Benchmark 11B
Common Themes: Models
Grades 9-12, page 270

The basic idea of mathematical modeling is to find a mathematical relationship that behaves in the same ways as the objects or processes under investigation. A mathematical model may give insight about how something really works or may fit observations very well without any intuitive meaning.

NSES Content Standard A 
Science as Inquiry: Understanding about scientific inquiry
Grades 9-12, page 175
Mathematics is essential in scientific inquiry. Mathematical tools and models guide and improve the posing of questions, gathering data, constructiong explanations and communicating results.

See also the general discussion in Unifying Concepts and Processes: Evidence, models, and explanation