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  • Standard Area - TECH: Learning Standards for Technology
    (see MST standards under Previous Standard Versions)
            • Introduction - MST4.C.ES.PS1.Introduction:

              People have observed the stars for thousands of years, using them to find direction, note the passage of time, and to express their values and traditions. As our technology has progressed, so has understanding of celestial objects and events.

              Theories of the universe have developed over many centuries. Although to a casual observer celestial bodies appeared to orbit a stationary Earth, scientific discoveries led us to the understanding that Earth is one planet that orbits the Sun, a typical star in a vast and ancient universe. We now infer an origin and an age and evolution of the universe, as we speculate about its future.

              As we look at Earth, we find clues to its origin and how it has changed through nearly five billion years, as well as the evolution of life on Earth.

              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1a:
                Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion.
                • These motions explain such phenomena as the day, the year, seasons, phases of the moon, eclipses, and tides.
                • Gravity influences the motions of celestial objects. The force of gravity between two objects in the universe depends on their masses and the distance between them.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1b:
                Nine planets move around the Sun in nearly circular orbits.
                • The orbit of each planet is an ellipse with the Sun located at one of the foci.
                • Earth is orbited by one moon and many artificial satellites.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1c:
                Earth's coordinate system of latitude and longitude, with the equator and prime meridian as reference lines, is based upon Earth's rotation and our observation of the Sun and stars.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1d:
                Earth rotates on an imaginary axis at a rate of 15 degrees per hour. To people on Earth, this turning of the planet makes it seem as though the Sun, the moon, and the stars are moving around Earth once a day. Rotation provides a basis for our system of local time; meridians of longitude are the basis for time zones.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1e:
                The Foucault pendulum and the Coriolis effect provide evidence of Earth's rotation.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1f:
                Earth's changing position with regard to the Sun and the moon has noticeable effects.
                • Earth revolves around the Sun with its rotational axis tilted at 23.5 degrees to a line perpendicular to the plane of its orbit, with the North Pole aligned with Polaris.
                • During Earth's one-year period of revolution, the tilt of its axis results in changes in the angle of incidence of the Sun's rays at a given latitude; these changes cause variation in the heating of the surface. This produces seasonal variation in weather.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1g:
                Seasonal changes in the apparent positions of constellations provide evidence of Earth's revolution.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1h:
                The Sun's apparent path through the sky varies with latitude and season.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.1i:
                Approximately 70 percent of Earth's surface is covered by a relatively thin layer of water, which responds to the gravitational attraction of the moon and the Sun with a daily cycle of high and low tides.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2a:
                The universe is vast and estimated to be over ten billion years old. The current theory is that the universe was created from an explosion called the Big Bang. Evidence for this theory includes:
                • cosmic background radiation
                • a red-shift (the Doppler effect) in the light from very distant galaxies.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2b:
                Stars form when gravity causes clouds of molecules to contract until nuclear fusion of light elements into heavier ones occurs. Fusion releases great amounts of energy over millions of years.
                • The stars differ from each other in size, temperature, and age.
                • Our Sun is a medium-sized star within a spiral galaxy of stars known as the Milky Way. Our galaxy contains billions of stars, and the universe contains billions of such galaxies.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2c:
                Our solar system formed about five billion years ago from a giant cloud of gas and debris. Gravity caused Earth and the other planets to become layered according to density differences in their materials.
                • The characteristics of the planets of the solar system are affected by each planet's location in relationship to the Sun.
                • The terrestrial planets are small, rocky, and dense. The Jovian planets are large, gaseous, and of low density.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2d:
                Asteroids, comets, and meteors are components of our solar system.
                • Impact events have been correlated with mass extinction and global climatic change.
                • Impact craters can be identified in Earth's crust.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2e:
                Earth's early atmosphere formed as a result of the outgassing of water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and lesser amounts of other gases from its interior.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2f:
                Earth's oceans formed as a result of precipitation over millions of years. The presence of an early ocean is indicated by sedimentary rocks of marine origin, dating back about four billion years.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2g:
                Earth has continuously been recycling water since the outgassing of water early in its history. This constant recirculation of water at and near Earth's surface is described by the hydrologic (water) cycle.
                • Water is returned from the atmosphere to Earth's surface by precipitation. Water returns to the atmosphere by evaporation or transpiration from plants. A portion of the precipitation becomes runoff over the land or infiltrates into the ground to become stored in the soil or groundwater below the water table. Soil capillarity influences these processes.
                • The amount of precipitation that seeps into the ground or runs off is influenced by climate, slope of the land, soil, rock type, vegetation, land use, and degree of saturation.
                • Porosity, permeability, and water retention affect runoff and infiltration.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2h:
                The evolution of life caused dramatic changes in the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Free oxygen did not form in the atmosphere until oxygen-producing organisms evolved.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2i:
                The pattern of evolution of life-forms on Earth is at least partially preserved in the rock record.
                • Fossil evidence indicates that a wide variety of life-forms has existed in the past and that most of these forms have become extinct.
                • Human existence has been very brief compared to the expanse of geologic time.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS1.2j:
                Geologic history can be reconstructed by observing sequences of rock types and fossils to correlate bedrock at various locations.
                • The characteristics of rocks indicate the processes by which they formed and the environments in which these processes took place.
                • Fossils preserved in rocks provide information about past environmental conditions.
                • Geologists have divided Earth history into time units based upon the fossil record.
                • Age relationships among bodies of rocks can be determined using principles of original horizontality, superposition, inclusions, cross-cutting relationships, contact metamorphism, and unconformities. The presence of volcanic ash layers, index fossils, and meteoritic debris can provide additional information.
                • The regular rate of nuclear decay (half-life time period) of radioactive isotopes allows geologists to determine the absolute age of materials found in some rocks.
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