Study Guide

Field 203: Middle Grades (5–8) Science
Sample Multiple-Choice Questions

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The following reference material will be available to you during the test:

Constants and FormulasPDF document

Each multiple-choice question has four answer choices. Read each question and its answer choices carefully and choose the ONE best answer.

During the test you should try to answer all questions. Even if you are unsure of an answer, it is better to guess than not to answer a question at all. You will NOT be penalized for choosing an incorrect response.

Objective 0001
Understand scientific practices.

1. The movement of a conductor such as a wire through a stationary magnetic field induces a current in the wire. This scientific observation had a significant influence on society by directly leading to the development of:

  1. batteries that allow energy to be stored for use in mobile devices.
  2. generators that provide electricity to homes and businesses.
  3. transistors that control the circuits in digital computers.
  4. light bulbs that provide high-quality illumination and are energy efficient.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
Electromagnetic induction is the underlying principle that leads to the production of electricity by a generator. These devices are used in a variety of different applications and play a significant role in the production of electricity by power plants.

Objective 0001
Understand scientific practices.

2. Use the diagrams below to answer the question that follows.

A seventh-grade student has designed an experiment to study phototropism in radish seedlings. Eight radish seedlings will be planted in individual foam cups filled with soil. Four cups will be covered with Box A and four cups will be covered with Box B as shown in the diagram. The only light source for each set of seedlings will be overhead fluorescent light that enters through the openings cut into the sides of each box. The plants will receive 8 hours of light per day and will remain inside the boxes for four days. At the end of the testing period, the boxes will be removed and the direction of seedling growth will be compared.

Which of the following modifications of the experimental design would significantly increase the validity of the results?

  1. using light bulbs designed for growing indoor plants
  2. doubling the number of seedlings grown in the experiment
  3. including a set of four plants grown without a box
  4. planting all the seedlings for each box in one large container
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
The studentís experimental design could be improved by including a set of plants grown without a box. Having this type of control group will help the student more accurately determine the cause of any observed directional growth in the seedlings. The inclusion of the control will increase the validity of the results and conclusions drawn from the experiment.

Objective 0002
Understand engineering practices and design.

3. A company that makes cell phone batteries has asked engineers to design a new cell phone battery that increases run-time between charges by at least 25 percent compared to existing cell batteries. The company also has specified that the production cost of the new batteries not exceed the production cost of existing batteries by more than 10 percent. Which of the following factors is most likely to be the primary constraint on the new battery design?

  1. The battery needs to fit within standard cell phone dimensions.
  2. The need to source battery component materials from multiple manufacturers.
  3. The battery needs to be able to withstand being dropped by consumers.
  4. The need to manufacture the new battery in the same factories as the existing batteries.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
Identifying constraints is an important early step in the engineering design process. Since the new battery in this scenario is being designed for use in standard cell phones, cell phone dimensions are a primary constraint on the new design.

Objective 0003
Understand crosscutting concepts.

4. Students fill two beakers with the same amount of water, using cold water in one beaker and hot water in the other beaker. They then simultaneously add two drops of food coloring to each beaker and observe the dispersion of the food coloring. The differences in the rates of dispersion of food coloring in the two beakers is an effective model for visualizing which of the following phenomena?

  1. The effectiveness of water as a solvent due to its polar nature.
  2. The process of capillary action by which water transports materials.
  3. The relationship between thermal energy and molecular motion.
  4. The role of hydrogen bonding in the absorption of heat by water molecules.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
The water molecules in the beaker of hot water have more kinetic energy than the water molecules in the cold water beaker. This greater amount of kinetic energy leads to more frequent collisions with the food coloring molecules. As a result, the food coloring molecules move faster and disperse more quickly in the hot water than the food coloring molecules in the cold water.

Objective 0004
Understand the structure and properties of matter and chemical reactions.

5. Use the structural model of solid sodium chloride shown below to answer the question that follows.

As shown in the model, solid sodium chloride has an extended three-dimensional network structure composed of equal numbers of sodium ions, Na+, and chloride ions, Cl-. This extended structure is maintained by attractive forces resulting from the:

  1. transfer of electrons from chlorine atoms to sodium atoms.
  2. unequal sharing of electrons between sodium cations.
  3. charge difference between the two types of ions.
  4. crosslinking of protons and electrons within each ion.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
Ions with opposite charges are attracted to one another. In sodium chloride, the force of attraction between the positively charged sodium ions (Na+) and the negatively charged chloride ions (Cl-) produces an extended three-dimensional network structure.

