Middle School Physical Science Course Overview

Time4Learning offers an online, interactive middle school science curriculum that can be used for homeschool, afterschool, and summer education. At the middle school level, science is organized into courses that cover materials typically offered at the sixth to eighth grade level, although parents can register students in fourth grade and above as part of membership.

Physical Science is one of three standards-based science courses offered at the middle school level. It uses a combination of instructional videos, printable worksheets, writing exercises, tests, quizzes, and both online and offline projects to teach earth and space science. Students also gain access to ‘Nature of Science,’ which is a supplemental course recommended for use alongside the middle school science materials.

This page includes information about the materials covered in the middle school Physical Science course.

Chapter 1 – Physical and Chemical Changes

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover physical and chemical changes. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of matter, physical and chemical properties, and physical and chemical changes.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Matter – Students are taught how to distinguish matter from non-matter.
  • Physical and chemical properties – Students will learn how to tell the difference between the physical and chemical properties of matter.
  • Physical and chemical changes – Students must learn how to distinguish between physical and chemical changes.

Chapter 2 – Atoms, Elements, and Compounds

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover atoms, elements, and compounds. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of atoms, elements, isotopes, ions, compounds and molecules, and ionic and covalent bonding.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Atoms – Students are taught how to describe the structure of an atom, and explain how matter is made of atoms.
  • Elements – Students learn how to distinguish elements from other types of matter and describe the atoms of an element.
  • Isotopes – Students must learn how to distinguish between the different isotopes of an element.
  • Ions – Students are taught how to describe how ions are formed from atoms.
  • Compounds and molecules – Students learn how to tell the difference between compounds, molecules, and elements.
  • Ionic and covalent bonding – Students must be able to explain how atoms can form ionic and covalent bonds.

Chapter 3 – Mixtures and Solutions

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover mixtures and solutions. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of mixtures and solutions and separating mixtures.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Mixtures and solutions – Students are taught how to identify the solvent and solute in a solution, and distinguish mixtures and solutions from pure substances.
  • Separating mixtures – Students will learn how to describe methods for separating a mixture into its components.

Chapter 4 – The Periodic Table

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the Periodic Table. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of introduction to the periodic table and regions of the periodic table.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Introduction to the periodic table – Students are taught how to locate an element on the periodic table and identify its atomic number, mass, and number of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
  • Regions of the periodic table – Students learn how to locate major categories of elements on the periodic table, including metals, metalloids, nonmetals, and noble gases, and describe the reactivity within a group/family and period/series.

Chapter 5 – Chemical Formulas and Reactions

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover chemical formulas and reactions. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of chemical formulas, chemical reactions, reaction rates, conservation of matter in reactions, balancing chemical equations, and endothermic and exothermic reactions.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Chemical formulas – Students must be able to determine the number of atoms of each element in a chemical formula containing subscripts and coefficients.
  • Chemical reactions – Students will learn how to identify a chemical reaction and distinguish the reactants from the products.
  • Reaction rates – Students are taught how to explain the effects of temperature, concentration, surface area, and catalysts on the rate of chemical reactions.
  • Conservation of matter in reactions – Students must learn to describe how matter is conserved in a closed system.
  • Balancing chemical equations – Students are taught how to apply the law of conservation of matter to balance chemical equations.
  • Endothermic and exothermic reactions – Students will learn how to tell the difference between endothermic and exothermic reactions.

Chapter 6 – States of Matter

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the states of matter. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of atomic and molecular motion, states of matter, and changes of state.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Atomic and molecular motion – Students are taught how to describe movement of atoms and molecules in solids, liquids and gases.
  • States of matter – Students must be able to tell the difference between solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas.
  • Changes of state – Students will learn how to describe how matter can change from one state to another.

Chapter 7 – Motion

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the concept of motion. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of position, graphing position, speed, calculating speed, graphing speed, velocity, and acceleration.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Position – Students must learn how to describe the position of an object based on a reference point and a coordinate system.
  • Graphing position – Students are taught how to create a position-versus-time graph for a given situation, and interpret the results of a position-versus-time graph.
  • Speed – Students will learn how to define speed and distinguish measurements of speed from other scientific measurements.
  • Calculating speed – Students are taught how to calculate the average speed of an object given distance and time measurements.
  • Graphing speed – Students are taught how to describe the motion of an object given a graph of its speed versus time.
  • Velocity – Students will learn how to distinguish between speed and velocity.
  • Acceleration – Students must learn how to classify objects with changing speed or direction as accelerating, and recognize constant acceleration and deceleration on a graph of speed vs. time.

Chapter 8 – Force

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the concept of force. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of introduction to forces, analyzing forces, balanced forces, forces and motion, mass and inertia, calculating force, mass, and acceleration, action and reaction forces, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and momentum.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Introduction to forces – Students are taught how to identify, measure, and describe common forces acting on objects, including friction, gravity, compression, and tension.
  • Analyzing forces – Students will learn how to determine the net force on an object.
  • Balanced forces – Students must learn how to tell the difference between objects on which balanced and unbalanced forces are acting.
  • Forces and motion – Students are taught how to predict the qualitative effect of an unbalanced force on the motion of an object.
  • Mass and Inertia – Students are taught how to predict how the same force will have different effects on different masses.
  • Calculating force, mass, and acceleration – Students will learn how to calculate force, mass, or acceleration using the formula F = ma.
  • Action and reaction forces – Students must learn how to identify action-reaction force pairs.
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion – Students are taught how to identify examples of each of Newton’s laws of motion.
  • Momentum – Students must learn how to define momentum and relate forces applied to an object to the object’s change in momentum.

