Grade 8

Science Curriculum

Year 8 Level Description

The science inquiry skills and science as a human endeavour strands are described across a two-year band. In their planning, schools and teachers refer to the expectations outlined in the achievement standard and also to the content of the science understanding strand for the relevant year level to ensure that these two strands are addressed over the two-year period. The three strands of the curriculum are inter-related and their content is taught in an integrated way. The order and detail in which the content descriptions are organised into teaching and learning programs are decisions to be made by the teacher.

Incorporating the key ideas of science

Over Years 7 to 10, students develop their understanding of microscopic and atomic structures; how systems at a range of scales are shaped by flows of energy and matter and interactions due to forces and develop the ability to quantify changes and relative amounts.

In Year 8, students are introduced to cells as microscopic structures that explain macroscopic properties of living systems. They link form and function at a cellular level and explore the organisation of body systems in terms of flows of matter between interdependent organs. Similarly, they explore changes in matter at a particle level, and distinguish between chemical and physical change. They begin to classify different forms of energy and describe the role of energy in causing change in systems, including the role of heat and kinetic energy in the rock cycle. Students use experimentation to isolate relationships between components in systems and explain these relationships through increasingly complex representations. They make predictions and propose explanations, drawing on evidence to support their views while considering other points of view.


Cells are the basic units of living things; they have specialized structures and functions (ACSSU149)

  • examining a variety of cells using a light microscope, by digital technology, or by viewing a simulation
  • distinguishing plant cells from an animal or fungal cells
  • identifying structures within cells and describing their function
  • recognizing that some organisms consist of a single cell.
  • recognizing that cells reproduce via cell division.
  • describing mitosis is cell division for growth and repair

Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs carrying out specialized functions that enable them to survive and reproduce (ACSSU150)

  • identifying the organs and overall function of a system of a multicellular organism in supporting the life processes
  • describing the structure of each organ in a system and relating its function to the overall function of the system
  • examining the specialized cells and tissues involved in the structure and function of particular organs.
  • comparing similar systems in different organisms such as digestive systems in herbivores and carnivores, respiratory systems in fish and mammals
  • distinguishing between asexual and sexual reproduction
  • comparing reproductive systems of organisms

Properties of the different states of matter can be explained in terms of the motion and arrangement of particles (ACSSU151)

  • explaining why a model for the structure of matter is needed.
  • modeling the arrangement of particles in solids, liquids, and gases
  • using the particle model to explain observed phenomena linking the energy of particles to temperature changes.


Differences between elements, compounds, and mixtures can be described at a particle level (ACSSU152)

  • modeling the arrangement of particles in elements and compounds
  • recognizing that elements and simple compounds can be represented by symbols and formulas.
  • locating elements on the periodic table

Chemical change involves substances reacting to form new substances (ACSSU225)

  • identifying the differences between chemical and physical changes
  • identifying evidence that a chemical change has taken place.
  • investigating simple reactions such as combining elements to make a compound.
  • recognizing that the chemical properties of a substance, for example, its flammability and ability to corrode, will affect its use.

Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks contain minerals and are formed by processes that occur within Earth over a variety of timescales (ACSSU153)

  • representing the stages in the formation of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, including indications of timescales involved
  • identifying a range of common rock types using a key based on observable physical and chemical properties.
  • recognising that rocks are a collection of different minerals.
  • considering the role of forces and energy in the formation of different types of rocks and minerals
  • recognising that some rocks and minerals, such as ores, provide valuable resources.

Energy appears in different forms, including movement (kinetic energy), heat and potential energy, and energy transformations and transfers cause change within systems (ACSSU155)

  • recognizing that kinetic energy is the energy possessed by moving bodies.
  • recognizing that potential energy is stored energy, such as gravitational, chemical, and elastic energy.
  • investigating different forms of energy in terms of the effects they cause, such as gravitational potential causing objects to fall and heat energy transferred between materials that have a different temperature.
  • recognizing that heat energy is often produced as a by-product of energy transfer, such as brakes on a car and light globes.
  • using flow diagrams to illustrate changes between different forms of energy.


Scientific knowledge has changed peoples’ understanding of the world and is refined as new evidence becomes available (ACSHE134)

  • investigating developments in the understanding of cells and how this knowledge has impacted areas such as health and medicine.
  • discovering how people’s understanding of the nature of matter has changed over time as evidence for particle theory has become available through developments in technology.
  • considering how the idea of elements has developed over time as knowledge of the nature of matter has improved.
  • investigating the development of the microscope and the impact it has had on the understanding of cell functions and division.

Science knowledge can develop through collaboration across the disciplines of science and the contributions of people from a range of cultures (ACSHE226)

  • investigating how knowledge of the location and extraction of mineral resources relies on expertise from across the disciplines of science
  • considering how advances in technology, combined with a scientific understanding of the functioning of body systems, has enabled medical science to replace or repair organs
  • researching the use of reproductive technologies and how developments in this field rely on scientific knowledge from different areas of science

Solutions to contemporary issues that are found using science and technology, may impact other areas of society and may involve ethical considerations (ACSHE135)

  • investigating requirements and the design of systems for collecting and recycling household waste
  • investigating strategies implemented to maintain parts of the local environment, such as bushland, a beach, a lake, a desert or a shoreline
  • investigating how energy efficiency can reduce energy consumption
  • investigating the development of vehicles over time, including the application of science to contemporary designs of solar-powered vehicles
  • discussing ethical issues that arise from organ transplantation

 People use science understanding and skills in their occupations and these have influenced the development of practices in areas of human activity (ACSHE136)

  • describing how technologies have been applied to modern farming techniques to improve yields and sustainability
  • investigating how Aboriginal people recognize relationships in ecosystems by burning to promote new growth, attract animals, and afford easier hunting and food gathering
  • describing the impact of plant cloning techniques (asexual production) in agriculture such as horticulture, fruit production, and vineyards
  • investigating the role of science in the development of technology important to the economies and communities of the Asia–Pacific regions, for example, car manufacture, earthquake prediction and electronic optics
  • recognizing the role of knowledge of the environment and ecosystems in a number of occupations
  • considering how engineers improve the energy efficiency of a range of processes
  • recognizing the role of knowledge of cells and cell divisions in the area of disease treatment and control
  • investigating how scientists have created new materials such as synthetic fibers, heat-resistant plastics, and pharmaceuticals


By the end of Year 8, students compare physical and chemical changes and use the particle model to explain and predict the properties and behaviours of substances. They identify different forms of energy and describe how energy transfers and transformations cause change in simple systems. They compare processes of rock formation, including the timescales involved. They analyse the relationship between structure and function at cell, organ and body system levels. Students examine the different science knowledge used in occupations. They explain how evidence has led to an improved understanding of a scientific idea and describe situations in which scientists collaborated to generate solutions to contemporary problems. They reflect on implications of these solutions for different groups in society.

Students identify and construct questions and problems that they can investigate scientifically. They consider safety and ethics when planning investigations, including designing field or experimental methods. They identify variables to be changed, measured and controlled. Students construct representations of their data to reveal and analyse patterns and trends, and use these when justifying their conclusions. They explain how modifications to methods could improve the quality of their data and apply their own scientific knowledge and investigation findings to evaluate claims made by others. They use appropriate language and representations to communicate science ideas, methods and findings in a range of text types.