Science Benchmarks

Teaching to Benchmarks with Amateur Radio

Curriculum created for ARRL's Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology addresses an array of science benchmarks at all grade levels.  We've mapped some of those connections for you.

Grades K-2


Grade Level Benchmark
K-2 Tools are used to do things better or more easily and to do some things that could not otherwise be done at all.  In technology, tools are used to observe, measure, and make things.
K-2 When trying to build something or to get something to work better, it usually helps to follow directions if there are any or to ask someone who has done it before for suggestions.
K-2 When a group of people wants to build something or try something new, they should try to figure out ahead of time how it might affect other people
K-2 Some events in nature have a repeating pattern.  The weather changes some form day to day, but things such as temperature and rain (or snow) tend to be high, low, or medium in the same months every year.
K-2 Magnets can be used to make some things move without being touched.
K-2 Some kinds of materials are better than others for making any particular thing.  Materials hat are better in some ways (such as stronger or cheaper) may be worse in other ways (heavier or harder to cut).
K-2 Several steps are usually involved in making things.
K-2 Tools are used to help make things, and some things cannot be made at all without tools.  Each kind of tool has a special purpose.
K-2 Most things are made of parts.
K-2 Something may not work if some of its parts are missing.
K-2 Change is something that happens to many things.
K-2 Some changes are so slow or so fast that they are hard to see.
K-2 Things can be done to materials to change some of their properties, but not all materials respond the same way to what is done to them.
K-2 Things move in many different ways, such as straight, zig zag, round and round, back and forth, and fast and slow.
K-2 Sometimes people aren't sure what will happen because they don't know everything that might be having an effect.
K-2 Choices have consequences, some more serious than others.
K-2 People have always tried to communicate with one another, Signed and spoken language was one of the first inventions.
K-2 Devices can be used to send and receive messages quickly and clearly.
K-2 Information can be sent and received in many different ways.  Some allow answering back and some do not.  Each way has advantages and disadvantages.
K-2 Numbers can be used to count things, place them in order, or name them.
K-2 Simple graphs can help to tell about observations.
K-2 When parts are out together, they can do things that they couldn't do by themselves.

Grades 3-5


Grade Level Benchmark
3-5 Measuring instruments can be used to gather accurate information for making scientific comparisons of objects and events and for designing and constructing things that will work properly.
3-5 Technology extends the ability of people to change the way they work: to cut, shape, or put together materials; to move things from one place to another; and to reach further with their hands, voices, senses,, and minds.  The changes may be for survival needs such as food, shelter, and defense, for communication and transportation, or to gain knowledge and express ideas.
3-5 Things on or near the earth are pulled toward it by the earth's gravity.
3-5 Things that give off light often also give off heat.  Heat is produced by mechanical and electrical machines, and any time one thing rubs against something else.
3-5 Some materials conduct heat much better than others.  Poor conductors can reduce heat loss.
3-5 The earth's gravity pulls any object toward it without touching it.
3-5 Without touching them, a magnet pulls on all things made of iron and either pushes or pulls on other magnets.
