Science for Parents Newsletter

4th Six Weeks

Dear Parents,

This newsletter is intended to give parents an idea of what is being covered each six weeks in science and what their students should be learning.


Please contact Erika Vasquez, Director of Instruction for Science, if you have questions.

erika.vasquez@aliceisd.net

Science News!!

Congratulations to our District Science Fair Winners!! All participants will have a chance to compete at the Coastal Bend Science Fair held at the American Bank Center this six weeks. February 26th and 27th.
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Kindergarten

Unit 6 Exploring Space- During this unit, students identify patterns associated with the changes of the appearance of the Moon, Sun, and stars and make illustrations as a way to record these observations. Students use their senses as a tool of observation to identify patterns, including day and night, and they identify day and night as an event with a repeating pattern. Students make predictions based on observable patterns in nature and record this data using pictures and words. In order to introduce the concept of events with repeating patterns, kindergartners make observations on a more formal level.

Kindergarten Key Vocabulary

  • Day – the time that starts when the Sun comes up and ends when the Sun goes down
  • Earth – the third planet from the Sun
  • Moon – a natural object that orbits a planet; the Earth’s Moon is its only natural satellite and nearest neighbor in space
  • Night – the time that starts when the Sun goes down and ends when the Sun rises
  • Pattern – a repeated arrangement (order) of objects
  • Position – the place where something is located; where something has been put
  • Sun – a huge ball of gases around which the Earth and other planets of our solar system revolve; the Sun is a star that provides Earth with most of its light and heat energy
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1st Grade

Unit 06: Investigating Weather and Seasons- During this unit, students learn about tools to help them record information about weather, including relative temperature such as hot or cold, clear or cloudy, calm or windy and rainy or icy. An understanding of wind as moving air is addressed. Students make predictions based on observable patterns, including identifying the characteristics of the seasons of the year. In accordance with TEKS 1.2E, students communicate their observations and provide reasons for explanations using student-generated data from simple descriptive investigations of the ways objects move, such as the appearance of clouds in the sky. Students record and organize data using pictures, words, and graphs (picture graphs, real-object graphs, or bar graphs). Additionally, students describe what scientists, such as meteorologists, do. This unit lays the foundation for careful observations and accurate recording of events in the natural world and provides students with experiences to make observations that will help them recognize patterns and changes over time.

Unit 07: Investigating Objects in the Sky- During this unit, students observe and record changes in the appearance of objects in the sky such as the Moon, stars and the Sun. Students also identify characteristics of day and night. After making observations, students make predictions based on observable patterns. They record and organize the data in their science notebooks, using pictures and words.

1st Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Autumn (fall) – the season of the year occurring between summer and winter, characterized by cooling temperatures and leaves changing color and falling
  • Calm – a little windy
  • Clear – when the sky has no clouds
  • Cloud – a mass of water droplets or ice crystals that have clumped together (condensed) in the atmosphere
  • Icy – covered with ice
  • Meteorologist – a scientist who studies and predicts the weather
  • Predict – to say that something will happen in the future
  • Rain – liquid precipitation in the form of water drops that falls from clouds
  • Rain gauge – a tool for collecting and measuring the amount of precipitation that falls
  • Rainy – a period of time, or an area, having rainfall
  • Season – one of the four periods of the year - spring, summer, autumn (fall), and winter; each season has different average temperatures, weather conditions, and lengths of daylight
  • Spring – the season of the year occurring between winter and summer, during which the weather becomes warmer and plants revive
  • Summer – the season of the year occurring between spring and fall; characterized by having the warmest temperatures of the year
  • Sunny – bright with sunlight
  • Temperature – a way of measuring how hot or cold something is; temperature is measured using either the Fahrenheit (F) or Celsius (C) scale
  • Thermometer – a tool that measures temperature
  • Weather – the condition of the atmosphere at a place for a short period of time, including humidity, cloud cover, temperature, wind, and precipitation
  • Wind – moving air
  • Windsock – a light, flexible cylinder or cone mounted on a mast to show the direction and strength of the wind; often found at airfields
  • Windy – a lot of wind
  • Winter – the season of the year occurring between autumn and spring; characterized as having the coldest temperatures of the year
  • Earth – the third planet from the Sun
  • Evening / Night – the time that starts when the Sun goes down and ends when the Sun rises
  • Moon – a natural object that orbits a planet; Earth’s Moon is the only natural satellite and Earth’s nearest neighbor in space
  • Morning / Day – the time that starts when the Sun comes up and ends when the Sun goes down
  • Sky – the region of the atmosphere (and outer space) seen from the Earth
  • Star – an object in space made up of gas and giving off light and heat
  • Sun – a huge ball of gases around which the Earth and other planets of our solar system revolve; the Sun is a star that provides Earth with most of its light and heat energy
  • Sunrise – the rise of the sun above the horizon in the morning
  • Sunset – the time in the evening when the sun moves below the horizon and daylight fades
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2nd Grade

