Goal- Instructionally, these strands should be woven through the content goals and objectives of the course. Supplemental materials providing a more detailed explanation of the goals, objectives, and strands, with specific recommendations for classroom and/or laboratory implementation are available through the Department of Public Instruction’s Publications Section.
Nature of Science - This strand is designed to help students understand the human dimensions of science, the nature of scientific thought, and the role of science in society. Physical science is particularly rich in examples of science as a human endeavor, its historical perspectives, and the development of scientific understanding.
Science as a Human Endeavor - Intellectual honesty and an ethical tradition are hallmarks of the practice of science. The practice is rooted in accurate data reporting, peer review, and making findings public. This aspect of the nature of science can be implemented by designing instruction that encourages students to work collaboratively in groups to design investigations, formulate hypotheses, collect data, reach conclusions, and present their findings to their classmates.
The content studied in physical science is an opportunity to present science as a basis for engineering, electronics, computer science, astronomy and the technical trades. The diversity of physical science content allows for looking at science as a vocation. Scientist, artist, and technician are just a few of the many careers in which a physical science background is necessary.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this strand is that science is an integral part of society and is therefore relevant to students’ lives.
HistoricalPerspectives - Most scientific knowledge and technological advances develop incrementally from the labors of scientists and inventors. Although science history includes accounts of serendipitous scientific discoveries, most development of scientific concepts and technological innovation occurs in response to a specific problem or conflict. Both great advances and gradual knowledge building in science and technology have profound effects on society. Students should appreciate the scientific thought and effort of the individuals who contributed to these advances. Galileo’s struggle to correct the misconceptions arising from Aristotle’s explanation of the behavior of falling bodies led to Newton’s deductive approach to motion in The Principia. Today, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation and his laws of motion are used to predict the landing sites for NASA’s space flights.
Nature ofScientific Knowledge - Much of what is understood about the nature of science must be explicitly addressed:
All scientific knowledge is tentative, although many ideas have stood the test of time and are reliable for our use.
Theories "explain" phenomena that we observe. They are never proved; rather, they represent the most logical explanation based on currently available evidence. Theories just become stronger as more supporting evidence is gathered. They provide a context for further research and give us a basis for prediction. For example, in physical science, atomic theory explains the behavior of matter based on the existence of tiny particles. And kinetic theory explains, among other things, the expansion and contraction of gases.
Laws are fundamentally different from theories. They are universal generalizations based on observations of the natural world, such as the nature of gravity, the relationship of forces and motion, and the nature of planetary movement. Scientists, in their quest for the best explanations of natural phenomena, employ rigorous methods. Scientific explanations must adhere to the rules of evidence, make predictions, be logical, and be consistent with observations and conclusions. "Explanations of how the natural world changes based on myths, personal beliefs, religious values, mystical inspiration, superstition, or authority may be personally useful and socially relevant, but they are not scientific." (1995 National Science Education Standards)
UnderstandingScience as Inquiry - Inquiry should be the central theme in physical science. It is an integral part of the learning experience and may be used in both traditional class problems and laboratory work. The essence of the inquiry process is to ask questions that stimulate students to think critically and to formulate their own questions. Observing, classifying, using numbers, plotting graphs, measuring, inferring, predicting, formulating models, interpreting data, hypothesizing, and experimenting help students to build knowledge and communicate what they have learned. Inquiry is the application of creative thinking to new and unfamiliar situations. Students should learn to design solutions to problems that interest them. This may be accomplished in a variety of ways, but situations that present a discrepant event or ones that challenge students’ intuitions have been most successful.
Classical experiments such measuring inertia and the speed of falling bodies need not be excluded. Rather, they should be a prelude to open-ended investigations in which the students have the chance to pose questions, design experiments, record and analyze data, and communicate their findings. For example, after measuring the relationships among force, mass, and acceleration of falling bodies, students might investigate the phenomenon of "weightlessness", or, after measuring physical properties, they might investigate the connection (if any) between the density of certain liquids and their boiling point.
Although original student research is often relegated to a yearly science fair project, continuing student involvement in research contributes immensely to their understanding of the process of science and to their problem-solving abilities. Physical science provides much potential for inquiries. "Does the aluminum baseball bat have an advantage over a wooden baseball bat?" "Why?" "Is one brand of golf ball better than another brand?" "Why?" The processes of inquiry, experimental design, investigation, and analysis are as important as finding the correct answer. Students will master much more than facts and acquisition of manipulative skills; they will learn to be critical thinkers.
Understanding Science and Technology - It is impossible to learn science without developing some appreciation of technology. Therefore, this strand has a dual purpose: (a) developing students’ knowledge and skills in technological design, and (b) enhancing their understanding of science and technology.
The methods of scientific inquiry and technological design share many common elements - objectivity, clear definition of the problem, identification of goals, careful collection of observations and data, data analysis, replication of results, and peer review. Technological design differs from inquiry in that it must operate within the limitations of materials, scientific laws, economics, and the demands of society. Together, science and technology present many solutions to problems of survival and enhance the quality of life.
Technological design is important to building knowledge in physical science. Telescopes, lasers, transistors, graphing calculators, personal computers, and photogates, for example, have changed our lives, increased our knowledge of physical science, and improved our understanding of the universe.
Science in Personaland Social Perspective - This strand helps students in making rational decisions in the use of scientific and technological knowledge.
"Understanding basic concepts and principles of science and technology should precede active debate about the economics, policies, politics, and ethics of various science and technology-related challenges. However, understanding science alone will not resolve local, national, or global challenges. Students should understand the appropriateness and value of basic questions What can happen? - What are the odds? and How do scientists and engineers know what will happen? (1995, National Science Education Standards)
Students should understand the causes and extent of science-related challenges. They should become familiar with the advances that proper application of scientific principles and products have brought to environmental enhancement, better energy use, reduced vehicle emissions, and improved human health.
The Physical Science curriculum is designed to continue the investigation of the concepts that guide inquiry in the practice of science begun in earlier grades. The Physical Science course will provide a rich knowledge base to provide a foundation for the continued study of science. The investigations should be approached in a qualitative manner in keeping with the mathematical skills of the students. The curriculum will integrate the following topics from both chemistry and physics:
Strands: The strands are: Nature of Science, Science as Inquiry, Science and Technology, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives. They provide the context for teaching of the content Goals and Objectives.
COMPETENCY GOAL 1: The learner will construct an understanding of mechanics.
1.01 Analyze uniform and accelerated motion:
1.03 Analyze the conservation of energy and work:
2.03 Analyze the Second Law of Thermodynamics:
3.01 Analyze the nature of static electricity and the conservation of electrical charge:
3.03 Analyze direct current electrical circuits:
3.05 Analyze permanent magnetism and the practical applications of the
characteristics of permanent magnets.
COMPETENCY GOAL 4: The learner will develop an understanding of wave motion and the wave nature of sound and light.
4.01 Analyze the characteristics of waves;
4.03 Compare and contrast the frequency and wavelength of sound produced
by a fixed source with a moving source of sound, the Doppler Effect.
COMPETENCY GOAL 5: The learner will build an understanding of the structure and properties of matter.
5.01 Analyze development of current atomic theory.
6.03 Measure the temperature, pressure, and volume of gases and assess their Interrelationship:
|| Return to Curriculum Matrix || Return to Science Curriculum || LearnNC ||