Guide for “The Four Elements”
area and grade levels
area and grade levels
Physical sciences for
How did ancient people make sense of the physical world?
The ancient Greeks believed that everything in
the Universe was composed of four elements: fire, air, earth and water.
- Important Greek
philosophers (Aristotle, Democritus, Empedocles, Plato, Socrates)
- The School of
Athens and the influence of its teachers on students
- Interactive activity
that presents a riddle about the four elements to be solved
Standards for middle/junior high school
Learning Standard 13B:
Know and apply concepts that describe the interaction between science,
technology and society.
13.B.3b Identify important contributions to science and technology that
have been made by individuals and groups from various cultures.
Science Education Standards content standards for 5th-8th grade
Unifying Concepts and Processes Standard: Evidence, Models, and
Content Standard A Science as Inquiry: Understandings about
• Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific
investigations. Some investigations involve observing and describing objects,
organisms, or events; some involve collecting specimens; some involve
experiments; some involve seeking more information; some involve discovery
of new objects and phenomena; and some involve making models.
• Scientific explanations emphasize evidence, have logically consistent
arguments, and use scientific principles, models, and theories. The scientific
community accepts and uses such explanations until displaced by better
scientific ones. When such displacement occurs, science advances.
• Science advances through legitimate skepticism. Asking questions
and querying other scientists' explanations is part of scientific inquiry.
Scientists evaluate the explanations proposed by other scientists by examining
evidence, comparing evidence, identifying faulty reasoning, pointing out
statements that go beyond the evidence, and suggesting alternative explanations
for the same observations.
Content Standard B Physical Science: Transfer of Energy
• A substance has characteristic properties, such as density, a
boiling point, and solubility, all of which are independent of the amount
of the sample. A mixture of substances often can be separated into the
original substances using one or more of the characteristic properties.
Content Standard D Earth and Space Science: Structure of the
• Soil consists of weathered rocks and decomposed organic material
from dead plants, animals, and bacteria. Soils are often found in layers,
with each having a different chemical composition and texture.
• Water, which covers the majority of the earth's surface, circulates
through the crust, oceans, and atmosphere in what is known as the "water
cycle." Water evaporates from the earth's surface, rises and cools
as it moves to higher elevations, condenses as rain or snow, and falls
to the surface where it collects in lakes, oceans, soil, and in rocks
Content Standard E Science and Technology: Understandings about
Science and Technology
• Many different people in different cultures have made and continue
to make contributions to science and technology.
Content Standard F Science in Personal and Social Perspectives:
Science and Technology in Society
• Science influences society through its knowledge and world view.
Scientific knowledge and the procedures used by scientists influence the
way many individuals in society think about themselves, others, and the
environment. The effect of science on society is neither entirely beneficial
nor entirely detrimental.
• Science and technology have advanced through contributions of
many different people, in different cultures, at different times in history.
Science and technology have contributed enormously to economic growth
and productivity among societies and groups within societies.
• Science cannot answer all questions and technology cannot solve
all human problems or meet all human needs. Students should understand
the difference between scientific and other questions. They should appreciate
what science and technology can reasonably contribute to society and what
they cannot do. For example, new technologies often will decrease some
risks and increase others.
Content Standard G History and Nature of Science: Science as
• Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds--and with
diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations--engage in the
activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health
professions. Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all
communicate extensively with others.
• Science requires different abilities, depending on such factors
as the field of study and type of inquiry. Science is very much a human
endeavor, and the work of science relies on basic human qualities, such
as reasoning, insight, energy, skill, and creativity--as well as on scientific
habits of mind, such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity,
skepticism, and openness to new ideas.
Content Standard G History and Nature of Science: History of
• Many individuals have contributed to the traditions of science.
Studying some of these individuals provides further understanding of scientific
inquiry, science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the relationships
between science and society.
• In historical perspective, science has been practiced by different
individuals in different cultures. In looking at the history of many peoples,
one finds that scientists and engineers of high achievement are considered
to be among the most valued contributors to their culture.
• Tracing the history of science can show how difficult it was for
scientific innovators to break through the accepted ideas of their time
to reach the conclusions that we currently take for granted.