An incredibly important part of learning Science is seeing examples of a phenomenon- through models, diagrams, videos, online applets, and having “hands-on” lab experiences. At the middle school level in particular, the goal is to challenge the students to use their critical thinking skills. They are challenged to apply the concepts that they learn in class to the lab activities.
In sixth grade, students have been learning about waves and sound so far this year. For one lab, they explored at “Investigation Stations.” The used a variety of materials, lab equipment, toys, and online resources to better understand the concepts of wave measurements, vibration, Doppler Effect, and resonance. When we were discussing the effect of the length of a guitar string on its frequency, we looked at an actual guitar and listened to how the sound changed as we turned the tuning knob. Also, we had a few students show off their guitar skills! Going forward, they will integrate this comprehension of waves it to the topics of light, optics, astronomy, and earth science.
The seventh grade curriculum focuses on the life sciences. So far this year, they have been learning about the structure and processes of the cell. They created great 3D posters that showed the structures of plant cells and animal cells. One lab they did explored the process of fermentation, when cells release energy without using oxygen. They combined yeast and warm water into a bottle and used a balloon to capture the carbon dioxide gas that was given off.
In eighth grade, the Science curriculum explores many topics found in high school chemistry and physics courses. They are also challenged with activities that emphasize math skills, such as graphing and using equations. So far this year, they have explored the concepts such as mass, volume, density, atoms, and states of matter. They are mastering the art of accuracy in measuring, a critical skill in Science that will prepare them for high school. By making observations and using data they collect in lab and calculate the density and comparing the information to known values, they are able to determine the identity of unknown substances.