This theme focuses on helping students recognize the components of various systems and then investigate dynamic and sustainable relationships within systems using scientific inquiry.
During the years of grades 5-8, all students must use the following scientific processes, with appropriate laboratory safety techniques, to construct their knowledge and understanding in all science content areas:
Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations;
Design and conduct a scientific investigation;
Use appropriate mathematics, tools and techniques to gather data and information;
Develop descriptions, models, explanations and predictions;
Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations;
Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predications; and
Communicate scientific procedures and explanations.
ESS Earth and Space Science
This topic focuses on Earth's hydrologic cycle, patterns that exist in atmospheric and oceanic currents, the relationship between thermal energy and the currents, and the relative position and movement of the Earth, sun and moon.
The hydrologic cycle illustrates the changing states of water as it moves through the lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere.
Thermal energy is transferred as water changes state throughout the cycle. The cycling of water in the atmosphere is an important part of weather patterns on Earth. The rate at which water flows through soil and rock is dependent upon the porosity and permeability of the soil or rock.
Thermal-energy transfers in the ocean and the atmosphere contribute to the formation of currents, which influence global climate patterns.
The sun is the major source of energy for wind, air and ocean currents and the hydrologic cycle. As thermal energy transfers occur in the atmosphere and ocean, currents form. Large bodies of water can influence weather and climate. The jet stream is an example of an atmospheric current and the Gulf Stream is an example of an oceanic current. Ocean currents are influenced by factors other than thermal energy, such as water density, mineral content (such as salinity), ocean floor topography and Earth's rotation. All of these factors delineate global climate patterns on Earth.
The atmosphere has different properties at different elevations and contains a mixture of gases that cycle through the lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere.
The atmosphere is held to the Earth by the force of gravity. There are defined layers of the atmosphere that have specific properties, such as temperature, chemical composition and physical characteristics. Gases in the atmosphere include nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide and other trace gases. Biogeochemical cycles illustrate the movement of specific elements or molecules (such as carbon or nitrogen) through the lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere.
The relative patterns of motion and positions of the Earth, moon and sun cause solar and lunar eclipses, tides and phases of the moon.
The moon's orbit and its change of position relative to the Earth and sun result in different parts of the moon being visible from Earth (phases of the moon).
A solar eclipse is when Earth moves into the shadow of the moon (during a new moon). A lunar eclipse is when the moon moves into the shadow of Earth (during a full moon).
Gravitational force between the Earth and the moon causes daily oceanic tides. When the gravitational forces from the sun and moon align (at new and full moons) spring tides occur. When the gravitational forces of the sun and moon are perpendicular (at first and last quarter moons), neap tides occur.
LS Life Science
This topic focuses on the impact of matter and energy transfer within the biotic component of ecosystems.
Matter is transferred continuously between one organism to another and between organisms and their physical environments.
Plants use the energy in light to make sugars out of carbon dioxide and water (photosynthesis). These materials can be used and immediately stored for later use. Organisms that eat plants break down plant structures to produce the materials and energy they need to survive. Then they are consumed by other organisms.
Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; the number and types of species fluctuate over time. Disruptions, deliberate or inadvertent, to the physical (abiotic) or biological (biotic) components of an ecosystem impact the composition of an ecosystem.
PS Physical Science
This topic focuses on the empirical evidence for the arrangements of atoms on the Periodic Table of Elements, conservation of mass and energy, transformation and transfer of energy.
The properties of matter are determined by the arrangement of atoms.
Elements can be organized into families with similar properties, such as highly reactive metals, less-reactive metals, highly reactive nonmetals and some gases that are almost completely nonreactive.
Substances are classified according to their properties, such as metals and acids.
When substances interact to form new substances, the properties of the new substances may be very different from those of the old, but the amount of mass does not change.
Energy can be transformed or transferred but is never lost.
When energy is transferred from one system to another, the quantity of energy before transfer equals the quantity of energy after transfer. When energy is transformed from one form to another, the total amount of energy remains the same.
Energy can be transferred through a variety of ways.
Mechanical energy can be transferred when objects push or pull on each other over a distance.
Electromagnetic waves transfer energy when they interact with matter.
Thermal energy can be transferred through radiation, convection and conduction.
Electrical energy transfers when an electrical source is connected in a complete electrical circuit to an electrical device.