In Physics, students conduct laboratory and field investigations, use scientific methods during investigations, and make informed decisions using critical thinking and scientific problem solving. Students study a variety of topics that include: laws of motion; changes within physical systems and conservation of energy and momentum; forces; thermodynamics; characteristics and behavior of waves; and atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics. Students who successfully complete Physics will acquire factual knowledge within a conceptual framework, practice experimental design and interpretation, work collaboratively with colleagues, and develop critical thinking skills.
Nature of science. Science, as defined by the National Academy of Sciences, is the "use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process." This vast body of changing and increasing knowledge is described by physical, mathematical, and conceptual models. Students should know that some questions are outside the realm of science because they deal with phenomena that are not scientifically testable.
Scientific inquiry. Scientific inquiry is the planned and deliberate investigation of the natural world. Scientific methods of investigation can be experimental, descriptive, or comparative. The method chosen should be appropriate to the question being asked.
Science and social ethics. Scientific decision making is a way of answering questions about the natural world. Students should be able to distinguish between scientific decision-making methods and ethical and social decisions that involve the application of scientific information.
Scientific systems. A system is a collection of cycles, structures, and processes that interact. All systems have basic properties that can be described in terms of space, time, energy, and matter. Change and constancy occur in systems as patterns and can be observed, measured, and modeled. These patterns help to make predictions that can be scientifically tested. Students should analyze a system in terms of its components and how these components relate to each other, to the whole, and to the external environment.