M/J STEM Astronomy and Space Science   (#2001025)

Version for Academic Year:

Course Standards

General Course Information and Notes

General Notes

If this course is to be used in a STEM sequence in place of either the comprehensive or subject specific course sequences, teachers should refer to the test item specifications for the 8th grade SSA for information on tested standards which can be found at: https://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/5663/urlt/swsatisG8.pdf.

This course is an integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) course for middle school students.  M/J STEM Physical Science includes an integration of standards from science, mathematics, and english/language arts (ELA) through the application to STEM problem solving using physical science knowledge and science and engineering practices.  Physical sciences through applications such as aeronautics, robotics, rocketry, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering, are emphasized in this course.  Laboratory investigations that include the use of scientific inquiry, research, measurement, problem solving, laboratory apparatus and technologies, experimental procedures, and safety procedures are an integral part of this course.  The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) recommends that at the middle school level, all students should have multiple opportunities every week to explore science laboratory investigations (labs).  School laboratory investigations are defined by the National Research Council (NRC) as an experience in the laboratory, classroom, or the field that provides students with opportunities to interact directly with natural phenomena or with data collected by other using tools, materials, data collection techniques, and models (NRC, 2006, p. 3).  Laboratory investigations in the middle school classroom should help all students develop a growing understanding of the complexity and ambiguity of empirical work, as well as the skills to calibrate and troubleshoot equipment used to make observations.  Learners should understand measurement error; and have the skills to aggregate, interpret, and present the resulting data (NRC, 2006, p. 77; NSTA, 2007).

Special Notes: 

Instructional Practices 
Teaching from a range of complex text is optimized when teachers in all subject areas implement the following strategies on a routine basis:

  1. Ensuring wide reading from complex text that varies in length.
  2. Making close reading and rereading of texts central to lessons.
  3. Emphasizing text-specific complex questions, and cognitively complex tasks, reinforce focus on the text and cultivate independence.
  4. Emphasizing students supporting answers based upon evidence from the text.
  5. Providing extensive research and writing opportunities (claims and evidence).

Science and Engineering Practices (NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education, 2010)

  • Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
  • Developing and using models.
  • Planning and carrying out investigations.
  • Analyzing and interpreting data.
  • Using mathematics, information and computer technology, and computational thinking.
  • Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
  • Engaging in argument from evidence.
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

ISTE Standards (http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs20-14_ISTE_Standards-S_PDF.pdf) should be incorporated in many contexts throughout the course.

Course Standards

Use grade appropriate Nature of Science and mathematics content benchmarks (i.e., if this course is offered to seventh grade students, then the SC.7.N benchmarks should be integrated into the course content, and SC.6.N and SC.8.N benchmarks should be omitted from the seventh grade course).

Florida’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards

This course includes Florida’s B.E.S.T. ELA Expectations (EE) and Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning Standards (MTRs) for students. Florida educators should intentionally embed these standards within the content and their instruction as applicable. For guidance on the implementation of the EEs and MTRs, please visit https://www.cpalms.org/Standards/BEST_Standards.aspx and select the appropriate B.E.S.T. Standards package.

English Language Development ELD Standards Special Notes Section:

Teachers are required to provide listening, speaking, reading and writing instruction that allows English language learners (ELL) to communicate information, ideas and concepts for academic success in the content area of Science.  For the given level of English language proficiency and with visual, graphic, or interactive support, students will interact with grade level words, expressions, sentences and discourse to process or produce language necessary for academic success The ELD standard should specify a relevant content area concept or topic of study chosen by curriculum developers and teachers which maximizes an ELL’s need for communication and social skills. To access an ELL supporting document which delineates performance definitions and descriptors, please click on the following link: https://cpalmsmediaprod.blob.core.windows.net/uploads/docs/standards/eld/sc.pdf.

Additional Instructional Resources:
A.V.E. for Success Collection: http://www.fasa.net/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=139

General Information

Course Number: 2001025
Course Path:
Abbreviated Title: M/J STEM ASTRO/SPACE
Course Length: Year (Y)
Course Attributes:
  • Class Size Core Required
Course Type: Core Academic Course
Course Status: State Board Approved
Grade Level(s): 6,7,8

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this course.

