The Background Research Module

This Background Research Module (BRM) is one component of the ISP Tutor. This module consists of units on various science concepts, developed by our research team and written to be understandable to students at a middle school level, address common misconceptions about science concepts, avoid potentially misleading language that may lead to misconceptions, and consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Consistent with NGSS's focus on causal relationships, this BRM focuses on relationships between variables and basic causal mechanisms common across many different phenomena (e.g., electric force). It includes interactive game-like activities and questions that provide students feedback. Visit our interactive games page here.

How can I use the Background Research Module (BRM)?

The BRM can be used as a science instructional content resource and reference. It contains instructional units in multiple domains including: Forces & Motion, Plant Reproduction, Chemical and Physical Reactions, Heat & Temperature and more.

The BRM can also be used during whole class instruction to supplement aspects of science instruction or as a research tool for students. It can be easily accessed by teachers and students via the ISP Tutor's Background Research Module button below. Once you access the BRM, you can search specific units by Science Project Topic using the "Help Finding Units" button on the home page.

Teachers can also access units organized by the Next Generation Science Standards. See NGSS Standards Alignment below.

Click the button below to access the BRM!

Next Generation Science Standards Alignment

The Background Research Module Units address many of the Next Generation Science Standards (*NGSS) and accompanying Disciplinary Core Ideas listed in the NGSS for Middle School students.

Click the instructional unit links below to access each BRM unit related to the *NGSS standard.


*NGSS is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.

(Performance Expectations)

MS-PS1-1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter, PS1.B Chemical Reactions, PS3.A Definitions of Energy

Atoms | Molecules | Between-Molecule Attractions | Crystals

MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter, PS1.B Chemical Reactions, PS3.A Definitions of Energy

Atoms | Molecules | Between-Molecule Attractions | Crystals | Chemical vs. Physical Reactions | Nucleation

MS-PS1-4. Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter, PS1.B Chemical Reactions, PS3.A Definitions of Energy

Chemical vs. Physical Reactions | Thermal Conductors & Insulators | Thermal Energy | State change: Evaporation & Melting

MS-PS1-5. Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter, PS1.B Chemical Reactions, PS3.A Definitions of Energy

Atoms | Molecules | Between-Molecule Attractions | Mass | Chemical vs. Physical Reactions | Nucleation


(Performance Expectations)

MS-PS2-1. Apply Newton's Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS2.A Forces and Motion PS2.B Types of Interactions

Net Force | Force duration, Acceleration & Speed | Forces/Motion & Newton's Second Law | Gravitational Force | Friction Force | Buoyancy Force | Force Direction & Motion | Newton's Third Law

MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object's motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS2.A Forces and Motion PS2.B Types of Interactions

Net Force | Force duration, Acceleration & Speed | Forces/Motion & Newton's Second Law | Gravitational Force | Friction Force | Buoyancy Force | Mass

MS-PS2-3. Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS2.A Forces and Motion PS2.B Types of Interactions

Atoms | Net Force | Force duration, Acceleration & Speed | Forces/Motion & Newton's Second Law | Gravitational Force | Friction Force | Buoyancy Force

MS-PS2-4. Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS2.A Forces and Motion PS2.B Types of Interactions

Earth's Gravitational Attraction | Forces/Motion & Newton's Second Law | Gravitational Force | Mass

MS-PS2-5. Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS2.A Forces and Motion PS2.B Types of Interactions

Atoms | Net Force | Forces/Motion & Newton's Second Law | Gravitational Force | Friction Force | Buoyancy Force | Earth's Gravitational Attraction


(Performance Expectations)

MS-PS3-1. Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and the speed of an object.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: PS3.A Definitions of Energy. PS3B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer PS3.C Relationship Between Energy and Forces

Force duration, Acceleration & Speed | Mass | Energy | Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy

MS-PS3-2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.

Energy | Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy | Molecules | Energy can change into different forms

MS-PS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.

Energy | Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy | Thermal Energy | Mass

MS-PS3-4. Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.

Energy | Kinetic Energy & Temperature |Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy | Thermal Energy | Mass | Energy can change into Different Forms

MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.

Energy | Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy | Mass | Energy can change into Different Forms


(Performance Expectations)

MS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.

Light/Electromagnetic Radiation

MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.

Light/Electromagnetic Radiation | Light Reflection & Color | Greenhouse Effect


(Performance Expectations)

Angiosperm Reproduction | Angiosperm Pollinator's (Bees) | Plants | Non-Vascular Plants | Vascular Plants | Gymnosperms

MS-LS1-6. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

Selected accompanying Disciplinary Core Idea sections from *NGSS: LS1.A Structure and Function LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms LS1.C Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

Plants | Photosynthesis | Energy can change into Different Forms | Energy: Sources and Forms

(Performance Expectations)

MS-ESS1-2. Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.

Gravitational Force

Citation: NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.