Objective 0004
Understand the structure and properties of matter and chemical reactions.

6. Which of the following characteristics of water is primarily responsible for waterís ability to dissolve a wide range of ionic compounds?

  1. Water is composed of three nonmetal atoms.
  2. Water has a neutral pH at room temperature.
  3. Water molecules have polar covalent bonds.
  4. Water is liquid over a wide range of temperatures.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
In a water molecule, a slight charge differential exists between the oxygen atom and the two hydrogen atoms. The oxygen atom has a slight negative charge and each hydrogen atom has a slight positive charge. Positive and negative ions are attracted to these slight charges, which is why water is an effective solvent for ionic compounds.

Objective 0005
Understand forces and interactions.

7. A person pushes a 4-kg mass initially at rest for 2 s across a smooth horizontal surface giving the mass a speed of 3.0 m/s. What was the average force the person exerted on the mass?

  1. 6 kg·m/s2
  2. 9 kg·m/s2
  3. 12 kg·m/s2
  4. 14 kg·m/s2
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
The average force exerted on the mass can be calculated using the formula f = m × a, where f = force, m = mass, and a = acceleration. The mass (4 kg) is given and the acceleration (1.5 m/s2) can be calculated from the speed and time (3.0 m/s ÷ 2s).

Objective 0006
Understand energy.

8. A metal at 60°C will be placed into a covered insulated cup containing 100 mL of water at 20°C. Assuming no heat is lost to the surrounding environment, which of the following will be true about the energy transfer that will occur in this system?

  1. All of the thermal energy in the metal will be transferred to the water.
  2. The thermal energy released by the metal will be greater than the thermal energy absorbed by the water.
  3. All of the thermal energy in the water will be transferred to the metal.
  4. The thermal energy released by the metal will equal the thermal energy absorbed by the water.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
The law of conservation of energy states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. In this system, thermal energy (heat) will be transferred from the hot metal to the room temperature water. This is consistent with the directionality of heat flow. The scenario assumes that no thermal energy will escape from the insulated cup. Given this assumption, the thermal energy released by the metal will be equal to the thermal energy absorbed by the water.

Objective 0007
Understand waves and electromagnetic radiation and their applications.

9. Students place a laser light on a table and allow the light to pass through a slide containing a double slit. The light from the double-slit slide creates a pattern of bright and dark bands on a screen. The students know the distance between the slits, and measure the distance from the slide to the screen and the distance between the bright and dark bands. The students then use this information to calculate the wavelength of the laser light. This experiment would be most appropriate for exploring which of the following topics?

  1. Light waves can be polarized by using specialized filters.
  2. Waves can reinforce or cancel each other depending on their relative phases.
  3. The energy of a wave is dependent on the square of the amplitude.
  4. Light waves change speed in traveling from one medium to another.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
Light emitted by a laser is composed of a single wavelength and all the wavelengths of light are in phase (all the crests and troughs are lined up). When the laser light passes through the slits on the slide it is split into two beams, which then spread out in every direction. As the waves come in contact with each other, they either reinforce each other and increase in amplitude (creating bright bands) or cancel each other out (resulting in dark bands).

Objective 0008
Understand structures and functions of organisms.

10. Plant cells typically have a large central vacuole and other smaller vacuoles. These smaller vacuoles often function as sites for the:

  1. production of energy in the form of ATP.
  2. synthesis of lipids and carbohydrates.
  3. transcription of DNA into messenger RNA.
  4. storage of nutrient molecules.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
Plant vacuoles are membrane-bound organelles that specialize primarily in the storage of nutrients and water. The storage of nutrient molecules in vacuoles is especially important in cells that make up seeds.

Objective 0009
Understand ecosystems.

