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Physics in the Universe - High School Three Course Model


High School Physics in the Universe Course Storyline

 Instructional Segment Description
1
Forces and Motion
Students make predictions using Newton’s Laws. Students mathematically describe how changes in motion relate to forces. They investigate collisions in Earth’s crust and in an engineering challenge. 
2
Forces at a Distance
Students investigate gravitational and electromagnetic forces and describe them mathematically. They predict the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system. They link the macroscopic properties of materials to microscopic electromagnetic attractions. 
3
Energy Conversion 
Students track energy transfer and conversion through different stages of power plants.  They evaluate different power plant technologies. They investigate electromagnetism to create models of how generators work and obtain and communicate information about how solar photovoltaic systems operate. They design and test their own energy conversion devices. 
4
Nuclear Processes 
Students develop a model of the internal structure of atoms and then extend it to include the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay. They apply this model to understanding nuclear power and radiometric dating. They use evidence from rock ages to reconstruct the history of the Earth and processes that shape its surface. 
5
Waves and Electro-magnetic Radiation 
Students make mathematical models of waves and apply them to seismic waves traveling through the Earth. They obtain and communicate information about other interactions between waves and matter with a particular focus on electromagnetic waves. They obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about health hazards associated with electromagnetic waves. They use models of wave behavior to explain information transfer using waves and the wave-particle duality.
6
Stars and the Origin of the Universe 
Students apply their model of nuclear fusion to trace the flow of energy from the Sun’s core to Earth. They use evidence from the spectra of stars and galaxies to determine the composition of stars and construct an explanation of the origin of the Universe. 



Instructional Segment 1: Forces and Motion

Students make predictions using Newton’s Laws. Students mathematically describe how changes in motion relate to forces. They investigate collisions in Earth’s crust and in an engineering challenge.

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-PS2-1, HS-PS2-2, HS-PS2-3, HS-ETS1-1, HS-EST1-2, HS-ETS1-3, HS-ETS1-4

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
PS2.A: Forces and Motion
ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Guiding Questions:

  • How can Newton’s Laws be used to explain how and why things move?
  • How can mathematical models of Newton’s Laws be used to test and improve engineering designs?

 


Instructional Segment 2: Forces at a Distance

Students investigate gravitational and electromagnetic forces and describe them mathematically. They predict the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system. They link the macroscopic properties of materials to microscopic electromagnetic attractions. 

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-PS2-4, HS-PS2-6, HS-ESS1-4

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
PS2.B: Types of Interactions
ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System

Guiding Questions:

  • How can different objects interact when they are not even touching?
  • How do interactions between matter at the microscopic scale affect the macroscopic properties of matter that we observe?
  • How do satellites stay in orbit?

 


Instructional Segment 3: Energy Conversion and Renewable Energy

Students track energy transfer and conversion through different stages of power plants.  They evaluate different power plant technologies. They investigate electromagnetism to create models of how generators work and obtain and communicate information about how solar photovoltaic systems operate. They design and test their own energy conversion devices. 

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-PS2-5, HS-PS3-1, HS-PS3-2, HS-PS3-5, HS-PS3-3, HS-PS4-5, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ETS1-1, HS-EST1-2, HS-ETS1-3, HS-ETS1-4

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
PS2.B: Types of Interactions
PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
PS3.C: Relationship Between Energy and Forces
PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes
PS4.A: Wave Properties
PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation
PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation
ESS3.A: Natural Resources
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Guiding Questions:

  • How do power plants generate electricity?
  • What engineering designs can help increase the efficiency of our electricity production and reduce the negative impacts of using fossil fuels?

 


Instructional Segment 4: Nuclear Processes and Earth History

Students develop a model of the internal structure of atoms and then extend it to include the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay. They apply this model to understanding nuclear power and radiometric dating. They use evidence from rock ages to reconstruct the history of the Earth and processes that shape its surface. 

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-PS1-8, HS-ESS1-5, HS-ESS1-6, HS-ESS2-1

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
PS1.C: Nuclear Processes 
ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions

Guiding Questions:

  • What does E=mc2 mean?
  • How do nuclear reactions illustrate conservation of energy and mass?
  • How do we determine the age of rocks and other geologic features?

 


Instructional Segment 5: Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation

Students make mathematical models of waves and apply them to seismic waves traveling through the Earth. They obtain and communicate information about other interactions between waves and matter with a particular focus on electromagnetic waves. They obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about health hazards associated with electromagnetic waves. They use models of wave behavior to explain information transfer using waves and the wave-particle duality.

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-PS4-1, HS-PS4-3, HS-PS4-4, HS-PS4-5, HS-PS4-2, HS-ESS2-1

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes
PS4.A: Wave Properties
PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation 
PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions

Guiding Questions:

  • How do we know what is inside the Earth?
  • Why do people get sunburned by UV light?
  • How do can we transmit information over wires and wirelessly?

 


Instructional Segment 6: Stars and the Origins of the Universe

Students apply their model of nuclear fusion to trace the flow of energy from the Sun’s core to Earth. They use evidence from the spectra of stars and galaxies to determine the composition of stars and construct an explanation of the origin of the Universe. 

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-ESS1-1, HS-ESS1-2, HS-ESS1-3

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars
PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life
PS4.B Electromagnetic Radiation

Guiding Questions:

  • How do we know what are stars made out of?
  • What fuels our Sun? Will it ever run out of that fuel?
  • Do other stars work the same way as our Sun?
  • How do patterns in motion of the stars tell us about the origin of our Universe?
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