Middle College High School, Space Science Overview

All of the New York Performance Consortium schools have created overviews for each of their courses. These overviews demonstrate students’ learning goals, the assessments that they will complete, and the New York State Standards for Learning that they will master as a result. Educators across the Consortium have developed scoring rubrics in all areas of the curriculum. These scoring rubrics, shared and used across schools, ensure evaluation reliability; their use results in clear agreement from one school to the next what constitutes excellent (or mediocre) performance in a specific class. This example is drawn from the science curriculum of Middle College High School in Long Island City, New York.

Learning Goals

Through this class students will gain a deeper understanding of what makes up the universe and the patterns of change within it. Students will study this at various orders of magnitude, solar systems, galaxies, and
the universe. Possible topics are the evolution of stars, creation
of solar systems, superstructure of the universe, movement and evolution of galaxies, and the origin of the universe. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope and data and models found on the internet will be extensively used.

Students Will Observe Phenomena and:

  • Infer, based on prior knowledge, an explanation for these phenomena
  • Formulate an investigation question that directs an inquiry of the processes involved
  • Research scientific materials and distinguish between relevant and non-relevant information that help answer the question
  • Use models and experiments to help answer the question
  • Analyze the information from research to answer the question


Students will investigate a space image unknown to them. Using the knowledge they acquired in this class, students will investigate the place of this object in the universe. Particular attention will be paid to the forces that created the object. Students will also use abstract and theoretical ideas to understand and explain their specific object. They will present the final analysis and conclusions they have discovered. They will explain clearly and in detail what they have learned, supported with research and lab activities, and how they came to know it. Students will also compare their conclusions to current scientific opinion.

State Standards

Standard One: Physical Science
The Earth and celestial phenomena can be described by principles of relative motion and perspective.

Standard Three: Physical Science
Matter is made up of particles whose properties determine the observable characteristics of matter and its reactivity.

Standard Four: Physical Science
Energy exists in many forms, and when these forms change, energy is conserved.

For more information about this example, contact Cecilia Cunningham, Principal, Middle College High School, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Room L101, Long Island City, NY 11101, phone: 718-349-4000, fax: 718-349-4003.

For more information about the curriculum and assessment overviews across the Consortium, contact Consortium Co-Chair Ann Cook, Co-Director, Urban Academy, Julia Richman Education Complex, 317 East 67th Street, Room 208, New York, NY 10021, phone: 212-570-5284, fax: 212-570-5366