Taken from the South Carolina Department
of Education Website http://www.sctlc.com/sctlc/standards/sci_course.cfm and then edited by webmaster:
South Carolina Science Course Standards - Physical Science
I. Identify Questions and Concepts That Guide Scientific
A. Demonstrate an understanding of the process of developing
scientific hypotheses (e.g., formulate a testable hypothesis based on literature research and prior knowledge, select the
correct form for a hypothesis statement based on a given scenario).
B. Identify and select experimental variables (independent
and dependent) and devise methods for controlling relevant conditions.
II. Design and Conduct Investigations
A. Demonstrate an understanding of the process of testing
scientific hypotheses (e.g., design and conduct a scientific investigation based on the major concepts in the area being studied).
B. Select and use appropriate instruments to make the
observations necessary for the investigation, taking into consideration the limitations of the equipment.
C. Select the appropriate safety equipment needed to conduct
an investigation (e.g., goggles, aprons) and identify safety precautions for the handling of materials and equipment used
in an investigation.
D. Describe the proper response to emergency situations
in the laboratory.
E. Identify possible sources of procedural error (e.g.,
incorrect measurement) and identify appropriate methods of control (e.g., repeated trials, systematic manipulation of variables)
in an experimental design.
F. Organize and display data in useable and efficient
formats, such as tables, graphs, maps, cross sections, and mathematical expressions.
G. Draw conclusions based on qualitative and/or quantitative
H. Discuss the impact of sources of error on experiments.
I. Communicate and defend the scientific thinking that
has resulted in conclusions.
III. Use Technology and Mathematics to Improve Investigations
A. Select and use appropriate technologies (e.g., computers,
calculators, calculator-based laboratories [CBLs], electronic balances, calipers) to achieve appropriate precision and accuracy
of data collection, analysis, and display.
B. Discriminate between valid and questionable data.
C. Select and use mathematical formulas and calculations
to express and interpret laboratory measurements.
D. Demonstrate an understanding of trends and patterns
in data (e.g., calculate interpolated data points, predict extrapolated data points) and demonstrate the ability to interpret
E. Draw a “best fit” curve through data points
by using computer software and/or graphing calculators.
F. Calculate the slope of the curve and use correct units
for the value of the slope for linear relationships.
G. Perform dimensional analysis calculations.
H. Perform calculations using numbers expressed in scientific
IV. Formulate and Revise Scientific Explanations and Models
Using Logic and Evidence
A. Construct scientific explanations or models (physical,
conceptual, and mathematical) by using discussion, debate, logic, and experimental evidence.
B. Develop explanations and models that demonstrate scientific
C. Revise explanations or models.
V. Recognize and Analyze Alternative Explanations and
A. Compare current scientific models with experimental
B. Select and defend, on the basis of scientific criteria,
the most plausible explanation or model.
VI. Communicate and Defend a Scientific Argument
A. Develop a set of laboratory instructions that someone
else can follow.
B. Develop a presentation to communicate the process and
the conclusion of a scientific investigation.
VII. Understandings about Scientific Inquiry
A. Analyze how science and technology explain and predict
1. Defend the idea that conceptual principles and knowledge
guide scientific inquiry.
2. Discuss how the available body of scientific knowledge,
historical and current, influences the design, interpretation, and evaluations of investigations.
B. Discuss the reasons why scientists and engineers conduct
investigations and the methods they use to conduct these investigations.
C. Demonstrate and discuss the use of technology as a
method of enhancing data collection and data manipulation and of advancing the fields of science and technology.
D. Discuss how mathematics is important to scientific
E. Discuss why scientific models and explanations need
to be based on the available body of scientific knowledge.
F. Demonstrate the understanding that scientific explanations
must be logical, supported by the evidence, and open to revision.
I. Structure of Atoms
A. Matter is made of minute particles called atoms, and
atoms are composed of even smaller components. These components have measurable properties, such as mass and electrical charge.
Each atom has a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The electric force between the nucleus
and the electrons holds the atom together.
1. Trace the historical development of the model of the
atom, including the contributions of John Dalton, J. J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, and Neils Bohr.
2. Compare and contrast the component particles of the
B. The atom’s nucleus is composed of protons and
neutrons, which are much more massive than electrons. When an element has atoms that differ in the number of neutrons, these
atoms are called different isotopes of the element.