Unit 06: Patterns of Change: Weather- During this unit, students measure, record (using pictures and words), and graph weather information, including temperature, wind conditions, precipitation, and cloud coverage, in order to justify patterns in data. Experiences with graphing include pictographs and bar graphs. Students use appropriate weather instruments such as thermometers, wind vanes, and rain gauges to collect weather data. Additionally, students make weather predictions based on observable weather patterns. Finally, students identify what a scientist, such as a meteorologist, is and explore what meteorologists do. This unit adds to the foundation for careful observations and accurate recording of events in the natural world and provides students with experiences to make observations that will help them recognize patterns and changes over time.

Unit 07: Exploring the Water Cycle- During this unit, students explore the processes in the water cycle, including evaporation, condensation, and precipitation, as connected to weather conditions. As students make predictions based on observable patterns in weather and the water cycle, they learn to make connections between the two phenomena.

Unit 08: Patterns of Change: Observing the Sky- During this unit, students observe, describe, and record the changing pattern of the Moon and learn that this pattern cycles about every four weeks. In addition, students observe, describe, and record the changing pattern of stars. Students make predictions based on the observable patterns of the Moon and stars. Students continue to use the science notebook to record observations and data using pictures and words.

2nd Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Cloud – a mass of water droplets or ice crystals that have clumped together (condensed) in the atmosphere
  • Cloud cover – the amount of sky obscured (covered) by clouds
  • Evaporation – the process of changing from a liquid to a gas
  • Precipitation – water that falls to the Earth’s surface as rain, snow, sleet, or hail
  • Rain gauge – a tool for collecting and measuring the amount of precipitation that falls
  • Temperature – a way of measuring how hot or cold something is; temperature is measured using either the Fahrenheit (F) or Celsius (C) scale
  • Thermometer – a tool that measures temperature
  • Weather – the condition of the atmosphere at a place for a short period of time including humidity, cloud cover, temperature, wind, and precipitation
  • Wind conditions – how fast and in what direction the air is moving
  • Condensation – the process of changing from water vapor to a liquid by loss of heat
  • Evaporation – the process of changing from a liquid to water vapor by adding heat
  • Hail – pellets of frozen rain; a solid form of precipitation
  • Precipitation – water that falls to the Earth’s surface as rain, snow, sleet, or hail
  • Sleet – a mixture of rain and snow
  • Snow – water vapor frozen into ice crystals; fall from clouds as light white flakes
  • Temperature – a way of measuring how hot or cold something is; temperature is measured using either the Fahrenheit (F) or Celsius (C) scale.
  • Water cycle – the change of water from one state to another as it moves between Earth’s surfaces to the atmosphere
  • Water vapor – the gas state of water
  • Appearance – how something looks
  • Full Moon – as seen from Earth, all of the Moon appears to be fully lit (forming a complete circle of reflected light from the Sun)
  • Moon – a natural object that orbits a planet; the Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite and nearest neighbor in space
  • New Moon – as seen from Earth, none of the Moon appears to be lit (no light reflected from the Sun)
  • Star – an object in space made up of gas that gives off light and heat
  • Sun – a huge ball of gases around which the Earth and other planets of our solar system revolve; the Sun is a star that provides Earth with most of its light and heat ener

3rd Grade

Unit 05: Investigating the Natural World- During this unit, students build upon previous experiences with forces and properties of matter and apply those understandings to the study of the Earth as a system. Students learn about forces of nature that shape the physical features of the Earth. They examine changes due to rapid processes and slow processes. Rapid processes are those such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Slow processes are those such as the formation of soil. Students identify and compare landforms. In addition, students explore the properties of earth materials and learn to make informed choices in the use and conservation of natural resources by recycling or reusing materials such as paper, aluminum cans, and plastics.

