Science CTS Guides

The centerpiece tool of Curriculum Topic Study is the CTS study guide. There are 147 CTS study guides of varied grain sizes, from specific to broad (e.g. Properties of Matter to Physical Properties and Change to Density), representing a comprehensive range of content and process-based science topics. Specific topics may be subsumed within broader topics (e.g. Density is subsumed in Properties of Matter). Selecting the grain size of a CTS topic study guide depends on your purpose. For example, if your purpose is to focus on density related ideas, then you might choose the CTS guide, Density. If your purpose is to focus on different physical properties of matter, including density, then you might choose Physical Properties and Change. A broader purpose might address characteristic physical and chemical characteristic properties of matter. In this case, you might choose Properties of Matter. It is up to the CTS user to determine how specifc or broad you want your topic study to be.

The 147 CTS topics are organized alphabetically in 11 categories, representing major organizing domains in science. The CTS study guides within a particular category reflect the purpose of the study. For example, if your purpose is to examine curricular content related to the diversity of animal species on earth, you would select the Animal Life CTS guide in the category Diversity of Life. However, if your purpose is to examine curricular content related to animal cells, you would select the Cells CTS guide in the Biological Structure and Function category.

The 11 categories used for organizing the CTS guides are:

  • Diversity of Life
  • Ecology
  • Biological Structure and Function
  • Life's Continuity and Change
  • Matter
  • Earth
  • Astronomy
  • Energy, Force, and Motion
  • Inquiry and the Nature of Science and Technology
  • Implications of Science and Technology
  • Unifying Themes

CTS topics can also be combined to form a broad study of a content standard. For example, if you want to study a broad content standard or subject area such as Earth Science, there is no CTS guide for Earth Science. However, a careful examination of the guides in the Earth category show that a combination of Earth History, Processes that Change the Surface of the Earth, Structure of the Solid Earth, Weather and Climate, Air and Atmosphere, and Water in the Earth System collectively address the comprehensive content standard or K-12 subject area of Earth Science. A complete listing of the CTS categories and the 147 topic study guides can be downloaded below.

Structure of a CTS Study Guide- Each CTS Study Guide has 6 sections, each with a specific purpose. These sections and their purposes include:

Section I: Identify Adult Content Knowledge

Section II: Consider Instructional Implications

Section III: Identify Specific Concepts and Skills

Section IV: Examine Research on Learning

Section V: Examine Coherency and Articulation

Section VI: Link Back to State Standards or Local Curriculum

Each of the sections described above links to pre-vetted readings from the CTS source books. See below to download a sample study guide and an "Anatomy of a CTS Study Guide" that describes the specific purposes of each section.


New Interactive Study Guides with Hyperlinks to the Readings!

Engineering Design (Includes readings from the new Framework for K-12 Science Education)

Argumentation (Includes readings from the new Framework for K-12 Science Education, Taking Science to School, and Ready-Set-Science)



Science_CTS_Guide_List.doc36 KB
Science_CTS_Guide_List.pdf86.31 KB
Cycling_of_Matter_in_Ecosystems_CTS.pdf101.37 KB
Anatomy_of_CTS_Guide_Science.pdf2.13 MB
Argumentation CT Guide.doc45 KB
Engineering Design CTS Guide.doc56 KB