Grade 5

Science Curriculum

Year 5 Level Description

The science inquiry skills and science as a human endeavour strands are described across a two-year band. In their planning, schools and teachers refer to the expectations outlined in the achievement standard and also to the content of the science understanding strand for the relevant year level to ensure that these two strands are addressed over the two-year period. The three strands of the curriculum are interrelated and their content is taught in an integrated way. The order and detail in which the content descriptions are organised into teaching and learning programs are decisions to be made by the teacher.

Incorporating the key ideas of science

Over Years 3 to 6, students develop their understanding of a range of systems operating at different time and geographic scales.

In Year 5, students are introduced to cause and effect relationships through an exploration of adaptations of living things and how this links to form and function. They explore observable phenomena associated with light and begin to appreciate that phenomena have sets of characteristic behaviours. They broaden their classification of matter to include gases and begin to see how matter structures the world around them. Students consider Earth as a component within a solar system and use models for investigating systems at astronomical scales. Students begin to identify stable and dynamic aspects of systems, and learn how to look for patterns and relationships between components of systems. They develop explanations for the patterns they observe.


Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)

  • investigating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ knowledge of the adaptations of certain species and how those adaptations can be exploited
  • explaining how particular adaptations help survival such as nocturnal behavior, silvery colored leaves of dune plants
  • describing and listing adaptations of living things suited for particular Australian environments
  • exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as adaptations that aid water conservation in deserts

Solids, liquids, and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways ACSSU077

  • recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s knowledge and understanding of solids, liquids and gases
  • recognising that substances exist in different states depending on the temperature
  • observing that gases have mass and take up space, demonstrated by using balloons or bubbles
  • exploring the way solids, liquids and gases change under different situations such as heating and cooling
  • recognising that not all substances can be easily classified on the basis of their observable properties

The Earth is part of a system of planets orbiting around a star (the sun) ACSSU078

  • researching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ understanding of the night sky and its use for timekeeping purposes as evidenced in oral cultural records, petroglyphs, paintings, and stone arrangements
  • identifying the planets of the solar system and comparing how long they take to orbit the sun
  • modeling the relative size of and distance between Earth, other planets in the solar system and the sun
  • recognizing the role of the sun as a provider of energy for the Earth

Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted ACSSU080

  • recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ understanding of refraction as experienced in spearfishing and in shimmering body paint, and of absorption and reflection as evidenced by a material selected for construction of housing
  • drawing simply labelled ray diagrams to show the paths of light from a source to our eyes
  • classifying materials as transparent, opaque or translucent based on whether light passes through them or is absorbed
  • recognising that the colour of an object depends on the properties of the object and the colour of the light source
  • exploring the use of mirrors to demonstrate the reflection of light
  • recognising the refraction of light at the surfaces of different transparent materials, such as when light travels from air to water or air to glass


Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena and reflects historical and cultural contributions (ACSHE081)

  • learning how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples use observation of the night sky to assist with navigation
  • developing an understanding of the behaviour of light by making observations of its effects
  • testing predictions relating to the behaviour of solids, liquids and gases by conducting observational experiments
  • researching how scientists were able to develop ideas about the solar system through the gathering of evidence through space exploration
  • describing how scientists from a range of cultures have improved our understanding of the solar system, such as Copernicus, Khayyám and Galileo
  • researching the different types of scientists who work in teams in space exploration, and Australia's involvement in space exploration

Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE083)

  • investigating how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ traditional ecological and zoological knowledge informs sustainable harvesting practices of certain species, such as dugongs and turtles
  • investigating how Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Aboriginal Peoples of arid regions of Australia use scientific knowledge to manage precious water resources
  • considering how best to ensure the growth of plants
  • considering how decisions are made to grow particular plants and crops depending on environmental conditions
  • comparing the benefits of using solid, liquid or gaseous fuels to heat a home
  • describing the safety aspects of using gases
  • describing how technologies developed to aid space exploration have changed the way people live, work and communicate
  • exploring objects and devices that include parts that involve the reflection, absorption or refraction of light such as mirrors, sunglasses and prisms