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Science Vocabulary K-8


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When white light wave passes through a substance the energy of certain colors may be taken in by the substance and converted to a different form of energy
Rain or snow produced when gases, released by burning fossil fuels, mix with water in the air
Acid precipitation
Any structure or behavior that helps an organism survive in its environment; develops in a population over a long period of time
The distance between a wave's midpoint and its crest or trough
A device used to measure wind speed
A flowering plant with seeds enclosed in a fruit such as an apple
A type of reproduction in which a new organism is produced from one parent
Asexual reproduction
The mixture of gases, solids, and liquids that surrounds a celestial body
Smallest unit of matter that cannot be broken down by chemical means
The imaginary line through Earth's center from the North Pole to the South Pole
An instrument for measuring air pressure
Organic material from plants or animals that is used to produce energy
All parts of Earth where life exists
The flow of carbon through Earth's ecosystems
Carbon cycle
The flow of carbon dioxide and oxygen through Earth's ecosystems
Carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle
An animal that feeds on other animals
The largest number of individuals that an environment can support over time
Carrying capacity
The smallest unit of an organism that can perform life functions
Cellular respiration
The major theory that the cell is the basic unit of life; organisms are made up of one or more cells; and all cells come from other living cells
Cell theory
Any change where one or more of the original materials changes into other materials
Chemical change
Characteristic of a substance that allows it to change to a new substance
Chemical property
A cloud that is thin, feathery, and high in the sky, usually associated with sunny weather
A sedimentary material with grains smaller than 0.002 mm in diameter
Average of weather conditions in a given area over a period of years
Circuit having a complete path for current flow
Closed Circuit
A ball of ice, rock, and frozen gases that orbits the sun
A symbiotic relationship that benefits one partner but not the other
An exchange of information from one organism to another
All of the populations of different species that live in the same place at the same time and interact with each other
Combination of two or more simple machines
Compound machines
Pure substance produced when two or more elements combine and whose properties are different from the elements from which it is formed
Process of being pressed together
A cloud that looks like puffy white cotton, usually associated with fair weather
Materials that transfer energy from one particle to another
A tree that produces seeds in cones and has needle-like leaves
Law that states that matter is neither created nor destroyed, only changed in form
Conservation of matter (mass)
Organism that cannot make its own food
In an experiment, the standard for comparison
Transfer of thermal energy through liquid and gases
Complete reorganization of the tissues of an animal during its life cycle from egg to larva to pupa to adult, usually involving the addition of legs and wings
Complete metamorphosis
Force that changes the direction of solids, liquids, and gases to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere as a result of earth’s rotation
Coriolis effect
Alteration of Earth's crust by forces applied by the movement of the tectonic plates
Crustal deformation
Organisms that break down and absorb nutrients from dead organisms
The amount of mass in a given volume (D=m/v)
Factor being measured in an experiment, found on the vertical or Y-axis on a graph
Dependent variable
The dropping of sediment from wind or water
System used for identifying plants, animals, rocks, or minerals that is made up of a series of paired descriptions to choose between
Dichotomous key
Form of a trait that masks another form of the same trait
Dominant trait
A sudden movement of Earth’s crust caused by the release of stress accumulated along geologic fault lines or by volcanic activity
Populations interacting with the living and non-living parts of the environment
The female sex cell
The interaction of electric charges
A temporary magnet made by passing electric current through a wire coiled around an iron bar
A pure substance that is made of only one kind of atom
Fertilized egg that has begun to divide
The growth of a fertilized egg from a single cell to multi-cells
Embryonic development
Data that can be detected, observed, or measured
Empirical evidence
A chemical reaction in which more energy is taken in than given off
The capacity to cause change and do work
The surroundings and conditions in which an organism lives
Transportation of soil and rock by wind, water, gravity, and ice
An adaptation for survival in hot, dry weather during which an animal becomes inactive and all body processes slow down
Cell with a nucleus
To change from a liquid into a gas
A chemical reaction in which more energy is given off than is taken in
