Ohio Academic Content Standards for Science
Benchmarks and Indicators

11-12 Science Benchmarks

 By the end of the 11-12 program:



Earth and Space Sciences



Life Sciences



A. Explain how technology can be used to gather evidence and increase our understanding of the universe.


B. Describe how Earth is made up of a series of interconnected systems and how a change in one system affects other systems.


C. Explain that humans are an integral part of the Earth's system and the choices humans make today impact natural systems in the future.


D. Summarize the historical development of scientific theories and ideas and describe emerging issues in the study of Earth and space sciences.



A. Explain how processes at the cellular level affect the functions and characteristics of an organism.


B. Explain how humans are connected to and impact natural systems.


C. Explain how the molecular basis of life and the principles of genetics determine inheritance.


D. Relate how biotic and abiotic global changes have occurred in the past and will continue to do so in the future.


E. Explain the interconnectedness of the components of a natural system.


F. Explain how human choices today will affect the quality and quantity of life on earth.


G. Summarize the historical development of scientific theories and ideas within the study of life sciences.



A11-12 Science Benchmarks

By the end of the 11-12 program:


Physical Sciences



Science and Technology



A. Explain how variations in the arrangement and motion of atoms and molecules form the basis of a variety of biological, chemical and physical phenomena.


B. Recognize that some atomic nuclei are unstable and will spontaneously break down.


C. Describe how atoms and molecules can gain or lose energy only in discrete amounts.


D. Apply principles of forces and motion to mathematically analyze, describe and predict the net effects on objects or systems.


E. Summarize the historical development of scientific theories and ideas within the study of physical sciences.



A. Predict how human choices today will determine the quality and quantity of life on Earth.



11-12 Science Benchmarks 

By the end of the 11-12 program:



Scientific Inquiry



Scientific Ways of Knowing



A. Make appropriate choices when designing and participating in scientific investigations by using cognitive and manipulative skills when collecting data and formulating conclusions from the data.



A. Explain how scientific evidence is used to

develop and revise scientific predictions, ideas or theories.


B. Explain how ethical considerations shape scientific endeavors.


C. Explain how societal issues and considerations affect the progress of science and technology.



Grade Eleven


Earth and Space Sciences (11)


            The Universe


1. Describe how the early Earth was different from the planet we live on today, and explain the formation of the sun, Earth and the rest of the solar system from a nebular cloud of dust and gas approximately 4.5 billion years ago.


            Earth Systems

2. Analyze how the regular and predictable motions of Earth, sun and moon explain phenomena on Earth (e.g., seasons, tides, eclipses and phases of the moon).


3. Explain heat and energy transfers in and out of the atmosphere and its involvement in weather and climate (radiation, conduction, convection and advection).


4. Explain the impact of oceanic and atmospheric currents on weather and climate.


5. Use appropriate data to analyze and predict upcoming trends in global weather patterns (e.g., el Nio and la Nia, melting glaciers and icecaps and changes in ocean surface temperatures).


6. Explain how interactions among Earth's lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere have resulted in the ongoing changes of Earth's system.


7. Describe the effects of particulates and gases in the atmosphere including those originating from volcanic activity.


8. Describe the normal adjustments of Earth, which may be hazardous for humans. Recognize that humans live at the interface between the atmosphere driven by solar energy and the upper mantle where convection creates changes in Earth's solid crust. Realize that as societies have grown, become stable and come to value aspects of the environment, vulnerability to natural processes of change has increased.


9. Explain the effects of biomass and human activity on climate (e.g., climatic change and global warming).


10. Interpret weather maps and their symbols to predict changing weather conditions worldwide (e.g., monsoons, hurricanes and cyclones).


11. Analyze how materials from human societies (e.g., radioactive waste and air pollution) affect both physical and chemical cycles of Earth.



12. Explain ways in which humans have had a major effect on other species (e.g., the influence of humans on other organisms occurs through land use, which decreases space available to other species and pollution, which changes the chemical composition of air, soil and water).


13. Explain how human behavior affects the basic processes of natural ecosystems and the quality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere.


14. Conclude that Earth has finite resources and explain that humans deplete some resources faster than they can be renewed.



            Perspectives and




15. Use historical examples to show how new ideas are limited by the context in which they are conceived; are often rejected by the social establishment; sometimes spring from unexpected findings; and usually grow slowly through contributions from many different investigators (e.g., global warming, Heliocentric Theory and Theory of Continental Drift).


16. Describe advances in Earth and space science that have important long-lasting effects on science and society (e.g., global warming, Heliocentric Theory and Plate Tectonics Theory).



