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The three core ideas are PS1: Matter and Its Interactions, PS2: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions, and PS3: Energy.We also introduce a fourth core idea: PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer—which introduces students to the ways in which advances in the physical sciences during the 20th century underlie all sophisticated technologies available today.Moreover, the modern explanation of how particular atoms influence the properties of materials or molecules is critical to understanding the physical and chemical functioning of biological systems. Matter can be described and classified by its observable properties (e.g., visual, aural, textural), by its uses, and by whether it occurs naturally or is manufactured.Different properties are suited to different purposes.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.
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 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.
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.