Physical systems includes: structure of matter (e.g. particle model, bonds), properties of matter (e.g. changes of state, thermal and electrical conductivity), chemical changes of matter (e.g. reactions, energy transfer, acids/bases), motions and forces (e.g. velocity, friction), energy and its transformation (e.g. conservation, dissipation, chemical reactions), and interactions of energy and matter (e.g. light and radio waves, sound and seismic waves).
Living systems includes: cells (e.g. structures and function, DNA, plant and animal), humans (e.g. health, nutrition, subsystems [i.e. digestion, respiration, circulation, excretion, and their relationship], disease, reproduction), populations (e.g. species, evolution, biodiversity, genetic variation), ecosystems (e.g. food chains, matter and energy flow), and biosphere (e.g. ecosystem services, sustainability).
Earth and space systems includes: structures of Earth systems (e.g. lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere), energy in Earth systems (e.g. sources, global climate), change in Earth systems (e.g. plate tectonics, geochemical cycles, constructive and destructive forces), Earth’s history (e.g. fossils, origin and evolution), and Earth in space (e.g. gravity, solar systems).
Technology systems includes: role of science-based technology (e.g. solve problems, help humans meet needs and wants, design and conduct investigations), relationships between science and technology (e.g. technologies contribute to scientific advancement), concepts (e.g. optimisation, trade-offs, cost, risk, benefit), and important principles (e.g. criteria, constraints, innovation, invention, problem solving).
Scientific enquiry includes: origin (e.g. curiosity, scientific questions), purpose (e.g. to produce evidence that helps answer scientific questions, current ideas/models/theories guide enquiries), experiments (e.g. different questions suggest different scientific investigations, design), data type (e.g. quantitative [measurements], qualitative [observations]), measurement (e.g. inherent uncertainty, replicability, variation, accuracy/precision in equipment and procedures), and characteristics of results (e.g. empirical, tentative, testable, falsifiable, self-correcting).
Scientific explanations includes: types (e.g. hypothesis, theory, model, law), formation (e.g. data representation, role of extant knowledge and new evidence, creativity and imagination, logic), rules (e.g. must be logically consistent; based on evidence, historical and current knowledge), and outcomes (e.g. produce new knowledge, new methods, new technologies; lead to new questions and investigations).
The focus of the items is on situations relating to the self, family and peer groups.
The focus of the items is on situations relating to the community.
The focus of the items is on situations relating to life across the world.
It is important to be able to distinguish scientific issues and content from other forms of issues. Importantly, scientific issues must lend themselves to answers based on scientific evidence. The competency identifying scientific issues includes recognising questions that it would be possible to investigate scientifically in a given situation and identifying keywords to search for scientific information on a given topic. It also includes recognising key features of a scientific investigation: for example, what things should be compared, what variables should be changed or controlled, what additional information is needed, or what action should be taken so that relevant data can be collected. Identifying scientific issues requires students to possess knowledge about science itself, and may also draw, to varying degrees, on their knowledge of science.
Demonstrating the competency explaining phenomena scientifically involves applying appropriate knowledge of science in a given situation. The competency includes describing or interpreting phenomena and predicting changes, and may involve recognising or identifying appropriate descriptions, explanations, and predictions.
The competency using scientific evidence includes accessing scientific information and producing arguments and conclusions based on scientific evidence (Kuhn, 1992; Osborne et al., 2001). The required response can involve knowledge about science or knowledge of science or both. The competency also involves: selecting from alternative conclusions in relation to evidence; giving reasons for or against a given conclusion in terms of the process by which the conclusion was derived from the data provided; and identifying the assumptions made in reaching a conclusion. Reflecting on the societal implications of scientific or technological developments is another aspect of this competency. Students may be required to express their evidence and decisions to a specified audience, through their own words, diagrams or other representations as appropriate. In short, students should be able to present clear and logical connections between evidence and conclusions or decisions.