Life Sciences (11)


            Characteristics and

            Structure of Life



1. Describe how the maintenance of a relatively stable internal environment is required for the continuation of life, and explain how stability is challenged by changing physical, chemical and environmental conditions as well as the presence of pathogens.


2. Recognize that chemical bonds of food molecules contain energy. Energy is released when the bonds of food molecules are broken and new compounds with lower energy bonds are formed. Some of this energy is released as thermal energy.


3. Relate how birth rates, fertility rates and death rates are affected by various environmental factors.


4. Examine the contributing factors of human population growth that impact natural systems such as levels of education, children in the labor force, education and employment of women, infant mortality rates, costs of raising children, birth control methods, and cultural norms.



5. Investigate the impact on the structure and stability of ecosystems due to changes in their biotic and abiotic components as a result of human activity.


            Diversity and

            Interdependence of


6. Predict some possible impacts on an ecosystem with the introduction of a non-native species.


7. Show how populations can increase through linear or exponential growth with corresponding effects on resource use and environmental pollution.


8. Recognize that populations can reach or temporarily exceed the carrying capacity of a given environment. Show that the limitation is not just the availability of space but the number of organisms in relation to resources and the capacity of earth systems to support life.


9. Give examples of how human activity can accelerate rates of natural change and can have unforeseen consequences.


10. Explain how environmental factors can influence heredity or development of organisms.


11. Investigate issues of environmental quality at local, regional, national and global levels such as population growth, resource use, population distribution, over-consumption, the capacity of technology to solve

      problems, poverty, the role of economics, politics and different ways humans view the earth.





12. Recognize that ecosystems change when significant climate changes occur or when one or more new species appear as a result of immigration or speciation.


13. Describe how the process of evolution has changed the physical world over geologic time.


14. Describe how geologic time can be estimated by observing rock sequences and using fossils to correlate the sequences at various locations. Recognize that current methods include using the known decay rates of radioactive isotopes present in rocks to measure the time since the rock was formed.



Physical Sciences (11)


            Nature of Matter


1. Explain that elements with the same number of protons may or may not have the same mass and those with different masses (different numbers of neutrons) are called isotopes. Some of these are radioactive.

2. Explain that humans have used unique bonding of carbon atoms to make a variety of molecules (e.g., plastics).


            Forces and Motion

3. Describe real world examples showing that all energy transformations tend toward disorganized states (e.g., fossil fuel combustion, food pyramids and electrical use).


4. Explain how electric motors and generators work (e.g., relate that electricity and magnetism are two aspects of a single electromagnetic force). Investigate that electric charges in motion produce magnetic fields and a changing magnetic field creates an electric field.



Science and Technology (11)






1. Identify that science and technology are essential social enterprises but alone they can only indicate what can happen, not what should happen. Realize the latter involves human decisions about the use of knowledge.


2. Predict how decisions regarding the implementation of technologies involve the weighing of trade-offs between predicted positive and negative effects on the environment and/or humans.


3. Explore and explain any given technology that may have a different value for different groups of people and at different points in time (e.g., new varieties of farm plants and animals have been engineered by manipulating their genetic instructions to reproduce new characteristics).


4. Explain why basic concepts and principles of science and technology should be a part of active debate about the economics, policies, politics and ethics of various science-related and technology-related challenges.


5. Investigate that all fuels (e.g., fossil, solar and nuclear) have advantages and disadvantages; therefore society must consider the trade-offs among them (e.g., economic costs and environmental impact).


6. Research sources of energy beyond traditional fuels and the advantages, disadvantages and trade-offs society must consider when using alternative sources (e.g., biomass, solar, hybrid engines, wind and fuel cells).



Scientific Inquiry (11)


            Doing Scientific




1. Formulate testable hypotheses. Develop and explain the appropriate procedures, controls and variables (dependent and independent) in scientific experimentation.


2. Evaluate assumptions that have been used in reaching scientific conclusions.


3. Design and carry out scientific inquiry (investigation), communicate and critique results through peer review.


4. Explain why the methods of an investigation are based on the questions being asked.


5. Summarize data and construct a reasonable argument based on those data and other known information.



Scientific Ways of Knowing (11)


            Nature of Science


1. Analyze a set of data to derive a hypothesis and apply that hypothesis to a similar phenomenon (e.g., biome data).


2. Apply scientific inquiry to evaluate results of scientific investigations, observations, theoretical models and the explanations proposed by other scientists.


3. Demonstrate that scientific explanations adhere to established criteria, for example a proposed explanation must be logically consistent, it must abide by the rules of evidence and it must be open to questions and modifications.


