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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.
  • Absorbent- a substance that soaks up liquid, or energy, and retains it.
  • Acid- a chemical that neutralizes a base. By definition, acids contain a pH balance higher than 7. There are many kinds of acid- citric acid as found in lemons, acetic acid in vinegar, and hydrochloric acid.
  • Alloy- a metal formed by melting and mixing two or more metals together. For example, brass is a mixture of copper and zinc, and bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.
  • Amphibians- animals that live on both land and water. Their skins are smooth and moist and they lay eggs in water. Frogs and salamanders are well-known examples.
  • Bacteria- small, single-celled organisms with no nucleus. Some are harmful, like salmonella, while others are beneficial, like rhizobia, which convert nitrogen in soil.
  • Carnivores- animals that eat other animals. Lions and tigers and polar bears, oh my! Panda bears are herbivores, and all other bears are omnivores.
  • Catalyst- something that changes a chemical reaction without being permanently changed itself. A catalytic converter in a car's muffler contains platinum which changes carbon monoxide, a toxin, into carbon dioxide.
  • Circuit- one or more conducting paths between the two electrodes of a cell or a battery of cells.
  • Climate- the weather conditions of an area- an arid desert, or the frozen tundra.
  • Conclusion- the result of an experiment, including an explanation, judgment, or opinion based on interpretations.
  • Condensation- changing from a gas to a liquid or solid, like morning dew.
  • Data- a collection of observations, measurements, and facts.
  • Dilute- to make a liquid thinner, usually by adding water.
  • Dispersion- the splitting of white light into the seven colors of the visible spectrum, like a rainbow.
  • Ecosystem- the relationships between the environment, its animals, and its plants.
  • Electron- a small particle of matter with a negative charge that travels around the nucleus of an atom.
  • Enzyme- a biological catalyst, that is, a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction in the body.
  • Evaporation- the process of a liquid or solid changing into a vapor as a result of particles leaving the surface of the material.
  • Friction- the result of two surfaces rubbing against each other. Air resistance and water resistance are examples.

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  • 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.

For Tutoring in Monmouth County

Call The Tutoring Center in Monmouth County at (732) 705-3636 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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