Free PRAXIS II Earth and Space Sciences Study Guide
How to Pass the PRAXIS II Science Exam | Practice PRAXIS II Exam Questions | PRAXIS II Middle School Science Study Guide
This PRAXIS II study guide specifically covers the earth and space sciences portion of the PRAXIS II Middle School Science (0439) and PRAXIS II General Science: Content Knowledge (0435) exams.
Here you'll find practice PRAXIS questions and detailed information about physical and historical geology, oceanography, meteorology and astronomy, which can also help you prepare for the PRAXIS II Earth and Space Sciences: Content Knowledge (0571) exam.
Since the PRAXIS II science exams measure your knowledge of so many scientific topics, this free PRAXIS II study guide is split into four parts. Check out the links below to visit the basic principles of science, earth and space sciences, chemistry and physics portions of this free PRAXIS II study guide!
100% Original Content
I created this study guide when preparing to take the PRAXIS II Middle School Science (0439) exam. I used a variety of sources to research these topics and rewrote what I learned in my own words. No part of this study guide has been copied from Wikipedia or any other source.
Official PRAXIS Study Guides - Study guides specifically written to help you pass the PRAXIS II exam
This PRAXIS II study guide covers all of the topics tested by the middle school science exam and includes a 90-question practice test. This book can be sold back to Amazon for up to 70% of the price you pay!
Looking for lots of practice PRAXIS II exam questions with detailed explanations? This comprehensive Earth and space sciences study guide has you covered while promising to build your test-taking confidence.
PART 1: PHYSICAL GEOLOGY
Image Credit: Lucy Fisher (Flickr)
A. Demonstrate understanding of the processes of mineral and rock formation
Rocks are formed through a continuous evolutionary process known as the rock cycle.
- IGNEOUS: form when magma cools and solidifies either below (intrusive; coarse-grained; i.e. granite) or at Earth's surface (extrusive; fine-grained; i.e. basalt)
- SEDIMENTARY: lithified from sediments (materials derived from preexisting rocks via weathering) by either compaction (when the weight of overlying materials squeezes sediments into denser masses) or cementation (when water containing dissolved substances percolates through the spaces between sediments, eventually cementing them together via precipitation)
- METAMORPHIC: produced from preexisting sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic rocks; occurs in the high temperature/pressure environment of Earth's crust and upper mantle; rocks must remain essentially solid during metamorphism
Image Credit: Actualist (Wikimedia Commons)
B. Demonstrate understanding of the methods used to identify and classify different types of minerals, rocks, and soils
Minerals, rocks and soils are identified by a variety of characteristics including hardness and composition.
MINERALS: a naturally-occurring and inorganic solid that has an orderly crystalline structure and well-defined chemical composition
- classified by chemical composition (i.e. silicates, halides, carbonates, sulfates)
- identified by luster, color, streak, hardness and cleavage
- Mohs Scale of Hardness: (1) talc, (2.5) fingernail, (5.5) glass, (7) quartz, (10) diamond
- IGNEOUS: felsic, intermediate, mafic, ultramafic
- SEDIMENTARY: detritic, chemical, organic
- METAMORPHIC: foliated, nonfoliated
C. Demonstrate knowledge of the structure of Earth and the physical characteristics of Earth's various layers
The earth is comprised of five layers differentiated by their composition and whether they are solid or liquid.
- LITHOSPHERE: a brittle layer that includes the oceanic and continental crusts (solid; made of basalt/granite) and the uppermost mantle (made of peridotite)
- MANTLE: contains the asthenosphere (made of partially molten peridotite), a solid transition zone and the solid lower mantle
- D" LAYER: boundary layer
- OUTER CORE: liquid iron/nickel
- INNER CORE: solid iron/nickel
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D. Demonstrate understanding of the internal processes and resulting features of Earth
Every feature of the earth's surface, from Mount Everest to the Mariana Trench, is the result of major geological processes.
- FOLDING: the bending of rocks due to stress and temperature
- FAULTING: the parallel fracturing of rocks; fault zones are the cause of most earthquakes
- EARTHQUAKES: the release of elastic strain energy that produces seismic waves; occur at all boundaries
- VOLCANOES: ruptures in the Earth's surface that allow for the release of magma and gases; occur at divergent and convergent boundaries
E. Demonstrate understanding of plate tectonic theory and the evidence that supports this theory
The theory that Earth's lithosphere is broken into movable pieces is supported by continent shape, glacial deposits and fossils.
