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Science Help: Glossary of Terms

Preparing your child for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) world that will face them as adults does not need to be a challenge. Here are a few terms your child should know. Test your children yourself and ask for examples where appropriate.
  • Accuracy- the properties of a measuring instrument.
  • Adhesive- a sticky substance, like glue.
  • Amphibians- animals that live in water and land. They generally have smooth, moist skin and lay eggs in water. Frogs and salamanders are well-known examples.
  • Apparatus- equipment used to carry out an experiment.
  • Atom- the smallest unit of matter that can exist and be part of a chemical reaction. Atomic is the adjective form.
  • Battery- a number of electrical cells connected in a series to give a higher voltage than a single cell.
  • Bedrock- solid rock immediately beneath the earth's surface soil.
  • Biodegradable- material that decays relatively quickly after its use.
  • Bond- something that is bound, fastened, or joined together.
  • Bulb- the ball part of a root, like an onion.
  • Compound- a substance containing two or more elements.
  • Concave- a lens or other object that curves inward. Light passing through a concave lens will disperse.
  • Convex- a lens or other object that curves outward. Light rays passing through a convex lens will converge.
  • Decompose- the breaking down of parts from a whole, like in rotting or decay.
  • Dense- containing very closely-packed particles.
  • Dissolution- the result of adding a solute to a solvent. The particles of the solvent go in between the particles of the solute. The solute can be recovered through evaporation.
  • Element- a pure substance consisting of only one kind of atom which cannot be broken down into simpler elements.
  • Expand- increasing the size of a substance with heat. Heat causes the particles to move more quickly and further apart.
  • Fair Test- an experiment in which only one variable is changed at a time to allow for a more valuable comparison.

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Call The Tutoring Center in Collin County at (469) 277-8177 today to schedule a free diagnostic assessment for your child. Learn more about our one-to-one tutoring academic programs online.
  • Gas- a state of matter in which the particles move really fast and are very spread out.
  • Habitat- the natural home of a plant or animal.
  • Herbivores- animals that eat only plants. Nature's vegetarians include panda bears, horses, and cows.
  • Insoluble- a solid that cannot transform into a liquid.
  • Insulator- something that stops electricity, heat, or sound from passing through.
  • Joule- a unit of measurement of energy or work.
  • Keratin- a fiber protein found in hair and nails.
  • Kinetic energy- the energy found in moving things.
  • Liquid- a state of matter in which particles are close together, but randomly arranged so that they can move over each other.
  • Melting point- the temperature at which a solid turns to a liquid.
  • Mixture- two or more substances that are mixed together, but not combined, so they can be separated later.
  • Molecule- a group of atoms joined together.
  • Neutralization- the reaction between an acid and a base. The result is salt and water.
  • Neutron- an uncharged particle found in the nucleus of an atom with similar mass of a proton.
  • Newton- the measuring unit of force.
  • Omnivores- animals that eat both plants and animals. Examples include humans, most bears, chickens, and cockroaches.
  • Opaque- does not allow light to pass through.
  • Permeable- a substance that allows liquids to flow through.
  • Photosynthesis- the process by which plants change sunlight into food.
  • Proton- an atomic particle found in the nucleus with a positive charge and the same mass as a neutron.
  • Refraction- the change in speed and/or direction when light or other waves travel from one material into another.
  • Residue- something that remains behind, left over.
  • Sedimentary- an element deposited by wind or water, or the matter that forms at the bottom of a liquid.
  • Solution (chemical)- a mixture of two or more substances. Solutions dissolve in a solvent.
  • Synthetic- substances that are not found in nature, but man-made by chemical reactions. Polyester and nylon are examples of synthetic fabrics, whereas cotton and wool are found naturally.
  • Texture- the appearance, feel, and structure of a substance.
  • Variables- factors that can change in an experiment.
  • Zero error- a systematic error usually resulting from a measuring instrument having an incorrect zero. One example is not realizing that the ruler edge is not zero.

For Tutoring in Collin County

Call The Tutoring Center in Collin County at (469) 277-8177 today to schedule a free diagnostic assessment. Based on this assessment, we will develop a customized academic plan for your child. Find out more about our programs in math, reading, writing, and more on our webpage.


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