The design of a suitable experiment to test a hypothesis
Experimental design
The dying out of an entire species
A crack in Earth's crust along which rock moves
A force applied without physical contact
Field force
Planned small or large group activities that provide opportunities for students to practice skills in a variety of settings other than an actual classroom; conducting scientific investigations in a natural setting
Field study
Any push or pull that tends to produce a change in the speed or direction of motion of an object
The preserved remains or traces of an organism that lived in the past
Fuel such as coal, natural gas, or oil that formed underground millions of years ago from decaying organic matter
Fossil fuels
The number of complete waves that pass a given point in a given amount of time
A force that opposes motion whenever two surfaces rub against each other
A large system of stars moving together through space
A section of DNA that controls specific cell activities and characteristics of every organism
Heat energy below Earth's surface
Geothermal energy
Any change in the landscape caused by glacial movement
An increase in Earth's temperature caused by gases in the atmosphere that trap heat
Global warming
The force of attraction that exists between any two objects
The natural heating process caused when gases trap heat in the atmosphere
Greenhouse effect
The place in an ecosystem where an organism lives
The transfer of thermal energy
An animal that eats only plants
An adaptation for winter survival during which an animal becomes inactive and all body processes slow down
The process by which an organism's internal environment is kept stable in spite of changes in the external environment
Water vapor in the air
Material in the soil that formed from decayed plant and animal matter
Production of electricity by flowing water
Explanation for a question or a problem that can be formally tested
Rock formed by the solidification of magma or lava
A body of solidified magma intruded into rock layers
Igneous intrusion
A process in which newly hatched birds or newborn mammals learn to follow the first object they see
The life cycle of an animal, such as the grasshopper, whose form does not change substantially through its life stages from egg to nymph to adult
Incomplete metamorphosis
The one factor changed in an experiment; represented on the horizontal or X-axis of a graph
Independent variable
Behavior that an organism is born with and does not have to learn
Innate behavior
Not alive and none of its components have ever been alive
Materials that prevent the transfer of energy
An animal without a backbone
Narrow belt of strong winds near the top of the troposphere
Jet stream
Energy of motion
Kinetic energy
Inquiry-based scientific investigations
Lab activities
A descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves under stated circumstances, often stated in the form of a mathematical equation
The rule that, in the absence of outside forces, the total momentum of objects in an interaction does not change
Law of conservation of momentum
Behavior that an organism is not born with and must acquire
Learned behavior
The distance that light travels in one minute
Light minute
The distance that light travels in one year
Light year
Any living or non-living factor that restricts the number of individuals in a population
Limiting factor
The crust and the rigid upper mantle that is broken into plates
Anything that is or has ever been alive
A wave in which the particles vibrate parallel to the direction of wave motion
Longitudinal wave
A darkening of the moon when passed through Earth's shadow
Lunar eclipse
Earth's magnetic field reverses and the poles switch places
Magnetic reversal
The force associated with some motion of electrical charges or by the field of force produced by a magnet
A measure of the amount of matter in an object (K-4 uses weight interchangeably)
Anything that has mass and occupies space
An element that conducts heat and electricity
Rock formed by the effect of heat, pressure, and chemical action on other rocks
A rock from space that is burning up in the atmosphere (commonly referred to as a falling star)
A wavelength of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum
Microwave energy
The instinctive seasonal movement of animals
The structural adaptation involved in some species where one species resembles another
The combination of two or more substances that have not chemically combined
The combination of atoms chemically bonded together
A change in appearance of the moon as it revolves around Earth
Moon phase
A symbiotic relationship that benefits both partners
Minerals, fossil fuels, trees, and other valuable materials that occur naturally
Natural resources
The idea that those organisms best adapted to their environment will be the ones most likely to survive and reproduce
Natural selection
During the first and last quarter moon phases, the tides are not as high or not as low as a normal tide
Neap tide
The metric unit for forces (Newton)
Anything that is not now or never has been alive
The potential energy stored in the nucleus of an atom
Nuclear energy
The control center of the cell
The substance in food that produces energy and materials for life activities
