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Physical Science

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Prerequisites: Qualifying math score and completion of grade 5 math

Course Format: Individually paced

Course Length: Typically 3 months

Recommended School Credit: One-half academic year

Course Code: PHY

Course Description


CTY Online Program's middle school science series includes individually paced Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science courses. Students who are interested in scientific inquiry, problem solving, and critical thinking are engaged through an award-winning, vibrant online environment with graphics, animations, video, real-time feedback, activities, projects, and tests. Students apply knowledge and reinforce concepts learned in the lessons with “real world” interactive applications that build critical thinking and reinforce skills. The content in the middle school science series correlates to state and national curriculum standards and draws on software provided by Edmentum.

Physical Science introduces the fundamentals of chemistry and physics. The course includes units on properties and structures of matter, the periodic table of elements, chemical reactions, electromagnetism, sound and light, Newton's Laws, and simple machines. Student progress is monitored through unit tests, comprehensive midterm and final exams, and two student projects.

Materials Needed

There are no required materials for this course.

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Properties and Structure of Matter Unit

Learn to describe and measure matter. Explore atomic structure and how elements behave according to physical and chemical properties. Investigate how we have organized all the known elements to help us understand matter and predict how matter will behave. Discover why we can heat, cool, break, burn, and even transform units of matter into entirely new compounds, yet we always end up with the same amount of matter as we began with.

Understanding and Measuring Matter

In part I of this two-part lesson, explore volume, density, the difference between mass and weight, and how temperature and the forces of gravity, buoyancy, and pressure affect matter. In part II, an introduction to converting between English and metric systems paves the way for directly measuring mass, length, area, volume and temperature. Next, calculate density, inspect how weight and pressure are measured, and learn how to determine if an object will float. This step-wise, content-rich lesson provides an introductory overview that demonstrates the interconnectedness of chemistry and physics.

Atoms, Elements, Compounds and Mixtures

Survey historical steps that led to our current understanding of the atom. Learn how atomic number and mass number describe numbers of particles in different elements. Explore how atomic mass is determined, what isotopes are, how elements combine chemically as molecules and compounds, and how mixing substances together can form different types of mixtures.

Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter

Discover ways to detect changes in physical and chemical properties and how any change always follows the conservation of mass. An understanding of properties will enable you to discern ways to separate and identify substances in compounds and mixtures.

States of Matter

Investigate solids, liquids, gases and even plasmas. Explore how changes in energy overcome attractions and affect particle motion, volume, and the behavior of different states of matter. Heating curves tie the topic together, pairing the opposite processes of melting and evaporation with condensation and freezing.

The Periodic Table

More than just a way to present elements, the periodic table shows patterns in various physical and chemical properties of elements. Discover how to describe and element's position on the periodic table as well as how to determine numbers of atomic particles, state at room temperature, the presence or absence of metallic properties, and general trends in reactivity.

Chemistry Fundamentals Unit

Chemistry Fundamentals reveal the ubiquitous but often hidden world of chemical combinations. Study why atoms form bonds, probe how reactions occur and how to classify them, and survey the wide array of substances resulting from mixing materials together.

Bonding and Types of Compounds

Investigate how electron configurations of atoms lead to forming ionic, covalent, or metallic bonds. Explore properties of compounds formed by these types of bonds and discover other ways to look at compounds. This topic also teaches how to discern organic and inorganic compounds, as well as acids, bases and salts.

Mixtures and Solutions

Learn how substances combine to form heterogeneous mixtures, colloids, and solutions. Investigate polarity, determine solubility, influence dissolving rate, calculate concentration, and study acidic and basic solutions and the pH scale.

Chemical Reactions

Learn to spot signs of chemical reactions and identify reactions by their behavior or type of reactants. Use the conservation of mass to balance reactions and experiment with ways to influence the rate of chemical reactions.

Energy and Its Applications Unit

Explore the multifaceted world of energy. Learn how energy does the work necessary to heat our homes and power our machines. Investigate energy transfers that allow us to see and hear, as well as how energy forms the basis of all life on Earth.

Properties and Sources of Energy

This topic unites energy in its many forms. Use the law of conservation of energy to relate changes between kinetic and different forms of potential energy as well as chemical, electrical, nuclear, sound, and light energy. The importance of the sun as an energy source initiates exploration of energy conservation and renewable and nonrenewable energy sources.


Compare ways thermal energy is transferred as heat through conduction, convection, and radiation. Study the molecular meaning of temperature, how temperature increases based on heat capacity, and practice converting between three different temperature scales.

Electricity, Circuits, and Power

Discover what electricity is, how it travels and how it does work. Learn to distinguish between static electricity and electric current, various circuits and breakers, and how to predict a change in voltage, amperage, or resistance using Ohm's Law. Take an electrical journey, learning how electricity is produced in a power plant and travels through transformers and lines to an outlet in a home.

Magnetism and Electromagnetism

Observe the force that draws certain metals to magnets. Learn how and why certain objects are magnetic and how magnetic fields interact. Explore how magnets and electric charges are related, then put it all together with a look at electromagnets and other applications of electromagnetism.

Properties of Sound & Light

Investigate waves and their properties in the context of everyday experiences. This in-depth look at the different types of waves and their features sets the stage for a deeper understanding of how they allow us to see and hear.

The Behavior of Sound & Light

Much of what we see and hear relates to how waves react with different media. Discover how waves are refracted, reflected, transmitted, absorbed, and diffracted, allowing us to do things such as see colors, and hear around corners. Explore how different lenses work and can be used to correct vision problems.

Forces and Motion Unit

Investigate the way things work in Forces and Motion. From plotting velocity and calculating acceleration, to determining how forces influence motion, and devising machines to solve problems, this unit provides tools for measuring and describing the world around you.


Discriminate between speed, velocity and acceleration. Depict speed graphically and learn to calculate acceleration during this tour on an imaginary bus ride through a city bustling with motion.

Newton's Laws: Forces and Motion

Gravity and Newton's Laws explain how objects move and react. This topic teaches how to relate the forces affecting motion to everyday experiences and observations.

Work and Simple Machines

Put your knowledge of forces and motion to work. Investigate power, mechanical advantage, efficiency, and how simple machines such as levers, wedges, and pulleys make work easier.


Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course requires that the student use a web browser with the Adobe Flash plugin. Note that many tablets and handhelds (particularly the iPad) do not support Flash and cannot view the lessons.

The student will need the Java Runtime Environment.

This course uses an online virtual classroom for discussions with the instructor. The classroom works on standard computers with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin, and also tablets or handhelds that support the Adobe Connect Mobile appStudents who are unable to attend live sessions will need a computer with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin installed to watch recorded meetings. The Adobe Connect Add-in, Adobe Flash plugin, and Adobe Connect Mobile app are available for free download. Students who do not have the Flash plug-in installed or enabled on their browsers will be prompted to download and install the Adobe Connect add-in when accessing the virtual classroom.




This demo requires the Flash plugin

Physical Science demoPhysical Science demo

CTY Online Programs Science - Comments and Feedback from Students, Parents, and Teachers



"Fabulous course! The content is informative and appropriately challenging for this age level, well-organized and interesting. I think my daughter liked the experiments the best. I anticipate that she will also take the Biology and Chemistry courses in the future. Thank you!"

"The instructor was extremely positive and attentive. We especially loved her interactive 'question of the week' which challenged my son to do his own scientific research and inspired discussions about how science is applied to real life at our dinner table. Excellent course."

"The instructor is truly outstanding. She had a tremendously positive impact on my son. In addition to helping him build a richer understanding of the course material, she helped him to further develop self-confidence and determination."