The TExES Physical Science 7 – 12 Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine if an individual has the knowledge necessary to teach physics and chemistry at the high school level in the Texas public school system. This exam covers some of areas that are covered by the TExES Science 7 – 12 Exam, but it covers these topics in more detail as this exam only focuses on an individual’s knowledge of the specific scientific disciplines of physics and chemistry and the teaching methods that are necessary to effectively teach physics and chemistry at the high school level. This exam may be required, in addition to or instead of the TExES Science 7 – 12 Exam, in order to become a certified physics or chemistry high school teacher in the state of Texas depending on the exact type of teaching position the individual is pursuing. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Scientific Inquiry and Processes (14%)
- Physics (36%)
- Chemistry (41%)
- Science Learning, Instruction and Assessment (9%)
The exam-taker will be supplied with a Formula and Definitions Reference Sheet, a copy of the periodic table, and a scientific calculator for the exam. The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The registration fee for the Physical Science 7 – 12 Exam is $131 and the exam is administered in a computer-based format. However, there are usually other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become certified as an entry-level high school physics or chemistry teacher within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Define the term science.
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines science as “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical explanation of phenomena.” Its Latin root is scientia, which means “knowledge.”
- NATURAL SCIENCE is concerned with the natural world; SOCIAL SCIENCE studies human behavior. Both are based on empirical evidence, which is observable data that can be verified by other scientists who are working in similar situations under the same conditions.
- FORMAL SCIENCE is the systematic study of a specific area; it is essential to developing the hypotheses, theories and laws used in other scientific disciplines, i.e. describing how things work (natural science), how people think, and why they do what they do individually and as a society (social sciences). It is based on a priori evidence, which proceeds from a theory or assumption rather than from observable phenomena.
- APPLIED SCIENCE is using scientific research in any of the natural, social and formal sciences to address human needs.
2. Define scientific method, scientific inquiry, deductive and inductive reasoning.
- SCIENTIFIC METHOD: a set of procedures used to study natural phenomena. It provides guidelines with which to pose questions, analyze data and reach conclusions. It is used to investigate an event, gain knowledge or correct earlier conclusions about the occurrence and integrate the new information with previously learned data. Researchers pose hypotheses, and design experiments and studies to test them. The process must be objective, documented and shared with other researchers so the results can be verified by replicating the study in similar situations under the same conditions.
- SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY: used to explore theories and develop explanations for natural phenomena. It has two functions: to provide a description of how something happens and to explain why the process succeeds or fails.
- DEDUCTIVE REASONING: a process in which a specific conclusion logically follows from a general premise. If the premise is true, the conclusion is true. Deductive reasoning is used in mathematics.
- INDUCTIVE REASONING: a process in which a universal conclusion is formed from considering an individual example. Inductive reasoning is the methodology of the natural and social sciences.
3. Describe the steps used in the scientific method.
The steps of the scientific method described here are not necessarily used in exactly the same way in all sciences. Sometimes they happen at the same time or in a different order and may be repeated during the course of the study. Whatever order researchers use, the steps should be applied with intelligence, imagination and creativity. The following sequence is the one used most of the time.
1. A question is asked about a natural phenomenon. It should be stated in specific language to focus the inquiry.
2. The subject is thoroughly researched. Previous test results are studied. It is important to understand what the earlier experiment(s) proved or disproved.
3. With information gleaned from researching the topic, a hypothesis is formed about a cause or effect of the event, or its relationship to other occurrences.
4. An experiment is designed and conducted to test the hypothesis and gather information.
5. The resulting data is analyzed to determine if they support or refute the hypothesis.
It is common for test results to lead to more questions about the subject or a related phenomenon.
4. Describe physics and define its core theories.
Physics is a fundamental, experimental science: the study of matter, motion, energy, space and time. The goal of a physicist is to understand the natural world by formulating and testing hypotheses in an effort to develop scientific laws that predict other phenomena. Physics is one of the oldest sciences. Physicists specialize in either theoretical (the development of new theories) or experimental (testing theories and discovering new phenomena) research. Physics is divided into four disciplines: condensed matter physics; atomic, molecular, and optical physics; high-energy physics; and astronomy and astrophysics. Other sciences are complex applications of the laws of physics. The core theories of physics, as described in Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia, are:
- CLASSICAL MECHANICS: the motion of objects
- ELECTROMAGNETISM: interaction between charged particles
- RELATIVITY: measurement changes in various states of motion
- THERMODYNAMICS: relationships between heat, work, temperature and energy
- QUANTUM MECHANICS: mathematical explanations of atomic and subatomic systems
- OPTICS: production, propagation, changes and manipulation of light
5. Define these terms: motion, space and time.
The following definitions are based on information from The American Heritage College Dictionary.
- MOTION is “the act or process of changing position or place.” It is the continuous change of an object’s location as a result of force (lift, push or pull). It is explained as velocity (rate of speed), acceleration (increase in speed), displacement (the act of moving from its usual place), and time. Once an object is in motion, it acquires momentum (a measure of a body in motion).
