Pacing Guide

1st Quarter Begins

Scientific Inquiry (Approximate Duration: 1 Week Introduction/All Year Application)

Essential Questions: How do scientists solve problems?

I can:

  1. Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations;
  2. Design and conduct a scientific investigation;
  3. Use appropriate mathematics, tools and techniques to gather data and information;
  4. Analyze and interpret data;
  5. Develop descriptions, models, explanations and predictions;
  6. Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations;
  7. Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions; and
  8. Communicate scientific procedures and explanations.

Physical Earth

A. The composition and properties of Earth’s interior are identified by the behavior of seismic waves.(Approximate Duration: 2 Weeks)


Essential Questions: Why is the Earth’s interior still hot? How do we know that the Earth has layers? How do we know what they are composed of?

I can:

  1. Describe the evidence used for inferring earth's internal structure. 
  2. Identify the layers of the Earth (e.g., inner core, outer core, lower mantle, asthenosphere, upper mantle, crust) and the lithosphere.
  3. Describe each layer of the Earth including its composition, state of matter and relative thickness.
  4. Compare the oceanic crust and continental crust.
  5. Explain how earthquakes are measured.
  6. Compare the different types of seismic waves.
  7. Explain how the refraction and reflection of seismic waves as they move through one type of material to another is used to identify the layers of Earth’s interior.
  8. Analyze seismic data, graphs and charts to support current theories on earth’s composition and geological history.
  9. Describe the formation of our planet.
  10. Explain why the earth was molten during its formation and still retains some of its heat.
  11. Explain how the earth's interior became differentiated (layered).
  12. Compare the layers of the Earth with the layers of the Moon (enrichment).

B. Earth’s crust consists of major and minor tectonic plates that move relative to each other.  (Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions: How would you know if continents were moving? What evidence might support the idea that continents were once joined? Where is the longest mountain chain on Earth? How is it possible that the Atlantic Ocean is growing?   Where on surface of the Earth could you hide Mount Everest? How can the Atlantic Ocean grow but the surface of the Earth does not? Why might earth's magnetic field affect iron containing magma?  What would be the results of continents moving into each other or away from each other? What is the cause for the volcanic activity in the Hawaiian islands? What do geysers, hot springs and ocean vents have in common? How can earthquakes be dangerous far away from an epicenter? How are earth's landforms imaged and mapped?

I can:

  1. Describe the continental drift hypothesis.
  2. Identify and describe the evidence supporting the continental drift hypothesis.
  3. Describe the seafloor spreading hypothesis.
  4. Compare mid-ocean ridge and ocean trench. 
  5. Identify and describe the evidence supporting the seafloor spreading hypothesis.
  6. Describe the theory of plate tectonics.
  7. Describe what the theory of plate tectonics is able to explain.
  8. Compare an active continental margin with a passive continental margin.
  9. Compare the three main types of plate boundaries: divergent, convergent and transform.
  10. Identify and describe the landforms that are created from each of the three boundaries.
  11. Explain how hotspots cause volcanic and geothermal activity.
  12. Interpret images (e.g., satellite) and maps (e.g., topographic) of various landforms related to plate tectonics.
  13. Describe the anatomy of an earthquake.
  14. Identify the cause of an earthquake.
  15. Explain how to locate the epicenter of an earthquake through triangulation (enrichment).


2nd Quarter Begins


C. A combination of constructive and destructive geologic processes formed Earth’s surface. (Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions: What geologic processes in addition to plate tectonics formed Earth’s surface?

Everyday Life: Did you know that the Grand Canyon is the most visited national park in the world? Did you know that Mammoth Caves in Kentucky are the longest caves in the world? 

I can:

  1. Compare erosion and deposition.
  2. Explain how gravity causes erosion (e.g., mass wasting) and provide examples of resultant landforms (e.g., talus).
  3. Explain how wind causes erosion (esp. desert) and provide examples of resultant landforms (e.g., sand dunes).
  4. Explain how running water causes erosion and provide examples of resultant landforms (e.g., stages of river, floodplains, discharge rates, gradients, velocity, and delta).
  5. Explain how glaciers cause erosion and provide examples of resultant landforms (moraines, outwash, tills, erratic, kettles, eskers).
  6. Explain how ocean waves cause erosion and provide examples of resultant landforms (coastlines).
  7. Identify various surface features using topographic, physical and aerial maps, cross-sections and virtual settings (e.g., remote sensing, satellite data, LANDSAT).
  8. Explain the cause for karst topography and provide examples.
  9. Compare various soil types and describe a soil profile.


D. Evidence of the dynamic changes of Earth’s surface through time is found in the geologic record.(Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions: How do we know that earth’s surface has changed over time?

Everyday Life: Did you know if you measured the earth's history as 24 hours humans would have appeared in the last 5 minutes?

I can:

  1. Explain the geology principle of Uniformitarianism.
  2. Explain what relative age means.
  3. Explain how the relative age of rock layers can be determined by the laws of stratigraphy (law of superposition, law of lateral continuity, law of original horizontality, and law of cross-cutting relationships).
  4. Explain how the age of rock layers can be determined by index fossils.
  5. Explain what absolute age means.
  6. Explain how absolute age is determined
  7. Describe and interpret the geologic time scale.
  8. Relate Earth’s climate history to present-day climate issues that includes evidence from ice core sampling as well as evidence from the geologic record.
  9. Generate geologic maps of local or statewide formations based on actual data.
  10. Identify local formations and interpret the environment that existed at the time of the formation using geologic research.
  11. Analyze and interpret various data to draw conclusions about geologic history.