PLATE TECTONICS: a theory which states that Earth's lithosphere is broken into eight continuously-moving tectonic plates
- the plates interact at one of three boundaries:
- (1) convergent (collision; subduction)
- (2) divergent (seafloor spreading)
- (3) transform (vertical grinding)
- earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain building and trench formation occur at plate boundaries
- forces that drive plate tectonics: friction and gravity (slab suction, slab pull, ridge push)
- evidence: shape and fit of continents; fossils (i.e. mesosaurus) found on separated continents; matching mountain ranges; paleoclimatic evidence (i.e. glacial deposits in the southern hemisphere)
F. Demonstrate understanding of the hydrologic cycle and the processes by which water moves through the cycle
The hydrologic cycle describes the way water moves through the earth and its atmosphere.
HYDROLOGIC CYCLE: a model that describes the continuous circulation of Earth's water supply; powered by energy from the sun
- CONDENSATION: transformation of water vapor into liquid; creates clouds and fog
- PRECIPITATION: condensed water vapor is released from the atmosphere as rain, etc.
- INFILTRATION: liquid water is absorbed into the ground
- RUN-OFF: the variety of ways that water moves across land; occurs when precipitation outpaces infiltration
- TRANSPIRATION: release of water vapor from plants into the atmosphere
- EVAPORATION: transformation of water from liquid to gas
- ADVECTION: the movement of water through the atmosphere
G. Demonstrate understanding of the processes of erosion, deposition and weathering
Erosion, deposition and weathering are interconnected processes by which rock near Earth's surface are moved, deposited and broken down.
EROSION: the gravity-driven process by which materials are physically moved by water, wind or ice
DEPOSITION: the depositing of sediments by water, wind or ice
WEATHERING: the physical or chemical breakdown of rock near Earth's surface
- PHYSICAL/MECHANICAL: material retains characteristics of the original; includes frost wedging, thermal expansion, unloading and biological activity
- CHEMICAL: converts the rocks constituents into new minerals; includes dissolution, hydrolysis and oxidation
PART 2: HISTORICAL GEOLOGY
Image Credit: Italo (Flickr)
A. Demonstrate understanding of the principle of uniformitarianism
Uniformitarianism can be used to explain the formation of ancient geological structures on Earth's surface.
UNIFORMITARIANISM: states that the chemical, physical and biological processes that occur today also occurred in the past (though not necessarily at the same rate)
B. Demonstrate understanding of the basic principles of stratigraphy
Stratigraphy is the geological study of strata (layers).
- LAW OF SUPERPOSITION: oldest rocks on the bottom, newest on top
- ORIGINAL HORIZONTALITY: all sediments are deposited horizontally
- LATERAL CONTINUITY: sedimentary rocks are laterally continuous over large areas
- CROSS-CUTTING: if a body cuts across a stratum, it formed after the stratum
- LAW OF INCLUSION: rock fragments must be older than the rock containing the fragments
- LAW OF FAUNAL SUCCESSION: fossil groups succeed each other in time; allows for worldwide correlation
C. Distinguish between relative and absolute time
Relative and absolute time are used to place the events of Earth's 4.6-billion-year history on an accurate timeline.
RELATIVE TIME: two or more events are compared without numerical reference (i.e. Law of Superposition)
ABSOLUTE TIME: time is measured in some unit from a certain starting point (i.e. Earth is 4.5 billion years old)
D. Recognize the processes involved in the formation of fossils
Fossils are the preserved remains of or impressions left by dead organisms.
FORMATION OF FOSSILS: Fossils are most commonly created when a plant or animal's original organic materials are replaced with minerals.
Image Credit: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (Wikimedia Commons)
E. Demonstrate understanding of the types of information fossils provide
Fossils provide information about plants and animals that have been extinct for millions of years, as well as the geological events of Earth's history.
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY FOSSILS: It typically takes approximately 10,000 years for an organism to become completely fossilized, therefore fossils provide scientists with vital information about the past. Some fossils have provided evidence for continental drift while others have allowed scientists to analyze the diets and lifestyles of dinosaurs.
