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What Are the Branches of Physical Science?

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/5/2012

Are your students confused about the branches of physical science? Use this lesson plan to clear up any misconceptions and to teach your students what each branch does.

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    Defining Physical Science and Its Branches

    Before learning about the branches of physical science, students need to learn what physical science itself is. Introduce physical science to your students as the study of non-living things. This includes everything from the Earth itself to the universe beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Introduce the branches as follows.

    • Physics - Basic principles of matter and energy.
    • Chemistry - Matter, what it is made of and how it reacts.
    • Astronomy - Study of universe or totality of matter, energy, space and time.
    • Meteorology - Atmospheric study including everything from the Earth's surface to the end of the Earth's atmosphere.
    • Geology - Study of the Earth including its history and composition.
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    Testing Knowledge

    Explain the branches to your students and then ask them to tell you what science the study of the following topics would fall into.

    • Typhoons
    • Cleaning agents
    • Volcanoes
    • Gravity
    • Comets
    • Asteroids
    • Underwater caverns
    • Methane
    • Speed

    Discuss the list with the students and which area of science each item is concerned with. Explain why they are wrong if they are wrong about any of the topic areas and which of the branches in physical science the topic belongs to. Then move on to the next part of this lesson plan.

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    Report Writing

    Ask students to pick a branch of physical science to focus on. They will be writing a report on this branch. The report should include the following.

    • What are the parameters of this branch?
    • Who are some famous scientists who have worked within this branch?
    • Name five advances that this branch has made within the last ten years.
    • What kind of careers are available in this branch?
    • What are the tools used in this branch?
    • Some of the current questions this branch is trying to answer.

    When students finish their reports on the various branches of physical science, they should have a clear understanding of what that branch of science does. Having this knowledge will help your students to not feel so overwhelmed by the branches of physical science. When students are comfortable in their current knowledge, it makes it easier for them to learn more.

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