Imagine a middle school chorus of ‘what if’ and ‘how come’ serving to shape the nature of science education. Students’ natural curiosity serves as a springboard, catapulting learning into an intensely personal experience. This constructivist approach dovetails with the questioning, rapidly developing intellects. Our faculty celebrates this and builds experiences to monopolize student curiosity. Whether comparing rocket fly rates, modeling lake effect snow, or generating narratives for dinosaurs students are offered rich, hands-on opportunities to question. Attention is also given to moving students’ thinking to allow an experience to teach them all it can. That is, there may be significant learning occurring throughout and as a result of an experience that was not anticipated. However, opening one’s mind to allow all this information to be considered is a skilled thought pattern one finds within all great scientific thinkers. This style of learning is exemplified not only by our daily approach to teaching the unique middle school student but is also extended to our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Fair. Students graduating from our middle school have a refined sense of the scientific method as well as corollary writing skills.
This introductory course in scientific inquiry covers a variety of scientific fields. Content is taught through experimentation, acquainting students with science methodology. Scientific inquiry is made less mysterious by allowing students to understand the world through supervised experimentation. Students are involved with ecosystem comparisons, microscopic investigations, and basic experiments in chemistry and physics. As the year progresses students are given greater independence in determining both control and variable trials of each experiment and learn to make objective statements about their observations while writing increasingly complex lab reports. Independent work is also achieved through the design, development, and execution of individual STEM Fair projects.
The focus of 7th-grade Life Science is on lab skills and human body systems. Lab skills include light microscopy, measurement, experimental design, and lab safety. Human body systems include: circulatory, immune, muscular, skeletal, reproductive, nervous, respiratory, digestive, integumentary, and endocrine. Laboratory work is designed to give students hands-on experience, reinforce course content, and develop an understanding of the scientific method. In addition, students carry out a thorough preparation for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fair, which is designed to give them experience in selecting a question for research, designing and carrying out an appropriate experiment, analyzing results, and communicating with both adults and their peers.
Science 8: Earth Science
Earth Science serves as an introduction to a number of the physical sciences. Through a mix of student and teacher-generated activities, students are exposed to topics in chemistry, geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy. The common themes of density, cycles, energy, and matter show the connections between these topics. Labs are used to practice skills such as measurement, identification of unknowns using physical and chemical properties, and the development of scientific reasoning and scientific literacy. Students create a variety of products including maps, dichotomous keys, and presentations of their learning. Students will design, carry out, and report on their own original research, reinforcing the concepts of the scientific method and experimental design through genuine experiences.