Image Credit: United States Geological Survey (Wikimedia Commons)
F. Demonstrate understanding of the geologic time scale and how it was developed
Scientists began using the geologic time scale in the early 1900s.
GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE: The geologic time scale is a system of measurement used to date important events in Earth's history. It was originally proposed in 1913 by a British geologist who, using the newly discovered process of radioactive dating, estimated that the Earth was about 4 billion years old.
G. Outline the sequence of important events in the Earth's history
- 4.6 billion years ago: the formation of the earth
- 3.4 billion years ago: the first unicellular life forms appear
- 800 million years ago: the first multi-cellular life forms appear
- 550 million years ago: first vertebrates appear
- 395 million years ago: fish, land plants and amphibians appear
- 330 million years ago: reptiles, trees, insects appear
- 225 million years ago: mass extinction of most marine life
- 250 million years ago: dinosaurs appear
- 65 million years ago: mass extinction of dinosaurs, mammals appear
- 1.8 million years ago: homo sapiens evolve
PART 3: OCEANOGRAPHY
Image Credit: Eva Funderburgh (Flickr)
A. Demonstrate understanding of the geographic location of oceans and seas
- PACIFIC OCEAN: located between the Americas and Asia
- ATLANTIC OCEAN: located between the Americas and Europe
- ARCTIC OCEAN: located at the North Pole, above Europe, Asia and North America
- SOUTHERN OCEAN: located at the South Pole, surrounding Antarctica
- INDIAN OCEAN: located south of Asia between Africa and Australia
B. Demonstrate understanding of the processes involved in the formation and movement of ocean waves
Ocean waves are wind-generated waves that occur at the surface of oceans and seas.
FORMATION: wind "stretches" the surface of the ocean to create wrinkles; subsequent surface tension then attempts to restore equilibrium; primary factors that influence wave formation include (1) wind speed, (2) the distance over which the wind has blown and (3) the duration of time the wind has blown over the water; there is little forward movement of the actual water particles despite the large amount of energy and momentum present in ocean waves;
TYPES OF OCEAN WAVES:
- CAPILLARY WAVES: also known as ripples; appear on smooth waters; typically die when wind stops blowing;
- SEAS: larger waves that form under irregular or un-sustained winds; can last long after the wind stops blowing;
- SWELLS: formed by seas that move away from their point of origin; can travel great distances; more stable than wind waves;
- TIDAL WAVES: massive waves formed by the displacement of a large body of water; include tsunamis, which are caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, and storm surges, which are caused by low-pressure systems like hurricanes;
C. Demonstrate understanding of the primary causes and factors that influence tides
Tides, the rise and fall of sea levels, are caused by the gravitational forces exerted by the Sun and moon and the rotation of the earth.
TIDES: most coasts experience daily semidiurnal (two high and two low) tides; high tides occur at the sub-lunar (directly beneath the moon) and antipodal (part of the earth directly opposite the sub-lunar) points;
- SPRING TIDES: occur every two weeks when the earth, moon and Sun form a line; the difference in height between low and high tides (tidal range) is greatest;
- NEAP TIDES: occur every two weeks when the earth, moon and Sun form a right angle; tidal range is smallest;
D. Demonstrate knowledge of the major surface and deep-water currents in the oceans and the causes of these currents
SURFACE CURRENTS: Surface currents are defined as the movement of ocean water located at Earth's surface and are created by wind. Due to the Coriolis Effect, which determines wind patterns, surface currents create their own circular patterns called gyres, which flow clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Each surface current affects the climate of the region where it is located.
DEEP-WATER CURRENTS: Deep-water currents move ocean water far below Earth's surface, and together form what is known as the "global conveyor belt." Deep-water currents are caused by differences in water density, which are in turn caused by changes in temperature and salinity.