3-5 Without touching them, material that has been electrically charged pulls on all other materials and may either push or pull other charged materials.
3-5 People can learn about others from direct experience, from the mass communications media, and from listening to other people talk about their work and their lives.  People also sometimes imitate people-or characters-in the media
3-5 Discarded products contribute to the problem of waste disposal.  Sometimes it is possible to use the materials in them to make new products, but materials differ widely in the ease with which they can be recycled.
3-5 Through mass production, the time required to make a product and its cost can be greatly reduced.   Although many things are still made by hand in some parts of the work, almost everything is now produced using automatic machines.  Even automatic machines require human supervision.
3-5 Almost anything has limits on how big or small it can be.
3-5 Finding out what the biggest and the smallest possible values of something are is often as revealing as knowledge what the usual value is.
3-5 There is no perfect design.  Designs that are best in one respect (safety or ease of use, for example) may be inferior in other ways (cost or appearance).  Usually some features must be sacrificed to get others.
3-5 In something that consists of many parts, the parts usually influence one another.
3-5 Even a good design may fail.  Sometimes steps can be taken ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of failure, but it cannot be entirely eliminated.
3-5 Things change in steady, repetitive, or irregular ways - or sometimes in more than one way at the same time.
3-5 Heating and cooling cause changes in the properties of materials.
3-5 Changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces
3-5 Light travels and tends to maintain its direction of motion until it interacts with an object or material.  Light can be absorbed, redirected, bounced back, or allowed to pass through.
3-5 In making decisions, it helps to take time to consider the benefits and costs of alternatives.
3-5 Sometimes social decisions have unexpected consequences, no matter how carefully the decisions are made.
3-5 One person's exercise of freedom may conflict with the freedom of others.  Rules can help to resolve conflicting freedoms.
3-5 People have invented devices, such as paper and ink, engraved plastic disks, and magnetic tapes for recording information.  These devices enable great amounts of information to be stored and retrieved-and be sent to other people or places.
3-5 Communication technologies make it possible to send and receive information more and more reliably, quickly, and cheaply over long distances.
3-5 Communication involves coding and decoding information.  In any language, both the sender and receiver have to know the same code, which means that secret codes can be used to keep communication private.
3-5 Numbers and shapes-and operations on them-help to describe and predict things about the world around us.
3-5 Tables and graphs can show how values of one quantity are related to values of another.
3-5 Mathematical ideas can be represented concretely, graphically, or symbolically.
3-5 Graphical displays of numbers make it possible to spot patterns that are not otherwise obvious, such as comparative trends and sizes.
3-5 Mathematical ideas can be represented concretely, graphically, or symbolically.
3-5 Mathematical statements using symbols may be true only when the symbols are replaced by certain numbers.
3-5 Something may not work well (or at all) if a part of it is missing, broken, worn out, mismatched, or misconnected.
3-5 In something that consists of many parts, the parts usually influence one another.

