Minnesota Science Learning Standards — Grade 12

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Explain the implications of the assumption that the rules of the universe are the same everywhere and these rules can be discovered by careful and systematic investigation.

Understand that scientists conduct investigations for a variety of reasons, including: to discover new aspects of the natural world, to explain observed phenomena, to test the conclusions of prior investigations, or to test the predictions of current theories.

Explain how the traditions and norms of science define the bounds of professional scientific practice and reveal instances of scientific error or misconduct. For example: The use of peer review, publications and presentations.

Explain how societal and scientific ethics impact research practices. For example: Research involving human subjects may be conducted only with the informed consent of the subjects.

Identify sources of bias and explain how bias might influence the direction of research and the interpretation of data. For example: How funding of research can influence questions studied, procedures used, analysis of data, and communication of results.

Describe how changes in scientific knowledge generally occur in incremental steps that include and build on earlier knowledge.

Explain how scientific and technological innovations-as well as new evidence-can challenge portions of, or entire accepted theories and models including, but not limited to: cell theory, atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of disease, and the big bang theory.

Formulate a testable hypothesis, design and conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis, analyze the data, consider alternative explanations, and draw conclusions supported by evidence from the investigation.

Evaluate the explanations proposed by others by examining and comparing evidence, identifying faulty reasoning, pointing out statements that go beyond the scientifically acceptable evidence, and suggesting alternative scientific explanations.

Identify the critical assumptions and logic used in a line of reasoning to judge the validity of a claim.

Use primary sources or scientific writings to identify and explain how different types of questions and their associated methodologies are used by scientists for investigations in different disciplines..

Understand that engineering designs and products are often continually checked and critiqued for alternatives, risks, costs and benefits, so that subsequent designs are refined and improved. For example: If the price of an essential raw material changes, the product design may need to be changed.

Recognize that risk analysis is used to determine the potential positive and negative consequences of using a new technology or design, including the evaluation of causes and effects of failures. For example: Risks and benefits associated with using lithium batteries.

Explain and give examples of how, in the design of a device, engineers consider how it is to be manufactured, operated, maintained, replaced and disposed of.

Identify a problem and the associated constraints on possible design solutions. For example: Constraints can include time, money, scientific knowledge and available technology.

Develop possible solutions to an engineering problem and evaluate them using conceptual, physical and mathematical models to determine the extent to which the solutions meet the design specifications. For example: Develop a prototype to test the quality, efficiency and productivitiy of a product.

Describe a system, including specifications of boundaries and subsystems, relationships to other systems, and identification of inputs and expected outputs. For example: A power plant or ecosystem.

Identify properties of a system that are different from those of its parts but appear because of the interaction of those parts.

Describe how positive and/or negative feedback occur in systems. For example: The greenhouse effect

Provide examples of how diverse cultures, including natives from all of the Americas, have contributed scientific and mathematical ideas and technological inventions. For example: Native American understanding of ecology; Lisa Meitner's contribution to understanding radioactivity; Tesla's ideas and inventions relating to electricity; Watson, Crick and Franklin's discovery of the structure of DNA; or how George Washington Carver's ideas changed land use.

Analyze possible careers in science and engineering in terms of education requirements, working practices and rewards.

Describe how values and constraints affect science and engineering.For example: Economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health, safety, and sustainability issues.

Communicate, justify, and defend the procedures and results of a scientific inquiry or engineering design project using verbal, graphic, quantitative, virtual, or written means.

Describe how scientific investigations and engineering processes require multi-disciplinary contributions and efforts.For example: Nanotechnology, climate change, agriculture, or biotechnology.

Describe how technological problems and advances often create a demand for new scientific knowledge, improved mathematics, and new technologies.

Determine and use appropriate safety procedures, tools, computers and measurement instruments in science and engineering contexts. For example: Consideration of chemical and biological hazards in the lab.

Select and use appropriate numeric, symbolic, pictorial, or graphical representation to communicate scientific ideas, procedures and experimental results.

Relate the reliability of data to consistency of results, identify sources of error, and suggest ways to improve the data collection and analysis. For example: Use statistical analysis or error analysis to make judgments about the validity of results

Demonstrate how unit consistency and dimensional analysis can guide the calculation of quantitative solutions and verification of results.

Analyze the strengths and limitations of physical, conceptual, mathematical and computer models used by scientists and engineers.

Describe the relative charges, masses, and locations of the protons, neutrons, and electrons in an atom of an element.

Describe how experimental evidence led Dalton, Rutherford, Thompson, Chadwick and Bohr to develop increasingly accurate models of the atom.