E. Demonstrate understanding of the processes that influence the topography and landforms of the ocean floor and shorelines
- CONTINENTAL SHELF: a submerged extension of land that surrounds each continent
- CONTINTENTAL SLOPE & RISE: part of the continent that connects the continental shelf to the oceanic crust
- MID-OCEAN RIDGE: an underwater mountain formed by sea floor spreading, the process by which two tectonic plates separate, allowing magma to flow through the opening and onto the ocean floor where it cools to form underwater mountain systems
- ABYSSAL PLAIN: vast, flat stretches of sediment-covered land on the deep ocean floor
- ABYSSAL HILL: small sediment-covered hills that arise from the abyssal plain
- ISLAND ARC: a chain of exposed volcanoes (i.e. the Hawaiian islands)
- DEEP-SEA TRENCH: an extremely deep, extremely steep depression in the oceanic crust that is formed when one tectonic plate is subducted beneath another
F. Demonstrate understanding of the factors that influence the physical and chemical properties of seawater and nutrient cycles
FACTORS AFFECTING OCEAN PROPERTIES: Wave motions, water temperature, salinity, density, wind patterns, the hydrologic cycle
PART 4: METEOROLOGY
Image Credit: Moyan Brenn (Flickr)
A. Demonstrate knowledge of the structure of the atmosphere and thermal and chemical properties of atmospheric layers
The atmosphere is comprised of five layers, each of which features a distinct temperature change and unique chemical composition.
STRUCTURE OF THE ATMOSPHERE:
- Troposphere: Extends from Earth's surface to about 12 km; Contains 75% of the atmosphere's gases; Weather occurs here; Temperature decreases as altitude increases
- Stratosphere: Extends from 12 - 50 km above Earth's surface; Contains the ozone layer; Temperature increases as altitude increases
- Mesosphere: Extends from 50 - 80 km above Earth's surface; Coldest layer of the atmosphere; Protects the Earth from meteors; Temperature decreases as altitude increases
- Thermosphere: Extends from 80 - 700 km above Earth's surface; Outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere; Temperature increases as altitude increases
- Exosphere: Extends beyond the Thermosphere into outer space;
B. Demonstrate knowledge of the chemical composition of the atmosphere
- 78% Nitrogen
- 21% Oxygen
- 1% Argon
C. Demonstrate understanding of the factors influencing seasonal and latitudinal variation of solar radiation
SEASONAL VARIATION: Caused by Earth's elliptical orbit. Because the Earth is closer to the sun at different points during its annual orbit, the Earth receives more solar radiation.
LATITUDINAL VARIATION: Caused by the shape of the Earth and its tilted axis. Because the Earth is round, the sun's rays strike the Earth at different angles, which varies the amount of solar radiation received in a particularly area. The Earth receives the most solar radiation where the sun's rays strike most directly (the equator) and the least solar radiation where the sun's rays are refracted (the poles).
D. Demonstrate understanding of the causes of global wind belts
GLOBAL WIND BELTS: Caused by differences in atmospheric pressure. Air flows from areas with greater pressure to areas with lower pressure.
E. Identify the factors that contribute to small-scale atmospheric circulation
ATMOSPHERIC CIRCULATION: monsoons, land and sea breezes, desert winds
F. Distinguish among the terms relative humidity, absolute humidity, dew point, and frost point
- RELATIVE HUMIDITY: compares the amount of water vapor in the air to the amount of water vapor the air could hold based on its temperature
- ABSOLUTE HUMIDITY: measures the actual amount of water vapor in the air
- DEW POINT: the temperature to which the air must be cooled in order to change water vapor into water
- FROST POINT: the temperature to which the air must be cooled in order to turn water vapor into frost
G. Demonstrate knowledge of various cloud and precipitation types and their formation
Clouds form when water vapor condenses and becomes visible.
TYPES OF CLOUDS:
- CUMULUS: puffy white clouds located close to the earth's surface
- CIRRUS: high-altitude wispy clouds made mostly of ice crystals that occur during calm, clear weather
- STRATUS: gray scattered clouds with ill-defined edges located close to Earth's surface
- CUMULONIMBUS: tall, dark anvil-shaped clouds that can produce lightning, heavy rains and tornadoes
H. Characterize major types of air masses in terms of temperature, moisture content and source areas
- CONTINENTAL POLAR: cold, dry, forms over land near the poles
- CONTINENTAL TROPICAL: warm, dry, forms over land hear the equator
- MARITIME POLAR: cold, moist, forms over water near the poles
- MARITIME TROPICAL: warm, moist, forms over water near the equator
I. Demonstrate understanding of high- and low-pressure systems
HIGH-PRESSURE SYSTEMS: Areas where the air pressure is greater than the surrounding region. Causes clear skies and light winds.
