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Natural Science - Year I

Unit 16: Reviewing Science Concepts

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Science Web Assignment for Unit 16

This Unit's Homework Page History Lecture Science Lecture Lab Parents' Notes

Science Lecture for Unit 16:
Science Concepts and Relationships

For Class

Clarifying Science Concepts

Testing your mastery objective or factual information about scientific topics usually takes two forms: vocabulary and application.

Responding to Questions about Science

You should be prepared to

  1. match a term to its definition or a definition to its term, e.g.:
    • the Pythagorean theorem allows us to calculate the lengths of the third side of a right triangle if we know the length of the other two sides.
    • a force exerts a push or pull on an object and changes its speed, direction, or both.
  2. use a theorem to calculate or predict an outcome, e.g.:
    • According to Aristotle's theory of the four kinds of matter, earth will sink below water because it is more drawn to the center (of the earth) than water is.
    • An object moving with constant velocity in a straight line has no net forces acting on it, since neither its speed nor its direction are changing.

Study suggestion: Try to outline the major points of each area below as you review by providing more details. The mathematics and matter topics are done at a high level for you as examples; you will need to add your own details to those and fill out the other topics , such as living matter, motion, force, weather, and astronomy.

  1. Definition, scope, and methods of science
    1. What methods set science apart from other forms of observation and research?
      1. What conditions are necessary for an individual to "do science"?
      2. Are conditions different for a society to "do science"?
      3. What is the function of experimentation?
      4. Is scientific observation limited to experimentation? If not, what other kinds of observation are allowed?
    2. Is the scope of science limited?
      1. What topics are appropriate to scientific methods of investigation and proof?
      2. How is modern science divided into topics?
  2. Mathematics in science
    1. Number representation
      1. Ancient number representations (counting numbers: Egypt, Babylon, Rome)
      2. Use of zero
      3. Scientific notation (e.g., 8.31 * 103 miles)
    2. Basic algebra
      1. Squares and square roots
      2. Pythagorean theorem
    3. Basic geometry
      1. Areas and volumes
      2. Triangle relationships
      3. Conic sections
  3. Matter takes up space (occupies volume) and has mass
    1. Characteristics of matter
      1. States of matter: solid, liquid, gas
      2. Mass, volume, and density (density = mass/volume)
      3. Malleability, ductility, conduction
    2. Elements
  4. Organisms (Living Matter)
    1. Plants
    2. Invertebrate animals
    3. Vertebrate animals
    4. Classification systems
  5. Motion
  6. Force
  7. Weather (meteorology)
    1. Sources of climate variation
      1. Variation of solar energy driving ocean and atmospheric currents across earth's surface: thermals, tropical, temperate, polar cells
      2. Surface directions of winds
      3. Air pressure: hot air less dense, rises vs. cold air more dense, sinks
      4. Causes of seasons in northern/southern hemispheres: differential heating due to curved surface of earth and tilt of rotational axis
      5. Causes of climate differences: altitude, proximity to water
    2. Precipitation and Storms
      1. Humidity
      2. Clouds: predicting weather from cloud formations and changes
      3. Precipitation: fog, rain, snow, sleet, hail
      4. Violent weather: thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes
  8. Astronomy

Science Essay Topics to Review

We looked at two kinds of ideas about science itself this fall: the content of scientific theories, and the formation and reception of scientific theories using scientific methods. As you review the topics above, think not only about how both past and current theories describe the behavior of a natural object, but also what evidence was used to support a theory and convince others to accept it.

The following are sample essay questions on scientific theories we have covered, with some suggestions on how to tackle the topic. These are suggestions only; you might come up with something equally good. Just be sure to ground your claims in concrete examples drawn from the material we covered.

At least one question on the exam will be drawn from this list.

  1. A fundamental principle of meteorology (weather science) states that air movements responsible for most phenomena on earth result from differences in the amount of energy reaching different parts of the earth. How does the earth's shape and motion in space affect the amount of energy available to heat air and water in different parts of the earth?
    • Consider both the changing distance of earth from the sun on its elliptical orbit, and the angle of the earth's surface at the poles and the equator to incoming sunlight. Which of these situations causes a greater difference in energy available to a square foot of surface area?
  2. We use the concepts of time and distance to describe movement. Using words and formulae, discuss the concepts of time, distance, velocity, and acceleration and show how they are related.
    • A good way to tackle this is to use an example, such as a car moving down the road, or someone walking.
    • Two formulae we discussed when talking about motion were velocity = distance/time and distance = 1/2 acceleration * time2.
  3. What are the primary criteria in creating a modern classification of living organisms? Show in outline form the main divisions of living things; your outline should be sufficiently detailed to show the four kinds of plants, and several examples of invertebrates and vertebrate animals.
    • Consider criteria such as structural differences (which plants have vascular systems? seeds? which animals have backbones? radial symmetry?), habitats, and life cycles. Why are some criteria more important than others in determining how to classify living things?
    • For extra credit, you might point out where modern criteria differ from that used by Aristotle and Theophrastus.
  4. The ancient world struggled to explain the motion of the stars, planets, sun, and moon. How does modern astronomical theory explain solar and lunar eclipses?
    • Consider the conditions under which an eclipse can occur, remembering that the orbit of the moon doesn't lie in the same plane as the orbit of the earth. For example, if a solar eclipse occurs at new moon, why don't we have a solar eclipse every new moon?
    • Use a diagram to show the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse.
    • Explain why a lunar eclipse lasts longer than a solar eclipse.
  5. How did ancient astronomical theories explain planetary motion?
    • Consider the daily east-to-west motion of the planets as well as the annual prograde and possibly retrograde motion of each planet. Also consider the differences between the motion of the inferior planets (Mercury and Venus) and the superior planets which are visible to the naked eye (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn).
    • Describe the motion of the planets according to Aristotle. Use diagrams to show the relationship of inner and outer spheres for each planet.
    • Describe the motion of the planets according to Ptolemy. Use diagrams to show the relationship of the planet to its epicycle and deferent circle.
    • Explain how each theory accounts for retrograde motion.

Study/Discussion Questions:

Further Study/On Your Own