Explain the arrangement of the elements on the Periodic Table, including the relationships among elements in a given column or row.

Explain that isotopes of an element have different numbers of neutrons and that some are unstable and emit particles and/or radiation. For example: Some rock formations and building materials emit radioactive radon gas. Another example: The predictable rate of decay of radioactive isotopes makes it possible to estimate the age of some materials, and makes them useful in some medical procedures.

Describe the role of valence electrons in the formation of chemical bonds.

Explain how the rearrangement of atoms in a chemical reaction illustrates the law of conservation of mass.

Describe a chemical reaction using words and symbolic equations. For example: The reaction of hydrogen gas with oxygen gas can be written: 2H2 + O2 ? 2H2O.

Relate exothermic and endothermic chemical reactions to temperature and energy changes.

Recognize that inertia is the property of an object that causes it to resist changes in motion.

Explain and calculate the acceleration of an object subjected to a set of forces in one dimension (F=ma).

Demonstrate that whenever one object exerts force on another, a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction is exerted by the second object back on the first object.

Use Newtons universal law of gravitation to describe and calculate the attraction between massive objects based on the distance between them. For example: Calculate the weight of a person on different planets using data of the mass and radius of the planets.

Identify the energy forms and explain the transfers of energy involved in the operation of common devices. For example: Light bulbs, electric motors, automobiles or bicycles.

Calculate and explain the energy, work and power involved in energy transfers in a mechanical system. For example: Compare walking and running up or down steps.

Describe how energy is transferred through sound waves and how pitch and loudness are related to wave properties of frequency and amplitude.

Explain and calculate current, voltage and resistance, and describe energy transfers in simple electric circuits.

Describe how an electric current produces a magnetic force, and how this interaction is used in motors and electromagnets to produce mechanical energy.

Compare fission and fusion in terms of the reactants, the products and the conversion from matter into energy. For example: The fusion of hydrogen produces energy in the sun. Another example: The use of chain reactions in nuclear reactors.

Describe the properties and uses of forms of electromagnetic radiation from radio frequencies through gamma radiation. For example: Compare the energy of microwaves and X-rays.

Compare local and global environmental and economic advantages and disadvantages of generating electricity using various sources or energy. For example: Fossil fuels, nuclear fission, wind, sun or tidal energy.

Describe the trade-offs involved when technological developments impact the way we use energy, natural resources, or synthetic materials. For example: Fluorescent light bulbs use less energy than incandescent lights, but contain toxic mercury.

Compare and contrast the interaction of tectonic plates at convergent and divergent boundaries. For example: Compare the kinds of magma that emerge at plate boundaries.

Use modern earthquake data to explain how seismic activity is evidence for the process of subduction. For example: Correlate data on distribution, depth and magnitude of earthquakes with subduction zones.

Describe how the pattern of magnetic reversals and rock ages on both sides of a mid-ocean ridge provides evidence of sea-floor spreading.

Explain how the rock record provides evidence for plate movement. For example: Similarities found in fossils, certain types of rocks, or patterns of rock layers in various locations.

Describe how experimental and observational evidence led to the theory of plate tectonics.

Use relative dating techniques to explain how the structures of the Earth and life on Earth have changed over short and long periods of time.

Cite evidence from the rock record for changes in the composition of the global atmosphere as life evolved on Earth. For example: Banded iron formations as found in Minnesota's Iron Range.

Compare and contrast the energy sources of the Earth, including the sun, the decay of radioactive isotopes and gravitational energy.

Explain how the outward transfer of Earths internal heat drives the convection circulation in the mantle to move tectonic plates.

Explain how Earth's rotation, ocean currents, configuration of mountain ranges, and composition of the atmosphere influence the absorption and distribution of energy, which contributes to global climatic patterns.

Explain how evidence from the geologic record, including ice core samples, indicates that climate changes have occurred at varying rates over geologic time and continue to occur today.

Trace the cyclical movement of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen through the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. For example: The burning of fossil fuels contributes to the greenhouse effect.

Describe how the solar system formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas 4.6 billion years ago.

Explain how the Earth evolved into its present habitable form through interactions among the solid earth, the oceans, the atmosphere and organisms.

Compare and contrast the environmental conditions that make life possible on Earth with conditions found on the other planets and moons of our solar system.

Explain how evidence, including the Doppler shift of light from distant stars and cosmic background radiation, is used to understand the composition, early history and expansion of the universe.

