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Virtual Physical Science Textbook

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Physical Science Synopsis

Phys-Sci Topic 10 – Student Expectations

Students are expected to follow course guidelines and actively participate in assigned work. Appropriate classroom decorum, reasonably focused effort, and combinations of individual-work and team-collaborations are important aspects of this curriculum. (topic)

The Big Picture

Phys-Sci Topic 11 – Welcome to Physical Science

Physical science includes the natural sciences concerned with the study of inanimate natural objects, including physics, chemistry, earth science, astronomy, and related subjects. Physical science is the scientific study of non-living things. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 12 – Introduction to Matter
Matter is described as “physical substance in general”, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) matter is that which occupies space and has mass. Matter is distinct from energy. (topic)
Phys-Sci Topic 13 – States of Matter

In physics, a state of matter is one of the distinct forms in which matter can exist. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. (topic)

Chemistry Basics

Phys-Sci Topic 14 – Atoms

Atoms are the basic unit of a chemical element. An atom a fundamental piece of matter. (Matter is anything that can be touched physically.) Everything in the universe (except energy) is made of matter, and, so, everything in the universe is made of atoms. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 15 – The Periodic Table

The periodic table is a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, ordered by their atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties, whose structure shows periodic trends. The periodic table is an arrangement of the elements in order of their atomic numbers so that elements with similar properties appear in the same vertical column or group. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 16 – The Structure of Matter

Atoms are made from a nucleus of protons and neutrons and a cloud of electrons. Electrons are in constant motion around the nucleus, while the protons and neutrons move within the nucleus. Neutrons and protons are each composed of three quarks. This introductory topic doesn’t dwell on “quarks” – but some students may want to pursue this subject area in the student-selected topics provided later. (topic)

Chemistry Concepts

Phys-Sci Topic 17 – Chemical Reactions

Chemical reactions are a process. These reactions involve rearrangement of the molecular or ionic structure of a substance. Chemical reactions are in contrast to a change in physical form (such as liquid water into ice), or a nuclear reaction. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 18 – Solutions

In chemistry, a solution is a special type of homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances. In such a mixture, a solute is a substance dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The word “homogeneous” means “consisting of parts all of the same kind.” (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 19 – Acids, Bases and Salts

Acids and bases are all around us, including a diverse array of food, drink and domestic products, providing many opportunities to explore real contexts and applications of chemistry. Note though, the over-exaggerated portrayal of acids in the media (like movies and TV shows) can be unhelpful. While acids often are highly corrosive substances that ‘eat away’ materials in their path – some bases are even more corrosive. But, bases don’t share the reputation of their acidic counterparts in movies (for example). Further – salt is more than just table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) used for food. Salt is any chemical compound formed from the reaction of an acid with a base. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 21 – Nuclear Changes

Nuclear change is distinct from chemical change (described in physical science topic 17 on this site). In a nuclear change the elements can change from one to another. An example of this is our own Sun. The Sun generates its energy by nuclear fusion changing hydrogen nuclei into helium. Nuclei can also break apart to form smaller elements (called fission). Nuclei can fuse together to make heavier elements. Neutrons can turn into protons and protons into neutrons. (topic)

Physics Basics

Phys-Sci Topic 22 – Introduction to Motion

The physics of motion is all about forces. Forces need to act upon an object to get it moving, or to change its motion. Physical scientists (called physicists) use some basic terms when they look at motion. For example, how fast an object moves, its speed or velocity, can be influenced by forces. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 23 – Force and Motion

Forces are a push or pull on an object. Forces can be due to phenomena such as gravity, magnetism, or anything that might cause a mass to accelerate. In physics, a force is any interaction that, when unopposed, will change the motion of an object. (topic)

Physics Concepts

Phys-Sci Topic 24 – Work and Energy I

Work is done when a force that is applied to an object moves that object. The work is calculated by multiplying the force by the amount of movement of an object (W = F * d). (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 25 – Work and Energy II

It is important to use units of measure when performing work in science. In the United States, we use the Imperial System for day-to-day conversation. But in science, the SI system is used. As an example, a Newton is a unit of force, like a pound. Newton’s are a measure of force. Another important unit of measure is the Joule. Joules are a measure of energy (or work). (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 26 – Heat and Temperature

Often we think that heat and temperature are the same thing. However, this is not the case. Heat and temperature are related to each other, but are different concepts. Heat is the total energy of molecular motion in a substance. Temperature is a measure of the average energy of molecular motion in a substance. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 27 – Waves

In physics, a wave is a disturbance that travels through space and matter transferring energy from one place to another. When studying waves it’s important to remember that they transfer energy, not matter. Sound and light travel in waves. Sound waves and light waves are similar in some ways – but there are differences too. (topic)

Mid Year

Phys-Sci Topic 28 – Student Selected Topic

This mid-year topic provides students an opportunity to further explore a physical science concept they are interested in. This might require quite a bit of work – but it can also be very interesting. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 29 – Mid-Year Capstone

A lot of science has been covered up to this point. Students have been presented with chemistry and physics topics. Many of these concepts are observable through phenomena in our day-to-day lives. Other concepts are less-easy to directly observe. Also, new words, new units of measure, and connections between physical science and other subjects have been introduced. The mid-year capstone helps students reflect on what they have accomplished so far. (topic)

Second Half Kick Off

Phys-Sci Topic 30 – Student Expectations

This topic is optional for many classrooms. Even so, it is important for students to recognize the importance of attentiveness, participation, kindness, and clarity when communicating. This “second-half” kick-off affords instructors and students an opportunity to start off the next set of topics well. (topic)

Sound and Light

Phys-Sci Topic 31 – Sound and Light I

One  important difference between sound and light is that sound can only travel through a solid, liquid or gas. Sound can not travel through a vacuum. For example, sound can not travel through outer space. Light on the other hand, can travel through a vacuum. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 32 – Sound and Light II

