CA Science Framework Description (Chemistry)


Highlighted Phenomena from High School Chemistry

  • The wick of a candle burns much slower than expected for a flammable string.
  • Hot and cold packs look identical on the outside but use different ingredients to “spontaneously” change their temperature warmer or cooler.
  • A flask of clear liquid spontaneously turns blue when swirled, but the color quickly fades.
  • Chemical fertilizers use ammonia. Ammonia synthesis occurs slowly at room temperature but speeds up at low temperatures.
  • Natural gas leaks out of pipelines and releases methane into the air.

Introduction to High School Chemistry

The high school chemistry course links the macroscopic nature of matter to the internal structure of the atom, which requires students to understand models of the internal structure of the atom and to be familiar with the periodic table. This section of the framework provides guidance about how to teach a rigorous high school chemistry course that builds this background in tandem with deeper understanding of the macroscopic behavior of matter. In high school, students revisit many of the same DCIs from the middle grades and ask such questions as, How does the internal structure of the atom affect this behavior? High school students are ready to address stability and change at a new level as they study equilibrium. The course also integrates concepts of heat transfer and thermodynamics, which are essential for building further understanding of reaction kinetics (HS-PS1-5) and the ideal gas laws. (The latter is a topic that teachers can either include in a high school course or simply lay a foundation for more advanced study.)

The framework also provides examples of how engineering fits into a chemistry curriculum. In an engineering connection in IS5 (Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer), students design a food calorimeter and iteratively improve the design so that it captures as much of the heat energy from the food as possible. As students engage in the engineering task, they enhance their understanding of energy transfer. In a vignette in IS4 (Modifying Chemical Reactions), students play the role of chemical engineers faced with the societal need to grow enough food to feed the world’s people. They improve the efficiency of a chemical reaction for making synthetic fertilizers by adjusting the physical conditions under which the chemical reaction occurs. The problem transcends disciplinary boundaries as students consider the environmental impacts of these synthetic fertilizers washing into local streams and propose solutions to that problem. 

The chemistry course is divided into five instructional segments organized around the relevant physical science DCIs following a conceptual flow that builds in complexity. Students begin with a macroscopic view of the properties of matter in IS1 (Properties of Matter). They explain those properties in terms of the internal structure of atoms and chemical bonding in IS2 (Structure of Matter). They investigate basic chemical reactions in IS3 (Understanding Chemical Reactions) and then further complexities of equilibrium and reaction kinetics in IS4 (Modifying Chemical Reactions). In IS5 (Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer), students explain energy transfer during chemical reactions and return to the macroscopic scale to discuss thermodynamics and heat transfer.

from d’Alessio, Matthew A. (2018). Executive Summary: Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Sacramento: Consortium for the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

High School Four-Course Model Chemistry Storyline

High School Four-Course Model Chemistry Storyline

Image Source: 2016 CA Science Framework