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Science process skills should be based on a series of discoveries. Students learn most effectively when they have a central role in the discovery process. To that end, Standards 1, 2, 6, and 7 incorporate in the Physical Setting/ Physics Core

Curriculum a student-centered, problem-solving approach to physics. It should be a goal of the instructor to encourage science process skills that will provide students with the background and curiosity to investigate important issues in the world around them.

This section denotes the types and depth of the process skills the students should practice throughout the school year. These process skills are an integral part of all core-based curricula. This implies that students should already have a foundation in these skills. The physics teacher reinforces these process skills by creating new situations for the student to investigate in the context of physics. During assessments, students will be presented with new situations to analyze and new problems to solve using these process skills.

In the same vein of facilitating student learning within an authentic context, students will be expected to apply the SI (International System) system of units. SI units are used in this core curriculum. The SI system begins with fundamental units, from which all other units are derived. In addition to the standard fundamental and derived units of the SI system (such as kilogram, meter, joule, and volt), other units such as centimeters and kilometers are commonly employed.





electric current



luminous intensity

Fundamental Units
















STANDARD 1—Analysis, Inquiry, and Design

Mathematical Analysis

Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Key Idea 1:

Abstraction and symbolic representation are used to communicate mathematically.

M1.1Use algebraic and geometric representations to describe and compare data.

·   use scaled diagrams to represent and manipulate vector quantities

·   represent physical quantities in graphical form

·   construct graphs of real-world data (scatter plots, line or curve of best fit)

·   manipulate equations to solve for unknowns

·   use dimensional analysis to confirm algebraic solutions


Key Idea 2:

Deductive and inductive reasoning are used to reach mathematical conclusions.

M2.1Use deductive reasoning to construct and evaluate conjectures and arguments, recognizing that patterns and relationships in mathematics assist them in arriving at these conjectures and arguments.

·   interpret graphs to determine the mathematical relationship between the variables


STANDARD 1—Analysis, Inquiry, and Design

Scientific Inquiry

Key Idea 1:

The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process.

·   develop extended visual models and mathematical formulations to represent an understanding of natural phenomena

·   clarify ideas through reasoning, research, and discussion

·   evaluate competing explanations and overcome misconceptions


Key Idea 2:

Beyond the use of reasoning and consensus, scientific inquiry involves the testing of proposed explanations involving the use of conventional techniques and procedures and usually requiring considerable ingenuity.


Key Idea 3:

The observations made while testing proposed explanations, when analyzed using conventional and invented methods, provide new insights into phenomena.

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STANDARD 1—Analysis, Inquiry, and Design

Engineering Design

Key Idea 1:

Engineering design is an iterative process involving modeling and optimization (finding

the best solution within given constraints) which is used to develop technological

solutions to problems within given constraints.



Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information, using appropriate technologies.


Key Idea 1:

Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information as a tool to enhance learning.


Key Idea 2:

Knowledge of the impacts and limitations of information systems is essential to its effective and ethical use.


Key Idea 3:

Information technology can have positive and negative impacts on society, depending upon how it is used.

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STANDARD 6—Interconnectedness: Common Themes

Systems Thinking

Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.

Key Idea 1:

Through systems thinking, people can recognize the commonalities that exist among all systems and how parts of a system interrelate and combine to perform specific functions.


STANDARD 6—Interconnectedness: Common Themes


Key Idea 2:

Models are simplified representations of objects, structures, or systems used in analysis, explanation, interpretation, or design.


STANDARD 6—Interconnectedness: Common Themes

Magnitude and Scale

Key Idea 3:

The grouping of magnitudes of size, time, frequency, and pressures or other units of measurement into a series of relative order provides a useful way to deal with the immense range and the changes in scale that affect the behavior and design of systems.

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STANDARD 6—Interconnectedness: Common Themes

Equilibrium and Scale

Key Idea 4:

Equilibrium is a state of stability due either to a lack of change (static equilibrium) or a balance between opposing forces (dynamic equilibrium).

STANDARD 6—Interconnectedness: Common Themes

Patterns of Change

Key Idea 5:

Identifying patterns of change is necessary for making predictions about future behavior and conditions.


STANDARD 6—Interconnectedness: Common Themes


Key Idea 6:

In order to arrive at the best solution that meets criteria within constraints, it is often necessary to make trade-offs.


STANDARD 7—Interdisciplinary Problem Solving


Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

Key Idea 1:

The knowledge and skills of mathematics, science, and technology are used together to make informed decisions and solve problems, especially those relating to issues of science/technology/society, consumer decision making, design, and inquiry into phenomena.

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STANDARD 7—Interdisciplinary Problem Solving


Key Idea 2:

Solving interdisciplinary problems involves a variety of skills and strategies, including

effective work habits; gathering and processing information; generating and analyzing

ideas; realizing ideas; making connections among the common themes of mathematics,

science, and technology; and presenting results.

·   collect, analyze, interpret, and present data, using appropriate tools

·   If students participate in an extended, culminating mathematics, science, and

    technology project, then students should:

·   work effectively

·   gather and process information

·   generate and analyze ideas

·   observe common themes

·   realize ideas

·   present results




Science process skills should be based on a series of discoveries. Students learn most effectively when they have a central role in the discovery process. To that end, Standards 1, 2, 6, and 7 incorporate a student-centered, problem-solving approach to physics. This list is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of the content or skills that teachers are expected to incorporate into their curriculum. It should be a goal of the instructor to encourage science process skills that will provide students with the background and curiosity to investigate important issues in the world around them.

STANDARD 4—The Physical Setting

Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

Key Idea 4:

Energy exists in many forms, and when these forms change energy is conserved.

The law of conservation of energy provides one of the basic keys to understanding the universe. The fundamental tenet of this law is that the total mass-energy of the universe is constant; however, energy can be transferred in many ways. Historically, scientists have treated the law of conservation of matter and energy separately. All energy can be classified as either kinetic or potential. When work is done on or by a system, the energy of the system changes. This relationship is known as the work-energy theorem. Energy may be transferred by matter or by waves. Waves transfer energy without transferring mass. Most of the information scientists gather about the universe is derived by detecting and analyzing waves. This process has been enhanced through the use of digital analysis. Types of waves include mechanical and electromagnetic. All waves have the same characteristics and exhibit certain behaviors, subject to the constraints of conservation of energy.


Key Idea 5:

Energy and matter interact through forces that result in changes in motion.

Introduction: Fundamental forces govern all the interactions of the universe. The interaction of masses is determined by the gravitational force; the interaction of charges is determined by the electro-weak force; the interaction between particles in the nucleus is controlled by the strong force. Changes in the motion of an object require a force. Newton’s laws can be used to explain and predict the motion of an object.

On the atomic level, the quantum nature of the fundamental forces becomes evident. Models of the atom have been developed to incorporate wave-particle duality, quantization, and the conservation laws. These models have been modified to reflect new observations; they continue to evolve. 

Everyday experiences are manifestations of patterns that repeat themselves from the sub-nuclear to the cosmic level. Models that are used at each level reflect these patterns. The future development of physics is likely to be derived from these realms.

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