Original Student Tutorials

In Search of New Worlds: Exploring Methods Used in Science:

Explore methods used in scientific inquiry by following an actual astronomer in search of new planets within our solar system in this original student tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Which Science Topic Would You Choose?:

Learn how scientific research is done based society's goals and what current group needs as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Different Scientists:

Learn how different scientists all over the world use vastly different skills to work toward the common goal of understanding and fighting an emerging disease in this interactive tutorial

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: How Does Science Fit In?:

You'll explore how science does and does not influence decision-making about climate change, sea turtles, and human health, in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

It All Makes Cents! The Two Rs in Science Research: Repetition and Replication :

Learn the importance of replication and repetition in science as you investigate the composition of a penny with this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Innovation: Using Tools in New Ways to Make Discoveries:

Learn how innovation is important in moving scientific thinking forward with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Connections Between Science and Society, Economy, and Politics:

Explore the interconnected world of science, society, economy, and politics and how they all influence one another with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientific Theories Can Change:

Learn about scientific theories and how they can change when new information is presented with this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Stop! In the Name of Scientific Laws:

Explore how we define and describe scientific phenomena using scientific laws in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Math Models and Social Distancing:

Learn how math models can show why social distancing during a epidemic or pandemic is important in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

As the Scientific Theory Turns:

Learn about scientific theories and how they can change in this space-themed, interactive tutorial

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Vast Universe:

The universe is so big it is hard to even imagine! Consider the vastness of space with this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Let's Investigate!:

Investigate the benefits and limitations of experiments, observational studies, and comparative studies with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Research: Evidence Through Observation:

Learn about different types of scientific investigations as you discover the Zebra Longwing, a special type of butterfly that calls Florida home. In this interactive tutorial, you'll also learn how scientists collaborate with each other and share empirical evidence. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Soccer Science: Why Experiments Need to be Replicable:

Help Ryan revise his soccer science experiment to make it replicable. In this interactive tutorial, you'll learn what "replicable" means and why it's so important in science.


Type: Original Student Tutorial

Voyage Across the Universe:

Learn about the variety and amazing features of our universe in this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Think Like a Scientist:

Learn about the tools of science as we look at the mystery of bird migrations in this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Goldilocks and the Three...Planets?:

Compare conditions on Venus, Earth, and Mars, and learn why Earth is an ideal place for life in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Expedition of the Earth:

Learn how scientific knowledge is open to change and how the knowledge about the Earth's surface has changed in the past 100 years as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Not Just Another Science Experiment:

Science isn't just about experiments! Learn about other ways to do science such as observational and comparative studies in this interactive tutorial. Science is varied and interesting as we use scientific skills to learn about the world!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Is It Science or Pseudoscience?:

Learn the differences between science and pseudoscience in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Using Science to Make Informed Decisions:

Learn how science can help us make informed decisions that improve our lives as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Changes:

Explore the processes of science and how it changes over time. This interactive tutorial uses the historical development of The Cell Theory to illustrate these ideas.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Engineer:

Engineering and science may be similar but their goals are somewhat different. In this interactive tutorial, learn about engineers; some of the different fields of engineering, where engineers work, what they do, and some of their goals. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Geoscientist:

Learn about the work of geo-scientists: What they do, where they work and the types of questions they strive to answer in this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Physicist:

Learn about the world of physics and explore what physicists do. In this interactive tutorial, you'll discover where they work and what kinds of questions they try to answer. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Chemist:

Learn about the work of chemists, various fields of chemistry, where chemists work and the types of questions they strive to answer in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial


Explore the causes of tides as they occur along the coasts around the world in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Biologist:

Learn about the varied job of a biologist; where they work, what they do and the types of questions they try to answer. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Solar and Lunar Eclipses:

Explore and contrast solar and lunar eclipses in this interactive tutorial. By the end, you'll learn how interactions between the Sun, Earth, and moon cause these cool phenomena. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Technology is Essential in Science:

Technology is essential to scientific knowledge. In this interactive tutorial, you will learn how technology has helped us make scientific discoveries throughout history. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Hunt for Exoplanets:

Learn how science relies on creative and innovative thinking as we explore the science of discovering exoplanets in this interactive tutorial. Science is a problem solving endeavor as we try and figure out and learn new things. The answers are hard to find, but if we keep asking questions and building on what we know, then we can solve problems to things we once were thought were impossible!


Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Research: Developing a Hypothesis:

Learn how to write an effective hypothesis with sharks as a focus in this interactive tutorial. A hypothesis should be testable and falsifiable. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Is by Everyone and for Everyone:

Learn about the amazing science discoveries by people from all over the world and all walks of life. In this interactive tutorial, you'll see that science is by and for everyone!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Research: Writing a Conclusion:

Learn how to write a valid conclusion from a scientific investigation. In this interactive tutorial, you'll also learn how to answer questions using scientific reasoning. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Star Properties:

Discover how scientists classify stars according to their brightness, temperature, color, and size in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Challenges of Space Travel:

Explore the challenges related to space travel in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Law of Universal Gravitation:

Learn about Isaac Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. This law helps calculate the force of gravity dependent on the mass of the objects and the distance between them. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientist's Next Top Model:

Come with me as we select Scientist's Next Top Model! When does an abstract idea become a real scientific model? When the model appears in scientific journals and textbooks all over the world. Before a model can grace the cover of these high profile, peer reviewed journals and textbooks it must go through a rigorous process. How does a model go from an idea to a scientific model? What took me 2000 years I am going to make happen for one lucky model in just 15 short minutes!

Competition is tough and each model will have to showcase why they are able to represent themselves as Scientist’s Next Top Model.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Universe:

Explore the universe and identify key facts about galaxies and stars, how scientists learn about the universe, and contemplate the massive size of the universe. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Characteristics of the Electromagnetic Spectrum:

Examine the electromagnetic spectrum and characteristics associated with different portions of the spectrum in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Sunny With a Side of Photons: How to Build a Sun:

Explore the Sun and how energy goes from the Sun's core to our Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Repetition and Replication:

Learn to differentiate replication (by others) from repetition (multiple trials) in experimental design through the information and practice exercises in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Solving the Puzzle: Where Do Living Things Come From?:

Explore how scientists have used scientific thinking and methods to develop hypotheses about the development of life on Earth. Throughout this interactive tutorial, you'll see how learning through science requires retesting data, reconsidering evidence, and debate between scientists.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Models in Science:

Learn to identify models and their use in science with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Identification of Variables:

Learn to identify the independent variable and the dependent variable in an experiment with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientific Laws:

Learn to identify the importance of scientific laws and how they are different from societal laws.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Our Atmospheric Blanket:

Explore how our atmosphere both insulates our planet and protects life on Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientific Knowledge Changes:

Learn how scientific knowledge can change when new evidence is discovered or new ideas are developed. In this interactive tutorial, you'll look at some famous example from the history of science, including the cell theory and the theory of plate tectonics.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Center Stage: Models of the Solar System:

Compare and contrast the heliocentric and geocentric models of the Solar System in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Main Event: Scientific Theories vs. Scientific Laws:

Learn to recognize and explain the difference between scientific theories and scientific laws in this interactive tutorial. You'll also explore several examples of scientific theories and the evidence that supports them.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

From Flowers To Freckles: Mendel's Mighty Model:

Learn how scientists use models to simplify and understand the world around us. In this interactive tutorial, you'll also explore the benefits and limitations of scientific models.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Educational Game

Stop Disasters Before They Happen:

Students attempt to save towns from damage prior to the arrival of several different natural disasters. Students will learn the importance of early prevention and actions to protect others, themselves and their property when faced with a natural disaster. Certain disasters are more appropriate for particular grade levels. Each scenario takes between 20 and 45 minutes to play, depending on the disaster for which your students are trying to prepare. There are five scenarios available, hurricane, tsunami, flood, earthquake, and wildfire. Each scenario can be played on easy, medium or hard difficulty levels. As with life, there are no "perfect solutions" to each scenario and no "perfect score", so students can play multiple times and the scenarios will still be slightly different.These simulation are part of a larger website that provides multiple links for natural disasters.

