deepening students’ understanding of the fundamental concepts. The chart below provides an outline of the topics in Grade 9 science, and also shows their broad connections to the science and technology curriculum for Grades 6 to 8.

This chart includes the topics, from Grades 6 to 8, that appear in the science and technology curriculum, and the topics that appear in the Grade 9 science course. 
The topics for Grades 6 to 8 are listed first. Strand A: STEM Skills and Connections appears at the top, and includes the following topics: STEM Investigation and Communication Skills; Coding and Emerging Technologies; and Applications, Connections, and Contributions. Circular arrows connect Strand A to the other four strands, indicating that the learning related to the expectations in all five strands is related, and that the topics in the different strands mutually support each other. 
Below the circular arrows are the topics in each of the strands for Grades 6 to 8. The topics appear, from left to right, in the order that the strands appear in the curriculum: Strand B: Life Systems, Strand C: Matter and Energy, Strand D: Structures and Mechanisms, and Strand E: Earth and Space Systems. 
In Grade 6, the topics are Biodiversity; Electrical Phenomena, Energy, and Devices; Flight; and Space. 
In Grade 7, the topics are Interactions in the Environment; Pure Substances and Mixtures; Form, Function, and Design of Structures; and Heat in the Environment. 
In Grade 8, the topics are Cells; Fluids; Systems in Action; and Water Systems. 
The topics for Grade 9 are listed next. Strand A: STEM Skills, Careers, and Connections appears at the top. This strand includes the following topics: STEM Investigation Skills, and Applications, Careers, and Connections. Circular arrows connect Strand A to the other four strands, indicating that the learning related to the expectations in all five strands is related, and that the topics in the different strands mutually support each other. 
In Strand B: Biology, the topic is Sustainable Ecosystems and Climate Change. In Strand C: Chemistry, the topic is The Nature of Matter. In Strand D: Physics, the topic is Characteristics and Applications of Electricity. In Strand E: Earth and Space Science, the topic is Space Exploration.

In addition to developing knowledge related to specific concepts, the study of science offers students varied opportunities to learn skills that are relevant to their everyday world. Strand A is focused on such skills, and refers to the following three processes:

  • a scientific research process
  • a scientific experimentation process
  • an engineering design process

The skills associated with these processes include:

  • initiating and planning (e.g., asking questions, clarifying problems, planning procedures)
  • performing and recording (e.g., following procedures, accessing information, recording observations and findings)
  • analysing and interpreting (e.g., organizing data, reflecting on the effectiveness of actions performed, drawing conclusions)
  • communicating (e.g., using appropriate vocabulary, communicating findings in a variety of ways)


Scientific Processes

There are a variety of processes that are followed when investigating questions in a scientific manner. In scientific investigations, students engage in activities that allow them to develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas in much the same way that scientists do. Like scientists, students must develop skills in the two major processes of scientific investigations: research and experimentation. These two processes play an important role in the Grade 9 science course. Teachers should ensure that students engage often in these processes and consider ethical protocols when doing so, as they develop skills and knowledge in the other four strands of the course.

When planning scientific investigations, teachers should also consider the impact that emerging technologies are having on scientific processes, and how scientific processes have led to innovations and new technologies. For example, ongoing advances in technology are changing how data is obtained, processed, stored, and visualized, as well as how scientific knowledge is shared; at the same time, scientific discoveries related to materials and their use are being applied to the development of new technologies. In this context, teachers can make important connections between technology and science, showing how they are interrelated. They can encourage students to use technologies to support their scientific investigations, and students can consider how their research and experimentation findings relate to potential new technologies.

Scientific Research Process

Scientific research includes both primary research, which is done through first-hand, direct observation of objects, living things, phenomena, and systems; and secondary research, which is done by reviewing the work and the findings of others. Research is a starting point for investigations, and it can also play a role during or after an experiment to support or build upon findings and observations.

Research does not always follow a linear path. New information or findings may lead students to refine their research question(s) or change the course of the intended research. This should not be a source of concern, as there are times when research proceeds in this manner, with new findings impacting the researcher and the research process itself.