Unit 06: Investigating the Solar System- During this unit, students identify the planets in Earth’s solar system and their position in relation to the Sun. Furthermore, students describe and illustrate the Sun as a star composed of gases that provides light and heat energy. Additionally, students construct models that demonstrate the relationship of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, including orbits and positions and identify their limitations, including size, properties and materials. Students continue to communicate valid conclusions supported by data in writing, by drawing pictures within the science notebook, and through verbal discussion. Students also connect grade-level appropriate science concepts with the history of space science, space science careers, and contributions of scientists in the field of space science.

3rd Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Decomposition – the process by which decomposers break down dead material and waste into simpler substances
  • Earthquake – shaking of the Earth that is caused by the release of energy stored in the outermost layer of the Earth
  • Erosion – the movement of weathered material by wind, water, or ice
  • Erupt – to suddenly become active through the release of lava, ash, and gases from a volcano
  • Geologist – a person who studies Earth’s rocks and minerals
  • Landform – a physical structure on Earth that occurs naturally
  • Landslide – large mass of soil and rock that suddenly moves down the side of a steep surface
  • Lava – molten (melted) rock that flows from inside the Earth onto Earth’s surface
  • Magma – molten (melted) rock below the Earth’s surface
  • Mineral – a natural Earth material having a crystal form and its own physical properties; occurs naturally in rocks and in the ground
  • Model – a picture, idea or object that represents an object, a system, or a process and is used to help with understanding; models have advantages and limitations
  • Natural resource – anything that people can use, such as minerals, water, plants, or soil, which comes from nature.
  • Organic matter – composed of once-living material
  • Soil – a mixture of rock and mineral particles, organic matter, water, and air that forms on Earth’s surface by weathering of rock and the decomposition of plant and animal remains
  • Volcano – an opening in the Earth’s surface through where lava can flow onto the surface during an eruption
  • Weathering – the breaking down and wearing away of rock (or other matter)
  • Limitations – a restriction or weakness
  • Model – a picture, idea, or object that represents an object, a system, or process and is used to help with understanding; models have advantages and limitations
  • Moon – a natural object that orbits a planet; Earth’s Moon is the only natural satellite and Earth’s nearest neighbor in space
  • Orbit – the path that one object in space takes around another object in space
  • Planet – a large object that orbits a star; the Earth, a planet, orbits the Sun, a star
  • Revolution (revolve) – one complete circle made by a planet or satellite around another object
  • Solar system – the Sun and all of the objects that move around it
  • Sun – a huge ball of gases around which the Earth and other planets of the solar system revolve; the Sun is a star that provides Earth with most of its light and heat energy
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4th Grade

Unit 05: Natural Resources- During this unit, students identify and classify the Earth’s renewable resources, including air, plants, water, and animals; and nonrenewable resources, including coal, oil, and natural gas; and the importance of conservation. Additionally, students make informed choices in the use and conservation of natural resources and reusing and recycling of materials such as paper, aluminum, glass, cans, and plastic. Students communicate valid, oral, and written results supported by data as well as construct charts to organize, examine and evaluate data. Students continue to demonstrate safe practices and the use of safety equipment as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations.