- SPACE is a fundamental quantity that describes the “expanse in which the solar system, stars, and galaxies exist, i.e., the universe.” It is measured as the distance traveled by light in a vacuum.
- TIME is “a non-spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.” This is the view held by Immanuel Kant, who believed time is a measuring system devised by humans in an effort to sequence events. Sir Isaac Newton believed time is a fundamental, measurable dimension of the universe, in which events occur in a sequence.
6. Define these laws of physics: Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, Laws of Thermodynamics, Electrostatic Laws and Invariance of the Speed of Light.
These definitions are summarized from Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia.
- NEWTON’S THREE LAWS OF MOTION define the relationship between the acceleration of an object and the forces acting on it:
Gravity: attractive force between a pair of masses
Conservation of Mass-Energy: the total of mass and energy is retained in any collision; either may change forms
Conservation of Momentum: systems remain constant in a closed environment
- LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS are specific examples of the Laws of Conservation of Mass-Energy.
Zeroeth Law outlines the measure of temperature
First Law of Thermodynamics: relationship between energy, heat and work within a system
Second Law of Thermodynamics: natural flow of heat in a closed system
Third Law of Thermodynamic: impossible to create a perfectly efficient thermodynamic process
- ELECTROSTATIC LAWS are the relationships between electrically charged particles which create electrostatic force and fields
- THE LAW OF INVARIANCE OF THE SPEED OF LIGHT states that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and is not measured differently in different frames of reference. This law led to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
7. Describe chemistry and define its various disciplines.
Chemistry grew out of the practice known as alchemy, a philosophical and spiritual discipline that investigated the possibility of transforming base metals into gold. Modern chemistry is the physical science concerned with the composition, structure, properties and reactions of atoms, molecules, crystals and other aggregate matter. It is sometimes called the “central science” because it connects the other natural sciences. Chemistry studies matter in relation to energy (the capacity to do work), entropy (the measurement of energy unable to do work) and the spontaneity of chemical reactions (the changing of matter into one or more substances). Chemistry is divided into several disciplines based on the type of matter being studied:
- ORGANIC CHEMISTRY is the study of compounds that contain carbon. Note: some carbon compounds are considered inorganic compounds.
- INORGANIC CHEMISTRY is the study of mineral compounds.
- BIOCHEMISTRY is the study of organisms capable of responding to stimuli, reproduction and growth.
- PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY is the study of energy systems at the macro, molecular and sub-molecular levels.
- ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY is the study of matter and its chemical composition and structure.
8. Define these chemical terms: matter, atom, proton, neutron, element, compound, and molecule.
- MATTER: any substance that has mass and takes up space
- ATOM: small particle with a positively-charged core made of protons, neutrons and electrons
- NUCLEUS: the positively-charged center of an atom
- PROTON: subatomic particle with a positive electric charge that forms part of the nucleus
- NEUTRON: subatomic particle that is neutral (has no electric charge), and which forms part of the nucleus
- ELECTRON: subatomic particle that has a negative electric charge, and which circles the nucleus.
- ELEMENT: made of only one atom; cannot be broken down further. All the elements are grouped by their atomic number on the Periodic Table.
- COMPOUND: two or more elements joined together with a specific ratio of atoms that determines structure, and a particular system that determines chemical properties
- MOLECULE: smallest part of a piece of matter that contains all of the matter’s particular properties. Organisms, cytoplasm and cell membranes are made of molecules.
9. Describe a chemical reaction.
Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia defines a chemical reaction as “any process in which substances are changed into different ones, with different properties.” The reaction rearranges the chemical bonds of the atoms in each compound involved in the process, however, the mass and number of atoms of each substance remains constant. Energy is either used or set free. The speed of the process varies depending upon the products involved. The sequence of a chemical reaction is called its mechanism. Types of reactions include: syntheses, decomposition, rearrangements, additions, eliminations and substitutions. Examples of chemical reactions described in Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia:
- OXIDATION-REDUCTION or REDOX is a chemical reaction in which electrons are transferred. Adding hydrogen is reduction; removing hydrogen is oxidation. The two occur together.
- POLYMERIZATION is a process in which monomers combine to produce a polymer. The process can occur naturally, or by using heat or a high-pressure catalyst.
- HYDROLYSIS is a process in which water (HOH) and some other substance exchange groups to form two products; one has the H and the other has the OH.
10. Discuss the National Assessment of Educational Progress requirements for assessments in science.
The study of science is divided into three major areas: earth, physical and life sciences. Each of these is sub-divided into specialized fields of study. The U.S. Department of Education established criteria for testing comprehension of science concepts, using recommendations from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Students are required not only to know facts, but to integrate those facts into previously-learned information by using critical thinking. In other words, students need to be able to apply the facts they learn in class to phenomena found in the real world. The assessments developed by educators, curriculum specialists and the business community emphasize the importance of assessing students’ ability to reason, understand concepts, solve problems, evaluate results, and communicate knowledge of the subject matter. The tests attempt to measure whether students can take cognitive skills learned in science, apply them in other disciplines, and use them outside of school in meaningful ways.