The most appropriate entry points into a scientific research process, and the most appropriate components of the process to be focused on, may depend on student readiness. Prior experience and knowledge, as well as access to resources, the context of the learning, and the amount of time available, may also be factors. For these reasons, educators may need to provide multiple entry points to engage all students in the learning.

Considering the vast and ever-increasing number of sources of information available today, students need to be aware of how to find and identify appropriate information during research. Critical-thinking skills are essential to assess the information gathered, in part by considering the biases, interests, and motivation of the authors, as well as the trustworthiness of the source or publisher. Students should also carefully consider how scientific knowledge is shared, whether in formal, peer-reviewed contexts or through less formal channels such as social media.

The following diagram summarizes the scientific research process and shows how its components relate to the skills of initiating and planning; performing and recording; analysing and interpreting; and communicating.

This circular diagram represents the scientific research process and its associated skills and components. It contains an outer circle and an inner circle. 
Going clockwise, the outer circle lists the associated skills of Initiating and Planning, Performing and Recording, Analysing and Interpreting, and Communicating. These four skill areas are connected to each other with arrows, suggesting that students might progress from one area to the next in a linear way, but as part of the research process, students may have to revisit prior stages. 
The inner circle includes components of the associated skills in the context of scientific research. For Initiating and Planning, the two components are 1) Define the research question, and 2) Identify and select resources. For Performing and Recording, the component is Identify and record information. For Analysing and Interpreting, the component is Analyse information and summarize findings. For Communicating, the component is Communicate results.

The components of a research process are described in more detail below. The process will not always be linear, and these components are meant as a general guide to the process.

Initiating and Planning

  • Define the research question
    • develop several specific and concise research questions
    • select an appropriate research question for investigation
    • identify prior knowledge and experience related to the research question
    • identify key words
    • develop a work plan
    • consider resources available
  • Identify and select resources
    • identify various resources to consult
    • consult the selected resources, by using various research tools and/or by visiting a library, museum, or other facility
    • consider bias in the resources
    • select relevant and appropriate resources

Performing and Recording

  • Identify and record information
    • classify resources by subtopics
    • identify important data from the selected resources
    • identify important information, and record it in the form of notes, graphics, or illustrations or using audio and video formats
    • keep track of references for all resources

Analysing and Interpreting

  • Analyse information and summarize findings
    • look for missing or conflicting ideas
    • rank the information according to its relevance
    • eliminate unnecessary data
    • consider bias in the data or on the part of the researcher
    • check whether the data answers the research question
    • answer the research question and write a summary

Communicating

  • Communicate results
    • choose a form or medium for communication that is appropriate for the intended audience
    • choose the information to share, and develop a draft presentation or publication, using appropriate vocabulary
    • consider cultural, ethical, and other implications related to the communication of the work
    • review the draft, considering the audience’s perspective, and edit as required
    • present or publish the work

Scientific Experimentation Process

Experimentation involves performing various steps to test and validate or reject a hypothesis, as well as manipulating different variables in order to observe the results. It involves experiential, hands-on learning that engages and empowers students as they develop their investigation skills.

A process of experimentation is often iterative and may involve conducting fair tests to determine the effects of changing one factor in an experimental set-up. In a fair test, the student identifies variables that may affect the results of the experiment; selects one variable to be altered (tested) while keeping other variables constant; measures all trials in the same way; and repeats tests to determine the validity of the results. As part of their experimentation, students are encouraged to consider the concept of fair tests, and whether or not complete objectivity and the absence of bias is possible in science investigations.

As with the scientific research process described above, the most appropriate entry points into a scientific experimentation process, and the most appropriate components of the process to be focused on, may depend on student readiness. Prior experience and knowledge, as well as access to tools and equipment, the context of the learning, and the amount of time available may also be factors. Educators may therefore need to provide multiple entry points to engage all students in the learning. In any given classroom, students may demonstrate a wide range of strengths and needs. It is important that experiments are attuned to this diversity and include an integrated process that responds to the unique strengths and needs of each student.