An animal that eats both plants and animals
Does not allow light to pass through
A break in the conductive path so that no current flows
Open circuit
The path an object follows as it revolves around another object
Structures made up of different types of tissues that work together to do a certain job
System made up of different types of organs to do a certain job
Organ system
A living thing
A circuit that provides more than one path for the electrical current to follow
Parallel circuit
A symbiotic relationship in which one organism benefits and the other is harmed
Organizational chart of the elements
Periodic table
Tubes that move food in plants
Characteristic that can be observed or measured
Physical property
How high or low a sound is
The length of time it takes a planet to orbit the sun
Planetary year
Theory which states that pieces of Earth's crust are moving around on the mantle
Plate tectonics
All the members of one species in a particular area
Stored energy
Potential energy
Any form of water that falls to the earth
Any animal that hunts and kills other animals for food
An animal that a predator feeds upon
An organism that makes its own food
Organism without a nucleus
Positively charged particle in an atom's nucleus
A tool that can show how genes combine
Punnett Square
Transfer of thermal energy as waves
The ability of a substance to go through a chemical change
Physical characteristic resulting when no dominant gene is present
Recessive trait
Change in the direction of a light ray as it bounces off an object
A bending of a light ray when it passes at an angle from one transparent substance into another transparent substance in which its speed is different (such as when it passes through air into water)
The production of offspring by an organism
A scale that measures the amount of energy released by an earthquake
Richter scale
A sedimentary material finer than a granule and courser than silt, with grains between 0.06 mm and 2.0 mm in diameter
A graph with one point for each item being measured
Scatter plot
An animal that feeds on the bodies of dead organisms
Rock formed in layers from sediment
Sedimentary rocks
Instrument which detects and records earthquakes
The process of selecting a few organisms with desired traits to serve as parents of the next generation
Selective breeding
Having only one path for electrons to flow
Series circuit
The joining of a male sperm cell and a female egg cell
Sexual reproduction
International System of Units metric system
SI units
A sedimentary material consisting of very fine particles intermediate in size between sand and clay with grains between 0.002 mm and 0.05 mm in diameter
Machine that works with only one motion
Simple machine
Instrument used to measure relative humidity
Sling psychrometer
Layers of soil in an area
Soil profile
An alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth where the moon blocks the sun from Earth's view
Solar eclipse
Radiant energy that comes from the sun
Solar energy
A star that is orbited by a group of planets, comets, and other objects
Solar system
Speed at which a substance dissolves
Solubility rate
A substance that is dissolved
A mixture in which the particles of each substance are mixed evenly
A substance that dissolves other materials
A group of similar organisms whose members successfully reproduce among themselves
The distance that an object moves in a certain period of time
The male sex cell
During the full moon and new moon phases, high tides are higher and lower than normal
Spring tide
The condition where a substance does not go through chemical changes easily
A long, layered cloud
Adaptation that involves body parts or color
Structural adaptation
Measure of the average motion of the particles in a substance (heat)
A stress created by pulling
Activities associated with the defense of an area
Territorial behavior
A unifying explanation that has the ability to explain what has been observed; predict what has not yet been observed; be tested further by experimentation; be modified as required by the acquisition of new data; be modified only with compelling empirica
Instrument used to measure temperature
Group of similar cells that work together
Describes matter that allows, some, but not all, of the light that hits it to pass through, and that scatters some light
The ability of light to pass through without refraction
A wave in which the particles vibrate at right angles to the direction of the wave
Transverse wave
The response of a plant to something in its environment
Measurable factor, characteristic, or attribute of an individual or a system
Animals with a backbone
The movement of water through Earth's ecosystems
Water cycle
Distance between any point on one wave to a corresponding point on the next wave, such as crest to crest or trough to trough
The breakdown of a material into smaller and smaller pieces by mechanical or chemical means
The downward pull of gravity on an object (K-4 uses mass interchangeably)
Contains all the colors of the visible spectrum (colors of the rainbow)
White light
Vessels in a plant that carry water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves

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