LIGO Overview

Connections to Science Standards

Student Study Guide and Teachers' Guide

Classroom Activities

Additional Resources

Watch Einstein's Messengers on the Web


Einstein's Messengers and National Science Standards

Connection to National Science Standards

Science Themes
Questions Set


Two sets of K-12 National Science Standards have influenced the development of state standards across the U.S. over the last decade.

Project 2061, sponsored by AAAS, has published Science for All Americans (SFAA), a book that “outlines what all students should know and be able to do by the time they leave high school.” A companion 2061 book, Benchmarks for Science Literacy (BSL), identifies specific benchmarks for increasing science understanding in grade levels K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Benchmarks provide a tool for helping educators design curricula that will meet the objectives of SFAA.

The National Research Council (NRC), under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, published the National Science Education Standards (NSES) in 1995. The NRC standards “spell out a vision of science education that will make scientific literacy for all a reality in the 21st century. They point toward a destination and provide a roadmap for how to get there.”

Science for All Americans

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

National Science Education Standards

AAAS, Project 2061

AAAS, Project 2061

National Research Council

Oxford University Press, October 1990

Oxford University Press, Jan 1994

National Academy Press, 1995

ISBN: 0195067711

ISBN: 0195089863

ISBN: 03090523269


SFAA = Science for All Americans
BSL = Benchmarks for Science Literacy
NSES = National Science Ed. Standards

Description of Film Scene
Connections to
Science Standards

Relevant Standards
Source of Standard


... gravitational waves... they're not anything like the gravity you thought you knew

Scientific Ideas are Subject to Change
("Change in knowledge is inevitable because new ideas may challenge prevailing theories")

SFAA, Ch. 1, The Nature of Science, p2

...Newton defined gravity... the force that pulls the apple down.

The Scientific World View
(“No matter how well one theory fits observations, a new theory might fit them just as well or better, or might fit a wider range of observations. In science, the testing, revising and occasional discarding of theories, new and old, never ends”)

BSL Ch. 1, The Nature of Science, p8

...Gravity, he said, isn't the attraction of objects like planets. It's a distortion of space and time.

Forces of Nature
(“Everything in the universe exerts gravitational forces on everything else, although the effects are readily noticeable only when at least one very large mass is involved”)

SFAA, Ch. 4, The Physical Setting, p55

...space is not a simple flat arena in which matter and energy play around

(“Gravitational force is an attraction between two masses. The strength of the force is proportional to the masses and weakens rapidly with increasing distance between them.”)

BSL, Ch. 4, The Physical Setting, p96

...It's not that there's a force between them . . its that they're falling into each others' holes...

Relating Matter & Energy and Time & Space
(“...Einstein published what is regarded as his crowning achievement and one of the most profound accomplishments of the human mind in all of history: the theory of general relativity. The theory has to do with the relationship between gravity and time and space, in which Newton 's gravitational force is interpreted as a distortion of the geometry of space and time”)

SFAA, Ch. 10, Historical Perspectives, p151

...it led Einstein to a prediction, that when two stars... collide, they produce waves – gravity waves

Relating Matter & Energy and Time & Space
(“General relativity pictures Newton 's gravitational force as a distortion of space and time.”)

BSL Ch. 10, Historical Perspectives, p245

Motions and Forces
(“Gravitation is a universal force that each mass exerts on any other mass. The strength of the gravitational attractive force between two masses is proportional to the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them”)

NSES, Ch. 6, Content Standards (Physical Science), p180

4:30, 5:58, 7:00 Wave Behavior

Like ripples on a pond, these waves travel outward from their source, carrying information about the events that caused them, racing at the speed of light...

Interactions of Matter and Energy (“Waves, including sound and seismic waves, waves on water and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter.

NSES, Ch. 6, Content Standards (Physical Science), p180

...the universe is totally transparent to gravity waves...

Motion (“Vibrations may set up a traveling disturbance that spreads away from its source ...We therefore speak of sound waves, light waves and so on...”)

SFAA, Ch. 4, The Physical Setting, p53

...just as waves on the surface of a pond get weaker and weaker the farther they propagate, so do gravitational waves...

(“Vibrations in materials set up wavelike disturbances that spread away from the source. Sound and earthquake waves are examples. These and other waves move at different speeds in different materials.”)

BSL, Ch. 4, The Physical Setting, p90

...this is what happens to space itself [when a gravity wave passes]... it stretches in one direction and compresses in another...

0:35, 1:50, 10:30,18:20

...some mysteries so deep that the answer cannot be found with traditional tools. For those it takes something entirely different

Technology Draws on Science and Contributes to It
(“...science often suggests new kinds of behavior that had not even been imagined before, and so leads us to new technologies.”)

SFAA, Ch. 2, The Nature of Technology, p26

...when you start looking with other ways of looking at the universek this thing that looks so pristine... there's all chaos going on out there...

The Universe
(“Increasingly sophisticated technology is used to learn about the universe. Visual, radio and x-ray telescopes collect information from across the entire spectrum of electromagnetic waves; computers handle an avalanche of data and increasingly complicated computations to interpret them...“)

BSL, Ch. 4, The Physical Setting, p65

...also key is state of the art laser and optical technology...

Understandings about Science and Technology
(“Science often advances with the introduction of new technologies. Solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge. New technologies often extend the current levels of scientific understanding and introduce new areas of research.”)

NSES, Ch. 6, Content Standards (Physical Science), p192

...History has shown that great discoveries in science usually occur when revolutionary new instruments give us new ways to explore the universe.

5:10, 21:00, 21:30 Models

...As scientists tried to simulate these waves, they found that they can be immensely powerful...

(“A models may be a device, a plan, a drawing, an equation, a computer program or even just a mental image. Whether models are physical, mathematical, or conceptual, their value lies in suggesting how things either do work or might work.”)

SFAA, Ch. 11, Common Themes, p168

...“combined with numerical simulations I expect will revolutionize our understanding of general relativity...”

(“Computers have greatly improved the power and use of mathematical models by performing computations that are very long, very complicated, or repetitive... The graphic capabilities of computers make them useful... in the simulation of complicated processes

BSL, Ch. 11, Common Themes, p270

9:05, 10:50
Complex Social Activity

...“Oh, but the payoff is enormous, and that's what keeps you really motivated...“

Science is a Complex Social Activity
(“They [scientists] may work alone, in small groups or as members of large teams.”)

SFAA, Ch. 1, The Nature of Science, p7
...LIGO is the work of hundreds of scientists, engineers, and students...
Science as a Human Endeavor (“Individuals and teams have contributed and will continue to contribute to the scientific enterprise. Doing science or engineering can be as simple as an individual conducting field studies or as complex as hundreds of people working on a major scientific question or technological problem. Pursuing science as a career or as a hobby can be both fascinating and intellectually rewarding."
NSES, Ch. 6, Content Standards (History and Nature of Science), p200

1:40, 18:20

...Rai Weiss has been dreaming of this moment for decades...

Reinforcement of General Societal Values
(“Curiosity. Scientists thrive on curiosity – and so do children.“)

SFAA, Ch. 12, Habits of Mind, p185

...there's a moment of wonder there...

Values and Attitudes (“Know why curiosity, honesty, openness and skepticism are so highly regarded in science and how they are incorporated into the way science is carries out...”)
BSL, Ch. 11, Habits of Mind, p287
...they are people who never lost their childlike wonder about the universe...