reduced, students can begin to see that a moving object with no friction would continue to move indefinitely, but most students believe that the force is still acting if the object is moving or that it is "used up" if the motion stops. Students also think that friction, not inertia, is the principle reason objects remain at rest or require a force to move. Students in grades 5-8 associate force with motion and have difficulty understanding balanced forces in equilibrium, especially if the force is associated with static, inanimate objects, such as a book resting on the desk.

The understanding of energy in grades 5-8 will build on the K-4 experiences with light, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the motion of objects. In 5-8, students begin to see the connections among those phenomena and to become familiar with the idea that energy is an important property of substances and that most change involves energy transfer. Students might have some of the same views of energy as they do of force—that it is associated with animate objects and is linked to motion. In addition, students view energy as a fuel or something that is stored, ready to use, and gets used up. The intent at this level is for students to improve their understanding of energy by experiencing many kinds of energy transfer.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include


  • A substance has characteristic properties, such as density, a boiling point, and solubility, all of which are independent of the amount of the sample. A mixture of substances often can be separated into the original substances using one or more of the characteristic properties.

  • Substances react chemically in characteristic ways with other substances to form new substances (compounds) with different characteristic properties. In chemical reactions, the total mass is conserved. Substances often are placed in categories or groups if they react in similar ways; metals is an example of such a group.

  • Chemical elements do not break down during normal laboratory reactions involving such treatments as heating, exposure to electric current, or reaction with acids. There are more than 100 known elements that combine in a multitude of ways to produce compounds, which account for the living and nonliving substances that we encounter.


[See Content Standard D (grades 5-8)]

  • The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. That motion can be measured and represented on a graph.

  • An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line.

  • If more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude. Unbalanced forces will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object's motion.

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