It is important to have students conduct experiments in all strands, so that students can gain experience doing different types of experiments in different contexts. This also ensures that students are provided with hands-on, experiential, and exciting ways to uncover a broad range of scientific concepts. The experiments can be small or large, guided by the teacher or student-led. They can be designed to consolidate existing skills and knowledge or to introduce new skills and develop new knowledge. 

Students should follow established experimental and health and safety procedures. They should also be guided to eventually develop their own experimental procedures, keeping health and safety in mind.

The following diagram summarizes the scientific experimentation process and shows how its components relate to the skills of initiating and planning; performing and recording; analysing and interpreting; and communicating.

This diagram represents the scientific experimentation process and its associated skills and components. It contains an outer circle and an inner circle. 
Going clockwise, the outer circle includes the associated skills of Initiating and Planning, Performing and Recording, Analysing and Interpreting, and Communicating. These four skill areas are connected to each other with arrows, suggesting that students might progress from one are to the next in a linear way, but as part of the scientific experimentation process, students may have to revisit prior stages. 
The inner circle includes components of the associated skills in the context of scientific experimentation. For Initiating and Planning, the two components are 1) Define a problem and its context, and 2) Design the experiment. For Performing and Recording, the two components are 1) Conduct the experiment, and 2) Record data. For Analysing and Interpreting, the component is Analyse and summarize the data. For Communicating, the component is Communicate results.

Components of this experimentation process are described in more detail below. The process will not always be linear, and these components are meant as a general guide to the process.

Initiating and Planning

  • Define a problem and its context
    • identify and review resources related to an area of investigation
    • consider questions related to the area of investigation
    • define a specific problem, and identify what is to be investigated
    • formulate a hypothesis or consider expected results
  • Design the experiment
    • clearly define the steps of the experiment
    • identify the materials, equipment, and health and safety precautions needed
    • consider the variables that will remain constant and those that will be changed
    • identify the data to be collected

Performing and Recording

  • Conduct the experiment
    • carry out the experiment, paying close attention to the designed steps
    • follow all procedures and processes related to health and safety and environmental sustainability
  •  Record data
    • consider the potential type of data to be obtained
    • consider how to best record, organize, and represent the data
    • record clear and precise data

Analysing and Interpreting

  • Analyse and summarize the data
    • perform any required calculations
    • represent the data, using appropriate forms
    • explain the result obtained based on the data
    • review the identified resources, considering the results from the experiment
    • develop a clear and concise conclusion based on a summary of the data
    • consider sources of error and how to minimize these sources of error in future experiments

Communicating

  • Communicate results
    • choose a form or medium for communication that is appropriate for the intended audience
    • choose the information to share, and develop a draft presentation or publication, using appropriate vocabulary
    • review the draft, considering the audience’s perspective, and edit as required
    • present or publish the work

Engineering Design Process

An engineering design process (EDP) provides a framework for students and teachers as they plan and build solutions to problems or develop ways to address needs that connect to the curriculum and the world around them. An EDP recognizes that twenty-first-century science problems can be complex and sometimes ambiguous, and provides appropriate, purposeful stages to navigate these challenges.

Like the two scientific processes described above, an EDP is an iterative process that may involve students revisiting a prior stage as they acquire new information about the problem being investigated, or as they acquire a better understanding of the person or people for whom they are designing a solution. Students may even restart, or repeat, the entire process when one approach proves unsuccessful. This should be seen as an important and necessary part of learning and design in science.

Since students will be seeking solutions to problems that will impact others, ethical issues as well as the perspectives and needs of a variety of individuals and communities should be considered throughout the process. Students can conduct interviews with end-users, or they can research individuals or communities that may be affected by potential solutions. Their approach should be empathetic, and students should consider various perspectives, as well as factors such as usability and environmental sustainability, throughout the process.

The EDP described below involves students initiating and planning solutions, performing tests and recording data, analysing and interpreting results, and communicating those results using appropriate vocabulary and forms for a variety of purposes. The end product of the EDP might not be a tangible object; it might instead be a computer simulation or a model, or even a new scientific process or system.