Grades 6-8


Grade Level Benchmark
6-8 Technology is essential to science for such purposes as access to outer space and other remote locations, sample collection and treatment, measurement, data collection and storage, computation, and communication of information.
6-8 Engineers, architects, and others who engage in design and technology use scientific knowledge to solve practical problems.  But they usually have to take human values and limitations into account as well.
6-8 Heat energy carried by ocean currents has a strong influence on climate around the world.
6-8 Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form into another.
6-8 Heat can be transferred through materials by the collisions of atoms or across space by radiation.  If the material is fluid, currents will be set up in it that aid the transfer of heat.
6-8 Electric currents and magnets can exert a force on each other.
6-8 Technology, especially in transportation and communication, is increasingly important in spreading ideas, values, and behavior patterns within a society and among different societies.  New technology can change cultural values and social behavior.
6-8 The purpose of treaties being negotiated directly between individual countries or by international organizations is to bring about cooperation among countries.
6-8 Modern technology reduces manufacturing costs, produces more uniform products, and creates new synthetic materials that can help reduce the depletion of some natural resources.
6-8 Electrical energy can be produced from a variety of energy sources and can be transformed into almost any other form of energy.  Moreover, electricity is used to distribute energy quickly and conveniently to distant locations.
6-8 Energy can change from one form to another, although in the process some energy is always converted to heat.  Some systems transform energy with less loss of heat than others.
6-8 Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly, or that are too vast to be changed deliberately, or that are potentially dangerous.
6-8 Mathematical models can be displayed on a computer and then modified to see what happens.
6-8 As the complexity of any system increases, gaining an understanding of it depends of increasingly on summaries, such as averages and ranges, and on descriptions of typical examples of that system.
6-8 Scientific laws, engineering principles, properties of materials, and construction techniques must be taken into account in designing engineering solutions to problems.
6-8 Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others.
6-8 The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts.
6-8 Computer control of mechanical systems can be much quicker than human control.  In situations where events happen faster than people can react, there is little choice but to rely on computers.  Most computer systems still require human oversight, however, to make certain kinds of judgments, to react to unexpected failures, and to evaluate how well the system is serving its intended purposes.
6-8 The motion of an object is always judged with respect to some other object or point and so the idea of absolute motion or rest is misleading.
6-8 Something can be "seen" when light waves emitted or reflected by it enter the eye.
6-8 Human eyes respond to only a narrow range of wavelengths of electromagnetic waves - visible light.
6-8 There are a variety of different land forms on the earth's surface (such as coastlines, rivers, mountains, deltas, and canyons).
6-8 Vibrations in materials set up wavelike disturbances that spread away from the source.  Sound and earthquake waves are examples.
6-8 Rivers and glacial ice carry off soil and break down rock, eventually depositing the material in sediments or carrying it in solution to the sea.
6-8 The earth's surface is shaped in part by the motion of water (including ice) and wind over very long times, which act to level mountain ranges.
6-8 There are groups of elements that have similar properties, including highly reactive metals, less-reactive metals, highly reactive non-metals, and some almost completely non-reactive gases.
6-8 Atoms may stick together in well-defined molecules, or may be packed together in large arrays.  Different arrangements of atoms compose all substances.
6-8 Energy appears in different forms.  Heat energy is in the disorderly motion of molecules.
6-8 Atoms and molecules are perpetually in motion.  Increased temperature means greater average energy of motion, so most substances expand when heated.
6-8 Light acts like a wave in many ways.  And waves can explain how light behaves.
6-8 Light from the sun is made up of a mixture of many different colors of light, even though to the eye the light looks almost white.  Other things that give off or reflect light have a different mix of colors.
6-8 Wave behavior can be described in terms of how fast the disturbance spreads, and in terms of the distance between successive peaks of the disturbance (wavelength).
6-8 However they are formed, governments usually have most of the power to make, interpret, and enforce the rules and decisions that determine how a community, state, or nation will be run.
6-8 Errors can occur in coding, transmitting, or decoding information, and some means of checking for accuracy is needed.  Repeating the message is a frequently used method.
6-8 Information can be carried by many media, including sound, light, and objects.  In this century, the ability to code information as electric currents in wires, electromagnetic waves in space, and light in glass fibers has made communication millions of times faster than mail or sound.
6-8 It takes two numbers to locate a point on a map or any other flat surface.  The numbers may be two perpendicular distances from a point, or an angle and a distance from a point.
6-8 The graphical display of numbers may help to show patterns such as trends, varying rates of change, gaps, or clusters.  Such patterns sometimes can be used to make predictions of the phenomena being graphed.
6-8 Graphs can show a variety of possible relationships between two variables.  As one variable increases uniformly, the other may do one of the following: increase or decrease steadily, increase or decrease faster and faster, get closer and closer to some limiting value, reach some intermediate maximum or minimum, alternately increase and decrease, increase or decrease in steps, or do something different for any of these.
6-8 Symbolic equations can be used to summarize how the quantity of something changes over time or in response to other changes.
6-8 An equation containing a variable may be true for just one value of the variable.
6-8 Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others.
6-8 Any system is usually connected to other systems, both internally and externally.  Thus a system may be though of as containing subsystems and as being a subsystem of a larger system.

