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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the developer, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.

Virginia Science Standards of Learning

The Virginia Science Standards of Learning you can cover using "To MARS with MER" are listed below. We hope you will discover additional standards you can use. These are the ones our Instructional Materials Development team felt most directly related to the activities planned for "To MARS with MER".

Virginia Science Standards of Learning

The purposes of scientific investigation and discovery are to satisfy humankind's quest for knowledge and understanding and to preserve and enhance the quality of the human experience.
Therefore, as a result of science instruction, students will be able to:

1. Develop and use an experimental design in scientific inquiry

2. Use the language of science to communicate understanding

3. Investigate phenomena using technology

4. Apply scientific concepts, skills, and processes to everyday experiences

5. Experience the richness and excitement of scientific discovery of the natural world through the historical and collaborative quest for knowledge and understanding

6. Make informed decisions regarding contemporary issues taking into account the following:
* public policy and legislation
* economic costs/benefits
* validation from scientific data and the use of scientific reasoning and logic
* respect for living things
* personal responsibility
* history of scientific discovery

7. Develop scientific dispositions and habits of mind including:
* curiosity
* demand for verification
* respect for logic and rational thinking
* consideration of premises and consequences
* respect for historical contributions
* attention to accuracy and precision
* patience and persistence

8. Explore science-related careers and interests.


K-12 Safety

In implementing the Science Standards of Learning, students must know how to follow safety guidelines, demonstrate appropriate laboratory safety techniques, and use equipment safely while working individually and in groups.

Safety must be given the highest priority in implementing the K-12 instructional program for science. Correct and safe techniques, as well as wise selection of experiments, resources, materials, and field experiences appropriate to age levels, must be carefully considered with regard to the safety precautions for every instructional activity. Safe science classrooms require thorough planning, careful management, and constant monitoring of student activities. Class enrollment should not exceed the designed capacity of the room.

Teachers must be knowledgeable of the properties, use, and proper disposal of all chemicals that may be judged as hazardous prior to their use in an instructional activity. Such information is referenced through the MSDS forms (Materials Safety Data Sheets). The identified precautions involving the use of goggles, gloves, aprons, and fume hoods must be followed as prescribed.

While no comprehensive list exists to cover all situations, the following should be reviewed to avoid potential safety problems. Appropriate safety procedures should be used in the following situations:
* Handling of glass tubing, sharp objects, glassware, and labware
* Natural gas burners, bunsen burners, and other sources of flame/heat
* Hazards associated with direct sunlight (sunburn and eye damage)


The Role of Instructional Technology in Science Education

The use of current and emerging technologies is essential to the K- 12 science instructional program.

Specifically, technology must

* Assist in improving every student's functional literacy. This includes improved communication through reading/information retrieval (the use of telecommunications), writing (word processing), organization and analysis of data (databases, spreadsheets, and graphics programs), selling one's idea (presentation software), and resource management (project management software).

* Be readily available and used regularly as an integral and ongoing part in the delivery and assessment of instruction.

* Include instrumentation oriented toward the instruction and learning of science concepts, skills, and processes. Technology, however, should not be limited to traditional instruments of science such as microscopes, labware, and data- collecting apparatus but should also include computers, robotics, interactive-optical laser discs, video-microscopes, graphing calculators, CD-ROMs, probeware, on-line telecommunication, software and appropriate hardware, as well as other emerging technologies.

* Be reflected in the "instructional strategies" generally developed at the local school division level.

In most cases, the application of technology in science should remain "transparent" unless it is the actual focus of the instruction. One must expect students to "do as a scientist does" and not simply hear about science if they are truly expected to explore, explain, and apply scientific concepts, skills, and processes.

As computer/technology skills are essential components of every student's education, it is important that these skills are a shared responsibility of teachers of all disciplines and grade levels. Please note the computer/technology standards following the grade five and the physical science standards respectively.


Investigate and Understand

Many of the standards in the Science Standards of Learning begin with the phrase "Students will investigate and understand." This phrase was chosen to communicate the range of rigorous science skills and knowledge levels embedded in each standard. Limiting a standard to one observable behavior such as "describe" or "explain" would have narrowed the interpretation of what was intended to be a rich, highly rigorous, and inclusive content standard.

