Physical Science

Course Description

This full-year course focuses on traditional concepts in chemistry and physics, and encourages
exploration of new discoveries in this field of science. The course includes an overview of scientific
principles and procedures, and leads students toward a clearer understanding of matter, energy, and the
physical universe. As students refine and expand their understanding of physical science, they will apply
their knowledge in experiments that require them to ask questions and create hypotheses. Throughout
the course, students solve problems, reason abstractly, and learn to think critically.

This course is aligned with the Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.

Units of Study

  • Matter
  • Atoms, Elements, and the Periodic Table
  • Bonding
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Solutions and Other Mixtures
  • Motion and Forces
  • Work and Energy
  • Temperature and Heat
  • Waves and Sound
  • Light
  • Electricity and Magnetism

Course Features

  • To promote inquiry and a focus on big ideas, every lesson includes a guiding lesson question.
  • Each lesson begins with a thought-provoking warm-up activity to engage students and activate or build on prior knowledge.
  • The course includes an abundance of rich graphics, charts, diagrams, animations, and interactives, which help students relate to and visualize the content.
  • To help students apply concepts, the course contains eight labs, with student guides, teacher guides, and guidance for completing a lab report write-up and/or reflection activity. Lab reports are intended to be teacher-scored and do not appear in the credit-recovery version of the course.
  • In the initial credit version, two of the lab lessons include an optional activity in which students can plan their own investigation. Teachers who wish to use this activity should customize out the wet lab and leave the “plan an investigation” activity in the course. Teachers who do not wish to have students plan their own investigation can customize this activity out. For more information, please see the Guide to Customizing Lab Lessons in the course documents section of the Physical Science course.
  • The initial-credit version of the course includes four projects. In unit 2, students create a multimedia presentation about an element. In unit 4, they construct a device to regulate the release of energy. In unit 8, they design a solar cooker. Finally, in unit 11, students graph relationships involving electromagnets. These projects are intended to be teacher-scored and do not appear in the ciredrecovery version of the course.
  • Reading assignments expose students to models for scientific and technical writing.
  • Reading assignments utilize the CloseReaderTM tool, which enables students to interact with the text by highlighting targeted words and phrases and adding purposeful sticky notes. Students also probe vocabulary words, investigate elements and features of the text with careful scaffolding, and benefit from auditory assistance.
  • An interactive periodic table equips students to solve chemistry problems and understand, visualize, and describe matter.
  • A variety of graphic organizers helps students understand relationships between and among concepts.
  • An emphasis on interpreting figures and data displays helps students read and understand information the way scientists present it.
  • Real-world connections help students connect physical science to their everyday lives.


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