LOW-PRESSURE SYSTEMS: Areas where the air pressure is lower than the surrounding region. Associated with inclement weather such as storms, tornadoes and monsoons.
J. Demonstrate understanding of the structure and movement of frontal systems and the air circulation around and weather associa
Frontal systems form at the boundary between two different air masses when they meet.
- COLD FRONT: occurs when a cold air mass quickly pushes a warm air mass straight up; creates cool weather and brief, heavy storms
- WARM FRONT: occurs when a warm air mass slowly overtakes a cold air mass; creates cloudy skies, warm weather and light, steady rain
- STATIONARY FRONT: occurs when neither air mass is strong enough to overtake the other; stationary fronts remain in the same area for extended periods of time and create a wide variety of weather
K. Interpret information on weather maps
WEATHER MAP SYMBOLS:
- Red Line With Red Triangles: Warm Front
- Blue Line With Blue Half-Circles: Cold Front
- Line With Both Red Triangles and Blue Half-Circles: Stationary Front
- Purple Line: Occluded Front
- Blue "H:" High Pressure Area
- Red "L:" Low Pressure Area
L. Demonstrate understanding of the analyses needed to perform short-term weather forecasting and recognize some of the methods
Weather forecasting is the process of collecting and analyzing quantitative data to predict changes in weather conditions.
Short-Term Forecasting: Refers to weather forecasts that predict changes occurring between a few hours and a few days in the future. Relies on barometric pressure readings and the persistence method, which assumes that the current weather pattern will continue.
Long-Term Forecasting: Refers to weather forecasts that predict changes occurring multiple days or weeks in the future. Relies on the analysis of past weather events and probability.
M. Demonstrate understanding of the regional and local natural factors that affect climate
PRIMARY FACTORS THAT AFFECT CLIMATE: Distance from the ocean, ocean currents, wind patterns, proximity to the equator, population density and human activity
N. Demonstrate understanding of how humans affect and are affected by climate
- DESERTIFICATION: The degradation of semi-arid ecosystems bordering deserts. Caused by unsustainable land-management practices such as overgrazing and incorrect irrigation.
- GREENHOUSE EFFECT: The process by which certain gases found in a planet's atmosphere traps thermal radiation.
- VOLCANIC ASH EFFECT: Ash emitted during a volcanic eruption remains within the troposphere and caused decreased temperatures and visibility.
- EL NINO: An abnormal change of climate that occurs in the Pacific ocean. Surface water temperatures and thunderstorms increase. Effects can last for more than a year.
PART 5: ASTRONOMY
Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Flickr)
A. Demonstrate knowledge of the major theories of origin and structure of the universe
THEORIES OF ORIGIN:
- The Big Bang Theory: The most trusted theory of the origin of the universe. States that the universe began as a rapidly-expanding "explosion" that occurred approximately 13.7 billion years ago.
- Galaxies: A massive system made up of billions of stars, dust and gas held together by gravity
- Novas: A star that experiences a sudden explosion which causes an increase in brightness
- Quasars: An incredibly bright, remote celestial body that is believed to contain black holes
- Black Holes: An area of the universe with such powerful gravitational pull that nothing can escape it
- Stars: A ball of hydrogen and helium held together by gravity.
B. Define and use large units of distance
- ASTRONOMICAL UNIT: Equal to approximately 150 million kilometers, or the average distance between the earth and the sun
- LIGHT-YEAR: Equal to the distance which light can travel in a year, or approximately 10 trillion kilometers
- PARSEC: Equal to approximately 3.26 light years
C. Demonstrate understanding of the origin and life cycle of stars
Stars are "born" in a nebula, where dust and gas collapse to form young stars called protostars.
STARS: The ultimate fate of a star depends on its initial mass, but as all stars age, they expand and become less bright. When a star loses its brightness, it is referred to as a Red Giant. Red Giants then collapse to form either a black hole, black dwarf or neutron star.
D. Identify the major features and characteristics of the Sun and the source of the Sun's energy
- Size: Despite being the largest celestial body in our Solar System and accounting for more than 99% of its mass, the Sun is actually only a medium-sized star.
- Chemical Composition: Approximately 73% hydrogen, 25% helium, 2% other elements (iron, nickel, oxygen, carbon, etc.)