"Investigate" refers to scientific methodology and implies systematic use of the following inquiry skills:
* Observing
* Classifying and sequencing
* Communicating
* Measuring
* Predicting
* Hypothesizing
* Inferring
* Defining, controlling, and manipulating variables in experimentation
* Designing, constructing, and interpreting models
* Interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating data.

"Understand" refers to various levels of knowledge application. In the Science Standards of Learning these knowledge levels include the ability to
* Recall or recognize important information, key definitions, terminology, and facts
* Explain the information in one's own words, comprehend how the information is related to other key facts, and suggest additional interpretations of its meaning or importance
* Apply the facts and principles to new problems or situations, recognizing what information is required for a particular situation, explaining new phenomena with the information, and determining when there are exceptions
* Analyze the underlying details of important facts and principles, recognizing the key relations and patterns that are not always readily visible
* Arrange and combine important information, facts, and principles to produce a new idea, plan, procedure, or product
* Make judgments about information in terms of accuracy, precision, consistency, or effectiveness.

Therefore, the use of "investigate and understand" allows each content standard to become the basis for a broad range of teaching objectives, which the local school division will develop and refine to meet the intent of the Science Standards of Learning.



The kindergarten standards stress the use of basic science skills to explore common materials, objects, and living things. Emphasis is placed on using the senses to gather information. Students are expected to develop skills in posing simple questions, measuring, sorting, classifying, and communicating information about the natural world. The science skills are an important focus as students learn about life processes and properties of familiar materials such as magnets and water. Through phenomena including shadows, patterns of weather, and plant growth, students are introduced to the concept of change. The significance of natural resources and conservation is introduced in the kindergarten standards.

Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic

K.1 The student will conduct investigations in which
* basic properties of objects are identified by direct observation;
* observations are made from multiple positions to achieve different perspectives;
* a set of objects is sequenced according to size;
* a set of objects is separated into two groups based on a single physical attribute;
* picture graphs are constructed using 10 or fewer units;
* nonstandard units are used to measure common objects;
* an unseen member in a sequence of objects is predicted;
* a question is developed from one or more observations;
* objects are described both pictorially and verbally; and
* unusual or unexpected results in an activity are recognized.

K.2 The student will investigate and understand that humans have senses including sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Senses allow one to seek, find, take in, and react or respond to information in order to learn about one's surroundings.
Key concepts include
* five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight);
* sensing organs associated with each of the senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin); and
* sensory descriptors (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, rough, smooth, hard, soft, cold, warm, hot, loud, soft, high, low, bright, dull).

Force, Motion, and Energy

K.3 The student will investigate and understand that magnets have an effect on some materials, make some things move without touching them, and have useful applications. Key concepts include
* attraction/nonattraction, push/pull, attract/repel, and metal/nonmetal; and


Grade One

The first-grade standards continue to stress basic science skills in understanding familiar objects and events. Students are expected to begin conducting simple experiments and be responsible for some of the planning. Students are introduced to the concept of classifying plants and animals based on simple characteristics. Emphasis is placed on the relationships among objects and their interactions with one another. Students are expected to know the basic relationships between the sun and Earth and between seasonal changes and plant and animal activities. Students also will begin to develop an understanding of moving objects, simple solutions, and important natural resources.

Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic

1.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* differences in physical properties are observed using the senses and simple instruments to enhance observations (magnifying glass);
* objects or events are classified and arranged according to attributes or properties;
* observations and data are communicated orally and with simple graphs, pictures, written statements, and numbers;
* length, mass, and volume are measured using standard and nonstandard units;
* inferences are made and conclusions are drawn about familiar objects and events;
* predictions are based on patterns of observation rather than random guesses; and
* simple experiments are conducted to answer questions.

Force, Motion, and Energy

1.2 The student will investigate and understand that moving objects exhibit different kinds of motion. Key concepts include
* objects may have straight, circular, and back and forth motions;
* pushes or pulls can change the movement of an object; and
* the motion of objects may be observed in toys and in playground activities.


Grade Two

The second-grade standards continue to focus on using a broad range of science skills in understanding the natural world. Making detailed observations, drawing conclusions, and recognizing unusual or unexpected data are skills needed to be able to use and validate information. Measurement in both English and metric units is stressed. The idea of living systems is introduced through habitats and the interdependence of living and nonliving things. The concept of change is explored in states of matter, life cycles, weather patterns, and seasonal effects on plants and animals.

Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic

2.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* observations are repeated to improve accuracy;
* two or more attributes are used to classify items;
* pictures and bar graphs are constructed using numbered axes;
* linear, volume, mass, and temperature measurements are made in metric (centimeters, meters, liters, degrees Celsius, grams, kilograms) and standard English units (inches, feet, yards, pints, quarts, gallons, degrees Fahrenheit, ounces, pounds);
* observation is differentiated from personal interpretation, and conclusions are drawn based on observations; and
* unexpected or unusual quantitative data are recognized.


Grade Three

The third-grade standards place increasing emphasis on conducting investigations. Students are expected to be able to develop questions, formulate simple hypotheses, make predictions, gather data, and use the metric system with greater precision. Using information to make inferences and draw conclusions becomes more important. In the area of physical science, the standards focus on simple machines, energy, and a basic understanding of matter. Behavioral and physical adaptations are examined in relation to the life needs of animals. The notion of living systems is further explored in aquatic and terrestrial food chains and diversity in environments. Patterns in the natural world are demonstrated in terms of the phases of the moon, tides, seasonal changes, the water cycle, and animal life cycles. Geological concepts are introduced through the investigation of the components of soil.

Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic

3.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* questions are developed to formulate hypotheses;
* predictions and observations are made;
* data are gathered, charted, and graphed;
* objects with similar characteristics are classified into at least two sets and two subsets;
* inferences are made and conclusions are drawn;
* natural events are sequenced chronologically;
* length is measured to the nearest centimeter;
* mass is measured to the nearest gram;
* volume is measured to the nearest milliliter and liter;
* temperature is measured to the nearest degree Celsius; and
* time is measured to the nearest minute.


3.3 The student will investigate and understand that objects can be described in terms of the materials they are made of and their physical properties. Key concepts include
* objects are made of smaller parts;
* materials are composed of parts that are too small to be seen without magnification;

Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems

3.7 The student will investigate and understand the major components of soil, its origin, and importance to plants and animals including humans. Key concepts include
* soil provides the support and nutrients necessary for plant growth;


Grade Four

The fourth-grade standards stress the importance of using information, analyzing data, and validating experimental results. Defining variables in experimentation is emphasized, and making simple predictions from picture, bar, and line graphs is underscored. Questioning and hypothesizing become more detailed at this level. Students are introduced to basic principles of electricity and to the concept of energy as it relates to work and machines. Relationships are investigated in the interactions among the Earth, moon, and sun and among plants and animals and their environments. In examining weather phenomena and conditions, students identify various factors, make predictions based on data, and evaluate the results. The importance of natural resources in Virginia is emphasized.

Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic

4.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* distinctions are made among observations, conclusions (inferences), and predictions;
* data are classified to create frequency distributions;
* appropriate metric measures are used to collect, record, and report data;
* appropriate instruments are selected to measure linear distance, volume, mass, and temperature;
* predictions are made based on data from picture graphs, bar graphs, and basic line graphs;
* hypotheses are formulated based on cause and effect relationships;
* variables that must be held constant in an experimental situation are defined; and
* numerical data that are contradictory or unusual in experimental results are recognized.


Grade Five

The fifth-grade standards emphasize the importance of selecting appropriate instruments for measuring and recording observations. The organization, analysis, and application of data continue to be an important focus of classroom inquiry. Science skills from preceding grades, including questioning, using and validating evidence, and systematic experimentation, are reinforced at this level. Students are introduced to more detailed concepts of sound and light and the tools used for studying them. Key concepts of matter include atoms, molecules, elements, and compounds, and the properties of matter are defined in greater detail. The cellular makeup of organisms and the distinguishing characteristics of groups of organisms are stressed. Students will learn about the characteristics of the oceans and the Earth's changing surface.

Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic

5.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* appropriate instruments are selected and used for making quantitative observations of length, mass, volume, and elapsed time;
* data are collected, recorded, and reported using the appropriate graphical representation (graphs, charts, diagrams);
* accurate measurements are made using basic tools (thermometer, meter stick, balance, graduated cylinder);
* predictions are made using patterns, and simple graphical data are extrapolated; and
* estimations of length, mass, and volume are made.


Computer/Technology Standards by the End of Grade Five

Computer/Technology skills are essential components of every student's education. In order to maximize opportunities for students to acquire necessary skills for academic success, the teaching of these skills should be the shared responsibility of teachers of all disciplines.

