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Science, 2009
  Grade: 6-8
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EALR 1: Systems.  Big Idea: Systems (SYS).  Core Content:  Inputs, Outputs, Boundaries, and Flows
  • In prior grades students learned about the functioning of simple systems, including inputs and outputs. In grades 6-8 students learn how to use systems thinking to simplify and analyze complex situations. Systems concepts that students learn to apply at this level include choosing system boundaries, determining if a system is open or closed, measuring the flow of matter and energy through a system, and applying systems thinking to a complex societal issue that involves science and technology. These insights and abilities can help students see the connections between and among the domains of science and among science, technology, and society.
EALR 2: Inquiry.  Big Idea: Inquiry (INQ).  Core Content:  Questioning and Investigating
  • In prior grades students learned to plan investigations to match a given research question. In grades 6-8 students learn to revise questions so they can be answered scientifically and then to design an appropriate investigation to answer the question and carry out the study. Students learn to think critically and logically to make connections between prior science knowledge and evidence produced from their investigations. Students can work well in collaborative teams and communicate the procedures and results of their investigations, and are expected to critique their own findings as well as the findings of others.
EALR 3: Application.  Big Idea: Application (APP).  Core Content:  Science, Technology, and Problem Solving
  • In prior grades students learned to work individually and collaboratively to produce a product of their own design. In grades 6-8 students work with other members of a team to apply the full process of technological design, combined with relevant science concepts, to solve problems. In doing so they learn to define a problem, conduct research on how others have solved similar problems, generate possible solutions, test the design, and communicate the results. Students also investigate professions in which science and technology are required so they can learn how the abilities they are developing in school are valued in the world of work.
EALR 4: Physical Science.  Big Idea: Force and Motion (PS1).  Core Content:  Balanced and Unbalanced Forces
  • In prior grades students learned to use basic tools to measure force, time, and distance. In grades 6-8 students learn to measure, record, and calculate the average speed of objects and to tabulate and graph the results. They also develop a qualitative understanding of inertia. Students learn to predict the motion of objects subject to opposing forces along the line of travel. If the forces are balanced, the object will continue moving with the same speed and direction, but if the forces are not balanced, the object's motion will change. These concepts and principles prepare students for a more formal understanding of mechanics in high school and help them make sense of the world around them.
EALR 4: Physical Science.  Big Idea: Matter: Properties and Change (PS2).  Core Content:  Atoms and Molecules
  • In prior grades students learned the scientific meaning of the word matter, and about changes of state. In grades 6-8 students learn the basic concepts behind the atomic nature of matter. This includes the idea that elements are composed of a single kind of atom. Atoms chemically combine with each other or with atoms of other elements to form compounds. When substances are combined in physical mixtures, their chemical properties do not change; but when they combine chemically, the new product has different physical and chemical properties from any of the reacting substances. When substances interact in a closed system, the amount of mass does not change. Atomic theory also explains the ways that solids, liquids, and gases behave. These concepts about the nature of matter are fundamental to all sciences and technologies.
EALR 4: Physical Science.  Big Idea: Energy: Transfer, Transformation, and Conservation (PS3).  Core Content:  Interactions of Energy and Matter
  • In prior grades students learned how heat, light, sound, and electrical energy are generated and can be transferred from place to place. In grades 6-8 students learn how energy and matter interact in various settings. Heat (thermal energy) always moves from a warmer to a cooler place through solids (by conduction) and through liquids and gases (mostly by convection or mechanical mixing). Light energy interacts with matter and with our eyes and allows us to see things. Electrical energy provides a convenient way to transfer energy to where and when the energy is needed. Sound is yet another form of energy produced by a vibrating object. These fundamental concepts of how matter and energy interact have broad application in all of the other sciences.
EALR 4: Earth and Space Science.  Big Idea: Earth in Space (ES1).  Core Content:  The Solar System
  • In prior years, students learned the implications of the spherical-Earth concept and Earth's relationship to the Sun. In grades 6-8 students study the Moon's changing phases and learn to distinguish between phases and eclipses. They also learn about other objects in the Solar System and how they are held together by a force called "gravity." Students also learn about the Sun's position in the Milky Way, which is just one of many galaxies in the universe. This broad overview of Earth in space will provide a useful framework for students to understand new discoveries in astronomy and new milestones in the exploration of space.
EALR 4: Earth and Space Science.  Big Idea: Earth Systems Structures and Processes (ES2).  Core Content:  Cycles in Earth Systems
  • In prior grades students learned how Earth materials change and how they can be used for various purposes. In grades 6-8 students learn about planet Earth as an interacting system of solids, liquids, and gases. Solar energy powers the water cycle and drives the weather system and ocean currents. Energy from within the planet drives the rock cycle and moves huge plates on the Earth's surface, causing earthquakes and volcanoes. The landforms we see today result from processes that build up and break down Earth structures. These fundamental ideas will enable students to understand the history of their planet, Earth processes occurring today, and future geologic events.
EALR 4: Earth and Space Science.  Big Idea: Earth History (ES3).  Core Content:  Evidence of Change
  • In prior grades students learned that fossils provide evidence of environmental conditions that existed long ago. In grades 6-8 students learn a few of the methods that have made it possible to uncover the history of our planet. This history includes both slow, gradual changes and rapid, catastrophic events, such as an asteroid or comet striking the Earth. It is possible to read a great deal of that history from rocks, including layers of sedimentary rock, some of which contain fossils. Understanding Earth's history is a valuable complement to the study of biological evolution.
EALR 4: Life Science.  Big Idea: Structure and Function of Living Organisms (LS1).  Core Content:  From Cells to Organisms
  • In prior grades students learned how structures in the body work together to respond to internal and external needs. In grades 6-8 students learn that all living systems are composed of cells which make up tissues, organs, and organ systems. At each level of organization, the structures enable specific functions required by the organism. Lifestyle choices and environmental conditions can affect parts of the human body, which may affect the health of the body as a whole. Understanding how organisms operate as systems helps students understand the commonalities among life forms, provides an introduction to further study of biology, and offers scientific insights into the ways that personal choices may affect health.
EALR 4: Life Science.  Big Idea: Ecosystems (LS2).  Core Content:  Flow of Energy Through Ecosystems
  • In prior grades students learned how ecosystems change and how these changes affect the capacity of an ecosystem to support populations. In grades 6-8 students learn to apply key concepts about ecosystems to understand the interactions among organisms and the nonliving environment. Essential concepts include the process of photosynthesis used by plants to transform the energy of sunlight into food energy, which is used by other organisms, and possible causes of environmental change. Students also learn to investigate environmental issues and to use science to evaluate different solutions to problems. Knowledge of how energy flows through ecosystems is a critical aspect of students' understanding of how energy sustains life on the planet, including human life.
EALR 4: Life Science.  Big Idea: Biological Evolution (LS3).  Core Content:  Inheritance Variation and Adaptation
  • In prior years, students learned that differences in inherited characteristics might help organisms survive and reproduce. In grades 6-8 students learn how the traits of organisms are passed on through the transfer of genetic information during reproduction and how inherited variations can become adaptations to a changing environment. Sexual reproduction produces variations because genes are inherited from two parents. Variations can be either physical or behavioral, and some have adaptive value in a changing environment. In the theory of biological evolution the processes of inheritance, variation, and adaptation explain both the diversity and unity of all life.