Light and sound can be reflected and refracted, just like water waves. Light and sound can also be diffracted, just like water waves, but diffraction in light is less obvious than in sound. Light and sound both travel in waves, but not of the same type. Visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and can therefore travel through a vacuum.Sound propagates as a longitudinal wave, and needs a medium (e.g. air) to travel through. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 33 – Sound and Light III

This topic diverges from the examination of light and sound as a natural science. Instead, light and sound are examined through a “social science” lens. How might “light pollution” impact people living in large cities? How do light and sound affect our emotions and well-being? Have you ever considered there are lighting professionals that make use of light theory and “visual dynamics” ideas? How about in sales and marketing? How might a marketing pro use light, color, sound and music to do their job? (topic)

Electricity and Magnetism

Phys-Sci Topic 34 – Electricity

Electricity is the movement of electrons. This topic reviews similarities and differences of static electricity, mechanically generated electricity, and chemically generated electricity. All three types represent the movement of electrons. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 35 – Magnetism

In physics, magnetism is a force that can attract (pull closer) or repel (push away) objects that have a magnetic material like iron inside them (magnetic objects). Magnetism is a property of certain substances which pull closer or repel other objects.  Magnetism is caused by the motion of electric charges.  (topic)

Student Interests

Phys-Sci Topic 36 – Student Selected Topic

This topic, and the following topic, are set aside for students to pursue one or more areas of interest – to “dive deep” into a physics, chemistry, or earth science topic. Alternatively, the instructor may identify the need to present one or more of the general science techniques, a 21st Century skill, or a selection of science activities available through this site. Lab techniques, a hands-on lab, focus on “math-chops” – or another area may deserve attention. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 37 – Student Selected Topic

This topic, and previous topic, are set aside for students to pursue one or more areas of interest – to “dive deep” into a physics, chemistry, or earth science topic. Alternatively, the instructor may identify the need to present one or more of the general science techniques, a 21st Century skill, or a selection of science activities available through this site. Lab techniques, a hands-on lab, focus on “math-chops” – or another area may deserve attention. (topic)

Natural Resources and Climate

Phys-Sci Topic 38 – Using Natural Resources I

Natural resources are materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain. Natural resources are resources that exist without actions of humankind. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 39 – Using Natural Resources II

Some natural resources are of these are renewable and some are non-renewable. Natural resources such as coal, petroleum (crude oil) and natural gas take thousands of years to form naturally and cannot be replaced as fast as they are being consumed. A  renewable resource is a resource which can be used repeatedly and replaced naturally. Examples include oxygen, fresh water, solar energy and biomass. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 41 – Climate and Climate Change

Climate is the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period. Climate and weather are not the same thing. Weather is what the forecasters on the TV news predict each day. They tell people about the temperature, cloudiness, humidity, and whether a storm is likely in the next few days. In contrast, climate is the average weather in a place over many years. (topic)

Earth and Space

Phys-Sci Topic 42 – Planet Earth I

Earth, our home, is the third planet from the sun. It is the only planet known to have an atmosphere containing free oxygen, oceans of liquid water on its surface, and, of course, life. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 43 – Planet Earth II

Earth is the fifth largest of the planets in the solar system — smaller than the four gas giants,Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, but larger than the three other rocky planets, Mercury, Mars and Venus. Earth has a diameter of roughly 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers), and is round because gravity pulls matter into a ball, although it is not perfectly round, instead being more of an “oblate spheroid” whose spin causes it to be squashed at its poles and swollen at the equator. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 44 – The Solar System I

The solar system is made up of the sun and everything that orbits around it. This includes planets, moons, asteroids, comets and meteoroids. Something many adults don’t know is that our solar system is the ONLY solar system. Everything else is called a stellar system or star system. Sometimes we call other star systems a “solar system” … but, really they should be called a star system. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 45 – The Solar System II

The Solar System was formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago and consists of the Sun, planets, dwarf planets and other astronomical objects bound in its orbit. 99.86% of the system’s mass is found in the Sun and the majority of the remaining 0.14% is contained within the solar system’s eight planets. Other objects of note in the Solar System are the dwarf planets (Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake & Eris), moons, asteroids, the asteroid belt, comets and the Kuiper belt. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 46 – The Universe I

The universe is all existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos. The universe is believed to be at least 10 billion light years in diameter and contains a vast number of galaxies; it has been expanding since its creation in the Big Bang about 13 billion years ago. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 47 – The Universe II

The light-year is a unit of length used to express astronomical distances. It is about 9.5 trillion kilometres or 5.9 trillion miles. As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in vacuum in one Julian year (365.25 days). It is difficult to grasp the magnitude and expanse of our known universe. Understanding the hugeness of the universe is helped by understanding the concept of a light year. (topic)

Year-End Review

Phys-Sci Topic 48 – End of Year Summary

The definition of physical science is the study of non-living things including: chemistry, geology, astronomy and physics. This course has introduced and reinforced concepts of matter, electricity, energy, light and sound, Earth as a planet, our Solar System, and the known universe. It’s a lot! This topic “end-of-year summary” takes pause and a look-back. Students should be proud of themselves regarding the number of science subjects they have encountered. (topic)

Phys-Sci Topic 49 – End of Year Test

Exams are very important for several reasons. Through tests and exams, students can measure their grasp and knowledge of a given subject. Exams can play a major role in providing necessary qualities in life such as hard work, patience, creativeness and leadership.  (topic)

This web site provides free-to-use science curriculum for high school teachers, students, and parent-guardians. Quickly scan available topics for biology, chemistry, earth science, physical science. Discover more about John Honeycutt, creator of Honeycutt Science.


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