National Science Education Standards Addressed by Light
National Science Education Standards (5–8): Fundamental Concepts and Principles Addressed in Light
The following excerpts from the National Science Education Standards are grade 5–8 content and process standards addressed in Light, as well as K–12 unifying concepts and processes.
Physical Sciences (Transfer of Energy)
- Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. Energy is transferred in many ways.
- Light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection). To see an object, light from that object—emitted or scattered from it—must enter the eye.
- The Sun is a major source of energy for changes on Earth’s surface. The Sun loses energy by emitting light. A tiny fraction of that light reaches Earth, transferring energy from the Sun to Earth. The Sun’s energy arrives as light with a range of wavelengths, consisting of visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation.
Science and Technology (Understandings About Science and Technology)
- Many different people in different cultures have made and continue to make contributions to science and technology.
- Science and technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive technology because it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments. It also provides principles for better instrumentation and technique. Technology is essential to science because it provides instruments and techniques that enable the observation of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed. Technology also provides tools for investigation, inquiry, and analysis.
- Perfectly designed solutions do not exist. All technological solutions involve trade-offs in factors such as safety, cost, efficiency, and appearance.
- Technological designs have constraints. Some constraints are unavoidable (for example, the properties of materials or the effects of weather and friction); other constraints limit choices in design (for example, environmental protection, human safety, and aesthetics).
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
The potential for accidents and the existence of hazards impose the need for injury prevention. Safe living involves the development and use of safety precautions and the recognition of risk in personal decisions. Injury prevention has personal and social dimensions.
Human activities can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste disposal. Such activities can accelerate natural changes.
Science and Technology in Society
- Science influences society through knowledge and worldview. Scientific knowledge and the procedures used by scientists influence the way many individuals in society think about themselves, others, and the environment. The effect of science on society is neither entirely beneficial nor entirely detrimental.
- Technology influences society through its products and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways people act and interact. Technological changes are often accompanied by social, political, and economic changes that can be beneficial or detrimental to individuals and society. Social needs, attitudes, and values influence the direction of technological development.
- Science and technology have advanced through the contributions of many different people in different cultures at different times in history. Science and technology have contributed enormously to economic growth and productivity among societies and groups within societies.
The History and Nature of Science
Science as a Human Endeavor
- Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds—and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations—engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields. Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.
- Science requires different abilities, depending on factors such as the field of study and the type of inquiry. Science is very much a human endeavor, and the work of science relies on basic human qualities such as reasoning, insight, energy, skill, and creativity. It also relies on scientific habits of mind such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, and openness to new ideas.
Nature of Science
- Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature through observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. Although all scientific ideas are tentative and subject to change and to improvement in principle, most major ideas in science are supported by extensive experimental and observational confirmation. These ideas are not likely to change greatly in the future. However, scientists do and have changed their ideas about nature when they encounter new experimental evidence that does not match their existing explanations.
- In areas where active research is being pursued and in which there is not a great deal of experimental or observational evidence and understanding, it is normal for scientists to differ with one another about the interpretation of the evidence or theory being considered. Different scientists may publish conflicting experimental results or draw different conclusions from the same data. Ideally, scientists acknowledge such conflict and work toward finding evidence that will resolve their disagreement.
- Part of scientific inquiry is to evaluate the results of scientific investigations, experiments, observations, and theoretical models as well as the explanations proposed by other scientists. Evaluation includes reviewing experimental procedures, examining evidence, identifying faulty reasoning, pointing out statements that go beyond the evidence, and suggesting alternative explanations for the same observations. Although scientists may disagree about explanations of phenomena, interpretations of data, or the value of opposing theories, they do agree that questioning, response to criticism, and open communication are integral to the process of science.
History of Science
- Many individuals have contributed to the traditions of science. Studying some of these individuals provides further understanding of scientific inquiry, science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the relationships between science and society.
- In historical perspective, science has been practiced by different individuals in different cultures. In looking at the history of many peoples, one finds that scientists and engineers of high achievement are considered to be among the most valued contributors to their culture.
- Tracing the history of science can show how difficult it was for scientific innovators to break through accepted ideas of their time and reach the conclusions that we currently take for granted.
Science as Inquiry
The National Science Education Standards, Grade 5–8, focus on the following skills and processes related to science as inquiry.
Abilities Necessary To Do Scientific Inquiry
- Students should be able to identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations. They should develop the ability to refine and refocus broad and ill-defined questions. An important aspect of this ability consists of students’ ability to clarify questions and inquiries and direct them toward objects and phenomena that can be described, explained, or predicted by scientific investigations. Students should develop the ability to identify questions about scientific ideas, concepts, and quantitative relationships that guide investigation.
- Students should be able to design and conduct a scientific investigation. They should develop general abilities such as systematic observation, making accurate measurements, and identifying and controlling variables. They should also develop the ability to clarify the ideas that are influencing and guiding the inquiry and to understand how these ideas compare with current scientific knowledge. Students should learn to formulate questions, design investigations, execute investigations, interpret data, use evidence to generate explanations, propose alternative explanations, and critique explanations and procedures.
- Students should be able to use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. The use of tools and techniques, including mathematics, will be guided by the question asked and the investigation designed by students. The use of computers for the collection, summary, and display of evidence is part of this standard. Students should be able to access, gather, store, retrieve, and organize data by using hardware and software designed for these purposes.
- Students should be able to develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models by using evidence. They should base their observations on what they observe. As they develop cognitive skills, they should be able to differentiate between explanation and description. They should be able to identify relationships on the basis of evidence and logical argument. This standard requires a subject matter knowledge base so that students can effectively conduct investigations, because developing explanations establishes connections between the content of science and the contexts within which students develop new knowledge.
- Students should be able to think critically and logically to identify the relationships between evidence and explanations. Thinking critically about evidence includes deciding what evidence should be used and accounting for anomalous data. Specifically, students should be able to review data from a simple experiment, summarize the data, and form a logical argument about the cause-and-effect relationships in the experiment. They should begin to state some explanations in terms of the relationship between two or more variables.
- Students should be able to recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions. They should develop the ability to listen to and respect the explanations proposed by other students. They should be open to different ideas and explanations, be able to accept the skepticism of others, and consider alternative explanations.
- Students should be able to communicate scientific procedures and explanations. With practice, they should become competent at communicating experimental methods, following instructions, describing observations, summarizing the results of other groups, and telling other students about investigations and explanations.
- Students should be able to use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry. Mathematics is essential to asking and answering questions about the natural world. Mathematics can be used to ask questions; gather, organize, and present data; and construct convincing explanations.
Understandings About Scientific Inquiry
- Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations. Some investigations involve observing and describing objects, organisms, or events; some involve collecting specimens; some involve experiments; some involve seeking more information; some involve the discovery of new objects and phenomena; and some involve making models.
- Current scientific knowledge and understanding guide scientific investigations. Different scientific domains use different methods, core theories, and standards to advance scientific knowledge and understanding.
- Mathematics is important in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
- Technology used to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.
- Scientific explanations emphasize evidence, have logical arguments, and use scientific principles, models, and theories. The scientific community accepts and uses such explanations until they are displaced by better ones. When such displacement occurs, science advances.
- Science advances through legitimate skepticism. Asking questions and querying other scientists’ explanations is part of scientific inquiry. Scientists evaluate explanations proposed by other scientists by examining evidence, identifying faulty reasoning, pointing out statements that go beyond the evidence, and suggesting alternative explanations for the same observations.
- Scientific investigations sometimes result in new ideas and phenomena for study, generate new methods or procedures for an investigation, or develop new technologies to improve the collection of data. All of these results can lead to new investigations.