4. Explain why scientists can assume that the universe is a vast single system in which the basic rules are the same everywhere.


            Ethical Practices

5. Recognize that bias affects outcomes. People tend to ignore evidence that challenges their beliefs but accept evidence that supports their beliefs. Scientist attempt to avoid bias in their work.


6. Describe the strongly held traditions of science that serve to keep scientists within the bounds of ethical professional behavior.


            Scientific Theories

7. Explain how theories are judged by how well they fit with other theories, the range of included observations, how well they explain observations and how effective they are in predicting new findings.


            Science and Society

8. Explain that the decision to develop a new technology is influenced by societal opinions and demands and by cost benefit considerations.


9. Explain how natural and human-induced hazards present the need for humans to assess potential danger and risk. Many changes in the environment designed by humans bring benefits to society as well as cause risks.



10. Describe costs and trade-offs of various hazards ranging from those with minor risk to a few people, to major catastrophes with major risk to many people. The scale of events and the accuracy with which scientists and engineers can (and cannot) predict events are important considerations.


11. Research the role of science and technology in careers that students plan to pursue.





Grade Twelve 


Earth and Space Sciences (12)


            The Universe


1. Explain how scientists obtain information about the universe by using technology to detect electromagnetic radiation that is emitted, reflected or absorbed by stars and other objects.


2. Explain how the large-scale motion of objects in the universe is governed by gravitational forces and detected by observing electromagnetic radiation.


3. Explain how information about the universe is inferred by understanding that stars and other objects in space emit, reflect or absorb electromagnetic radiation, which we then detect.


4. Explain how astronomers infer that the whole universe is expanding by understanding how light seen from distant galaxies has longer apparent wavelengths than comparable light sources close to Earth.


            Earth Systems

5. Investigate how thermal energy transfers in the world's oceans impact physical features (e.g., ice caps, oceanic and atmospheric currents) and weather patterns.


6. Describe how scientists estimate how much of a given resource is available on Earth.



Life Sciences (12)


            Characteristics and

            Structure of Life



1. Recognize that information stored in DNA provides the instructions for assembling protein molecules used by the cells that determine the characteristics of the organism.


2. Explain why specialized cells/structures are useful to plants and animals (e.g., stoma, phloem, xylem, blood, nerve, muscle, egg and sperm).


3. Explain that the sun is essentially the primary source of energy for life. Plants capture energy by absorbing light and using it to form strong (covalent) chemical bonds between the atoms of carbon-containing (organic) molecules.


4. Explain that carbon-containing molecules can be used to assemble larger molecules with biological activity (including proteins, DNA, sugars and fats). In addition, the energy stored in bonds between the atoms (chemical energy) can be used as sources of energy for life processes.


5. Examine the inheritance of traits through one or more genes and how a single gene can influence more than one trait.


6. Explain how developmental differentiation is regulated through the expression of different genes.


            Diversity and

            Interdependence of



7. Relate diversity and adaptation to structures and functions of living organisms at various levels of organization.


8. Based on the structure and stability of ecosystems and their nonliving components, predict the biotic and abiotic changes in such systems when disturbed (e.g. introduction of non-native species, climatic change, etc.).


9. Explain why and how living systems require a continuous input of energy to maintain their chemical and physical organization. Explain that with death and the cessation of energy input, living systems rapidly disintegrate toward more disorganized states.





10. Explain additional components of the evolution theory, including genetic drift, immigration, emigration and mutation.



            Perspectives and




11. Trace the historical development of a biological theory or idea (e.g., genetics, cytology and germ theory).


12. Describe advances in life sciences that have important, long-lasting effects on science and society (e.g., biotechnology).



Physical Sciences (12)


            Nature of Matter


1. Explain how atoms join with one another in various combinations in distinct molecules or in repeating crystal patterns.


2. Describe how a physical, chemical or ecological system in equilibrium may return to the same state of equilibrium if the disturbances it experiences are small. Large disturbances may cause it to escape that equilibrium and eventually settle into some other state of equilibrium.


3. Explain how all matter tends toward more disorganized states and describe real world examples (e.g., erosion of rocks and expansion of the universe).


4. Recognize that at low temperatures some materials become superconducting and offer little or no resistance to the flow of electrons.


            Forces and Motion

5. Use and apply the laws of motion to analyze, describe and predict the effects of forces on the motions of objects mathematically.


6. Recognize that the nuclear forces that hold the nucleus of an atom together, at nuclear distances, are stronger than the electric forces that would make it fly apart.