1. Trace the development of nuclear models including the
contributions of Marie and Pierre Curie, Lise Meitner, and Enrico Fermi.
2. Identify the charge, component particles, and mass
of the nucleus.
3. Recognize that elements exist as isotopes, which may
be stable or unstable (radioactive).
4. Demonstrate the understanding that the number of protons
identifies an element and is the same for all atoms of that element.
C. The nuclear forces that hold the nucleus of an atom
together, at nuclear distances, are usually stronger than the electric forces that would make it fly apart. Nuclear reactions
convert a fraction of the mass of interacting particles into energy, and they can release much greater amounts of energy than
atomic interactions. Fission is the splitting of a large nucleus into smaller pieces. Fusion is the joining of two nuclei
at extremely high temperature and pressure, and is the process responsible for the energy of the sun and other stars.
1. Compare and contrast fission and fusion reactions,
showing how they are processes that convert matter to energy.
2. Describe fusion as the process that fuels the sun and
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the consequences of
the development of nuclear applications such as the atomic bomb, nuclear power plants, and medical technologies.
II. Structure and Properties of Matter
A. Atoms interact with one another by transferring or
sharing electrons that are furthest from the nucleus. These outer electrons govern the chemical properties of the element.
1. Determine the charge a representative element will
acquire based on its outer electron arrangement.
B. An element is composed of a single type of atom. When
elements are listed in order according to the number of protons (called the atomic number), repeating patterns of physical
and chemical properties identify families of elements with similar properties. This “Periodic Table” is a consequence
of the repeating pattern of outermost electrons and their permitted energies.
1. Trace the historical development of the periodic table
including the contribution of Dmitri Mendeleev.
2. Explain the arrangement of elements within a group
on the periodic table based on similar physical and chemical properties.
3. Explain that property trends on the periodic table
are a function of the elements’ atomic structures.
4. Determine atomic number, mass number, the number of
protons, the number of neutrons, and the number of electrons for given isotopes of elements using the periodic table.
C. Bonds between atoms are created when electrons are
paired up by being transferred or shared. A substance composed of a single kind of atom is called an element. The atoms may
be bonded together into molecules or crystalline solids. A compound is formed when two or more kinds of atoms bind together
1. Compare and contrast elements and compounds.
2. Classify compounds as being ionic or covalent on the
basis of the transferring or sharing of outer electrons.
3. Determine the ratio by which elements combine to form
ionic compounds and express that ratio in a chemical formula.
D. The physical properties of a compound reflect the nature
of the interactions among its molecules. These interactions are determined by the structure of the molecule, including the
constituent atoms and the distances and angles between them.
1. Relate the physical properties (e.g., boiling point,
melting point, conductivity) of compounds to their ionic or covalent bonding.
2. Identify factors that affect the rates at which substances
3. Compare the ratios of solute to solvent in concentrated
and dilute solutions in relation to the physical properties of the solution (e.g., conductivity, melting point depression).
4. Analyze the behavior of polar and nonpolar substances
in forming solutions.
E. Solids, liquids, and gases differ in the distances
and angles between molecules or atoms and therefore the energy that binds them together. In solids the structure is nearly
rigid; in liquids molecules or atoms move around each other but do not move apart; and in gases molecules or atoms move almost
independently of each other and are mostly far apart.
1. Compare and contrast solids, liquids, and gases in
terms of particle arrangement and the energy that binds them together.
F. Carbon atoms can bond to one another in chains, rings,
and branching networks to form a variety of structures, including synthetic polymers, oils, and the large molecules essential
1. Demonstrate an understanding of how carbon atoms bond
to one another as simple hydrocarbons.
2. Describe the formation of polymers.
3. Discuss the importance of polymers as biological compounds
such as proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.
4. Determine the uses of polymers in everyday life.
III. Chemical Reactions
A. Chemical reactions occur all around us, for example
in health care, cooking, cosmetics, and automobiles. Complex chemical reactions involving carbon-based molecules take place
constantly in every cell in our bodies.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the process of rusting
in terms of electron transfer (e.g., determine the number of electrons lost or gained, write and balance chemical equation
for rusting, discuss the economic impact of rusting).
