The designation of physical science courses at the high school level as either physics or chemistry is not precluded by our grouping of these disciplines; what is important is that all students are offered a course sequence that gives them the opportunity and support to learn about all these ideas and to recognize the connections between them. While too small to be seen with visible light, atoms have substructures of their own.They have a small central region or nucleus—containing protons and neutrons—surrounded by a larger region containing electrons.Modern communication, information, and imaging technologies are applications of scientific understandings of light and sound and their interactions with matter.They are pervasive in our lives today and are also critical tools without which much of modern science could not be done.Similarly, understanding a process at any scale requires awareness of the interactions occurring—in terms of the forces between objects, the related energy transfers, and their consequences.In this way, the physical sciences—physics and chemistry—underlie all natural and humancreated phenomena, although other kinds of information transfers, such as those facilitated by the genetic code or communicated between organisms, may also be critical to understanding their behavior.An overarching goal for learning in the physical sciences, therefore, is to help students see that there are mechanisms of cause and effect in all systems and processes that can be understood through a common set of physical and chemical principles.The committee developed four core ideas in the physical sciences—three of which parallel those identified in previous documents, including the National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy [1, 2].
The ability to image and manipulate placement of individual atoms in tiny structures allows for the design of new types of materials with particular desired functionality (e.g., plastics, nanoparticles). Different kinds of matter exist (e.g., wood, metal, water), and many of them can be either solid or liquid, depending on temperature.
These core ideas can be applied to explain and predict a wide variety of phenomena that occur in people’s everyday lives, such as the evaporation of a puddle of water, the transmission of sound, the digital storage and transmission of information, the tarnishing of metals, and photosynthesis. Matter can be understood in terms of the types of atoms present and the interactions both between and within them.
And because such explanations and predictions rely on a basic understanding of matter and energy, students’ abilities to conceive of the interactions of matter and energy are central to their science education. C: Stability and Instability in Physical Systems Core Idea PS3: Energy PS3. The states (i.e., solid, liquid, gas, or plasma), properties (e.g., hardness, conductivity), and reactions (both physical and chemical) of matter can be described and predicted based on the types, interactions, and motions of the atoms within it.
A great variety of objects can be built up from a small set of pieces (e.g., blocks, construction sets).
Objects or samples of a substance can be weighed, and their size can be described and measured.