Minimum skills that students should acquire by the end of Grade 5 include the following:

C/T5.2 The student will develop basic technology skills.
* Develop a basic technology vocabulary that includes cursor, software, memory, disk drive, hard drive, and CD- ROM.
* Select and use technology appropriate to tasks.
* Operate peripheral devices.
* Apply technologies to strategies for problem solving and critical thinking.

C/T5.3 The student will process, store, retrieve, and transmit electronic information.
* Use search strategies to retrieve electronic information using databases, CD-ROMs, videodiscs, and telecommunications.
* Use electronic encyclopedias, almanacs, indexes, and catalogs.
* Use local and wide-area networks and modem-delivered services to access information from electronic databases.

C/T5.4 The student will communicate through application software.
* Use simple computer graphics and integrate graphics into word-processed documents.
* Use local and worldwide network communication systems.


Grade Six

The sixth-grade standards continue to emphasize data analysis and experimentation. Methods are studied for testing the validity of predictions and conclusions. Scientific methodology, focusing on precision in stating hypotheses and defining dependent and independent variables, is strongly reinforced. The concept of change is explored through the study of transformations of energy and matter, both in living things and in the physical sciences. A more detailed understanding of the solar system becomes a focus of instruction. Natural resource management and its relation to public policy and cost/benefit tradeoffs are introduced.

Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic

6.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* differences in descriptions and working definitions are made;
* precise and approximate measures are recorded;
* scale models are used to estimate distance, volume, and quantity;
* hypotheses are stated in ways that identify the independent (manipulated) and dependent (responding) variables;
* a method is devised to test the validity of predictions and inferences;
* one variable is manipulated over time with many repeated trials;
* data are collected, recorded, analyzed, and reported using appropriate metric measurement;
* data are organized and communicated through graphical representation (graphs, charts, and diagrams); and
* models are designed to explain a sequence.

6.2 The student will demonstrate scientific reasoning and logic. Key concepts include
* ideas are investigated by asking for and actively seeking information;
* multiple tests of ideas are performed before accepting or rejecting them;
* alternative scientific explanations are analyzed; and
* conclusions are based on scientific evidence obtained from a variety of sources.

Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems

6.10 The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system and the relationships among the various bodies that comprise it. Key concepts include
* the, sun, moon, Earth, other planets and their moons, meteors, asteroids, and comets;
* relative size of and distance between planets;
* the role of gravity;
* revolution and rotation; and
* the history and technology of space exploration.


Physical Science

The Physical Science standards continue to build on skills of systematic investigation with a clear focus on variables and repeated trials. Validating conclusions using evidence and data becomes increasingly important at this level. Students will plan and conduct research involving both classroom experimentation and literature reviews from written and electronic resources. Research methods and skills highlight practical problems and questions. Students will share their work using written reports and other presentations.

The Physical Science standards stress a more in-depth understanding of the nature and structure of matter and the characteristics of energy. The standards place considerable emphasis on the technological application of physical science principles. Major areas covered by the standards include the periodic table; physical and chemical changes; nuclear reactions; temperature and heat; sound; light; electricity and magnetism; and work, force, and motion.

PS.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* length, mass, volume, density, temperature, weight, and force are accurately measured and reported using the International System of Units (SI - metric);
* triple beam and electronic balances, thermometers, metric rulers, graduated cylinders, and spring scales are used to gather data;
* data from experiments are recorded and interpreted from bar, line, and circle graphs;
* research skills are utilized using a variety of resources;
* independent and dependent variables, constants, controls, and repeated trials are identified;
* valid conclusions are made after analyzing data;
* research methods are used to investigate practical problems and questions; and
* experimental results are presented in appropriate written form.

PS.10 The student will investigate and understand scientific principles and technological applications of work, force, and motion. Key concepts include
* work, force, mechanical advantage, efficiency, power, horsepower, gravitational force, speed/velocity, mass/weight, Newton's three laws of motion, acceleration; and


Computer/Technology Standards by the End of Grade Eight

Computer/Technology skills are essential components of every student's education. In order to maximize opportunities for students to acquire necessary skills for academic success, the teaching of these skills should be the shared responsibility of teachers of all disciplines.

Minimum skills that students should acquire by the end of Grade 8 include the following:

C/T8.2 The student will communicate through networks and telecommunication.
* Use local and worldwide network communication systems.
* Develop hypermedia "home page" documents that can be accessed by worldwide networks.

