Science is a non-tracked inquiry-based class. Students entering this course come from various backgrounds in science instruction.
Sixth grade begins with a large unit on Human Physiology in which students learn some concrete steps they can take to maintain good physical health and overall well-being. We then begin a study of Earth sciences: astronomy, climate and weather, and geology. We finish the year with botany. Seventh grade begins with the big ideas in biology: cells, genetics, evolution, and ecology. Students study the role of both genetics and the environment in shaping the diversity of life on our planet. In the second half of the year, students begin their study of matter and learn to measure the physical properties of substances. Eighth grade begins with a continuation of physical science. Students develop a deeper understanding of the atomic model of matter as well as an appreciation of how atoms are organized within the periodic table of elements. The latter half of the year is spent studying some basic principles of physics: force, motion, and energy.
The course is inquiry-based and emphasis is placed on allowing students to develop their testable questions and carry out experiments that will provide data to answer them. Students research background information to develop scientifically supported hypotheses and learn to define and control variables to design experiments that provide useful data. Time is also spent teaching students to analyze data to draw appropriate conclusions. Students leave the program with a clear understanding of the scientific method as well as a good deal of practical lab experience.
Throughout the course, students are given opportunities to learn in a variety of ways: through discussion, reading, questioning, and experimentation. Their conceptual understanding is applied in the real world to solve real-world problems. These learning opportunities are filtered through a relevant global context so that students gain an appreciation for the complexities of real-world situations. These become more sophisticated as students progress from sixth grade to eighth. For example, in sixth grade, students analyze the long-term consequences of their personal lifestyle choices (identities and relationships), while eighth graders debate the benefits and drawbacks of nuclear power (scientific and technological innovation).
This course hopes to foster in students a sense of curiosity and inquiry about the world around them. Authentic research and lab work will give them the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to ask good questions while gaining an appreciation and respect for the beauty and complexity of the natural world. This helps develop their critical thinking skills and leads to informed and well-thought-out decisions. Further, it helps students become more effective and creative problem solvers.
Opportunities for collaboration within the science curriculum help students learn to communicate effectively with their peers while working safely in a lab setting. This requires students to be responsible for their work and behavior as well as maintain a caring and open-minded attitude toward others.
Aims and Objectives
- Cultivate analytical, inquiring, and flexible minds that pose conceptual and debatable questions, solve problems, construct explanations, judge arguments, and make real-world connections through a science lens
- Develop skills to design and perform investigations, evaluate evidence, and reach conclusions
- Build an awareness of the need to effectively collaborate and communicate with others in a way that builds connections and leads to further exploration
Teachers provide students with a variety of summative assessment tasks tied to learning objectives, skills, and criteria. Before an assessment or along with it, teachers will hand out clearly described tasks and criteria for assessment. All units of work include formative assessments leading to the summative piece.
Summative assessments will be in many forms including lab reports, debates, presentations, written essays, 3D projects, graphic organizers, and exams.
Scope and Sequence of Units
- Grade Six: body systems, astronomy, weather and climate, geology, botany
- Grade Seven: genetics, evolution, ecology, conservation of mass, characteristic properties
- Grade Eight: modeling compounds, elements, and mixtures, properties of atoms, periodic table, distance, time, speed, forces, energy