Eighth Grade Science

Eighth grade science is interdisciplinary in nature; however, much of the content focus at this grade level is on earth and space science. A complete description of the middle school science Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills can be found at the Texas Education Agency web site. Some of the knowledge and skills emphasized in eighth grade are described below.

In the area of matter and energy, students will describe the structure of atoms, including the masses, electrical charges, and locations, of protons and neutrons in the nucleus and electrons in the electron cloud; identify that protons determine an element's identity and valence electrons determine its chemical properties, including reactivity; interpret the arrangement of the Periodic Table, including groups and periods, to explain how properties are used to classify elements; recognize that chemical formulas are used to identify substances and determine the number of atoms of each element in chemical formulas containing subscripts; and investigate how evidence of chemical reactions indicate that new substances with different properties are formed. In the area of force, motion, and energy, students will demonstrate and calculate how unbalanced forces change the speed or direction of an object's motion; and investigate and describe applications of Newton's law of inertia, law of force and acceleration, and law of action-reaction such as in vehicle restraints, sports activities, amusement park rides, Earth's tectonic activities, and rocket launches.

In the area of earth and space science, students will model and illustrate how the tilted Earth rotates on its axis, causing day and night, and revolves around the Sun causing changes in seasons and demonstrate; predict the sequence of events in the lunar cycle; and describe components of the universe, including stars, nebulae, and galaxies, and use models such as the Herztsprung-Russell diagram for classification. Students will relate plate tectonics to the formation of crustal features, and interpret topographic maps and satellite views to identify land and erosional features and predict how these features may be reshaped by weathering. Students will also recognize that the Sun provides the energy that drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds and ocean currents; identify how global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather using weather maps that show high and low pressures and fronts; and identify the role of the oceans in the formation of weather systems such as hurricanes.

Finally, in the area of organisms and environments, eighth grade students will describe producer/consumer, predator/prey, and parasite/host relationships as they occur in food webs within marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems; investigate how organisms and populations in an ecosystem depend on and may compete for biotic and abiotic factors such as quantity of light, water, range of temperatures, or soil composition; and explore how short- and long-term environmental changes affect organisms and traits in subsequent populations.