11. The hoverfly is a type of nonstinging insect that has a black and yellow striped body. This body coloration is similar to that of a stinging wasp. In an environment inhabited by both of these insects, this color pattern most likely benefits the hoverfly by:

  1. allowing it to blend in with its surroundings.
  2. providing protection from predators.
  3. promoting a symbiotic relationship with the wasp.
  4. minimizing interspecific competition.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
The similarity in body coloration of these two insects is an example of Batesian mimicry: the body coloration of a harmless species is similar to that of a species that is unpalatable to predator organisms. This similarity in coloration increases the likelihood that predators will avoid both species of insects.

Objective 0010
Understand heredity.

12. Use the pedigree chart below to answer the question that follows.

The pedigree chart shows the inheritance pattern for eye color that results when a red-eyed male mates with a white-eyed female. On the basis of the information provided in the chart, which of the following can be concluded about the pattern of inheritance of white eye color in this insect species?

  1. White eye color is a recessive sex-linked trait inherited from the mother.
  2. Red eye color is a dominant sex-linked trait inherited from the father.
  3. White eye color is a dominant trait inherited from the father.
  4. Red eye color is a recessive trait inherited from the mother.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
In the first generation of offspring, only male offspring display the trait for white eye color. This inheritance pattern suggests white eye color is a sex-linked trait that is inherited from the mother. The males display the trait because they receive one X chromosome from their mother (with an allele for the trait) and one Y chromosome from their father without a comparable allele. The fact that none of the female offspring display white eyes suggests the trait is recessive. Otherwise, some of the females that inherit one X chromosome from their mother would display the trait.

Objective 0010
Understand heredity.

13. Cytogenetic analysis has shown that an animal has one more chromosome than is expected for its species. Which of the following mechanisms is most likely responsible for this phenomenon?

  1. An egg cell was fertilized by multiple sperm cells.
  2. Duplicated chromosomes did not separate during meiosis.
  3. One of the animalís chromosomes has split into two pieces.
  4. Three copies of the chromosome were produced during DNA replication.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
Duplicated homologous chromosomes do not always separate during meiosis. This event, called nondisjunction, produces gametes that have an abnormal number of chromosomes (either too many or too few).

Objective 0011
Understand biological evolution.

14. Use the table below to answer the question that follows.

Derived TraitOrganism 1Organism 2Organism 3Organism 4
Trait 1XXXX
Trait 2XXX
Trait 3XX
Trait 4X

A middle school teacher is developing a lesson on the use of cladograms as a tool for illustrating shared common ancestry among organisms. The teacher will provide students with a completed table similar to the one shown to use as the basis for the construction of their cladograms. In developing this activity it is most important that the teacher:

  1. list the derived traits from oldest to most recent.
  2. select both unicellular and multicellular organisms.
  3. use a minimum of six derived traits in the analysis.
  4. choose organisms that are familiar to students.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
Cladograms are diagrams used to show ancestral relationships among organisms. These diagrams are based on the idea that organisms from the same lineage will share derived traits from a common ancestor. As a group of organisms diverge from the common ancestor new traits will appear that will differ from the common ancestor and other divergent groups. Listing the derived traits from oldest to most recent will help students identify which organism is the common ancestor and how and when the other three organisms diverged.

Objective 0012
Understand Earth's place in the universe.

15. To prepare for a new school year, a seventh-grade science teacher has put together a series of student activities and assignments that will become part of each studentís portfolio. The portfolio submissions will be challenging assignments designed to support meaningful intellectual accomplishments and to provide authentic assessment of each student. The contents of the portfolio will be discussed with the student and with the studentís parents half way through the semester. In order to provide an effective tool for the authentic assessment of a student, it is most important that the portfolio include:

  1. an essay on a topic of the studentís choice with the teacherís commentary.
  2. the studentís individual contribution to work completed as part of a team project.
  3. a graded test that shows the student has learned to identify important terms.
  4. the studentís reflections on their progress and self-evaluations of their work.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
A student portfolio can be an effective tool for authentic assessment of student work and of how the studentís knowledge and skills have grown over time. While the particular material in a portfolio meant for authentic assessment can include a variety of assignments, it is important that the portfolio submissions include a studentís reflections on their progress and their own assessment of the work they have completed for the portfolio. This active participation promotes studentsí engagement with the process and can strengthen their skills for future independent work.

Objective 0013
Understand Earth's systems.

