MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE
Students learn science best through:
• Curiosity and the desire to understand the world.
• Engaging in hands on inquiry-based collaborative exploration.
• Scientific inquiry that takes on many forms - trial and error, documentation, prediction, testing, experimentation, reflection, model making invention, creativity, intuition and so on.
• Functioning as scientists.
• Demonstrating a balance of conceptual understanding, procedural proficiency and factual knowledge.
• Revising thinking by acknowledging and resolving discrepancies and misconceptions through examination of evidence.
• Developing scientific literacy in the process of doing science.
• Immersing them in science when it is relevant to their lives.
Effective science teaching practices:
• Provide opportunities for choice, hands-on and collaborative group work that guides scientific discovery.
• Teach process skills that apply to the various content areas of science.
• Challenge students to think through problems and to explain their reasoning related to Science concepts.
• Offer learning experiences that are integrated across the curriculum. • Teach a developmentally appropriate number of fundamental concepts that are explored in depth.
• Guide and support students in making connections between their prior knowledge and current instruction.
• Use varied assessments to monitor understanding and ability to apply knowledge.
• Identify and challenge misconceptions.
• Use technology appropriate for doing and teaching science.
• Support understanding of connections within science and the historical development of scientific knowledge.
Middle School science courses are designed to be inquiry based. The curriculum is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Each grade level has a mix of physical, chemical and life science to help students see the interconnections of the various branches of science. In addition to laboratory investgation, teachers use a variety of resources including text, websites, movies, research, field experiences and scientific experts to deliver the curriculum.
Three overarching standards that have threads in each grade levels are:
• The student understands the nature and tools of scientific inquiry.
• The student knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
• The student understands basic science processes.
The Grade 6 Science course is designed to be a “hands on” class to encourage interest in the fields of science. Students will learn through lab experiments, STEM projects, class discussions and other appropriate activities. Technology is integrated throughout the course through the use of computers, video and laboratory equipment. The main units of study focus on: thermal energy transfer; the human impact on Earth; weather, climate and water cycling; plate tectonics and rock cycling; cells and development; and waves, light, and matter. Students are introduced to the fundamentals of science as a field of study and also as a process. The skills of inquiry, making observations and inferences, creating and conducting fair and reliable tests/ experiments and using the tools of measurement are all explored and developed. Students will continue to apply these skills throughout the year in lab and classroom settings so they are prepared to move to science in seventh grade. Content is taught using engineering standards.
The Grade 7 Science course continues to focus on the work of scientists. The specific topics of studies are developing science process skills through units in ecology and environment with a focus on coral reef ecosystems; atomic structure and chemical changes with an introduction to chemistry, metabolism and photosynthesis. Through hands-on activities and labs, students explore these topics while developing skills of observation, analysis, teamwork and scientific thinking. Students will learn through lab investigations, projects, class discussions, readings and other appropriate activities.
The Grade 8 science course consists of five units of study. The first unit focuses on motion, forces and basic Newtonian mechanics. The second unit involves wave behavior with particular regard to sound waves and electromagnetic radiation. The third unit examines near-Earth astronomy including lunar and solar relationships, as well as the formation and evolution of the Solar System. The fourth unit introduces students to the study of genetic material and heredity. The final unit will build upon the concepts from the fourth unit as students consider evidence that the process of evolution has produced the wide variety of observed life forms. Throughout the year, emphasis will be placed on the development of student skills that will prepare them for the transition to the High School science program. Students will learn through lab investigations, projects, class discussions, readings and project-based activities. An emphasis will be placed upon the skill of modeling scientific concepts.