The Big Ideas of Science

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The Big Ideas of Science are a set of cross-cutting scientific concepts that describe the world around us. They allow us to conceive the connection between different natural phenomena that at a first glance may look irrelevant but in fact have their roots on the same principles and laws of nature. The “Big Ideas of Science” are a backbone structure that students can build upon so as to connect the different science subjects they are taught in school, as well as events and phenomena from their lives to what they are taught during their school life.

Zoom to infinity with the Big Ideas of Science

 

Intermediate Ideas of Science Small Ideas of Science All levels of Science Ideas

Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
It can only be transformed from one form to another. The transformation of energy can lead to a change in state or motion. Energy can also be converted to mass and vice versa.

Version for ages 12 to 15
When energy is transformed from one form to another, its total amount remains constant. The transfer of energy from one body (or system) to another or change in its form can cause a change in state or motion. The amount of energy transferred or transformed during a motion is called work.

Version for ages 9 to 12
Energy is what makes every change possible throughout the universe. Energy can have many faces (forms) and it can be transferred from one body or system to another. However, its total amount remains constant. It cannot be created or destroyed.

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Forms, Conservation of energy and energy transfer
- Energy and forces
- Energy in chemical reactions

There are four fundamental interactions/ forces in nature.
Gravitation, electromagnetism, strong-nuclear and weak nuclear forces. All phenomena are due to the presence of one or more of these interactions. Forces act on objects and can act at a distance through respective physical field, causing a change in motion or in the state of matter.

Version for ages 12 to 15
Gravity and electromagnetism are the two forces whose effects are most evident to us. These two forces are responsible for the majority of motions in the universe. The motion of an object depends on how a force acts on it.

Version for ages 9 to 12
When a force acts on an object it can change its shape or it can make it move. We cannot see forces but we can understand them by their effects. An object can have an effect on another through a force, either by being in contact with it or from a distance. There is a limited number of forces in our universe.

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Types of interactions
- Forces and motion

Earth is a very small part of the universe.
The Universe is comprised of billions of galaxies, each of which contains billions of stars (suns) and other celestial objects. The earth is a small part of the solar system with the Sun in its centre, which in turn is a very small part of the Universe.

Version for ages 12 to 15
The Sun is the star of our solar system and it is around 100 times larger than the Earth. The closest star to the sun is a bit over 4 light year away. Our galaxy has billions of stars, some smaller and some bigger than our Sun. There are billions of galaxies in our universe which except stars include many other types of objects as well.

Version for ages 9 to 12
Earth and the other planets orbit around the Sun. The Sun is the star of our solar system and it is around 100 times larger than the Earth. There are billions of stars like our Sun in the universe.

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Earth and the solar system
- Earth's place in the universe, Celestial objects
- The history of our universe

All matter in the Universe is made of very small particles.
They are in constant motion and the bonds between them are formed by interactions between them. Elementary particles as we know, form atoms and atoms form molecules. There is a finite number of types of atoms in the universe which are the elements in the periodic table.

Version for ages 12 to 15
There is a finite number of elements and they are all presented in the periodic table. Atoms and molecules form bonds through chemical reactions. Molecules that are based on carbon are fundamental for life and they are called organic molecules.

Version for ages 9 to 12
All matter in the universe is made of the same elementary particles called quarks and electrons. Quarks make up protons and neutrons. Protons, neutrons and electrons combine in different ways and they make different atoms (elements). Atoms make up molecules. All matter is in constant motion and depending on the intensity of the motion it can be found in three different states: solid, liquid or gas.

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Structure, properties and function of elements (Periodic table)
- Structure and properties of matter
- Chemical reactions
- Nuclear processes
 

In very small scales, our world is subjected to the laws of quantum mechanics.
All matter and radiation exhibit both wave and particle properties.  We cannot simultaneously know the position and the momentum of a particle.

Version for ages 12 to 15
There is a finite number of elements and they are all presented in the periodic table. Atoms and molecules form bonds through chemical reactions. Molecules that are based on carbon are fundamental for life and they are called organic molecules.

Version for ages 9 to 12
All matter in the universe is made of the same elementary particles called quarks and electrons. Quarks make up protons and neutrons. Protons, neutrons and electrons combine in different ways and they make different atoms (elements). Atoms make up molecules. All matter is in constant motion and depending on the intensity of the motion it can be found in three different states: solid, liquid or gas.

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Subatomic particles properties
- Phenomena and applications
 

Evolution is the basis for both the unity of life and the biodiversity of organisms (living and extinct).
Organisms pass on genetic information from one generation to another. 

Version for ages 12 to 15
All organisms have come from a common ancestor. Through mutations of the DNA, new traits are created in organisms. The more effectively adapted to the environment organisms survive and give favorable characteristics to their descendants.

Version for ages 9 to 12
Organisms change over generations and develop traits and skills that help them survive. All the genetic information of an organism is stored in the DNA which is found at the nucleus of each cell. The DNA is responsible for passing genetic information from one generation to another (inheritance).

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Natural selection and Darwinian theory
- Biodiverisity
 

Cells are the fundamental unit of life.
They require a supply of energy and materials. All life forms on our planet are based on this common key component.

Version for ages 12 to 15
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit which displays the phenomenon of life. It can reproduce, respirate, develop and produce a variation of products. Plants and animals are made of cells that form organs and systems. Cells require energy which they find through organic or inorganic matter. 

Version for ages 9 to 12
Every living organism is made of cells. There are many types of cells which have different purposes.

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Structure and function of cells
- Growth and development of organisms

Earth is a system of systems which influences and is influenced by life on the planet. 
The processes occurring within this system influence the evolution of our planet, shapes its climate and surface. The solar system also influences Earth and life on the planet.

Version for ages 12 to 15
Earth is ever-changing due to the constant flow of energy and radiation from the Sun as well as due to the unchanging processes, and principles that act on it. All living organisms affect and are affected by Earth.

Version for ages 9 to 12
Our Earth, its climate and surface is influenced by natural phenomena and by all living organisms. All living organisms are affected by everything that happens on our planet.

Related Intermediate Ideas of Science
- Ecosystems
- Earth materials and structure
- Earth's Climate
 

 

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About

PLATON is a two-year European project launched on September 2016. It aspires to provide teachers and school communities with a coherent teachers’ training framework which will update their current teaching practices. More particularly, PLATON aims to offer an open and innovative training framework to teachers of primary and secondary education which will focus on:

- Promoting student-centred teaching approaches;

- Promoting a holistic interdisciplinary approach;

- Support the use of online educational tools;

- Support the meaningful collaboration between teachers of the same school.

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