Grades 9-12


Grade Level Benchmark
9-12 Technological problems often create a demand for new scientific knowledge, and new technologies make it possible for scientists to extend their research in new ways or to undertake entirely new lines of research.  The very availability of new technology itself often sparks scientific advances.
9-12 Technology usually affects society more directly than science because it solves practical problems and serves human needs (and may create new problems and needs).  In contrast, science affects society mainly by stimulating and satisfying people's curiosity and occasionally by enlarging or challenging their views of  what the world is like.
9-12 Weather (in the short term) and climate (in the long run) involve the transfer of energy in and out of the atmosphere.  Solar radiation heats the land masses, oceans, and air.  Transfer of heat energy at the boundaries between the atmosphere, the land masses, and the ocean results in layers of different temperatures and densities in both the ocean and atmosphere.  The action of gravitational force on regions of different densities causes them to rise or fall-and such circulation, influenced by the rotation of the earth, produces winds and ocean currents.
9-12 Transformations of energy usually produce some energy in the form of heat, which spreads around by radiation or conduction into cooler places.  Although just as much total energy remains, its being spread out more evenly means less can be done with it.
9-12 There are two kinds of charges-positive and negative.  Like charges repel one another, opposite charges attract.  In materials , there are almost exactly equal proportions of positive and negative charges, making the materials as a whole electrically neutral.  Negative charges, being associated with electrons, are far more mobile in materials than positive charges are.  A very small excess or deficit of negative charges in a material produces noticeable electric forces.
9-12 Different kinds of materials respond differently to electric forces.  In conducting materials such as metals, electric charges flow easily, whereas in insulating materials such as glass, they can move hardly at all.  At very low temperatures, some materials become superconductors and offer no resistance to the flow of current.  In between these extremes, semiconducting materials differ greatly in how well they conduct, depending on their exact composition.
9-12 Magnetic forces are very closely related to electric forces and can be thought of as different aspects of a single electromagnetic force.  Moving electric changes produce magnetic forces and moving magnets produce electric forces.  The interplay of electric and magnetic forces is the basis for electric motors, generators, and many other modern technologies, including the production of electromagnetic waves.
9-12 The basic idea of mathematical modeling is to find a mathematical relationship that behaves in the same ways as the objects or processes under investigation.  A mathematical model may give insight about how something really works or may fit observations very well without any intuitive meaning.
9-12 Computers have greatly improved the power and use of mathematical models by performing computations that are very long, very complicated, or repetitive.  Therefore computers can show the consequences of applying complex rules or of changing the rules.  The graphic capabilities of computers make them useful in the design and testing of devices and structures and in the simulation of complicated processes.
9-12 The usefulness of a model can be tested by comparing its predictions to actual observations in the real world.  But a close match does not necessarily mean that the model is the only "true" model or the only one that would work.
9-12 Representing large numbers in terms of powers of ten makes it easier to think about them and to compare things that are greatly different.
9-12 As the number of parts of a system increases, the number of possible interactions between pairs of parts increases much more rapidly.
9-12 In designing a device or process, thought should be given to how it will be manufactured, operated, maintained, replaced, and disposed of and who will sell, operate, and take care of it.  The costs associated with these functions may introduce yet more constraints on the design.
9-12 The more parts and connections a system has, the more ways it can go wrong.  Complex systems usually have components to detect, back up, bypass, or compensate for minor failures.
9-12 Mathematical models and computer simulations are used in studying evidence from many sources in order to form a scientific account of the universe.
9-12 A great variety of radiations are electromagnetic waves.  Their wavelengths vary from radio waves, the longest, to gamma rays, the shortest.  In empty space, all electromagnetic waves move at the same speed - the "speed of light."
9-12 Atoms are made of a positive nucleus surrounded by negative electrons.
9-12 An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms,  Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
9-12 Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.
9-12 The energy of waves (like any form of energy) can be changed into other forms of energy.
9-12 Waves can superpose on one another, bend around corners, reflect off surfaces, be absorbed by materials they enter, and change direction when entering a new material.  All these effects vary with wavelength.
9-12 Accelerating electric charges produce electromagnetic waves around them.  A great variety of radiations are electromagnetic waves: radio waves, microwaves, radiant heat, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays.  These wavelengths vary from radio waves, the longest, to gamma rays, the shortest.  In empty space, all electromagnetic waves move at the same speed - the "speed of light."
9-12 Digital coding of information (using 1's and 0's) makes possible more reliable transmission, storing, and processing of information.
9-12 Almost any information can be transformed into electrical signals.  A weak electrical signal can be used to shape a stronger one, which can control other signals of light, sound, mechanical devices, or radio waves.
9-12 The quality of communication is determined by the strength of the signal in relation to the noise that tends to obscure it.
9-12 Communication errors can be reduced by boosting and focusing signals, shielding the signal from internal and external noise, and repeating information, but all of these increase costs.
9-12 As technologies that provide privacy in communication improve, so do those for invading privacy.
9-12 The position of any point on a surface can be specified by two numbers.
9-12 A graph represents all the values that satisfy an equation; and if two equations have to be satisfied at the same time, the values that satisfy them both will be found where the graphs intersect.
9-12 Tables, graphs, and symbols are alternative ways of representing data and relationships that can be translated from one to another.
9-12 When a relationship is represented in symbols, numbers can be substituted for all but one of the symbols and the possible value of the remaining symbol computed.  Sometimes the relationship may be satisfied by one value, sometimes more than one, and sometimes not at all.
9-12 Graphs and equations are alternative (and often equivalent) ways for depicting and analyzing patterns of change.
9-12 Symbolic statements can be manipulated by rules of mathematical logic to produce other statements of the same relationship, which may show some interesting aspect more clearly.
9-12 The observed wavelength of a wave depends upon the relative motion of the source and the observer.  If either is moving toward the other, the observed wavelength is shorter; if either is moving away, the wavelength is longer.