As with scientific processes, there is no single EDP, but rather a range of engineering practices that are followed when designing solutions or developing projects. Students and teachers may find the need to emphasize specific aspects of the EDP provided, or to make substitutions with components of processes that they may find elsewhere. Students and teachers may even find other EDPs that they may want to work with, and a comparison of various processes may prove beneficial for students and teachers.

Appropriate entry points into the EDP and the specific components of the process that are focused on may depend on student readiness. Prior experience and knowledge, as well as access to resources, the context of the learning, and the amount of time available, may also be factors; therefore, educators may need to provide multiple entry points to engage all students in the learning.

The EDP provided here allows students to engage with important scientific concepts and skills within curriculum expectations as they develop the transferable skills and cross-curricular concepts that embody STEM education. 

The following diagram summarizes the EDP and shows how its components relate to the skills of initiating and planning; performing and recording; analysing and interpreting; and communicating.

This circular diagram represents the engineering design process and its associated skills and components. It contains an outer circle and an inner circle. 
Going clockwise, the outer circle includes the associated skills of Initiating and Planning, Performing and Recording, Analysing and Interpreting, and Communicating. These four skill areas are connected to each other with arrows, suggesting that students might progress from one area to the next in a linear way, but students have to revisit prior stages. The inner circle includes components of the associated skills in the context of engineering design. For Initiating and Planning, the two components are 1) Research and understand a problem, and 2) Ideate and generate potential solutions. For Performing and Recording, the two components are 1) Select an option and develop a prototype, and 2) Test the prototype. For Analysing and Interpreting, the component is Evaluate and revise the prototype. For Communicating, the component is Communicate the solution.

Components of this EDP are described in more detail below. The process will not always be linear, and these components are meant as a general guide to the process.

Initiating and Planning

  • Research and understand a problem
    • identify and review resources related to a problem
    • identify the users affected by the problem
    • conduct interviews with those affected by the problem
    • listen closely to those affected by the problem and use empathy to understand their experiences, perspectives, and concerns
    • review related problems and solutions to these problems
    • identify issues related to sustainability and to health and safety
  • Ideate and generate potential solutions
    • brainstorm several ideas and potential solutions
    • review potential solutions, considering related research, problems, and solutions
    • develop specific success criteria and constraints, and evaluate potential solutions based on these criteria and constraints
    • consider the end-users and those impacted by potential solutions, taking into consideration their experiences, perspectives, and concerns
    • consider applying related and existing solutions (or some aspects of them) to the identified problem
    • consider developing new solutions that are different from existing solutions
    • refine or combine potential solutions

Performing and Recording

  • Select an option and develop a prototype
    • select the most appropriate solution, based on established criteria
    • plan the design of the solution, considering the required stages as well as available materials, equipment, and time
    • consider the economic, environmental, ethical, and health and safety concerns related to the potential design
    • consider the key components of the design, and ensure that they can be effectively produced
    • construct a prototype of the design
  • Test the prototype
    • develop tests to evaluate the solution
    • conduct tests in a variety of contexts, including in controlled and in real-world environments and with various potential users
    • record observations and data
    • obtain feedback on the prototype from others, including teachers, classmates, friends, family members, and/or community members

Analysing and Interpreting

  • Evaluate and revise the prototype
    • analyse results from testing to determine what changes should be made to the prototype to enhance the end-user experience
    • considering the results of testing, review initial resources, existing knowledge, and other brainstormed ideas to improve upon the design
    • consider additional components, materials, equipment, or time needed
    • refine the prototype to develop a finished product

Communicating

  • Communicate the solution
    • choose a form or medium for communication that is appropriate for the intended audience
    • identify the important information and components of the solution or project to share, and develop a draft or plan for the presentation or demonstration, using appropriate vocabulary
    • consider issues that might arise during the presentation or demonstration, and minimize their risk
    • review drafts and plans, considering the audience’s perspective, and make changes as required
    • present or finalize the design or solution