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CIPS has five units. The course is hierarchical, with both topics and skills developed in a structured progression.

Because scientists believe that their observations can be explained in terms of interactions between objects and the energy descriptions of those interactions, the CIPS course is organized around the powerful themes of interactions and energy.

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UNIT 1: Foundations

The first unit introduces students to scientific experiments, and to the concepts of interactions and properties.

In activities involving pendulums and magnets, students learn how to carry out experiments, determine whether an experiment is well designed, and judge whether an experimental conclusion is logical and well reasoned.

To introduce the idea of interactions, the first unit gives students opportunities to investigate four types of interactions:

  • magnetic,
  • electric charge,
  • electric circuit, and
  • electromagnetic

In the process of learning about these interactions, students construct and analyze motors and electromagnets.

Later in this unit, students learn about the importance of measurement in science, methods of measuring volume, mass and density, and characteristic properties.

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UNIT 2:  Interactions and Energy

The second unit explores energy descriptions of interactions. Waves of various types are investigated - mechanical, water, sound and earthquake waves - and then students learn about the four types of mechanical interactions:

  • applied
  • elastic
  • drag
  • friction


and they conduct experiments to examine variables that affect the interactions. They also learn how to write and evaluate analyses and explanations.

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UNIT 3:  Interactions and Forces

In this unit, students learn how to describe mechanical interactions in terms of forces, and develop ideas that lead to Newton's First and Second Laws of Motion. The unit employs appealing contexts such as skateboarding, bike riding, and playing soccer to discuss these ideas.

Then students learn about gravitational interactions and circular motion. They end the unit by explaining phenomena like satellite orbits and terminal speed.

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UNIT 4:  Interactions and Conservation

Throughout the second and third units, students learn about energy transfers between objects, and the idea that energy can change from one form to another.

In the fourth unit, students first learn about the idea of conservation in the contexts of mass and volume. Then, after examining interactions that involve heat transfer, they extend the conservation idea to energy.

The unit begins with an introduction to mass and volume as measures of the "amount of stuff." Then students investigate several types of interactions to see if mass and volume are conserved.

Next, students investigate thermal and infrared radiation interactions, both of which involve heat transfer, and study phase changes (such as water freezing to become ice). Knowledge of heat energy exchange gives students the final tool they need to examine the idea of energy conservation.

Students end the unit by applying conservation ideas to concepts like energy efficiency.

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UNIT 5:  Interactions of Materials

Students begin the final unit by describing and classifying materials, and then becoming familiar with the classification scheme of chemists and the periodic table.

Then they learn about the Small Particle Theory of matter, which students use to explain:

  • the properties of gases, liquids, and solids;
  • the phenomena of air pressure and dissolving; and
  • the classification of materials as elements and compounds.

The importance of models, which was introduced implicitly in earlier units, is revisited and made explicit in relation to Small Particle Theory.

Finally, students experiment with chemical interactions that produce new substances, and build physical models of the reactants and products in these interactions.

 

View sample activities

 

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