Unit 06: Patterns of the Earth- During this unit, students take their exploration of weather a step further than in Grade 3 by using the weather data that they gather and applying it to the reading and creating of weather maps. Students measure and record changes in weather and make predictions using weather maps, weather symbols, and a map key. Students also extend their exploration of the water cycle through describing and illustrating the continuous movement of water above and on the surface of the Earth and explain the role of the Sun as a major source of energy in this process. Students represent the natural world using models and identify their limitations, including accuracy and size. Furthermore, students collect and analyze data to identify sequences and predict patterns of change in shadows, tides, seasons, and the observable appearance of the Moon over time. They construct simple tables, charts, bar graphs, and maps using tools and current technology to organize, examine, and evaluate data. Students continue to analyze data and interpret patterns to construct reasonable explanations from data that can be observed and measured, and communicate valid, oral, and written results supported by data.

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4th Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Conservation – the protection, preservation, management, or restoration of natural resources
  • Conserve – to use wisely, without waste; protect from destruction
  • Fossil fuels – a fuel, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, formed in the geological past from the decayed remains of ancient organisms, such as plants and animals
  • Nonrenewable resource – natural resources that are used up at a rate faster than they can be replaced
  • Recycle – to process materials, such as paper, plastic, aluminum, steel, and glass so they can be used to make new items
  • Reduce – to use a smaller quantity
  • Renewable resource – natural resources that are constantly being recycled; an example of a renewable resource is water
  • Anemometer – a weather instrument that measures wind speed
  • Atmosphere – air that surrounds the Earth; made of a mixture of gases
  • Condensation – the process of changing from a gas to a liquid
  • Evaporation – the process of changing from a liquid to a gas
  • Front – a place where one air mass meets and pushes aside another air mass
  • High tide – change in the water level at the shoreline, at its highest level, caused by the combined effects of the gravitational pull by the Sun and the Moon
  • Low tide – change in the water level at the shoreline, at its lowest level, caused by the combined effects of the gravitational pull by the Sun and the Moon
  • Map key – an explanatory table of symbols used on a map or chart
  • Moon phases – the recurring appearance of the moon determined by the amount of reflected light from the Sun
  • Orbit – the path that one object in space takes around another object in space
  • Precipitation – water that falls to the Earth’s surface as rain, snow, sleet, or hail
  • Rain gauge – a tool for collecting and measuring the amount of precipitation that falls
  • Revolve – one complete orbit made by a planet or satellite around another object
  • Rotate – the spinning of an object on its axis
  • Seasons – one of the four periods of the year - spring, summer, autumn (fall), and winter; each season has different average temperatures, weather conditions, and lengths of daylight
  • Shadow – a dark area or shape produced by an object coming between rays of light and a surface
  • Tilt – a sloping position
  • Water accumulation – increasing water levels in ponds, lakes, streams and rivers, glaciers, snowpack, or water run-off
  • Weather symbol – a visual representation of a weather condition
  • Wind speed – how fast the air is moving; wind speed is commonly measured with an anemometer

5th Grade

Unit 07: Sun, Earth, and Moon Systems- During this unit, students identify and compare the physical characteristics of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Additionally, students demonstrate that Earth rotates on its axis once approximately every 24 hours causing the day / night cycle and the apparent movement of the Sun across the sky. Students collect data by observing and making accurate measurements and construct simple tables and charts to organize, examine, and evaluate the data. Furthermore, students analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations based on evidence. Students develop a model illustrating how Earth’s rotation causes the day / night cycle and the apparent movement of the Sun across the sky.

Unit 08: Patterns in the Natural World- During this unit, students differentiate between weather and climate. This is the first time students have been introduced to climate and the concept is not revisited until Grade 8. Furthermore, students explain how the Sun and the ocean interact in the water cycle. Students continue to collect information by detailed observations and accurate measuring. Finally, they organize, analyze, and interpret information in order to communicate valid conclusions.

Unit 09: Ecosystem Interactions- During this unit, students observe the way organisms live and survive in their ecosystem by interacting with the living and non-living elements. They draw or develop a model to describe how the flow of energy derived from the Sun, used by producers to create their own food, is transferred through a food chain and food web to consumers and decomposers. Students evaluate the accuracy of the information related to promotional materials for products such as nutritional labels. Additionally, students analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations about the effects of changes in ecosystems caused by living organisms, including humans, such as the overpopulation of grazers or the building of highways. Furthermore, students identify the significance of the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle to the survival of plants and animals. Students continue to demonstrate safe practices during investigations and utilize the science notebook to organize, examine, and evaluate information.

