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Science - 8th Grade
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The Science Core describes what students should know and be able to do at the end of each course. It was developed, critiqued, piloted, and revised by a community of Utah science teachers, university science educators, State Office of Education specialists, scientists, expert national consultants, and an advisory committee representing a wide diversity of people from the community. The Core reflects the current philosophy of science education that is expressed in national documents developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academies of Science. This Science Core has the endorsement of the Utah Science Teachers Association. The Core reflects high standards of achievement in science for all students.
Organization of the Science Core
The Core is designed to help teachers organize and deliver instruction. Elements of the Core include the following:
Seven Guidelines Were Used in Developing the Science Core
Reflects the Nature of Science: Science is a way of knowing, a process for gaining knowledge and understanding of the natural world. The Core is designed to produce an integrated set of Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) for students.
As described in these ILOs, students will:
Coherent: The Core has been designed so that, wherever possible, the science ideas taught within a particular grade level have a logical and natural connection with each other and with those of earlier grades. Efforts have also been made to select topics and skills that integrate well with one another and with other subject areas appropriate to grade level. In addition, there is an upward articulation of science concepts, skills, and content. This spiraling is intended to prepare students to understand and use more complex science concepts and skills as they advance through their science learning.
Developmentally Appropriate: The Core takes into account the psychological and social readiness of students. It builds from concrete experiences to more abstract understandings. The Core describes science language students should use that is appropriate to their grade level. A more extensive vocabulary should not be emphasized. In the past, many educators may have mistakenly thought that students understood abstract concepts (such as the nature of the atom) because they repeated appropriate names and vocabulary (such as "electron" and "neutron"). The Core resists the temptation to describe abstract concepts at inappropriate grade levels; rather, it focuses on providing experiences with concepts that students can explore and understand in depth to build a foundation for future science learning.
Encourages Good Teaching Practices: It is impossible to accomplish the full intent of the Core by lecturing and having students read from textbooks. The Science Core emphasizes student inquiry. Science process skills are central in each standard. Good science encourages students to gain knowledge by doing science: observing, questioning, exploring, making and testing hypotheses, comparing predictions, evaluating data, and communicating conclusions. The Core is designed to encourage instruction with students working in cooperative groups. Instruction should connect lessons with students' daily lives. The Core directs experiential science instruction for all students, not just those who have traditionally succeeded in science classes.
Comprehensive: The Science Core does not cover all
topics that have traditionally been in the science curriculum; however, it does
provide a comprehensive background in science. By emphasizing depth rather than
breadth, the Core seeks to empower students rather than intimidate them with
a collection of isolated and forgettable facts. Teachers are free to add related
concepts and skills, but they are expected to teach all the standards and objectives
specified in the Core for their grade level.
Useful and Relevant: This curriculum relates directly to student needs and interests. It is grounded in the natural world in which we live. Relevance of science to other endeavors enables students to transfer skills gained from science instruction into their other school subjects and into their lives outside the classroom.
Encourages Good Assessment Practices: Student achievement of the standards and objectives in this Core is best assessed using a variety of assessment instruments. The purpose of an assessment should be clear to the teacher as it is planned, implemented, and evaluated. Performance tests are particularly appropriate to evaluate student mastery of science processes and problem-solving skills. Teachers should use a variety of classroom assessment approaches in conjunction with standard assessment instruments to inform their instruction. Observation of students engaged in science activities is highly recommended as a way to assess students' skills as well as attitudes in science. The nature of the questions posed by students provides important evidence of students' understanding of and interest in science.
The Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) describe the skills and attitudes students
should learn and demonstrate as a result of science instruction. They are an
essential part of the Science Core Curriculum and provide teachers with a standard
for evaluation of student learning in science. Instruction should include significant
science experiences that lead to student understanding using the ILOs.
The main intent of science instruction in Utah is that students will value and use science as a process of obtaining knowledge based upon observable evidence.
By the end of seventh and eight grades students will be able to:
|Science language students should use:||generalize, conclude, hypothesis, theory, variable, measure, evidence, data, inference, infer, compare, predict, interpret, analyze, relate, calculate, observe, describe, classify, technology, experiment, investigation, tentative, assumption|
Eighth Grade Integrated Science Core Curriculum
Physical, earth, and life science content are integrated in a curriculum with two primary goals: (1) students will value and use science as a process of obtaining knowledge based on observable evidence, and (2) students' curiosity will be sustained as they develop the abilities associated with scientific inquiry.
The themes for Eighth Grade Integrated Science are change and energy. The "Benchmarks" in the eighth grade Core emphasize change as an organizing concept to understand matter and energy. Eighth graders should understand the relationship between energy and changes in matter. When matter combines, energy is absorbed or released and matter is rearranged to make new substances with new properties. The essential change that occurs in living organisms involves photosynthesis and respiration. The processes of change that shape and reshape the Earth continue today as in the past and require energy. Objects require energy to move, and this motion can be described, measured, and predicted.
