Rhode Island Science Frameworks

Science Literacy for all Students—The Rhode Island Science Framework is the result of three years of work by a team of 89 educators, scientists, and business representatives. The Framework is tied to the AAAS Benchmarks. The Rhode Island Science Framework Committee concluded that Rhode Island schools, administrators, and teachers would benefit by linking state objectives to national goals. In this way, schools can reflect local concerns and needs while fulfilling nationally agreed upon standards for science education. The following science education standards will be implemented by using the DOCE project within the science curriculum:



(Each Benchmark is preceded by the number designation given by AAAS and/or the section- page number where it can be found in the Rhode Island Science Framework . In addition, grade levels relevant to that standard are noted in parentheses.)

3C  (9-12) Students should be able to cite several examples of how the introduction of foreign species has changed an ecosystem.  Out of this should come an awareness that people can make some decisions about what life on earth will survive and a sense of responsibility about exercising power.

3C; 3A-41 (9-12) Students should know that the human species has a major impact on other species in many ways:  reducing the amount of the earth's surface available to those other species, interfering with their food sources, changing the temperature and chemical composition of their habitats, introducing foreign species into their ecosystems, and altering organisms directly through selective breeding and genetic engineering.

4B (3-5) Students should know that the water cycle is of such profound importance to life on earth that students should certainly have experiences that will in time contribute to their understanding of evaporation, condensation, and the conservation of matter.

4B (6-8) An inevitable paradox of the large scales involved is that an ocean that is difficult to imagine being 7 miles deep also can be considered a "relatively" thin layer on the surface of the earth.  Students should exercise their understanding of the paradox, perhaps by debating provocative questions such as "Is the ocean amazingly deep or amazingly shallow?"

4B (6-8) Students should know that climates have sometimes changed abruptly in the past as a result of changes in the earth's crust, such as volcanic eruptions or impacts of huge rocks from space.  Even relatively small changes in atmospheric or ocean content can have widespread effects on climate if the changes lasts long enough.

4B (6-8) Students should know that the cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere plays an important role in determining climatic patterns.  Water evaporates from the surface of the earth, rises and cools, condenses onto rain or snow and falls again to the surface.  The water falling on land collects in rivers and lakes, soil, and porous layers of rock, and much of it flows back to the ocean.

4B (6-8) Students should know that the benefits of earth's resources - such as fresh water, air, soil, and trees-can be reduced by using them wastefully or by deliberately or inadvertantly destroying them.  The atmosphere and the oceans have a limited capacity to absorb wastes and recycle materials naturally.  Cleaning up polluted air, water or soil or restoring depleted soil, forests, or fishing grounds can be very difficult and costly.

4B; 3B-28 (9-12) Students should know that transfer of heat energy at the boundaries between the atmosphere, the land masses and the oceans 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.

4C (3-5) Students should know that waves, wind, water and ice shape and reshape the earth's surface by eroding rock and soil in some areas and depositing them in other areas, sometimes in seasonal layers.

4C; 3B-34 (6-8) Students should know that human activities, such as reducing the amount of forest cover, increasing the amount and variety of chemicals released into the atmosphere, and intensive farming, have changed the earth's land, oceans and atmosphere.  Some of these changes have decreased the capacity of the environment to support some life forms.

4C; 3B-39 (9-12) Students should know that ocean floor plates may slide under continental plates, sinking deep into the earth.  The surface layers of these plates may fold, forming mountain ranges.

4C; 3B-40 (9-12) Students should know that under the ocean basins, molten rock may well up between separating plates to create new ocean floor.  Volcanic activity along the ocean floor may form undersea mountains, which can thrust above the ocean's surface to become islands.

 5A (6-8) Tracing simple food webs in varied environments can contribute to a better understanding of the dependence of organisms (including humans) on their environment.

5A;3C-11 (6-8) Students should know that all organisms, including the human species, are part of and depend upon two main interconnected global food webs.  One includes microscopic ocean plants, the animals that feed on them, and finally the animals that feed on those animals.

5A; 3C-12 (9-12) Students should know that the variation of organisms within a species increases the likelihood that at least some menders of the species will survive under changed environmental conditions, and a great diversity of species increases the chance that at least some living things will survive in the face of large changes in the environment.

 5D (K-12) Students should become acquainted with many different examples of ecosystems, starting with those near at hand.

