Physical Science (PS)

Listed below are the Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) for Physical Science and bullet points for their specific grade band progression.

PS3: Energy

PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Primary School (K-2)

  • Sunlight warms Earth’s surface.

Elementary School (3-5)

  • Energy is present whenever there are moving objects, sound, light, or heat. When objects collide, energy can be transferred from one object to another, thereby changing their motion. In such collisions, some energy is typically also transferred to the surrounding air; as a result, the air gets heated and sound is produced.
  • Light also transfers energy from place to place.
  • Energy can also be transferred from place to place by electric currents, which can then be used locally to produce motion, sound, heat, or light. The currents may have been produced to begin with by transforming the energy of motion into electrical energy.

Middle School (6-8)

  • When the motion energy of an object changes, there is inevitably some other change in energy at the same time.
  • The amount of energy transfer needed to change the temperature of a matter sample by a given amount depends on the nature of the matter, the size of the sample, and the environment.
  • Energy is spontaneously transferred out of hotter regions or objects and into colder ones.

High School (9-12)

  • Conservation of energy means that the total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system.
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems.
  • Mathematical expressions, which quantify how the stored energy in a system depends on its configuration (e.g. relative positions of charged particles, compression of a spring) and how kinetic energy depends on mass and speed, allow the concept of conservation of energy to be used to predict and describe system behavior.
  • The availability of energy limits what can occur in any system.
  • Uncontrolled systems always evolve toward more stable states—that is, toward more uniform energy distribution (e.g., water flows downhill, objects hotter than their surrounding environment cool down).

This is a table of the Disciplinary Core Ideas of Physical Science. If coming from a Standard the specific bullet point used is highlighted and additional performance Expectations that make use of the Disciplinary Core Idea can be found below the table. To see all Disciplinary Core Ideas, click on the title "Disciplinary Core Ideas."

Other Standards That Use This Disciplinary Core Idea:


Fourth Grade

Middle School

High School