PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation
How are instruments that transmit and detect waves used to extend human senses?
- Introduction to PS4.C
- K-12 Progression and Grade Band End Points for PS4.C
- Performance Expectations Associated with PS4.C
- Additional Resources for PS4.C
Understanding of waves and their interactions with matter has been used to design technologies and instruments that greatly extend the range of phenomena that can be investigated by science (e.g., telescopes, microscopes) and have many useful applications in the modern world.
Light waves, radio waves, microwaves, and infrared waves are applied to communications systems, many of which use digitized signals (i.e., sent as wave pulses) as a more reliable way to convey information. Signals that humans cannot sense directly can be detected by appropriately designed devices (e.g., telescopes, cell phones, wired or wireless computer networks). When in digitized form, information can be recorded, stored for future recovery, and transmitted over long distances without significant degradation.
Medical imaging devices collect and interpret signals from waves that can travel through the body and are affected by, and thus gather information about, structures and motion within it (e.g., ultrasound, X-rays). Sonar (based on sound pulses) can be used to measure the depth of the sea, and a system based on laser pulses can measure the distance to objects in space, because it is known how fast sound travels in water and light travels in a vacuum. The better the interaction of the wave with the medium is understood, the more detailed the information that can be extracted (e.g., medical imaging or astronomical observations at multiple frequencies).
Grade Band Endpoints for PS4.C
By the end of grade 2. People use their senses to learn about the world around them. Their eyes detect light, their ears detect sound, and they can feel vibrations by touch.
People also use a variety of devices to communicate (send and receive information) over long distances.
By the end of grade 5. Lenses can be used to make eyeglasses, telescopes, or microscopes in order to extend what can be seen. The design of such instruments is based on understanding how the path of light bends at the surface of a lens.
Digitized information (e.g., the pixels of a picture) can be stored for future recovery or transmitted over long distances without significant degradation. High-tech devices, such as computers or cell phones, can receive and decode information—convert it from digitized form to voice—and vice versa.
By the end of grade 8. Appropriately designed technologies (e.g., radio, television, cell phones, wired and wireless computer networks) make it possible to detect and interpret many types of signals that cannot be sensed directly. Designers of such devices must understand both the signal and its interactions with matter.
Many modern communication devices use digitized signals (sent as wave pulses) as a more reliable way to encode and transmit information.
By the end of grade 12. Multiple technologies based on the understanding of waves and their interactions with matter are part of everyday experiences in the modern world (e.g., medical imaging, communications, scanners) and in scientific research. They are essential tools for producing, transmitting, and capturing signals and for storing and interpreting the information contained in them.
Knowledge of quantum physics enabled the development of semiconductors, computer chips, and lasers, all of which are now essential components of modern imaging, communications, and information technologies. (Boundary: Details of quantum physics are not formally taught at this grade level.)