7. Recognize that nuclear forces are much stronger than electromagnetic forces, and electromagnetic forces are vastly stronger than gravitational forces. The strength of the nuclear forces explains why greater amounts of energy are released from nuclear reactions (e.g., from atomic and hydrogen bombs and in the sun and other stars).


8. Describe how the observed wavelength of a wave depends upon the relative motion of the source and the observer (Doppler effect). If either is moving towards the other, the observed wavelength is shorter; if either is moving away, the observed wavelength is longer (e.g., weather radar, bat echoes and police radar).


9. Describe how gravitational forces act between all masses and always create a force of attraction. Recognize that the strength of the force is proportional to the masses and weakens rapidly with increasing distance between them.


            Nature of Energy

10. Explain the characteristics of isotopes. The nuclei of radioactive isotopes are unstable and spontaneously decay emitting particles and/or wavelike radiation. It cannot be predicted exactly when, if ever, an unstable nucleus will decay, but a large group of identical nuclei decay at a predictable rate.


11. Use the predictability of decay rates and the concept of half-life to explain how radioactive substances can be used in estimating the age of materials.


12. Describe how different atomic energy levels are associated with the electron configurations of atoms and electron configurations (and/or conformations) of molecules.


13. Explain how atoms and molecules can gain or lose energy in particular discrete amounts (quanta or packets); therefore they can only absorb or emit light at the wavelengths corresponding to these amounts.


            Perspectives and




14. Use historical examples to explain how new ideas are limited by the context in which they are conceived; are often initially rejected by the scientific establishment; sometimes spring from unexpected findings; and usually grow slowly through contributions from many different investigators (e.g., nuclear energy, quantum theory and theory of relativity).


15. Describe concepts/ideas in physical sciences that have important, long-lasting effects on science and society (e.g., quantum theory, theory of relativity, age of the universe).



Science and Technology (12)






1. Explain how science often advances with the introduction of new technologies and how solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge.


2. Describe how new technologies often extend the current levels of scientific understanding and introduce new areas of research.


3. Research how scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world and how technological design is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems.


4. Explain why basic concepts and principles of science and technology should be a part of active debate about the economics, policies, politics and ethics of various science-related and technology-related challenges.



Scientific Inquiry (12)


            Doing Scientific




1. Formulate testable hypotheses. Develop and explain the appropriate procedures, controls and variables (dependent and independent) in scientific experimentation.


2. Derive simple mathematical relationships that have predictive power from experimental data (e.g., derive an equation from a graph and vice versa, determine whether a linear or exponential relationship exists among the data in a table).


3. Research and apply appropriate safety precautions when designing and/or conducting scientific investigations (e.g., OSHA, MSDS, eyewash, goggles and ventilation).


4. Create and clarify the method, procedures, controls and variables in complex scientific investigations.


5. Use appropriate summary statistics to analyze and describe data.


Scientific Ways of Knowing (12)


            Nature of Science


1. Give examples that show how science is a social endeavor in which scientists share their knowledge with the expectation that it will be challenged continuously by the scientific community and others.


2. Evaluate scientific investigations by reviewing current scientific knowledge and the experimental procedures used, examining the evidence, identifying faulty reasoning, pointing out statements that go beyond the evidence and suggesting alternative explanations for the same observations.


3. Select a scientific model, concept or theory and explain how it has been revised over time based on new knowledge, perceptions or technology.


4. Analyze a set of data to derive a principle and then apply that principle to a similar phenomenon (e.g., predator-prey relationships and properties of semiconductors).


5. Describe how individuals and teams contribute to science and engineering at different levels of complexity (e.g., an individual may conduct basic field studies, hundreds of people may work together on major scientific questions or technical problem).


            Ethical Practices

6. Explain that scientists may develop and apply ethical tests to evaluate the consequences of their research when appropriate.


            Science and Society

7. Describe the current and historical contributions of diverse peoples and cultures to science and technology and the scarcity and inaccessibility of information on some of these contributions.


8. Recognize that individuals and society must decide on proposals involving new research and the introduction of new technologies into society. Decisions involve assessment of alternatives, risks, costs and benefits and consideration of who benefits and who suffers, who pays

    and gains, and what the risks are and who bears them.


9. Recognize the appropriateness and value of basic questions "What can happen?" "What are the odds?" and "How do scientists and engineers know what will happen?"



10. Recognize that social issues and challenges can affect progress in science and technology. (e.g., Funding priorities for specific health problems serve as examples of ways that social issues influence science and technology.)


11. Research how advances in scientific knowledge have impacted society on a local, national or global level.