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Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object. MS-PS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system. MS-PS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer. MS-PS3-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample. MS-PS3-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object. MS-PS3-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s).

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-PS3-1), (MS-PS3-5)
  • RST.6-8.3 - Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks. (MS-PS3-3)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-PS3-1)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-PS3-2)
  • WHST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-PS3-5)
  • WHST.6-8.7 - Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. (MS-PS3-3), (MS-PS3-4)


  • 6.RP.A.1 - Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. (MS-PS3-1), (MS-PS3-5)
  • 6.RP.A.2 - Understand the concept of a unit rate a/b associated with a ratio a:b with b ≠ 0, and use rate language in the context of a ratio relationship. (MS-PS3-1)
  • 6.SP.B.5 - Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. (MS-PS3-4)
  • 7.RP.A.2 - Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities. (MS-PS3-1), (MS-PS3-5)
  • 8.EE.A.1 - Know and apply the properties of integer exponents to generate equivalent numerical expressions. (MS-PS3-1)
  • 8.EE.A.2 - Use square root and cube root symbols to represent solutions to equations of the form x² = p and x³ = p, where p is a positive rational number. Evaluate square roots of small perfect squares and cube roots of small perfect cubes. Know that √2 is irrational. (MS-PS3-1)
  • 8.F.A.3 - Interpret the equation y = mx + b as defining a linear function, whose graph is a straight line; give examples of functions that are not linear. (MS-PS3-1), (MS-PS3-5)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-PS3-1), (MS-PS3-4), (MS-PS3-5)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • This activity blends a hands-on investigation with a computer simulation, as students use probeware to observe and graph the changing temperature of a melting ice cube. In the first step, learners use a sensor to monitor temperature as an ice cube…

  • In this series of 5 lessons, students first build up a background knowledge of thermal energy transfer, distinguishing heat from temperature. They then investigate the insulative properties of various materials. They use this background learning t…

  • This activity explores energy transfer in the context of atmospheric radiation. In the activity, students use simple equipment (reflector lamps, pie pans, thermometers, soil, and a watch for timing) to investigate how different surfaces absorb hea…

  • This resource is a 6-page activity for students that will guide them through the use of the PhET simulation Energy Skate Park: Basics as they explore kinetic, potential, thermal and total energy. The activity guides students through three explorat…

  • Student groups are given cardboard, insulating materials, aluminum foil and Plexiglas, and challenged to build solar ovens. The ovens must collect and store as much of the sun's energy as possible. Students experiment with heat transfer through condu…

  • Students do an activity in which heat is transferred from hot water to cold metal washers, and then from hot washers to cold water. They view an animation to help them understand what's going on at the molecular level, and then they draw their own re…

  • Mechanical energy--kinetic and potential energy--are illustrated with pendulums and roller coasters. Students learn about energy transfer, and are introduced to the equations for kinetic and gravitational potential energy. They explore the difference…

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.