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MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE

In middle school science, students design and conduct scientific investigations and construct scientific explanations based on evidence and observations. Students make measurements using metric units and organize their data. 6th graders learn about fundamental concepts in astronomy, physics, mineralogy such as the rock cycle: processes that shape Earth’s surface, fossils, natural resources, and the Earth in space. In 7th grade science, physics continues with the addition of chemistry and biology. Students learn about fundamental concepts in life science such as human physiology, combustion (metabolism), and atmospheric circulation, weather and climate. In 8th grade science, students learn about fundamental concepts in physics fluid dynamics and the mechanical dynamics of the human body. Throughout all of middle school, students also learn about the nature of science as a human endeavor.

Middle School Youth Needs

In the 6th grade, with a newly emerging sense of self, students begin the journey of forging their own path in life. At this time, the students’ evolving capacity for critical thinking is in the initial stages — the dawning intellect can be noted in their insightful answers and ability to truly understand cause and effect. A sense of lawfulness permeates the 6th Grade curriculum. It is observed in such geometric constructions as the division of a circle. It is also recognized in the patterns of the night sky in astronomy. It is present when studying sound, light, warmth and cold, and magnetism and electricity as conclusions are drawn from observable phenomena in the study of physics.

The difference between science and the arts is not that they are different sides of the same coin even, or even different parts of the same continuum, but rather, they are manifestations of the same thing. The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity. —Mae Jemison

Integrations with Science

Sixth Grade  SCIENCE

Sixth Graders are now learning to observe and translate their observations through rigorous scientific study from “the heights to the depths” with the study of earth and space sciences. Students track the night sky for a period of weeks; this homework assignment can be a pivotal one as the observations feed discussion of the students’ conclusions about the movement of the stars at the equator and the poles. It is important for Sixth Graders to observe and, out of their own experience and discernment of the phenomena, note what is actually happening at a particular latitude and longitude. The gift of observing – thinking through those observations – and arriving at particular truths based on accurately reflecting upon the phenomena serve the student on his or her life’s journey.

Physics

Accurately observe phenomena and draw conclusions with investigations in acoustics, light, temperature, magnetism and electricity; effectively use expository writing to accurately record experiments, noting materials used, procedure followed, observations made, and conclusions drawn.

Space Sciences (astronomy)

Accurately track patterns and movements in the night sky; apply facts; make direct observations

 

Earth Sciences (geology)

Understand the rock cycle and processes that shape Earth’s surface, fossils and natural resources

21ST CENTURY SKILLS & READINESS IN SCIENCE

Collaboration

Science students must be able to listen to others’ ideas and engage in scientific dialogues that are based on evidence – not opinion. These types of conversations allow them to compare and evaluate the merits of different ideas. The peer review process helps to ensure the validity of scientific explanations.

Seventh Grade  SCIENCE

The science curriculum of physics is now expanded from the sixth grade. With hands-on study of levers and simple machines, the student is connected to the physical world and anchors the concepts of observation, cause and effect. The exploration aspect also turns inward as the students learn about their own physical nature through the study of human physiology, specifically the systems and cycles of the body.

Chemistry

Rudimentary chemistry based on experiments and observing life and matter. As related to the early exploration in history, students are introduced to “the four elements (water, fire, air and earth)”; combustion and its properties; acids and bases, salts and limestone.

Physics

In 7th grade, the comparative observation based approach takes on a new direction – towards technical applications with mechanics. Students work with simple mechanical theories involving the use of levers and gears.

Human Biology

Fundamentals of whole systems of the body such as: reproductive, respiratory, circulatory, nerve/ sense, and metabolic systems as well as perhaps the eye, ear or hand-eye coordination.

21ST CENTURY SKILLS & READINESS IN SCIENCE

Information Literacy

Understanding science requires researching current ideas about the natural world. Students learn to differentiate fact from opinion and truth from fantasy. Science requires a curiosity of the mind as the ideas of science are subject to change. In science, children learn to determine reliable sources of information.

Self Direction

Students develop persistence and perseverance when exploring scientific concepts. Students learn to ask their own questions, and design investigations to find the answers. Students must be open to revising their thinking based on experiential results.

Eighth Grade  SCIENCE

Inquiry-based science instruction involves a continuum of learning experiences from teacher-led to learner self-directed activities, including, but not limited to, hands-on labs. Inquiry-based activities should balance students’ application of content knowledge, creativity and critical thinking in order to analyze data, solve a problem or address a unique question.

Physics

In 8th grade, the physics lessons expand upon all previous physics work with the addition of lessons on fluid mechanics, hydraulics, vacuums, pressure, meteorology, electromagnetism, the internal combustion engine, and the electric motor.

Organic Chemistry

The simple concepts of chemistry that were introduced in 7th grade are developed further and students learn the foundations of nutrition through the lessons on carbohydrates, starches, sugars, and fats. Industrial processes are also considered. Students conduct as many experiments as possible focusing on laboratory skills, safety, and quantitative observations.

Physiology

In 8th grade the mechanics and remaining dynamics of the human body are studied, along with consideration of how the laws of physics affects the human being. Students learn about the mechanics of bones and muscles in the human body.

21ST CENTURY SKILLS & READINESS IN SCIENCE

Critical Thinking and Reasoning

Science requires students to analyze evidence and draw conclusions based on that evidence. Scientific investigation involves defining problems and designing investigations. Students develop scientific explanations and distinguish between correlation and causation.

Invention

Designing investigations and engineering new products takes ingenuity. Scientists and engineers often have to think “outside the box” as they push the limits of current understanding. Creative problem solving and innovation skills are developed.