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List of Benchmarks for Science

Standard 3.Understands the composition and structure of the universe and the Earth's place in it
  Level Pre-K (Grade Pre-K)
   1. Knows vocabulary (e.g., clouds, Sun, moon) used to describe major features of the sky
  Level I (Grade K-2)
   1. Knows basic patterns of the Sun and Moon (e.g., the Sun appears every day and the Moon appears sometimes at night and sometimes during the day; the Sun and Moon appear to move from east to west across the sky; the Moon appears to change shape over the course of a month; the Sun’s position in the sky changes through the seasons)  A 
   2. Knows that the stars are innumerable, unevenly dispersed, and of unequal brightness
  Level II (Grade 3-5)
   1. Knows that night and day are caused by the Earth’s rotation on its axis
   2. Knows that the Earth is one of several planets that orbit the Sun and that the Moon orbits the Earth  A 
   3. Knows that the patterns of stars in the sky stay the same, although they appear to slowly move from east to west across the sky nightly and different stars can be seen in different seasons
   4. Knows that planets look like stars, but over time they appear to wander among the constellations
   5. Knows that astronomical objects in space are massive in size and are separated from one another by vast distances (e.g., many stars are more massive than our Sun but so distant they look like points of light)  A 
   6. Knows that telescopes magnify distant objects in the sky (e.g., the Moon, planets) and dramatically increase the number of stars we can see
  Level III (Grade 6-8)
   1. Knows characteristics and movement patterns of the planets in our Solar System (e.g., planets differ in size, composition, and surface features; planets move around the Sun in elliptical orbits; some planets have moons, rings of particles, and other satellites orbiting them)  A 
   2. Knows how the regular and predictable motions of the Earth and Moon explain phenomena on Earth (e.g., the day, the year, phases of the Moon, eclipses, tides, shadows)  A 
   3. Knows characteristics of the Sun and its position in the universe (e.g., the Sun is a medium-sized star; it is the closest star to Earth; it is the central and largest body in the Solar System; it is located at the edge of a disk-shaped galaxy)  A 
   4. Knows that gravitational force keeps planets in orbit around the Sun and moons in orbit around the planets
   5. Knows characteristics and movement patterns of asteroids, comets, and meteors  A 
   6. Knows that the universe consists of many billions of galaxies (each containing many billions of stars) and that incomprehensible distances (measured in light years) separate these galaxies and stars from one another and from the Earth
   7. Knows that the Earth is distinguished from other known celestial bodies in that it is the only planet known to harbor life although similar planets might yet be discovered in the universe
  Level IV (Grade 9-12)
   1. Knows that although the origin of the universe remains one of the greatest questions in science, current scientific evidence supports the Big Bang theory, which states that between 10 and 20 billion years ago, the entire contents of the universe expanded explosively into existence from a single, hot, dense chaotic mass; our Solar System formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas about 4.6 billion years ago
   2. Knows that evidence suggests that our universe is expanding (e.g., the Doppler shift of light from distant galaxies reaching telescopes on Earth suggests that galaxies are moving away from the Earth and provides support for the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe)  A 
   3. Knows the ongoing processes involved in star formation and destruction (e.g., stars condense by gravity out of clouds of molecules of the lightest elements; nuclear fusion of light elements into heavier ones occurs in the stars’ extremely hot, dense cores, releasing great amounts of energy; some stars eventually explode, producing clouds of material from which new stars and planets condense)  A 
   4. Knows common characteristics of stars in the universe (e.g., types of stars include red and blue giants, white dwarfs, neutron stars; stars differ in size, temperature, and age, but they all appear to be made up of the same elements and to behave according to the same principles; most stars exist in systems of two or more stars orbiting around a common point)  A 
   5. Knows ways in which technology has increased our understanding of the universe (e.g., visual, radio, and x-ray telescopes collect information about the universe from electromagnetic waves; space probes gather information from distant parts of the Solar System; mathematical models and computer simulations are used to study evidence from many sources in order to form a scientific account of events in the universe)

 A  = Assessment items available