2. Demonstrate an understanding of how metabolism is an
inter-related collection of chemical reactions.
a. Demonstrate the understanding that food is composed
partially of large complex molecules that are broken down into simpler molecules.
b. Analyze how these simpler molecules are rearranged
into new molecules within living things.
3. Explain the sources and environmental effects of some
inorganic and organic toxic substances, such as heavy metals and PCBs.
B. Chemical reactions may release or consume energy. Some
reactions such as the burning of fossil fuels release large amounts of energy by losing heat and by emitting light. Light
can initiate many chemical reactions such as photosynthesis and the evolution of urban smog.
1. Investigate and provide evidence of a chemical change
by recording systematic observations, such as change in color, odor, and temperature for various chemical reactions.
2. Recognize balanced chemical equations.
3. Classify reactions as energy-absorbing (endothermic)
or energy-releasing (exothermic) on the basis of temperature measurements.
4. Conclude from experimental evidence, based on mass
measurements, that mass is neither created nor destroyed during ordinary chemical reactions (e.g., balance simple synthesis
and decomposition equations, conduct mass measurements before and after reactions).
C. A large number of important reactions involve the transfer
of either electrons (oxidation/reduction) or hydrogen ions (acid/base reactions) between reaction ions, molecules, or atoms.
In other reactions, chemical bonds are broken by heat or light to form very reactive radicals with electrons ready to form
new bonds. Radical reactions control many processes such as the presence of ozone and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
burning and processing of fossil fuels, the formation of polymers, and explosions.
1. Differentiate between acids and bases.
a. Identify the physical and chemical characteristics
of acids and bases, including their formulas, reactions with metals, and pH.
b. Determine the pH ranges and strengths of acidic, basic,
and neutral solutions using appropriate instruments and indicators (e.g., pH meters, CBL probes, universal indicators).
c. Explain how acid rain is formed and discuss its effects
on the environment.
d. Demonstrate an understanding of the significance of
pH as related to consumer products.
D. Chemical reactions can take place in time periods ranging
from the few femtoseconds (10–15 seconds) required for an atom to move a fraction of a
chemical bond distance to geologic time scales of billions of years. Reaction rates depend on how often the reacting atoms
and molecules encounter one another, on the temperature, and on the properties—including shape—of the reacting
species. Catalysts, such as metal surfaces, accelerate chemical reactions. Chemical reactions in living systems are catalyzed
by protein molecules called enzymes.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of how reaction rates
are a function of the collisions among particles (i.e., effects of temperature, particle size, stirring, concentration on
reaction rates; and the effects of catalysts on reaction rates).
2. Apply reaction rate concepts to real-life applications
such as food spoilage, storage of film and batteries, digestive aids, and catalytic converters.
I. Motions and Forces
A. Objects change their motion only when a net force is
applied. Laws of motion are used to calculate precisely the effects of forces on the motion of objects. The magnitude of the
change in motion can be calculated using the relationship F = ma, which is independent of the nature of the force. Whenever
one object exerts force on another, a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction is exerted on the first object.
1. Trace the historical development of the understanding
of forces, including the contributions of Galileo, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles-Augustin de Coulomb.
2. Predict the motion of an object in terms of Newton’s
first law (inertia). (107)(105) Identify and investigate the factors that affect acceleration in terms of Newton’s second
law (F = ma).
3. Identify and investigate the factors that affect acceleration
in terms of Newton’s second law (F = ma).
4. Evaluate the effects of action/reaction in terms of
Newton’s third law.
5. Generate and interpret graphs of linear motion.
6. Cite examples of Newton’s laws that are common
in everyday life (e.g., using seat belts, diving from a boat, pushing a swing).
B. Gravitation is a universal force that each mass exerts
on any other mass. The strength of the gravitational attractive force between two masses is proportional to the masses and
inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
1. Describe changes in gravitational attraction in terms
of changes in distances between masses and in terms of changes in the masses.
C. The electric force is a universal force that exists
between any two charged objects. Opposite charges attract while like charges repel. The strength of the force is proportional
to the charges, and, as with gravitation, inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Between any two
charged particles, electric force is vastly greater than the gravitational force. Most observable forces such as those exerted
by a coiled spring or friction may be traced to electric forces acting between atoms and molecules.
1. Demonstrate the interactions of like and unlike charges
by examining changes in electrostatic attraction in terms of changes in distance between two point charges.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the production and
effects of static electricity (e.g., its role in disruptions and damage to electrical devices, destruction of property and
life, everyday annoyances such as static cling).