5th Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Atmosphere – the air that surrounds the Earth; it is made of a mixture of gases
  • Axis – imaginary line about which an object rotates
  • Composition – the combination of substances that make up a whole object
  • Orbit – the path that one object in space follows as it revolves around another object in space
  • Revolution – one orbit of an object, such as a planet or satellite, in space around another object in space
  • Rotation – the spinning of a planet, Moon, or other object on its axis
  • Atmosphere – the air that surrounds the Earth; it is made of a mixture of gases
  • Climate – general pattern of weather in an area over a long period of time [30 years or more (many decades)]
  • Condensation – the process of water changing from water vapor to a liquid by loss of heat (e.g., weather - water vapor forming clouds)
  • Evaporation –the process of water changing from a liquid to water vapor by adding heat (e.g., weather - water in oceans evaporating into the air)
  • Interact – acting in such a way so to have an effect on something else
  • Precipitation – water that falls to the Earth’s surface as rain, snow, sleet, or hail
  • Sun – a huge ball of gases around which the Earth and other planets of the solar system revolve; the Sun is a star that provides Earth with most of its light and heat energy
  • Water cycle – the change of water from one state to another as it moves between Earth’s surfaces to the atmosphere
  • Weather – day-to-day conditions of the atmosphere in an area; Weather has short-term variations (e.g., weather can change from minute-to-minute, day-to-day, or week-to-week)
  • Consumer – an organism that eats other organisms (plants and/or animals) for food
  • Decomposer – an organism that gets energy by feeding on dead materials and waste
  • Ecosystem – a unit consisting of living organisms and the environment that they live in
  • Food chain – a representation of the flow of energy from the sun through producers to consumers and decomposers in an ecosystem
  • Food web – representation of overlapping food chains in an ecosystem; includes the flow of energy from the sun through producers to consumers and decomposers through multiple pathways
  • Model – a picture, idea, or object that represents an object, a system, or process and is used to help with understanding; models have advantages and limitations
  • Organisms – a living thing that can function on its own
  • Overpopulation – having too many people or organisms in a particular area, straining available resources and impacting the environment
  • Producer – an organism that makes its own food (e.g. plants)

6th Grade

Unit 07: Force and Motion- During this unit, students build on previous knowledge to relate the law of conservation of energy, in terms of potential and kinetic energy, to the study of force and motion. Students compare and contrast kinetic and potential energy; investigate the effects of unbalanced forces on an object’s position, direction, and speed; calculate average speed; and measure and graph changes in motion including distance over time and speed over time. They construct and interpret graphs in terms of speed, direction, and position. Students also investigate how inclined planes and pulleys can be used to change the amount of force used to move an object. Students compare the forces needed to move objects with and without inclined planes and by using different types of pulleys. Students demonstrate safe practices as outlined in the Texas Safety Standards.

Unit 08: Solar System and Exploration- During this unit, students describe the physical properties, locations, and movements of the Sun, planets, Galilean moons, meteors, asteroids, and comets. Students construct models of the solar system in which a scale is used to represent the sizes of the objects and the distances between them. Students demonstrate an understanding of the role gravity plays in governing the motion of our solar system. Additionally, they explore the relationship between mass and gravitational attraction. Finally, students study the history of space exploration and make predictions about the future of space exploration.

6th Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Acceleration – change in an object’s motion (position, direction, speed); caused by unbalanced forces
  • Average speed – the total distance traveled by an object over a total amount of time
  • Balanced force – equal and opposite forces on an object that result in no change in position, direction, or motion
  • Constant speed – when an object’s speed remains unchanged
  • Displacement – how far an object has moved from its original position; the difference between the final and initial positions
  • Kinetic energy – energy of motion
  • Potential energy – stored energy of an object because of its position or shape
  • Unbalanced force – unequal forces on an object that may result in a change in position, direction, or motion
  • Gravity – force of attraction between two objects due to their masses
  • Model – a picture, idea, or object that represents an object, a system, or a process and is used to help with understanding; models have advantages and limitations
  • Orbit – the path that one object in space follows as it revolves around another object in space
  • Surface gravity – the force of gravity at the surface of the Earth or other celestial body

7th Grade

Unit 07: Structure and Function of Cells- During this unit, students further develop the concept that all living things are composed of cells and cells come from other cells by cell division (reproduction). Students differentiate between structure and function in plant and animal cell organelles through the use and development of models. They develop analogies of the structure and function of cell organelles to another system. Students demonstrate the ability to recognize levels of organization in plants and animals up to the organism level.

