Inquiry-based, the science curriculum incorporates independent student work and cooperative group experiences. Students engage in research and investigations. The curriculum builds on content and skills learned in earlier years. What is learned in science class is related to students’ own experiences and the wider world. Students develop an awareness of science-based careers and an understanding of the ways in which science is relevant to their lives.
Many students come to appreciate the nature of science and are excited to question and understand the natural world around them. The curriculum provides opportunities for communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. Scientific and technological literacy are promoted. Important skills include record keeping, observing, measuring, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing and drawing conclusions.
Topics rotate on a two-year cycle and include the broad span of life sciences, chemistry, physics, earth science, space, engineering, technology, and the environment.
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math integration) is an important component of the overall science curriculum. Each student has opportunities to engage and hone their skills in the engineering design process cycle of Ask, Research, Imagine, Brainstorm, Plan, Create, Improve, and Present.
First and Second Grade
Students practice skills of observing, describing, and wondering about the world around them. Hands-on explorations in the classroom and outdoors provide opportunities for students to sort, compare, test, keep records, use models and tools, and interpret evidence. Units include-- What Scientists Do and the Tools They Use; Forces and Motion; Solids, Liquids, and Gases; Trees in our Backyard; Ecology; STEAM; and Birds, Flight, Animals, and Plants. Activity highlights include-- adopting a tree in the schoolyard and observing over the course of the year, creating a game using the properties of force and motion, and creating the perfect soap bubble formula and wand.
Third and Fourth Grade
Students gain experience employing the tools of science to find answers to questions. They propose and conduct “fair tests,” collect and analyze data, and form conclusions based on evidence. Practicing lab techniques, students develop skills of predicting, measuring, and graphing. Students apply the knowledge they gain to solve problems. Units include-- Electricity, Inventions, Chemistry, STEAM, Water, and Earth Science. Activity highlights include-- creating circuits, designing wind-powered cars, working with acids and bases, and exploring food preservation.
Middle School Science
Students hone skills in scientific literacy, effective time management, cooperative group work, and laboratory techniques. They are well prepared for a successful transition to high school. Students learn about fixed and growth mindset. They assess their own mindset and work to build their resilience. Students read nonfiction to support the formulation of opinions and to defend them. Aspects of student work that are assessed include laboratory reports, interactive packets, models, presentations, and end-of-unit tests.
Fifth and Sixth Grade
Year 1 Units– Mission to Mars, Simple Machines, Chemistry, the Metric System
Mission to Mars– Students engage in a simulated voyage to the red planet. They assume the roles of engineers, navigators, medical technicians, robotics specialists, and astronauts. They research, calculate, construct, troubleshoot, and work together to travel in their spacecraft to Mars.
Simple Machines– Students develop an understanding of the concepts of Force, Work, and Motion. They design and build a Rube Goldberg machine, identify the work that occurs, create a script, and videotape their project in action.
Chemistry– Students study physical and chemical changes, matter, the periodic table, elements, and chemical reactions. Students enjoy making ice cream when experimenting with exothermic and endothermic reactions.
Metric System— Students develop their skill in measuring mass, volume, and distance. They obtain an understanding of density.
Year 2 Units— Cells, Genetics, Light and Sound, and the History of Science
Cells– Students are introduced to the concept of cells as the building blocks of life. They learn how cells combine to form tissue, then organs, then systems, and finally organisms. Students create a cell model, use a microscope to view and classify prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. They create a six kingdoms of life brochure, and culture organisms in Petri dishes.
Genetics– Students collect, graph, and analyze data on a variety of human traits. They develop an understanding of genes, genotypes, the Punnett Square, DNA, and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection. Students conduct an experiment in which they extract DNA from strawberries.
Light and Sound Waves— Students are introduced to the entire electromagnetic energy spectrum with a focus on visible light. They examine the properties of light and sound. They explore how the human eye and ear perceive light and sound, learn about the structure of the eye, and dissect a cow eye.
History of Science— Students study important scientists and their discoveries. They consider the motivations of the scientists and seek out how they made their discoveries, who worked with or against them, what obstacles they overcame and what helped them. Students learn how society impacted the lives of the scientists as well as how the work of the scientists impacted society.
Seventh and Eighth Grade
Year 1 Units— Ecology, Forces and Structures, Energy, and Climate Change
Ecology— Biological and chemical stream studies are undertaken. Student analyses of personal product safety for consumers, the environment, and society are conducted. Students research a real-life environmental problem. Students develop a solution, which they present along with their critical examination of the situation as well as their sense of the efficacy of the solution.
Force and Structures— Students examine structures and the impact of external and internal forces on those structures. Meeting specific criteria, students design, build and weight-test a freestanding bridge. They build and wind-test a model house designed to survive a hurricane. Students research and present a structure from around the world. Students research a hurricane and present the impact of the hurricane on people, structures, finances, the law, and evacuation procedures.
Energy— Students conduct kinetic and potential energy and energy transfer experiments. Resources such as oil, natural gas, and solar power are studied. In an interesting twist, students complete a multiple intelligences survey to discern their strengths— interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily/kinesthetic, visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic etc. They use this information to decide what sort of project or presentation will best serve them in responding to questions about the energy resource they analyze (a model, a PowerPoint presentation, a video, a paper etc.). Students learn about energy and their proclivities as a scholar.
Climate Change - Climate issues, solutions, and the impact of climate change on various social, economic, and environmental conditions are explored.
Year 2 Units— Comparative Body Study, Infectious
Diseases, Forces and Motion
Comparative Body Study— Students complete modules on the skeletal, muscular, nervous, and circulatory systems. Dissections include owl pellets, chicken wing, pig heart, and frog. Students determine blood types; invent a device to clear arteries; perform experiments involving the senses, responses and reflexes; complete a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) project on the impact of contact sports injuries on the brain and body; and research a nervous system disorder.
Infectious Diseases - Students explore the historical and groundbreaking use of data collection to identify the point of contamination for a Cholera epidemic. Students take on the role of doctors and perform medical tests to formulate diagnoses in four case studies. They research current epidemics and read about Typhoid Mary and the impact of public health concerns on individual freedoms.
Forces and Motion - Students experiment with forces and motion through a variety of activities and experiments to understand Newton’s Laws, speed, velocity, and acceleration.