5D; 3C-3 (K-2) Students should investigate the habitats of many different kinds of local plants and animals, including weeds, aquatic plants, insects, worms, and amphibians, and some of the ways in which animals depend on plants and on each other.

5D; 3C-37 (K-2) Students should know that living things are found almost everywhere in the world. There are somewhat different kinds in different places.

5D (3-5) Students should explore how various organisms satisfy their needs in the environments in which they are typically found. They can examine the survival needs of different organisms and consider how the conditions in particular habitats can limit what kinds of living things can survive. Their studies of interactions among organisms within an environment should start with relationships they can directly observe. By viewing nature films, students should see a great diversity of life in different habitats.

5D; 3C-39 (6-8) Students should know that in all environments--freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others--organisms with similar needs may compete with one another for resources, including food, space, water, air, and shelter. In any particular environment, the growth and survival of organisms depend on the physical conditions.

5D (9-12) The concept of an ecosystem should bring coherence to the complex array of relationships among organisms and environments that students have encountered. Students' growing understanding of systems in general can suggest and reinforce characteristics of ecosystems-interdependence of parts, feedback, oscillation, inputs, and outputs. Stability and change in ecosystems can be considered in terms of variables such as population size, number and kinds of species, and productivity.

5D; 3C-41 (9-12) Students should know that ecosystems can be reasonably stable over hundreds or thousands of years. As any population of organisms grows, it is held in check by one or more environmental factors:  depletion of food or nesting sites, increased loss to increased numbers of predators, or parasites. If a disaster such as flood or fire occurs, the damaged ecosystem is likely to recover in stages that eventually result in a system similar to the original one.

5D; 3C-42 (9-12)Students should know that like many complex systems, ecosystems tend to have cyclic fluctuations around a state of rough equilibrium. In the long run, however, ecosystems always change when climate changes or when one or more new species appear as a result of migration or local evolution.

5D; 3C-44 (9-12) Students should know that human beings are part of the earth's ecosystems. Human activities can, deliberately or inadvertently, alter the equilibrium in ecosystems.

 5E; 3C-48 (9-12) Students should know that at times, environmental conditions are such that plants and marine organisms grow faster than decomposers can recycle them back to the environment. Layers of energy-rich organic material have been gradually turned into great coal beds and oil pools by the pressure of the overlying earth. By burning these fossil fuels, people are passing most of the stored energy back into the environment as heat and releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide.

5E; 3C-49 (9-12) Students should know that the amount of life any environment can support is limited by the available energy, water, oxygen, and minerals, and by the ability of ecosystems to recycle the residue of dead organic materials. Human activities and technology can change the flow and reduce the fertility of the land.

 5F; 3C-53 (6-8) Students should kow that individual organisms with cetain traits are more likely than others to survive and have offspring.  Chages in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.

5F; 3C-60 (9-12) Natural selection leads to organisms that are well suited for survival in particular environments.  Chance alone can result in the persistance of some heritable characteristics having no survival or reproductive advantage or disadvantage for the organism.  When an environment changes, the survival value of some inherited characateristics may change.

5F (9-12) Knowing what evolutionary change is and how it played out over geological time, students can now turn to its mechanism. They need to shift from thinking in terms of selection of individuals with a trait to changing proportions of a trait in populations. Familiarity with artificial selection, coming from studies of pedigrees and their own experiments, can be applied to natural systems, in which selection occurs because of environmental conditions. Students' understanding of radioactivity makes it possible for them to comprehend isotopic dating techniques used to determine the actual age of fossils and hence to appreciate that sufficient time may have elapsed for successive changes to have accumulated. Knowledge of DNA contributes to the evidence for life having evolved from common ancestors and provides a plausible mechanism for the origin of new traits.

10E (9-12)  Students should know that the idea of continental drift was suggested by the matching shapes of the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America, but rejected for lack of other evidence. It just seemed absurd that anything as massive as a continent could move around.

 10E (9-12) Students should know that early in the 20th century, Alfred Wegener, a German scientist, reintroduced the idea of moving continents, adding such evidence as the underwater shapes of the continents, the similarity of life forms and land forms in corresponding parts of Africa and South America, and the increasing separation of Greenland and Europe. Still, very few contemporary scientists adopted his theory.

 10E (9-12) Students should know that the theory of plate tectonics was finally accepted by the scientific community in the 1960s, when further evidence had accumulated in support of it. The theory was seen to provide an explanation for a diverse array of seemingly unrelated phenomena, and there was a scientifically sound physical explanation of how such movement could occur.