D. Electricity and magnetism are two aspects of a single
electromagnetic force. Moving electric charges produce magnetic forces, and moving magnets produce electric forces. These
effects help students to understand electric motors and generators.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between
electricity and magnetism (e.g., describe how moving electrical charges produce magnetic fields, describe how moving magnets
produce electrical fields).
2. Examine the effects of the advent of electricity on
individuals and society.
E. Analyze electrical circuits that obey Ohm’s Law.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of simple series and parallel
circuits (e.g., construct, compare, contrast, and schematically diagram simple series and parallel circuits).
2. Describe the meaning of voltage and amperage.
3. Perform calculations using Ohm’s Law.
4. Explain how fuses, surge protectors, and breakers function.
II. Conservation of Energy and the Increase in Disorder
A. The total energy of the universe is constant. Energy
can be transferred by collisions in chemical and nuclear reactions, by light waves and other radiations, and in many other
ways. However, it can never be destroyed. As these transfers occur, the matter involved becomes steadily less ordered.
1. Analyze transformations between potential and kinetic
2. Analyze transformations among other forms of energy
such as heat, light, and sound, and mechanical, electrical, and chemical energy.
3. State and apply quantitative relationships among energy,
work, power, and efficiency.
4. Understand and apply the principles of mechanical advantage
(e.g., contrast the two forces and two distances that produce mechanical advantage when a machine is used to produce work).
B. All energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy,
which is the energy of motion; potential energy, which depends on relative position; or energy contained by a field, such
as electromagnetic waves.
1. Classify energy types as potential, kinetic, or electromagnetic.
C. Heat consists of random motion and the vibrations of
atoms, molecules, and ions. The higher the temperature, the greater the atomic or molecular motion.
1. Predict and measure the effects of varying the temperature,
pressure, and volume of gases (e.g., balloon studies, the bends in divers, and the hazards of handling and storing pressurized
2. Describe particle motion and distance as the phase
changes from liquid to solid to gas.
D. Everything tends to become less organized and less
orderly over time. Thus, in all energy transfers, the overall effect is that the energy is spread out uniformly. Examples
are the transfer of energy from hotter to cooler objects by conduction, radiation, or convection and the warming of our surroundings
when we burn fuels.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the transfer of energy
from hotter to cooler objects by conduction, radiation, and convection.
2. Compare and contrast the environmental impact of power
plants that use fossil fuels, water, or nuclear energy to produce electricity.
III. Interactions of Energy and Matter
A. Waves, including sound and seismic waves, waves on
water, and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter.
1. Identify and show relationships among wave characteristics
such as velocity, period, frequency, amplitude, and wavelength using formula.
2. Compare and contrast models of longitudinal waves (e.g.,
sound waves, seismic waves) and transverse waves (e.g., electromagnetic waves, water waves).
3. Distinguish among the electromagnetic spectrum, seismic
waves, water waves, and sound waves on the basis of their properties and behaviors.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of factors affecting wave
energy (wavelength, amplitude, and frequency) and its effects on everyday life (e.g., health issues, medical diagnostics and
B. Electromagnetic waves result when a charged object
is accelerated or decelerated. Electromagnetic waves include radio waves (the longest wavelength), microwaves, infrared radiation
(radiant heat), visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays. The energy of electromagnetic waves is carried
in packets whose magnitude is inversely proportional to the wavelength.
1. Compare and contrast the parts of the electromagnetic
spectrum in terms of velocity, wavelength, frequency, and energy using formula.
C. Each kind of atom or molecule can gain or lose energy
only in particular discrete amounts and thus can absorb and emit light only at wavelengths corresponding to these amounts.
These wavelengths can be used to identify the substance.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of how the releasing of
energy by electrons produces light (e.g., fireworks, neon lights, florescent lights, halogen lights).
D. In some materials, such as metals, electrons flow easily,
whereas in insulating materials such as glass they can hardly flow at all. Semiconducting materials have intermediate behavior.
At low temperatures some materials become superconductors and offer no resistance to the flow of electrons.
1. Understand and compare the functions of insulators,
conductors, and semiconductors.
2. Evaluate the impact of the miniaturization of electric
circuits upon individuals and society.