7th Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Cell – the basic unit of structure and function in living organisms
  • Cell membrane – regulates what goes into and out of the cell
  • Cell theory – all organisms are composed of one or more cells
  • Cell wall – gives structure to plant cells
  • Chloroplast – site of photosynthesis in plant cells
  • Cytoplasm – fluid that surrounds the organelles
  • Mitochondria – converts energy from food into energy a cell can use
  • Nucleus – controls functions of cells and contains genetic material
  • Organelle – differentiated structure within a cell that performs a specific function
  • Vacuole – storage area for cells; water storage in plants

8th Grade

Unit 08: Climatic Interactions- During this unit, students learn how the Sun provides energy that drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans producing winds and ocean currents, as well as addressing the role of oceans in the formation of weather systems. Students design, plan, and implement comparative investigations to enrich their understanding of convection and weather phenomenon. Students also identify how global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather using weather maps. Students use anemometers and are introduced to psychrometers. This is the first experience students have with ocean currents, such as Gyres. Additionally, this is the first time students revisit weather and interaction with the Sun since elementary grades.

Unit 09: Earth Cycles- During this unit, students describe cycles influenced by the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Students model how the rotation of the Earth causes day and night and the Earth’s tilt and revolution causes changes in seasons. Students demonstrate and predict the sequence of events in the lunar cycle in relationship to the positions of the Earth and Moon relative to the Sun. Additionally, they relate the position of the Moon and Sun, relative to the Earth, to their effect on ocean tides. Students develop the understanding that some cycles, such as day and night and, phases of the Moon, are evident only by viewing them from Earth. Manipulating models enables students to correct misconceptions about these cycles.

Unit 10: Light Years and Theories- During this unit, students model and describe how light years are used to measure distances and sizes in the universe. Students research how scientific data are used as evidence to develop scientific theories to describe the origin of the universe. They analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations. Additionally, students research the contributions of scientists related to the development of theories about the origin of the universe.

8th Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Air mass – a body of air that has about the same temperature and humidity throughout
  • Air pressure – a measure of the weight of the atmosphere on a given area of the surface of the Earth; barometric pressure
  • Anemometer – an instrument used to measure wind speed
  • Atmosphere – an envelope of mixed gases are held to the Earth by gravity; the most dense gases are near the surface of the Earth
  • Convection current –when temperature differences cause fluids to expand and move; the less dense areas continually rise, and the more dense areas continually sink creating a cyclical current
  • Coriolis effect – the effect of the Earth’s rotation on the path of air and water; causes the path to curve
  • Deep ocean currents – currents flowing far beneath the surface of the ocean; driven by density differences
  • El Niño – period during which surface waters in the Pacific are unusually warm; impacts temperature and rainfall in the U.S.
  • Humidity – amount of water vapor present in the air; relative humidity
  • Jet stream – narrow band of high speed wind high in the atmosphere; moves west to east in the Northern Hemisphere
  • La Niña – periods during which surface waters in the Pacific are unusually cool; impacts temperature and rainfall in the U.S.
  • Prevailing winds – global wind located at mid-latitude; mostly blows in one direction
  • Psychrometer – instrument used to measure humidity (moisture) in the air
  • Weather front – an area where two air masses with different temperatures and pressures meet