Chapter 9 – Gravity and Weight

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover gravity and weight. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of weight and mass and gravity.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Weight and mass – Students are taught how to tell the difference between mass and weight using appropriate measuring instruments and units.
  • Gravity – Students will learn how to predict how the gravitational attraction between two masses will increase or decrease when changes are made in the masses or in the distance between the objects.

Chapter 10 – Density and Buoyancy

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the concepts of density and buoyancy. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of volume, introduction to density, calculating density, and buoyancy.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Volume – Students are taught how to measure and describe the volume of a rectangular prism and an irregular solid.
  • Introduction to density – Students will learn how to define density and distinguish materials by their different densities.
  • Calculating density – Students must learn how to calculate the mass, volume, or density of a substance using the formula for density.
  • Buoyancy – Students are taught how to predict whether a given object will sink or float when placed in a liquid.

Chapter 11 – Energy

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the concept of energy. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of types of energy, potential and kinetic energy, energy transformations, energy loss, conservation of energy, work, simple machines, and mechanical advantage and efficiency.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Types of energy – Students are taught how to compare and contrast the different forms of energy (heat, light, electricity, nuclear, mechanical motion, sound) and their characteristics.
  • Potential and kinetic energy – Students must learn how to tell the difference between potential and kinetic energy.
  • Energy transformations – Students will learn how to explain how energy can be changed from one form to another as it moves through a system, or how it can be transferred from one system to another system.
  • Energy loss – Students are taught to identify energy transformations in which some energy may be lost as heat.
  • Conservation of energy – Students will learn to apply the law of conservation of energy to analyze energy transformations.
  • Work – Students must learn how to distinguish situations where work is done from situations where work is not done.
  • Simple machines – Students are taught to differentiate between the six simple machines (lever, inclined plane, pulley, wedge, screw, and wheel and axle).
  • Mechanical advantage and efficiency – Students will learn how to analyze the mechanical advantage and efficiency of a machine.

Chapter 12 – Heat

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the concept of heat. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of heat and temperature, heat flow, and conduction, convection, and radiation.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Heat and temperature – Students are taught how to relate the kinetic energy of the particles in a substance to its heat and temperature.
  • Heat flow – Students will learn how to predict how heat will flow between two objects.
  • Conduction, convection, and radiation – Students must learn how to tell the difference between conduction, convection, and radiation.

Chapter 13 – Waves

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the concept of waves. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of introduction to waves, characteristics of waves, types of waves, wave transmission, waves and energy, and sound waves.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Introduction to waves – Students must learn how to give examples of electromagnetic and mechanical waves.
  • Characteristics of waves – Students are taught to identify the crests, troughs, wavelength, frequency, and amplitude of a given wave.
  • Types of waves – Students will learn how to tell the difference between longitudinal and transverse waves.
  • Wave transmission – Students are taught to describe how waves are transmitted through different media.
  • Waves and energy – Students must learn how to relate the wavelength, frequency, and amplitude of a wave to its energy.
  • Sound waves – Students will learn how to apply the properties of waves to explain the loudness and pitch of sounds.

Chapter 14 – Light

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the concept of light. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of the electromagnetic spectrum, transmission, absorption, and scattering of light, reflection of light, refraction of light, color, and lenses.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • The electromagnetic spectrum – Students are taught how to compare the characteristics of different groups of waves on the electromagnetic spectrum, including wavelength, frequency, uses, and hazards.
  • Transmission, absorption, and scattering of light – Students will learn how to distinguish whether light is transmitted, absorbed, or scattered as it interacts with matter.
  • Reflection of light – Students must learn how to predict the path of a light ray after it has been reflected.
  • Refraction of light – Students are taught how to predict the direction in which light will be refracted as it passes from one medium into another.
  • Color – Students must learn how to explain the relationship between an object’s color and the wavelength of light reflected or transmitted to the viewer’s eyes.
  • Lenses – Students are taught to explain how simple lenses are used in a magnifying glass, an eye, a camera, a telescope, and a microscope.

The Time4Learning Program Structure

Time4Learning has been refined through years of feedback from educators, parents, and students. Subjects are organized into chapters composed of interactive lessons, printable worksheets, quizzes and tests. Students are guided through the activities at their own pace by an automated system.

When students log in, they choose a subject, select a chapter, pick a lesson and complete the activities. A bright green arrow tells them where they left off, and completed work is clearly labeled with a check-mark or a gold star. Visual and auditory prompts guide students through the lessons, making it easy for even young learners to follow, and an online playground (controlled by parents) rewards and motivates them to finish their lessons.

Parents get access to printable lesson plans, teaching tools, detailed reporting and parental support through our online Parent Forum.

Does your child have different achievement levels for math and language arts? No problem! Time4Learning lets you set each individual subject at the appropriate graded level, making this program great for special needs and gifted students.

Curriculum Structure

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