The Science Department provides students with a rich, challenging, and diverse understanding of science and its role in contemporary issues. Science allows individuals to understand the natural world and acquire important inquiry and analysis skills (course descriptions follow).
The program empowers students to participate directly in the process of science by learning to frame scientific questions, analyze data, and discuss and interpret results. Structured to encourage growth, the courses meet students where they are, providing the space and structure to mature academically and find meaning in scientific discovery. Experiences as emerging scientists challenge students to become responsible, active, and positive voices. The program provides students with the tools to creatively and intelligently shape a healthier and more sustainable world.
The Middle School program provides hands-on experiences in life science, environmental science, and physical science each year. These encounters include, but are not limited to:
- The nature of science—the scientific process, science as a community, habits of good science, and the strengths and limitations of science.
- Inquiry and lab skills—making valuable observations, fostering intellectual curiosity, setting up controlled experiments, and developing the ability to critically evaluate their own results and those of others.
- Analysis—recording and organizing data, creating visual and conceptual models of data; generating mathematical models from inquiry results; and using basic statistics to interpret this data.
- Application—recognizing the role that science plays in creating and solving problems, designing, prototyping, and testing technologies to solve problems.
This introductory year of science builds the foundation of the Middle School program. Through the process of inquiry, students explore the basic concepts of human growth and development, weather and climate, as well as the study of matter and its interactions. To set the stage for personal wellness, the course begins with a neuroscience-based unit that examines students’ preconceived notions of intelligence and ability. Students also develop their understanding of each individual’s role in the broader community of science. Through the use of a science notebook, students will focus on observations, data collection, and reflection. Students also learn foundational skills in data organization and analysis through the use of data tables, charts and plots.
The seventh grade science class extends the exploration of topics in the physical and Earth sciences from the sixth grade experience. Through inquiry-driven lessons, students interact with concepts in force and motion as well as plate tectonics, Earth’s interior, volcanism, and basic geology. In the context of the grade level theme, serve, students explore servant leadership opportunities and civic responsibilities within a scientific community. Students practice important skills related to science literacy, laboratory and computer-based research, and 21st century communication of information. This course is designed to pique the curiosity of students about the scientific world around them and show them ways that they can contribute meaningfully to their communities.
The eighth grade science class explores topics in the physical and life sciences. Through inquiry-driven experiences, students learn about ecosystems, biodiversity, and climate change as well as basic principles of chemistry, the periodic table and atomic structure, electric circuitry, the transfer and transformation of energy, and information transfer through waves. In the context of the grade level theme, appreciate, students investigate the world around them from different vantage points. Students practice important skills related to science literacy, laboratory and computer-based research, and 21st century communication of information. This course is designed to pique the curiosity of students and show them ways that they can contribute meaningfully to their communities through a scientific lens.