Eighth grade students should design and perform experiments, and value inquiry as the fundamental scientific process. They should be encouraged to maintain an open and questioning mind to pose their own questions about objects, events, processes, and results. They should have the opportunity to plan and conduct their own experiments, and come to their own conclusions as they read, observe, compare, describe, infer, and draw conclusions. The results of their experiments need to be compared for reasonableness to multiple sources of information. It is important for students at this age to begin to formalize the processes of science and be able to identify the variables in a formal experiment.
Good science instruction requires hands-on science investigations in which student inquiry is an important goal. Teachers should provide opportunities for all students to experience many things. Eighth graders should investigate living organisms at the cellular level through firsthand observations. Students can find excitement through identifying things such as insects, plants, and rocks by using field guides. Students should enjoy science as a process of discovering the natural world.
Eighth grade Core concepts should be integrated with concepts and skills from other curriculum areas. Reading, writing, and mathematics skills should be emphasized as integral to the instruction of science. Personal relevance of science in students' lives is an important part of helping students to value science and should be emphasized at this grade level. Developing students' writing skills in science should be an important part of science instruction in the eighth grade. Students should regularly write descriptions of their observations and experiments. Lab journals are an effective way to emphasize the importance of writing in science.
Providing opportunities for students to gain insights into science related careers adds to the relevance of science learning. Some of the eighth grade Core objectives require that students design and build things; it is important for students to understand not only the skills of science but also simple concepts of engineering.
Value for honesty, integrity, self-discipline, respect, responsibility, punctuality, dependability, courtesy, cooperation, consideration, and teamwork should be emphasized as an integral part of science learning. These relate to the care of living things, safety and concern for self and others, and environmental stewardship. Honesty in all aspects of research, experimentation, data collection, and reporting is an essential component of science.
Resources for Instruction
This Core was designed using the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061: Benchmarks For Science Literacy and the National Academy of Science's National Science Education Standards as guides to determine appropriate content and skills.
The Eighth Grade Integrated Science Core has online resources designed to help with classroom instruction. These resources include the Sci-ber Text, an electronic science textbook.
The hands-on nature of science learning increases the need for teachers to use appropriate precautions in the classroom and field. Proper handling and disposal of chemicals and is crucial for a safe classroom. The chemistry described in the eighth grade can be accomplished using safe household chemicals and microchemistry techniques. It is important that all students understand the rules for a safe classroom.
Appropriate Use of Living Things in the Science Classroom
It is important to maintain a safe, humane environment for animals in the classroom. Field activities should be well thought out and use appropriate and safe practices. Student collections should be done under the guidance of the teacher with attention to the impact on the environment. The number and size of the samples taken for the collections should be considered in light of the educational benefit. Some organisms should not be taken from the environment, but rather observed and described using photographs, drawings, or written descriptions to be included in the student's collection. Teachers must adhere to the published guidelines for the proper use of living things, equipment, and chemicals in the classroom. These guidelines are available on the Utah Science Home Page.
The Most Important Goal
Science instruction should cultivate and build on students' curiosity and sense of wonder. Effective science instruction engages students in enjoyable learning experiences. Science instruction should be as thrilling an experience for a student as opening a rock and seeing a fossil, watching the colors change in a chemical reaction, or observing the consistent sequence of color in a rainbow. Science is not just for those who have traditionally succeeded in the subject, and it is not just for those who will choose science-related careers. In a world of rapidly expanding knowledge and technology, all students must gain the skills they will need to understand and function responsibly and successfully in the world. The Core provides skills in a context that enables students to experience the joy of doing science.
Core Standards of the Course
Matter can change state through physical change. In a physical change the identity of the atoms does not change.
In a chemical change the identity of the atoms does not change, but the atoms are recombined into a new substance. Evidence for a chemical reaction may include color change, gas given off, and heat or light given off or absorbed. Changing the amount of energy in a chemical system alters the reaction rate. Changing the surface area and/or concentration of reactants changes the rate of chemical reaction.
Food chains and food webs are models used to show the transfer of energy and matter among organisms. These models can be used to show relationships among organisms. Organisms, including humans, influence the ability of other organisms to live in a specific environment.
Students will understand that energy from sunlight is changed to chemical energy in plants, transfers between living organisms, and that changing the environment may alter the amount of energy provided to living organisms.
Several processes contribute to changing Earth’s surface. Earth’s surface is changed by heat flowing from Earth's hot interior toward the cooler surface and by atmospheric processes. Earth’s surface can change abruptly through volcanoes and earthquakes. Earth’s surface can change gradually through mountain building, weathering, erosion, and deposition. Small changes that repeatedly occur over very long time periods can add up to major changes in Earth’s surface.
Every object exerts a gravitational force on every other object. The distance between objects and mass of the objects determine the force of gravity between them. This force is difficult to measure unless one of the objects has a very large mass. Unbalanced forces cause change in the motion of objects, while balanced forces do not.