3rd Quarter Begins


Life Science

A. Diversity of species occurs through gradual processes over many generations. Fossil records provide evidence that changes have occurred in number and types of species. (Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions: How has life on earth changed over geologic time?


I can:


  1. Define adaptation, genetic material, genetic trait, genetic mutation, gradualism, natural selection, and extinction. 
  2. Identify and describe adaptations for several different kinds of organisms.
  3. Predict the effect of a favorable genetic mutation in a population. 
  4. Predict the effect of an unfavorable genetic mutation in a population. 
  5. Explain how environmental changes can cause traits to become more or less favorable. 
  6. Explain why species vary in appearance and behavior from their ancestors.
  7. Explain how fossils provide evidence of how organisms have changed over geologic time.
  8. Explain why most species that have lived on Earth are now extinct.
  9. Compare mass extinction and background extinction.
  10. Describe Charles Darwin's contributions to the concept of biological evolution by natural selection. (Enrichment)

B. Reproduction is necessary for the continuation of every species. (Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions: Which form of reproduction is best?

I can:

  1. Explain why reproduction is necessary for the continuation of every species.
  2. Define gene and genetic mutation.
  3. Compare sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction as it relates to the number of parents.
  4. Identify organisms that reproduce sexually or asexually or both ways.
  5. Compare mitotic and meiotic cell divisions as they relate to asexual and sexual reproduction.
  6. Explain why asexual reproduction results in identical offspring or clones and produces genetic continuity which may increase or decrease an organism’s chances for survival.
  7. Explain why sexual reproduction results in offspring that have a combination of genes and produces variations (new traits) in the species which may increase or decrease an organism’s chances for survival.

[In sexual reproduction, a single specialized cell from a female (egg) merges with a specialized cell from a male (sperm). Typically, half of the genes come from each parent. The fertilized cell, carrying genetic information from each parent, multiplies to form the complete organism. The same genetic information is copied in each cell of the new organism.]


C. The characteristics of an organism are a result of inherited traits received from parent(s). (Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions: How are traits inherited?

I can:

  1. Define gene, allele, genotype and phenotype.
  2. Describe the relationship between chromosomes and genes.
  3. Describe Mendel’s first law, the Law of Segregation, and his second law, the Law of Independent Assortment.
  4. Explain how the Law of Segregation relates to potential alleles a parent contributes to an offspring. 
  5. Describe Mendel’s work and the principles of Mendelian genetics (dominant vs. recessive)
  6. Compare recessive allele and dominant allele.
  7. Compare genotype and phenotype.
  8. Compare heterozygous genotypes and homozygous genotypes.
  9. Compare complete dominance, incomplete dominance and codominance.
  10. Predict the possible genotypes and phenotypes of offspring using a Punnet square.
  11. Analyze pedigrees limited to dominant, recessive or codominance of one trait.


4th Quarter Begins

Physical Science

A. Forces have magnitude and direction. (Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)

Essential Questions: How do the forces on an object cause its motion to change?

I can:

  1. Describe how the motion of an object is always measured with respect to a reference point.
  2. Define force, magnitude and friction.
  3. List and describe the three types of friction.
  4. Draw a force diagram.
  5. Demonstrate how forces can be added.
  6. Define net force (sum of all of the forces acting on the object).
  7. Compare balanced and unbalanced forces.
  8. Explain how the net force acting on an object can change the object’s direction and/or speed.
  9. Predict the motion (change of speed/direction) of an object when the net force on it is greater than zero.
  10. Explain how an object remains at rest or continues to move at a constant speed in a straight line if the net force is zero.


B. Forces between objects act when the objects are in direct contact or when they are not touching.(Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions:  How do those invisible forces work?

I can:

  1. Define field.
  2. Explain how two objects can exert forces on each other without touching using the field model.
  3. Predict changes in the motion of an object when placed in a field.
  4. Define electric field.
  5. Predict changes in the motion of a charged object when placed in an electric field (e.g., repelled or attracted).
  6. Explain what happens to the strength of an electric force as the distance increases from the source.
  7. Define magnetic field.
  8. Predict changes in the motion of a magnetic object when placed in a magnetic field (e.g., repelled or attracted).
  9. Explain what happens to the strength of a magnetic force as the distance increases from the source.
  10. Describe magnetic field lines when iron filings are sprinkled around a magnet.
  11. Define gravitational field.
  12. Predict changes in the motion of an object when placed in a gravitational field.
  13. Explain what happens to the strength of a gravitational force as the distance increases from the source.
  14. Describe Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity.
  15. Compare mass and weight.
  16. Provide examples of how an object’s weight can vary while it mass does not.

C. There are different types of potential energy. (Approximate Duration: 3 Weeks)


Essential Questions:  What does a water tower, rubber band and a piece of pizza have in common?­­­

I can:

  1. Define and calculate gravitational potential energy.
  2. Explain how gravitational potential energy is associated with the mass of an object and its height above a reference point.
  3. Define elastic potential energy.
  4. Explain how elastic potential energy is associated with how much an elastic object has been stretched or compressed.
  5. Explain how elastic potential energy is associated with the amount of force required to compress or stretch an object.
  6. Define chemical potential energy.
  7. Explain how chemical potential energy is associated with the position and arrangement of the atoms within substances.
  8. Identify the forms of energy transferred when a chemical system undergoes a reaction.