Level 4

Alaska Science
Key Element D4

A student who meets the content standard should evaluate the scientific and social merits of solutions to everyday problems.

gold rule

Performance Standard Level 4, Ages 15–18

Students evaluate scientific and societal impacts of developing technologies.

Sample Assessment Ideas

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Sample Assessment Ideas

  • Students evaluate the impact of a developing technology (e.g., new or smaller computers, nanotechnology, self-guided vehicles, Global Positioning System in vehicles, cellular communication devices, fetal surgery, genetic manipulation of plant genomes, cloning).

  • Students evaluate the issues surrounding organ transplant with regard to minority populations.

Standards Cross-Reference gold rule

Standards Cross-References
( Alaska Department of Education & Early Development Standards

National Science Education Standards

Science and technology are pursued for different purposes. Scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world, and technological design is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems. Technology, by its nature, has a more direct effect on society than science because its purpose is to solve human problems, help humans adapt, and fulfill human aspirations. Technological solutions may create new problems. Science, by its nature, answers questions that may or may not directly influence humans. Sometimes scientific advances challenge people’s beliefs and practical explanations concerning various aspects of the world. (Page 192)

Many factors influence environmental quality. Factors that students might investigate include population growth, resource use, population distribution, over-consumption, the capacity of technology to solve problems, poverty, the role of economic, political, and religious views, and different ways humans view the Earth. (Page 198)

Human activities can enhance potential for hazards. Acquisition of resources, urban growth, and waste disposal can accelerate rates of natural change. (Page 199)

Natural and human-induced hazards present the need for humans to assess potential danger and risk. Many changes in the environment designed by humans bring benefits to society, as well as cause risks. Students should understand the costs and trade-offs of various hazards ranging from those with minor risk to a few people to major catastrophes with major risk to many people. The scale of events and accuracy with which scientists and engineers can (and cannot) predict events are important considerations. (Page 199)

Understanding basic concepts and principles of science and technology should precede active debate about the economics, policies, politics, and ethics of various science and technology related challenges. However, understanding science alone will not resolve local, national or global challenges. (Page 199)

Progress in science and technology can be affected by social issues and challenges. Funding priorities for specific health problems serve as examples of ways that social issues influence science and technology. (Page 199)

Individuals and society must decide on proposals involving new research and the introduction of new technologies into society. Decisions involve assessment of alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits and consideration of who benefits and who suffers, who pays and gains, and what the risks are and who bears them. Students should understand the appropriateness and value of basic questions: “What can happen?” “What are the odds?” and “How do scientists and engineers know what will happen?” (Page 199)

Humans have a major effect on other species. For example, the influence of humans on other organisms occurs through land use which decreases space available to other species—and pollution—which changes the chemical composition of air, soil, and water. (Page 199)



In deciding on proposals to introduce new technologies or to curtail existing ones, some key questions arise concerning alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits. What alternative ways are there to achieve the same ends, and how do the alternatives compare to the plan being put forward? Who benefits and who suffers? What are the financial and social costs, do they change over time, and who bears them? What are the risks associated with using (or not using) the new technology, how serious are they, and who is in jeopardy? What human, material, and energy resources will be needed to build, install, operate, maintain, and replace the new technology, and where will they come from? How will the new technology and its waste products be disposed of and at what costs? (Page 57)

Human inventiveness has brought new risks as well as improvements to human existence. (Page 57)

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