Explain how gravitational clumping leads to nuclear fusion, producing energy and the chemical elements of a star.

Analyze the benefits, costs, risks and tradeoffs associated with natural hazards, including the selection of land use and engineering mitigation. For example: Determining land use in floodplains and areas prone to landslides.

Explain how human activity and natural processes are altering the hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere, including pollution, topography and climate. For example: Active volcanoes and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Explain how cell processes are influenced by internal and external factors, such as pH and temperature, and how cells and organisms respond to changes in their environment to maintain homeostasis.

Describe how the functions of individual organ systems are integrated to maintain homeostasis in an organism.

Recognize that cells are composed primarily of a few elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur), and describe the basic molecular structures and the primary functions of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.

Recognize that the work of the cell is carried out primarily by proteins, most of which are enzymes, and that protein function depends on the amino acid sequence and the shape it takes as a consequence of the interactions between those amino acids.

Describe how viruses, prokaryotic cells, and eukaryotic cells differ in relative size, complexity and general structure.

Explain the function and importance of cell organelles for prokaryotic and/or eukaryotic cells as related to the basic cell processes of respiration, photosynthesis, protein synthesis and cell reproduction.

Compare and contrast passive transport (including osmosis and facilitated transport) with active transport such as endocytosis and exocytosis.

Explain the process of mitosis in the formation of identical new cells and maintaining chromosome number during asexual reproduction.

Describe factors that affect the carrying capacity of an ecosystem and relate these to population growth.

Explain how ecosystems can change as a result of the introduction of one of more new species. For example: The effect of migration, localized evolution or disease organism.

Use words and equations to differentiate between the processes of photosynthesis and respiration in terms of energy flow, beginning reactants and end products.

Explain how matter and energy is transformed and transferred among organisms in an ecosystem, and how energy is dissipated as heat into the environment.

Explain the relationships among DNA, genes and chromosomes.

In the context of a monohybrid cross, apply the terms phenotype, genotype, allele, homozygous and heterozygous.

Describe the process of DNA replication and the role of DNA and RNA in assembling protein molecules.

Use concepts from Mendels laws of segregation and independent assortment to explain how sorting and recombination (crossing over) of genes during sexual reproduction (meiosis) increases the occurrence of variation in a species.

Use the processes of mitosis and meiosis to explain the advantages and disadvantages of asexual and sexual reproduction.

Explain how mutations like deletions, insertions, rearrangements or substitutions of DNA segments in gametes may have no effect, may harm, or rarely may be beneficial, and can result in genetic variation within a species.

Describe how evidence led Darwin to develop the theory of natural selection and common descent to explain evolution.

Use scientific evidence, including the fossil record, homologous structures, and genetic and/or biochemical similarities, to show evolutionary relationships among species.

Recognize that artificial selection has led to offspring through successive generations that can be very different in appearance and behavior from their distant ancestors.

Explain why genetic variation within a population is essential for evolution to occur.

Explain how competition for finite resources and the changing environment promotes natural selection on offspring survival, depending on whether the offspring have characteristics that are advantageous or disadvantageous in the new environment.

Explain how genetic variation between two populations of a given species is due, in part, to different selective pressures acting independently on each population and how, over time, these differences can lead to the development of new species.

Describe the social, economic, and ecological risks and benefits of biotechnology in agriculture and medicine. For example: Selective breeding, genetic engineering, and antibiotic development and use.

Describe the social, economic and ecological risks and benefits of changing a natural ecosystem as a result of human activity. For example: Changing the temperature or composition of water, air or soil; altering the populations and communities, developing artificial ecosystems; or changing the use of land or water.

Describe contributions from diverse cultures, including Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities, to the understanding of interactions among humans and living systems. For example: American Indian understanding of sustainable land use practices.

Describe how some diseases can sometimes be predicted by genetic testing and how this affects parental and community decisions.

Explain how the body produces antibodies to fight disease and how vaccines assist this process.

Describe how the immune system sometimes attacks some of the bodys own cells and how some allergic reactions are caused by the body's immune responses to usually harmless environmental substances.

Explain how environmental factors and personal decisions, such as water quality, air quality and smoking affect personal and community health.

Recognize that a gene mutation in a cell can result in uncontrolled cell division called cancer, and how exposure of cells to certain chemicals and radiation increases mutations and thus increases the chance of cancer.


Explain the political, societal, economic and environmental impact of chemical products and technologies. For example: Pollution effects, atmospheric changes, petroleum products, material use or waste disposal.


Use significant figures and an understanding of accuracy and precision in scientific measurements to determine and express the uncertainty of a result.


