Study Guide

Field 029: Middle Grades Science
Sample Multiple-Choice Questions

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

Competency 0001
Understand principles and procedures of scientific inquiry.

A scientist plants 100 bean seeds to investigate the effect of soil pH on growth rate and flowering. The seeds are planted in two large containers with 50 seeds in each container. The soil in one of the containers has a pH of 4, while the soil in the other container has a pH of 10. Which of the following changes to the experimental design would most improve the usefulness of the results?

  1. increasing the number of plants in each group to reduce the effects of individual variability
  2. limiting the dependent variables to either flowering or growth rate
  3. planting a group of seeds in soil with a neutral pH to serve as a control
  4. placing the seeds in individual pots so they do not crowd each other
Answer
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of the principles and procedures for designing and carrying out scientific investigations. In this experiment, since one of the containers contains acidic soil (i.e., soil having a pH of 4) and one of the containers has basic soil (i.e., soil having a pH of 10), an appropriate control would be to include a container that has soil of neutral pH (i.e., soil having a pH of 7).

Competency 0002
Understand the history and nature of science.

In working out the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin was strongly influenced by which of the following developments in the sciences?

  1. the hypothesis that Earth had changed gradually over long periods of time
  2. the discovery that cells were the basic unit of living organisms
  3. the recognition that Earth's crust was composed of shifting tectonic plates
  4. the discovery that ancient humans lived in Africa millions of years ago
Answer
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of the historical development of major scientific ideas. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection requires a long time frame over which to work. The work of two geologists, James Hutton and Charles Lyell, suggested that Earth had changed gradually over long periods of time, supporting Darwin's theory.

Competency 0003
Understand the relationships between science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and society.

In which of the following scenarios does the government most directly affect the work of scientists?

  1. The Food and Drug Administration evaluates the efficacy of a new medical device.
  2. Politicians running for office debate the potential risks to humanity of global warming.
  3. The governor of a large state announces new energy conservation measures for public buildings.
  4. Congress votes to support increased funding for research at the National Institutes of Health.
Answer
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the examinee to analyze the relationship between science and society. Government funding for research influences the work of scientists by encouraging them to work in funded areas of science and by providing funds for scientists to continue their work.

Competency 0004
Understand the properties and characteristics of matter.

Which of the following is predicted by the kinetic theory of matter?

  1. The electrons surrounding an atom are in constant motion.
  2. The pressure of a gas will decrease if its volume is increased.
  3. The density of a solid depends on its composition.
  4. The charge of the atomic nucleus depends on its mass.
Answer
Correct Response: B.
This question requires the examinee to recognize historic and contemporary theories of atomic structure and the kinetic theory of matter. According to the kinetic theory of matter, pressure in a gas-filled container results from collisions between molecules of gas and the sides of the container. If the volume of a container is increased, molecules will travel greater distances before striking the walls, and the collisions will therefore occur less frequently. This will result in a reduced pressure.

Competency 0005
Understand physical and chemical changes in matter.

4NH3(g) + ?O2(g)→4NO(g) + 6H2O(g)

To correctly balance the chemical equation shown, which of the following numbers should be used as the coefficient of O2?

  1. 2
  2. 4
  3. 5
  4. 10
Answer
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of the conservation of matter to the balancing of chemical equations. The conservation of matter states that matter can be neither created nor destroyed. In the context of balancing a chemical equation, this means that the same number of each atom type must be present on both sides of the reaction arrow. In the reaction for the combustion of ammonia shown, there are 4 nitrogen atoms on each side of the reaction arrow, 12 hydrogen atoms (4 ◊ 3 and 6 ◊ 2) on each side of the reaction arrow, and 10 oxygen atoms (4 + 6) on the product side of the reaction arrow. To correctly balance the number of oxygen atoms, a coefficient of 5 should be added to O2 (5 ◊ 2 = 10) on the reactant side of the reaction arrow.

Competency 0006
Understand the characteristics and transformations of different forms of energy.

A gardener notices that the metal blade of a garden shovel feels cooler to the touch than its wooden handle does, even though both parts of the shovel have been exposed to the same temperature conditions in a storage shed. Which of the following best explains this perceived temperature difference?

