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High School — Science
Physical Sciences

At this level, students demonstrate an understanding of the composition of physical systems and the concepts and principles that describe and predict physical interactions and events in the natural world. This includes demonstrating an understanding of the structure and properties of matter, the properties of materials and objects, chemical reactions and the conservation of matter. In addition, students should also understand the nature, transfer and conservation of energy; motion and the forces affecting motion; and the nature of waves and interactions of matter and energy. Students should demonstrate an understanding of the historical perspectives, scientific approaches and emerging scientific issues associated with the physical sciences.

The content in this Teaching Tool is based on the benchmarks defined in the Ohio Science Academic Content Standards with an awareness of the types of questions asked to date on the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). While various suggestions and activities for working with students are included, this Teaching Tool is designed to complement a rigorous, research-based curriculum, not to substitute for one.

Additional Sources

American Association for the Advancement of Science. Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Washington, D.C.: Oxford University Press, 1993.

American Association for the Advancement of Science. Atlas of Science Literacy. Washington, D.C.: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Driver, Rosalind, et al. Making Sense of Secondary Science: Research into Children's Ideas. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Hazen, Robert M. and James Trefil. Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy. New York: Anchor Books, 1992.

National Academy of Sciences. National Science Education Standards. Washington D.C.: National Academies Press, 1995.

National Research Council. America's Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2006.



Physical Sciences


1. Physical Sciences

Click on the following benchmark for more information and for links to annotated OGT items.

a.

Benchmark A: Describe that matter is made of minute particles called atoms and atoms are comprised of even smaller components. Explain the structure and properties of atoms.
b.

Benchmark B: Explain how atoms react with each other to form other substances and how molecules react with each other or other atoms to form even different substances.
c.

Benchmark C: Describe the identifiable physical properties of substances (e.g., color, hardness, conductivity, density, concentration and ductility). Explain how changes in these properties can occur without changing the chemical nature of the substance.
d.

Benchmark D: Explain the movement of objects by applying Newton's laws of motion.
e.

Benchmark E: Demonstrate that energy can be considered to be either kinetic (motion) or potential (stored).
f.

Benchmark F: Explain how energy may change form or be redistributed but the total quantity of energy is conserved.
g.

Benchmark G: Demonstrate that waves (e.g., sound, seismic, water and light) have energy and waves can transfer energy when they interact with matter.
h.

Benchmark H: Trace the historical development of scientific theories and ideas, and describe emerging issues in the study of physical sciences.

 



Strategies

Help With Fundamentals

Students who have performed at the Basic or Limited level on the OGT may need help with fundamentals. Students with Basic level performance demonstrate a rudimentary understanding of concepts, processes and relationships underlying natural phenomena. Students with Limited level performance typically demonstrate skills and understanding below Basic level performance. Click here for a complete description of student performance level descriptions.

Listed here are a few difficulties these students might have with this topic based on research cited in the Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Included are suggestions for addressing skills they should have learned in Grades 6-8. Carefully monitor your students' work and analyze your curriculum to anticipate other problems.

Please take proper safety precautions during any laboratory investigation.



Additional Instruction and Practice

Students who have performed at the Accelerated or Proficient level on the OGT may benefit from additional instruction and practice. Students with Accelerated level performance typically demonstrate solid knowledge and reasoning abilities in the sciences. Students with Proficient level performance typically recognize and explain concepts, processes and relationships underlying natural phenomena. Click here for a complete description of student performance level descriptions.

If your students need additional instruction and practice, consult with your colleagues and examine your curriculum for activities that address the performance indicators. Supplement your instruction by having your students make models, draw pictures, do kinesthetic activities and use graphic organizers. Here are some examples of additional activities you might want to try.

Please take proper safety precautions during any laboratory investigation.

Activity 1

Isotopes of Pennies

Click here * for "Isotopes of Pennies", in which students will use pennies of different compositions as models to illustrate how isotopes have nearly identical chemical behavior despite different masses and nuclear stabilities.

Students should recognize that elements with the same number of protons may or may not have the same mass, and that those with different masses are called isotopes (Physical Sciences, Benchmark A). Students may also apply their understanding of isotopes to explain the use of radiometric dating to estimate the age of fossils and rocks (Earth and Space Sciences, Benchmark C). Students interpret and apply physical models that represent isotopes (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A).

Activity 2

Foucault's Pendulum

Click here * for "Foucault's Pendulum", in which students will describe a large pendulum's motion and demonstrate that Earth is rotating.

Students should apply Newton's laws of motion to explain the motion of Earth (Physical Sciences, Benchmark D). Students will also observe the relationship between gravitational forces and the mass of objects and that an unbalanced force is responsible for the change in speed or direction of an object. They will also demonstrate that motion is a measurable quantity that depends on the observer's frame of reference. Based on their observations, students make inferences and draw logical conclusions (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A).

Activity 3

Star Power!

Click here * for "Star Power!", in which students measure the amount of solar radiation the earth receives from the sun.

Students will explain aspects of how energy may change form or be redistributed, including how these transformations involve the release of some thermal energy, and that thermal energy can be transferred by conduction, convection or radiation (Physical Sciences, Benchmark F). This lesson also allows students to participate in, and apply the processes of scientific investigation (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A).

Activity 4

Wave Behavior

Students should be able to demonstrate that waves transfer energy when they interact with matter. This includes describing how waves can superimpose on one another when propagated in the same medium.

At this level, students should be able to analyze conditions in which waves can bend around corners, reflect off surfaces, be absorbed by other materials they enter, and change direction and speed when entering a different material (Physical Sciences, Benchmark G). Students may investigate these phenomena using interactive simulations available on the web:

  • Click here * for a simulation of wave interference from Colorado University. Based on their observations, students should be able to describe wave interference phenomena, including the nature of constructive and destructive interference.
  • Click here * for a simulation of wave reflection and refraction in different media like air and glass. Based on their observations, students should analyze conditions, like various media and angles of incidence, that cause phenomena like total internal reflection.

*This link contains resources or information that may be useful. These resources were not written to align specifically to Ohio's Academic Content Standards. The inclusion of a specific resource is not an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.



Advanced Work

Students with Advanced level performance consistently demonstrate superior knowledge and ability to integrate understanding of scientific principles. Click here for a complete description of student performance level descriptions.

Talk to your colleagues and use your curriculum to come up with activities and problems that go beyond the grade-level indicators. Here is an activity you might try.

Please take proper safety precautions during any laboratory investigation.



Atom Arrangement

Students should be able to describe identifiable physical properties of substances (e.g., color, hardness, conductivity, density, concentration and ductility) (Physical Sciences, Benchmark B).

Click here * for "Carbon: Structure Matters," a lesson from Science NetLinks for students to explore the molecular structure and physical characteristics of different arrangements of carbon.

Below is an example of a formative assessment question that may accompany this lesson.

Problem 1

Graphite and diamond are both made of carbon atoms. Explain how these two substances differ in terms of the arrangement of carbon atoms in each substance.

Answer

Answer Explanation

In diamond, each carbon atom is bonded to four other carbon atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement resulting in a three-dimensional cube-like network. Graphite on the other hand is composed of loosely bonded, flat layers in which each carbon atom is joined to three others in a triangular arrangement.

Extension

Students may also describe how the differences in these arrangements contribute to the different physical properties of graphite (e.g., softness) and diamond (e.g., hardness).

*This link contains resources or information that may be useful. These resources were not written to align specifically to Ohio's Academic Content Standards. The inclusion of a specific resource is not an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.