Type: Educational Game


View the Earth from a Satellite:

Choose a satellite to see the current view of Earth from that satellite.

Type: Image/Photograph

Hubble Satellite Telescope ePhoto Gallery:

This site offers images captured by Hubble, a telescope that orbits Earth! You will find images of planets, stars, galaxies, moons, nebulae, and more.

Type: Image/Photograph

Common Water Measurements USGS:

This site uses text and images to describe methods that the U.S. Geological Survey measures water temperature, pH, specific conductance, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, hardness, and suspended sediment.

Type: Image/Photograph

Perspectives Video: Experts

Large-scale Environmental Modeling:

Some scientists' labs are outside! Learn all about a large-scale environmental model called LILA!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Technology and Oceanography:

Some places on Earth can be quite remote, like the depths of the ocean. Get there with technology.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

What's the Distance from Here to the Middle of Nowhere?:

Find out how math and technology can help you (try to) get away from civilization.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast


A Walk Through Time:

This interactive tutorial explores the evolution of time measurement through the ages, beginning with Stonehenge and ancient calendar systems. It progresses through sun and water clocks, mechanical and quartz-movement clocks, and atomic clocks.

Type: Presentation/Slideshow

What is Science?:

Resource provides a succinct overview of the nature of science; what science is and is not. Information includes the aims of scientific pursuits, principles, process and thinking.

Type: Presentation/Slideshow

Text Resource

Why Isn't Pluto A Planet?:

This Frequently Asked Question page can be used by educators and students as a scientific resource to answer the question, "Why isn't Pluto a planet?". From the International Astronomical Union, the definitive answer from the governing body that classified Pluto as a dwarf planet.

Type: Text Resource


How the Earth's Tilt Causes Seasons:

This tutorial discusses how the Earth's tilt causes the different seasons. The tutorial supports student learning with visual representations of how the tilt of the Earth as it orbits the Sun influences the seasons in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Type: Tutorial

Seasons and Temperatures:

Spring, summer, fall and winter. Many places on the Earth have seasons. Others do not. What causes the seasons? This tutorial discusses seasonal changes and describes that they are caused by the movement of the Earth around the sun, the tilt of the Earth, and how high the sun will get in the sky.

Type: Tutorial

Greenhouse Effect:

This video will help the learners with their understanding of atmospheric composition and the greenhouse effect.

Type: Tutorial

Properties of the Solar System:

This website contains numerous interesting facts, images and activities intended to support greater understanding of properties of our solar system.

Type: Tutorial


Will an Ice Cube Melt Faster in Freshwater or Saltwater?:

With an often unexpected outcome from a simple experiment, students can discover the factors that cause and influence thermohaline circulation in our oceans. In two 45-minute class periods, students complete activities where they observe the melting of ice cubes in saltwater and freshwater, using basic materials: clear plastic cups, ice cubes, water, salt, food coloring, and thermometers. There are no prerequisites for this lesson but it is helpful if students are familiar with the concepts of density and buoyancy as well as the salinity of seawater. It is also helpful if students understand that dissolving salt in water will lower the freezing point of water. There are additional follow up investigations that help students appreciate and understand the importance of the ocean's influence on Earth's climate.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Creating New Tools for Exploration:

In this video, new observation technologies are presented. National Geographic is developing and using these technologies to better capture the world.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Inquiry and Ocean Exploration:

Ocean explorer Robert Ballard gives a TED Talk relating to the mysteries of the ocean, and the importance of its continued exploration.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover:

  • This interactive tool contains views of Mars taken from Curiosity Rover
  • Students get to observe the a close view of the surface of Mars
  • Snap shots of different things identified on the surface are also displayed

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Supermodels of Science:

This game aims at showing the use of model organisms in behavioral studies and in detecting the causes of certain diseases