  • Axis – imaginary line about which an object rotates
  • Equinox two times in the year when the Sun crosses the celestial equator resulting in equal hours of day and night
  • Gravitational attraction – force of attraction between all masses in the universe, especially the attraction of the Earth's mass for bodies near its surface
  • Neap tide – occurs at the first and third (last) quarter Moon phases; the Sun is at a right angle to the Moon
  • Rotational axis – an imaginary line in which a three-dimensional object rotates around; the Earth spins on its axis
  • Solstice – two times in the year when the Sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon resulting in the shortest or longest days of the year
  • Spring tide – occurs at the full and new Moon phases; Earth, Moon, and Sun are in alignment pulling the water in the same direction
  • Tide – the rising and falling of the oceans due to the gravitational attraction of the Moon and Sun; usually occurs twice each day
  • Big Bang theory – a scientific theory concerning the early development and shape of the universe from a dense state which began and is still expanding
  • Light year – distance light can travel in a vacuum in one year; equal to approximately 9.5 X 1012 km
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Biology

Unit 08: Genetics and Heredity- During this unit, students learn about the regulation of gene expression and recognize that this expression is regulated by various mechanisms and at various stages in the protein synthesis pathway. They explore the importance of proteins in determining an organism's traits including growth, development, cellular function and structure. The relationship between cell differentiation and gene expression is examined. In this unit, students recognize the significance of meiosis and make predictions using Mendelian and non-Mendelian genetics. Students also recognize that disruptions of the cell cycle lead to diseases in the context of meiosis and the mechanics of genetics. Students also learn about the use of biotechnology to study genomes. Students analyze, evaluate, infer, and predict trends using data from various genetic combinations. Finally, students learn about the contributions of scientists, such as Gregor Mendel, to the field of genetics and recognize the advancements that have been made in this field in recent time.

Unit 09: Evolution- During this unit, students analyze evidence for evolution and scientific explanations of that evidence. They also analyze and evaluate the mechanism of natural selection and its results. Students analyze and evaluate the unity and diversity of life as explained by evolutionary theory. More specifically, students analyze and evaluate various aspects of this scientific theory including evolutionary mechanisms, common ancestry, fossil record, natural selection, adaptation and the development of diversity. Students develop a deeper understanding of scientific theories as well-established and highly reliable but subject to change as new evidence is discovered using advances in technology. Much of this unit is spent analyzing and evaluating data and information related to evolution. Students use data collected from investigations / simulations to make calculations and predictions regarding related concepts such as allele frequency and population size.

Biology Key Vocabulary

  • Allele – one or more forms of a gene
  • Cell differentiation – process in multicellular organisms in which a less-specialized cell acquires specific differences during development; acquisition of these differences is the result of gene expression
  • Gene – inheritable unit of information in DNA
  • Gene Expression – process by which information encoded in a gene is used to synthesize a functional gene product, such as a protein, which results in the phenotypic manifestation of the gene
  • Genome – the complete set of genetic material for an organism
  • Genotype – allele combination for a trait
  • Meiosis – a two-part cell division process in organisms that sexually reproduce, which results in gametes with one-half the number of chromosomes of the parent cell
  • Phenotype – an observable trait or characteristic
  • Punnett square – tool (model) used to indicate all possible genotypic outcomes of a particular cross or breeding experiment and to calculate genotypic and phenotypic probabilities in offspring
  • Adaptation – an inherited trait that increases an organism’s rate of survival in its current environment
  • Allele frequency – a measurement that determines how often the allele (gene variant) expression of a particular gene arises in a population and is an indication of genetic diversity within a species population; should be in close correlation with the laws of natural selection, where more favorable alleles should become more numerous in a population over time, or are present due to a niche environment where a particular allele would prove advantageous
  • Evolution – genetic change in a species over time
  • Evolutionary mechanisms – fundamental processes or natural phenomenon that are capable of altering gene frequency in populations and as a result are responsible for evolutionary change; these mechanisms include natural selection, mutations, gene flow, genetic drift, and recombination, etc.
  • Gene flow – movement of genes from one population to another
  • Genetic drift – random fluctuations of allele frequencies (numbers of gene variants) in a small population; takes place when the occurrence of alleles increases and / or decreases by random chance over time or from the chance disappearance of particular genes as individuals die or do not reproduce
  • Natural selection – the process by which organisms better suited to their environment survive and reproduce