Concept Development Maps

About the science concept development maps

The science concept development maps have been adapted from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) publication The Atlas of Scientific Literacy . They are not comprehensive, and represent only a selection of The Atlas.

The full resource may be purchased at AAAS (

An example of a Concept MapThe concept development maps represent possible developmental pathways students may take when developing scientific understandings. They demonstrate the relationships between concepts, how concepts contribute to a range of scientific fields and how concepts of increasing complexity are developed from more simple understandings.

The maps represent pathways of student concept development across a number of areas of science. They are not intended as a syllabus or an assessment resource. They are not aligned to the Victorian Essential Learning Standards and should be viewed as a separate but useful addition to a suite of resources for teaching science.

Also, it should be noted that the maps represent one ‘story’ about how knowledge develops in science. As you explore the maps and use them in your planning, you may like to add concepts and develop other ‘stories’ to scaffold your students’ understanding of the ‘big ideas’ in science.


Navigating and using the maps

Two teachers with Continuum open on laptop and planning document open on deskThe maps indicate student conceptual development from Foundation to Year 10. The arrow on the left hand side of the map indicates increasing conceptual complexity. 

Individual concepts are presented in separate boxes. Within each box, there may also be links to related Science Continuum F-10 critical teaching ideas (indicated by the ‘information’ symbol) and links to other maps in which the concept also appears (indicated by the ‘world’ symbol). 

Each concept supports other, more complex concepts. These relationships are indicated by the arrows joining the boxes.

Further information about effective and integrated use of the maps is provided in the User Guide.


Maps – Forces and motion


Maps – Living things


Maps – Structure of matter


Maps – Earth and Space


Maps – Nature of Science