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

What is a Planet?:

This video provides a historical background about the definition of a planet and how different objects discovered in space were classified as planets or fir into a different category

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Mars Science Laboratory-Curiosity Rover-Mission Animation:

This animation depicts key events of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, which launched in late 2011 and landed a rover, Curiosity, on Mars in August 2012.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Science Crossword Puzzles:

A collection of crossword puzzles that test the knowledge of students about some of the terms, processes, and classifications covered in science topics

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Autism Genes:

This 13-minute video segment produced by NOVA Science Now explores the work by one committed family and researchers to identify patterns in the genetic information of autism patients.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

27 Storms: Arlene to Zeta:

This video from NASA presents the 2005 hurricane season with actual data that NASA and NOAA satellites measured. Sea surface temperatures, clouds, storm tracks, and hurricane category labels are shown as the hurricane season progresses.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Solar Eclipses:

Every now and then, the Sun, Earth, and Moon align so that, when viewed from parts of the Earth, the Moon eclipses the Sun's light. Solar eclipses are fairly common -- the Moon will block out some portion of the Sun at least twice a year. However, it is still a special event to be able to witness a total solar eclipse. In this video segment adapted from NASA, learn how solar eclipses happen and why they are so difficult to witness.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Jupiter: Earth's Shield:

More than 155 planets have been found outside of our solar system since the first extra-solar planet was identified in 1995. The search has long been heavily biased towards finding massive planets with short orbits. Now, to find an Earth-like planet, scientists are looking for a planetary setup that is similar to our own, in which a Jupiter-like planet lies a good distance away from its sun. This video segment adapted from NOVA explores how the arrangement of planets in our solar system may have affected the development of life on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Solar Wind's Effect on Earth:

The Sun produces a solar wind — a continuous flow of charged particles — that can affect us on Earth. It can, for example, disrupt communications, navigation systems, and satellites. Solar activity can also cause power outages, such as the extensive Canadian blackout in 1989. In this video segment adapted from NASA, learn about solar storms and their effects on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Eclipse of the Century:

In July 1991, the alignment of the Sun, Moon, and Earth produced a rare opportunity — a total solar eclipse with a particularly long duration and a path that crossed easily accessible locations, including a major astronomical observatory in Hawaii. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, learn about the mechanics of solar eclipses and observe the rare 1991 eclipse from the top of Mauna Kea.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Distances Between the Planets Animation:

This animation simulates a voyage from the sun past all nine planets. For convenience, the planets are lined up in the same direction. The animation shows each planet's average distance from the sun.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Space School Musical:

Join teenager Hannah on a trip through the solar system in this "hip-hopera" that uses song and dance to introduce the planets, moons, asteroids and more. Download the lyrics for students to learn and perform or just play the videos in class.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram Virtual Lab:

This interactive lab explores the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram in areas of spectrum, classification, luminosity, and temperature. The simulator plots stars according to the areas you chose to explore.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Seasons and Ecliptic Simulator:

  • Observe the orbit of the earth around the sun and its relationship to seasons
  • Understand the factors affecting Earth's climate
  • Observe the effect of Earth's tilt on the seasons

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Solar System Exploration:

This resource provides an interactive tool for the exploration of the solar system. To navigate the interactive solar system move the mouse to hover the target over different objects, to learn more about each click to access images, information about scientists, homework help, articles, news, missions, time lines, and important facts.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

My Solar System:

This simulation demonstrates the effect of gravitation in determining planetary orbits as well as that of comets and satellites. This simulation allows you to change initial positions, velocities and masses of bodies and see the resulting orbit.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

How Fast do Objects Move in the Solar Sytem?:

This interactive demonstrates the impacts of the gravitational force of the sun on motion of objects in the solar system.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

The Life Cycle of the Star/H-R Diagram:

This is a great resource with online lessons providing inquiry as you learn about the life cycle of the star as well as the usages of the H-R diagram. The images provide a conceptual understanding of the life cycle of the star and how it applies to the H-R diagram. You will enjoy the interactive lab tools as well as the online formative assessment questions.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this course.