CA Science Framework Description (Physics)

Highlighted Phenomena from High School Physics

  • Cars and mountains both “crumple” during collisions.
  • A baseball changes directions when it collides with a bat.
  • When a stone is thrown into a pond, ripples fade out as they move away from the central point where the stone sank.
  • Four million people die each year in developing countries from illnesses related to inhaling smoke from indoor cooking fires.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light causes sunburn.

Introduction to High School Physics

The framework’s high school physics section articulates the level of depth and complexity that the CA NGSS expect in high school. It provides a richer and deeper understanding that builds on the knowledge and abilities in all three dimensions of the CA NGSS students achieved in the middle grades. Most notably, high school students quantify the observations and models they made in the middle grades. For example, in a snapshot in IS1 (Forces and Motion), students use frame-by-frame video analysis to measure the speed of a baseball and bat to determine the speed of the ball before and after the two collide. Can they predict the speed with which the ball will rebound? The framework describes how this quantification can be accomplished using different levels of mathematical rigor so that teachers could design a freshman physics class or a capstone physics class that equally meet the CA NGSS at a developmentally appropriate level. 

The framework also provides examples of the synergy between physics and engineering design. An engineering connection in IS1 (Forces and Motion) describes how to emphasize engineering design and the three dimensions of CA NGSS in a classic egg-drop challenge. Students revisit phenomena of objects colliding in every grade span during the CA NGSS, building more detailed understanding each time. The high school version explains the results in terms of momentum, includes explicit strategies for comparing multiple solutions during the engineering design process (including the environmental impacts of the materials), and could even include computer simulations of prototypes. Students depict their solution as a system in a pictorial model and analyze the forces within the system. Students then explicitly relate their solution to real-life technologies for reducing the impact of collisions such as helmets, air bags, catcher’s mitts, or parachutes. In high school, students use engineering to analyze global challenges. In a vignette in IS3 (Energy), students obtain information about the health and environmental impacts of indoor cooking fires in developing countries. They analyze the problem and develop a solar cooker as a replacement. As students engage in the engineering task and refine their design, they enhance their understanding of the forms of energy and energy transfer.

The physics course is divided into four instructional segments organized around the relevant physical science DCIs that follow a conceptual flow that builds in complexity. IS1 (Forces and Motion) starts with simple applications of Newton’s laws. In IS2 (Types of Interactions), students investigate gravitational and electromagnetic interactions. Instructional segment 3 (Energy) focuses on energy transfer in all types of interactions. Students then progress to studying the nature of light and applications of waves in IS4 (Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation).

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 Physics Storyline

HS 4 Course - Physics - IS Overview

Image Source: 2016 CA Science Framework