  1. The wooden handle releases its stored thermal energy more readily.
  2. The metal shovel blade is a better conductor of thermal energy.
  3. The wooden handle absorbs more thermal energy from the air.
  4. The metal shovel blade has a larger surface area for transferring thermal energy.
Answer
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of the transfer of energy through conduction. The perceived temperature difference between the metal shovel blade and the wooden handle of the shovel is due to differences in the materialsí abilities to conduct thermal energy. Compared to the wooden handle, the shovel blade that is made of metal is a much better conductor of thermal energy. As a result, the metal blade will more effectively transfer thermal energy away from the gardenerís comparatively warmer hand. It is the more effective conduction of thermal energy away from the gardenerís hand by the metal blade that leads to the perception that the metal blade is cooler than the wooden handle.

Competency 0007
Understand relationships between force, mass, and motion.

A 10 kg mass is suspended by two cables. In which of the following situations will the tension in the cable labeled X be the greatest?













Answer
Correct Response: B.
This question requires the examinee to solve problems involving force, mass, and motion. In response D, the mass is supported symmetrically by two cables of equal length. The two cables must share the load equally. In the case in which the mass is supported by a single vertical cable and hangs straight down (not shown), the cable would support all of the mass. Response B is closest to this situation and therefore has the greatest tension.

Competency 0008
Understand characteristics and properties of mechanical and electromagnetic waves.

Sound waves travel at a different speed in warm air than they do in colder air. Which of the following explains why sound waves travel differently in warm air as opposed to cold air?

  1. In warmer air, sound waves travel more rapidly because of the greater kinetic energy of the air molecules.
  2. In colder air, sound waves are transmitted more rapidly due to the greater density of the air.
  3. In warmer air, sound waves propagate more slowly because they are disrupted by convection currents.
  4. In colder air, sound waves are transmitted more slowly due to the higher pressure of cool air masses.
Answer
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to analyze the properties and propagation of sound in a variety of situations. Sound is transmitted as a disturbance of the medium in which it is traveling. The movement of the sound waves is due, in part, to the kinetic energy of the molecules of the conducting medium, in this case air. The molecules in warm air have greater kinetic energy than those in cooler air, and therefore allow the wave to travel at a greater velocity.

Competency 0009
Understand the characteristics, organization, and processes of cells.

The folding of the internal membrane of the mitochondria serves which of the following purposes?

  1. increasing the number of separate compartments in which proteins can be assembled
  2. increasing the capacity to filter waste products produced during the process of cellular respiration
  3. increasing the capacity to absorb enzymes needed to regulate cell division
  4. increasing the surface area over which energy-releasing chemical reactions take place
Answer
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the examinee to analyze the structure and function of cell organelles in eukaryotic cells. Many of the reactions involved in cellular respiration occur on the membranes of mitochondria. The folding of the internal membrane serves to increase its surface area, thereby providing more surface on which reactions can take place.

Competency 0010
Understand characteristics and life processes of living organisms.

Many reef-forming corals form a symbiotic relationship with unicellular algae. Which of the following best describes the primary benefit to the corals from this relationship?

  1. The corals obtain much of their energy from photosynthetic activity of the algae.
  2. The algae are toxic to most fish and reduce predation by small fish on coral populations.
  3. The corals can maintain a higher internal temperature due to heat generated by metabolic processes of the algae.
  4. The algae attract small herbivorous fish and invertebrates, which are a major food source of the corals.
Answer
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to analyze how organisms obtain, use, and store matter and energy. Photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae live within coral polyps and produce oxygen and nutrients needed by the coral.

Competency 0011
Understand the concepts and principles related to genetics, the theory of evolution, and the classification of organisms.

In which of the following scenarios is a species most likely to undergo evolutionary change?

  1. A small population of a species of rodent is isolated permanently from the rest of its species by a natural disaster.
  2. A migratory species of caribou is substantially reduced by predators during a very cold winter.
  3. A species of invasive weed spreads rapidly along highways after being accidentally introduced.
  4. A species of insect experiences rapid population growth during an unusually warm summer.
Answer
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of the principles and evidence of biological evolution to explain how species change over time. Geographic isolation of a species separates the species reproductively from other members of the species. This results in the isolated population taking a different evolutionary path than the main population due to genetic drift and differences in environmental pressures.