C/T8.3 The student will have a basic understanding of computer processing, storing, retrieval, and transmission technologies and a practical appreciation of the relevant advantages and disadvantages of various processing, storage, retrieval, and transmission technologies.

C/T8.4 The student will process, store, retrieve, and transmit electronic information.
* Use search strategies to retrieve electronic information.
* Use electronic encyclopedias, almanacs, indexes, and catalogs to retrieve and select relevant information.
* Use local and wide-area networks and modem-delivered services to access and retrieve information from electronic databases.
* Use databases to perform research.


Earth Science

The Earth Science standards connect the study of the Earth's composition, structure, processes, and history; its atmosphere, fresh water, and oceans; and its environment in space. The standards emphasize historical contributions in the development of scientific thought about the Earth and space. The standards stress the interpretation of maps, charts, tables, and profiles; the use of technology to collect, analyze, and report data; and science skills in systematic investigation. Problem solving and decision making are an integral part of the standards, especially as they relate to the costs and benefits of utilizing the Earth's resources. Major topics of study include plate tectonics, the rock cycle, Earth history, the oceans, the atmosphere, weather and climate, and the solar system and universe.

ES.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which
* volume, area, mass, elapsed time, direction, temperature, pressure, distance, density, and changes in elevation/depth are calculated utilizing the most appropriate tools;
* technologies, including computers, are used to collect, analyze, and report data and to demonstrate concepts and simulate experimental conditions;
* scales, diagrams, maps, charts, graphs, tables, and profiles are constructed and interpreted;
* variables are manipulated with repeated trials; and
* a scientific viewpoint is constructed and defended.

ES.2 The student will demonstrate scientific reasoning and logic by
* analyzing how science explains and predicts the interactions and dynamics of complex Earth systems;
* recognizing that evidence is required to evaluate hypotheses and explanations;
* comparing different scientific explanations for the same observations about the Earth;
* explaining that observation and logic are essential for reaching a conclusion;
* evaluating evidence for scientific theories related to plate tectonics, the structure of the Earth, and its ancient age and origin; and
* making informed judgments related to resource use and its effects on Earth systems.



The Physics standards emphasize a more complex understanding of experimentation, the analysis of data, and the use of reasoning and logic to evaluate evidence. The use of mathematics, including algebra, inferential statistics, and trigonometry, is important, but conceptual understanding of physical systems remains a primary concern. Students build on basic physical science principles by exploring in depth the nature and characteristics of energy and its dynamic interaction with matter. Key areas covered by the standards include force and motion, kinetic molecular theory, energy transformations, wave phenomena and the electromagnetic spectrum, light, electricity, fields, and non- Newtonian physics. The standards stress the practical application of physics in other areas of science and technology and how physics affects our world.

PH.1 The student will investigate and understand how to plan and conduct investigations in which
* the components of a system are defined;
* instruments are selected and used to extend observations and measurements of mass, volume, temperature, heat exchange, energy transformations, motion, fields, and electric charge;
* information is recorded and presented in an organized format;
* metric units are used in all measurements and calculations;
* the limitations of the experimental apparatus and design are recognized;
* the limitations of measured quantities through the appropriate use of significant figures or error ranges are recognized; and
* data gathered from non-SI instruments are incorporated through appropriate conversions.

PH.2 The student will investigate and understand how to analyze and interpret data. Key concepts include
* a description of a physical problem is translated into a mathematical statement in order to find a solution;
* inferential statistical tests are applied in evaluating experimental data;

PH.3 The student will investigate and understand how to demonstrate scientific reasoning and logic. Key concepts include
* analysis of primary sources to develop and refine research hypotheses;
* analysis of how science explains and predicts relationships; and
* evaluation of evidence for scientific theories and how new discoveries may either modify existing theories or result in establishing a new paradigm.

PH.4 The student will investigate and understand how applications of physics affect the world. Key concepts include
* principles with examples from the real world; and
* exploration of the roles and contributions of science and technology.

PH.5 The student will investigate and understand the interrelationships among mass, distance, force, and time through mathematical and experimental processes. Key concepts include
* linear motion;
* uniform circular motion;
* curvilinear motion;
* Newton's laws of motion;
* gravitation;
* celestial mechanics; and

PH.12 The student will investigate and understand how to use the field concept to describe the effects of electric, magnetic, and gravitational forces. Key concepts include
* Newton's law of universal gravitation;