Explain the relationship of an elements position on the periodic table to its atomic number and electron configuration.


Identify and compare trends on the periodic table, including reactivity and relative sizes of atoms and ions; use the trends to explain the properties of subgroups, including metals, non-metals, alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, halogens and noble gases.


Explain how elements combine to form compounds through ionic and covalent bonding.


Compare and contrast the structure, properties and uses of organic compounds, such as hydrocarbons, alcohols, sugars, fats and proteins.


Use IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) nomenclature to write chemical formulas and name molecular and ionic compounds, including those that contain polyatomic ions.


Determine the molar mass of a compound from its chemical formula and a table of atomic masses; convert the mass of a molecular substance to moles, number of particles, or volume of gas at standard temperature and pressure.


Determine percent composition, empirical formulas and molecular formulas of simple compounds.


Describe the dynamic process by which solutes dissolve in solvents, and calculate concentrations, including percent concentration, molarity and parts per million.


Explain the role of solubility of solids, liquids and gases in natural and designed systems. For example: The presence of heavy metals in water and the atmosphere. Another example: Development and use of alloys.


Classify chemical reactions as double replacement, single replacement, synthesis, decomposition or combustion.


Use solubility and activity of ions to determine whether a double replacement or single replacement reaction will occur.


Relate the properties of acids and bases to the ions they contain and predict the products of an acid-base reaction.


Balance chemical equations by applying the laws of conservation of mass and constant composition.


Use the law of conservation of mass to describe and calculate relationships in a chemical reaction, including molarity, mole/mass relationships, mass/volume relations, limiting reactants and percent yield.


Describe the factors that affect the rate of a chemical reaction, including temperature, pressure, mixing, concentration, particle size, surface area and catalyst.


Recognize that some chemical reactions are reversible and that not all chemical reactions go to completion.


Use kinetic molecular theory to explain how changes in energy content affect the state of matter (solid, liquid and gaseous phases).


Use the kinetic molecular theory to explain the behavior of gases and the relationship among temperature, pressure, volume and the number of particles.


Describe changes in society that have resulted from significant discoveries and advances in technology in physics. For example: Transistors, generators, radio/television, or microwave ovens.


Use significant figures and an understanding of accuracy and precision in scientific measurements to determine and express the uncertainty of a result.


Use vectors and free-body diagrams to describe force, position, velocity and acceleration of objects in two-dimensional space.


Apply Newtons three laws of motion to calculate and analyze the effect of forces and momentum on motion.


Use gravitational force to explain the motion of objects near Earth and in the universe.


Explain and calculate the work, power, potential energy and kinetic energy involved in objects moving under the influence of gravity and other mechanical forces.


Describe and calculate the change in velocity for objects when forces are applied perpendicular to the direction of motion. For example: Objects in orbit.


Use conservation of momentum and conservation of energy to analyze an elastic collision of two solid objects in one-dimensional motion.


Analyze the frequency, period and amplitude of an oscillatory system. For example: An ideal pendulum, a vibrating string, or a vibrating spring-and-mass system.


Describe how vibration of physical objects sets up transverse and/or longitudinal waves in gases, liquids and solid materials.


Explain how interference, resonance, refraction and reflection affect sound waves.


Describe the Doppler effect changes that occur in an observed sound as a result of the motion of a source of the sound relative to a receiver.


Explain why currents flow when free charges are placed in an electric field, and how that forms the basis for electric circuits.


Explain and calculate the relationship of current, voltage, resistance and power in series and parallel circuits. For example: Determine the voltage between two points in a series circuit with two resistors.


Describe how moving electric charges produce magnetic forces and moving magnets produce electric forces.


Use the interplay of electric and magnetic forces to explain how motors, generators, and transformers work.


Describe the nature of the magnetic and electric fields in a propagating electromagnetic wave.


Explain and calculate how the speed of light and its wavelength change when the medium changes.


Explain the refraction and/or total internal reflection of light in transparent media, such as lenses and optical fibers.


Use properties of light, including reflection, refraction, interference, Doppler effect and the photoelectric effect, to explain phenomena and describe applications.


Compare the wave model and particle model in explaining properties of light.


Compare the wavelength, frequency and energy of waves in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum and describe their applications.


Describe and calculate the quantity of heat transferred between solids and/or liquids, using specific heat, mass and change in temperature.


Explain the role of gravity, pressure and density in the convection of heat by a fluid.


Compare the rate at which objects at different temperatures will transfer thermal energy by electromagnetic radiation.