16. Which of the following mechanisms supplies the majority of the carbon found in ocean water?

  1. erosion of carbonate rocks into sediments that are ultimately deposited in the oceans
  2. biological respiration and the decay of carbon-bearing compounds in the oceans
  3. hydrothermal venting of carbon dioxide from mid-ocean ridges and undersea volcanoes
  4. dissolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide into the surface waters of the oceans
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
The carbon cycle encompasses all of Earthís major systems, including the lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere. While the lithosphere is the greatest reservoir of Earthís carbon, the atmosphere provides the great majority of carbon found in the oceans through the dissolving of atmospheric carbon dioxide into the surface layers of the ocean. Once the carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans, it forms carbonate which eventually forms carbonate sediments and ultimately carbonate sedimentary rock (e.g., limestone).

Objective 0013
Understand Earth's systems.

17. The large diurnal temperature swings typical of high desert regions in the United States primarily occur as a consequence of which of the following natural phenomena?

  1. the reflectiveness of the soils and rock formations exposed at the surface
  2. the dryness of the region and the related lack of night-time cloud cover
  3. the lack of heat-generating biological activity from plants and animals
  4. the drop in atmospheric heat content and pressure as elevation increases
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
The large diurnal temperature ranges in the high desert regions of the United States are primarily a consequence of the very dry atmospheric conditions in the high desert. Very dry air has a lower specific heat than moist air and as a result dry air increases in temperature more rapidly during the day than moist air, and cools more quickly during the night. The dryness of the atmosphere in these areas also means there will be few clouds to trap heat radiated from the land surface at night.

Objective 0014
Understand Earth and human activity.

18. Which of the following phenomena is a direct consequence of rising global temperatures?

  1. ozone depletion
  2. photochemical smog
  3. acid precipitation
  4. coral bleaching
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
The most common cause of coral bleaching is above-average water temperatures. Under the stress of higher water temperature, the coral organisms expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, giving the corals a white appearance. Coral reefs can recover from bleaching events if the stress is short-lived, but extended bleaching events can kill the coral organisms that are the backbone of the reef ecosystem.

Objective 0015
Apply knowledge of foundations of research-based disciplinary literacy instruction and assessment.

19. A fifth-grade science teacher regularly creates interactive reading guides for students. The guides provide a scaffolded context for students to read a complex text with a partner or in a team of students. For example, in one guide, the directions instruct partner A to read the third paragraph on page 90 aloud, while partner B listens for clues about the meaning of the term convection. This type of classroom routine contributes to a supportive language and literacy environment primarily by:

  1. providing the explicit academic-language support middle school students need to comprehend scientific text.
  2. creating opportunities for students to engage in independent practice of specific reading comprehension strategies in the context of reading scientific text.
  3. prompting students to pause periodically to reflect on short segments of scientific text in order to improve their overall comprehension of text concepts.
  4. promoting collaborative interactions that motivate students to select scientific texts for independent reading.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
This classroom routine provides literacy support as students work together to comprehend text concepts. Current research points to the importance of reading texts slowly and carefully as a strategy for monitoring understanding. By the fifth grade, most students are in the reading stage in which their listening comprehension is likely to be more effective than their reading comprehension. Furthermore, setting a purpose for the reading encourages the students to listen for key details and aids in comprehension.

Objective 0016
Apply knowledge of academic-language and vocabulary development to support students' disciplinary literacy development in the science classroom.

20. Instead of stating "the salt dissolved," a science text might state, "the salt goes through a process of dissolution." In order to support students' comprehension of sentences such as the latter, a middle school science teacher should explicitly teach students which of the following academic-language skills?

  1. changing verbs into nouns
  2. interpreting compound sentences
  3. changing passive voice into active voice
  4. interpreting cohesive devices
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
Research confirms that students need explicit instruction in the vocabulary and language structures used in oral and written academic discourse in order to comprehend academic texts. The term "dissolution" is an example of academic language students learn within the context of a science topic. In the sample text above, the noun "dissolution" refers to a process that essentially means "the salt dissolved." With instruction on how to understand relationships between words, students can determine the verb "dissolved" is related to the noun "dissolution." Understanding the differing sentence structure used in the academic text further enables students to comprehend the concept about which they are reading.