- Source of Energy: Nuclear fusion
E. Identify the components of the solar system and characterize the physical features and movements of the planets, asteroids, c
- PLANETS: There are eight planets in our Solar System. They are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The first three planets are rocky and terrestrial, the final four are gas giants. Pluto, formerly considered the ninth planet, is now considered a dwarf planet.
- MOONS: Celestial bodies that orbit around a larger celestial body such as a star or planet. The earth has one moon, Jupiter has 63.
- ASTEROIDS: Small celestial bodies that orbit the sun. Asteroids do not have a visible coma or tail.
- COMETS: Small celestial bodies that orbit the sun. Comets do have a visible coma and/or tail.
F. Demonstrate understanding of the geometry of the Earth-Moon-Sun system and the causes of lunar and solar eclipses
- LUNAR ECLIPSES: Occurs when the Sun, Earth and moon are aligned precisely enough that the earth blocks the Sun's rays from illuminating the moon's surface. This type of eclipse can only occur during a full moon.
- SOLAR ECLIPSES: Occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and Sun such that it blocks the Sun's rays from reaching Earth's surface. This type of eclipse can only occur during a new moon.
G. Demonstrate understanding of the causes of moon phases
- NEW MOON: Occurs when the moon is positioned between the Sun and the earth. The moon is not visible at all during this phase.
- HALF MOON: Occurs when the moon is positioned at a 90 degree angle between the Sun and the earth. Exactly half of the moon is illuminated, or visible, during this phase.
- FULL MOON: Occurs when the moon is positioned on the opposite side of the earth as the Sun. The entire moon is visible during this phase.
H. Demonstrate understanding of the causes of Earth's seasons
Seasons are caused by the tilt of Earth's axis.
EARTH'S SEASONS: The earth's Northern and Southern hemispheres receive inversely proportional amounts of sunlight at different points during the planet's yearlong orbit. When the earth is titled toward the Sun, the Northern Hemisphere receives the most sunlight and experiences summer while the Southern Hemisphere receives little sunlight and experiences winter. When the earth is titled away from the Sun, the seasons are reversed.
I. Demonstrate knowledge of how units of time are based on Earth's motions
- YEAR: The length of time it takes the earth to orbit the Sun.
- DAYy: The length of time it takes the earth to complete one full rotation.
J. Demonstrate understanding of time zones on Earth
TIME ZONES: Initially proposed by Sir Sanford Fleming in 1878. Fleming suggested that the world be divided into 24 time zones. Each time zone would span 15 degrees of longitude and represent one hour in the earth's daily rotation. Today, Earth's time zones are less scientifically stringent. China, for example, operates on only one time zone despite spanning more than 75 degrees of longitude.
K. Demonstrate understanding of geosynchronous orbits and recognize how satellites have contributed to science and technology
GEOSYNCHRONOUS ORBITS: Occurs when a celestial body such as a moon or planet has an orbital period that matches the larger body it orbits.
L. Recognize the contributions of manned and unmanned space missions and the present limitations of space exploration
- CONTRIBUTIONS OF SPACE MISSIONS: Both manned and unmanned space missions have allowed scientists to chart previously unknown parts of the universe, to further comprehend possible explanations for the origin of life and to develop new technologies
- LIMITATIONS: Space travel poses many physiological threats to the human body, including osteoporosis and muscular atrophy. Other things that restrict our ability to explore space include the physical limitations of the materials currently in existence that we use to build spaceships and the sheer distance between us and the rest of the universe.
M. Recognize the scientific contributions of remote sensing
REMOTE SENSING: Observing and collecting information about a place or object without physically coming into contact with the place or object. Remote sensing has allowed us to explore parts of the universe that are currently unsafe for man to visit.
Science, Technology & Society
Science and Technology in Daily Life
A. Demonstrate understanding of the uses and applications of science and technology in daily life (e.g., production, transmission, and use of energy; production, storage, use, management, and disposal of consumer products; management of natural resources; nutrition and public health issues, agricultural practices, etc.)
B. Demonstrate understanding of the social, political, ethical and economic issues arising from the use of certain technologies (e.g., cloning, prolonging life, prenatal testing, etc.) and the impact of science and technology on the environment and human affairs