Competency 0012
Understand characteristics of different biomes, relationships between organisms, population dynamics, and the flow of matter and energy through ecosystems.

Plants of the pea family use which of the following strategies to obtain a portion of their nitrogen requirement?

  1. absorbing atmospheric nitrogen through the stomata in their leaves and stems
  2. breaking down amino acids found in decaying soil humus into elemental nitrogen
  3. hosting bacteria in their roots that transform gaseous nitrogen into useable nitrogen compounds
  4. taking in rainwater that contains dissolved elemental nitrogen through leaf pores
Answer
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of biotic and abiotic factors that affect population dynamics in ecosystems, including competition, resource availability, and niche and habitat requirements. Although approximately 78% of the atmosphere is made up of nitrogen, that nitrogen is not in a form that is useable by most organisms. Many plants, including pea plants, have close biological relationships with bacteria that are able to use atmospheric nitrogen, and in the process they convert the nitrogen to a form useful to the host plant.

Competency 0013
Understand the history of Earth, characteristics of Earth materials and resources, and the geologic processes that shape Earth.

The conclusion that Earth's outer core is liquid is based on which of the following evidence?

  1. the characteristics of minerals retrieved from deep-ocean drilling
  2. the changes in Earth's magnetic field recorded over the past century
  3. the composition of igneous rocks from major volcanic eruptions
  4. the behavior of seismic waves as they travel through Earth's interior
Answer
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of Earth's formation, history, and structure, as well as supporting geologic evidence. Since seismic waves behave differently in different materials, the behavior of the waves can be used to deduce geologic structure. The behavior of these waves indicates that Earth's outer core is liquid.

Competency 0014
Understand characteristics and properties of the hydrosphere.

Which of the following factors is primarily responsible for the worldwide change in sea level that has occurred in the past 15,000 years?

  1. thermal expansion of the oceans
  2. tectonic uplift of continental shelves
  3. isostatic uplift of coastal regions
  4. melting of continental glaciers
Answer
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the examinee to identify the processes and characteristics of marine and freshwater systems, including oceans and glaciers. Sea level has been rising at a slow rate for approximately 15,000 years, and over the past 100 years this rise has been accelerating. The change in sea level over the past 15,000 years has been due primarily to the melting and retreating of continental glaciers.

Competency 0015
Understand Earth's atmosphere, weather, and climate.

The polar front jet stream and the subtropical jet stream are located in which layer of the atmosphere?

  1. the lower mesosphere
  2. the tropopause
  3. the upper stratosphere
  4. the stratopause
Answer
Correct Response: B.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of the structure and characteristics of the different layers of the atmosphere. The polar front jet stream is at an elevation of approximately 7 km to 12 km above sea level. The subtropical jet stream is at an elevation of approximately 10 km to 16 km above sea level. Since the troposphere extends from Earth's surface to approximately 20 km above sea level, the polar front and subtropical jet streams are within the tropopause.

Competency 0016
Understand characteristics of the solar system and the universe.

The orbit of the moon is inclined 5 degrees from the plane that contains the sun and Earth. The moon is below the Earth-sun plane in those parts of the moon's orbit that are shown with a dashed line in the diagram above. Given the moon's inclined orbit, a solar eclipse would most likely occur in which of the positions shown in the diagram?

  1. position 1
  2. position 2
  3. position 3
  4. position 4
Answer
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the examinee to analyze the interactions of the sun, moon, and Earth and the effects of these interactions on Earth. The moon will cast its shadow on Earth, producing a solar eclipse when the moon is between the sun and Earth and in the Earth-sun plane. In the diagram, the moon is in the Earth-sun plane when it is passing from the part of its orbit indicated by the dashed line (i.e., below the plane) to the part of its orbit indicated by the solid line (i.e., above the plane). The response that shows the moon in this position and between the sun and Earth is response C.