The Middle School science curriculum is designed to develop scientific literacy in our students. By studying concepts from each of the four domains of science: physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science, students will build a conceptual understanding and appreciation of science. It is our belief that students learn science best when they do science. Therefore, to meet the needs of 21st century learners, students are actively engaged in inquiry-based learning. The nature of inquiry-based science lends itself to students working collaboratively. All lab work is designed to assist students in developing and improving the science and engineering practices. Students are required to ask questions (for science) and define problems (for engineering), develop and use models, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, use mathematics and computational thinking, construct explanations (for science) and design solutions (for engineering), engage in argument from evidence, and obtain, evaluate, and communicate information. Projects and performance assessments within each grade level require students to synthesize material, and use critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some performance assessments provide individual opportunities to showcase creativity and innovative ideas. Interactive technologies are routinely used in all science classes to provide students with opportunities to simulate real-world applications of science.
Blue Team: Inpakala Pandian, email@example.com
The grade six science curriculum is designed to give budding scientists an introduction to the basic principles in all fields of science: astronomy, earth science, physics, biology, and chemistry. The common themes of observations and inferences as well as structure and function are introduced at the beginning of the year as students are taught to approach the world from the mindset of a scientist. Students use models and evidence to not only make claims, but also to explain their reasoning using the "Claim-Evidence-Reasoning" model as they explore different ideas. Young scientists use observations and inferences to explore the biosphere. They then transition to understanding the geosphere and the evidence that Earth’s surface changes. Our scientists then switch to how matter interacts with waves, and chemistry. Finally, we end the year with an exploration of how people in the fields of science, engineering and technology approach design. Throughout the units, we work toward practical mastery of scientific equipment, including the use of microscopes, as well as processes like experimental design.
Aqua Team: Maryfrances Kirshenbaum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Silver Team: Laura Kirshenbaum, email@example.com
Students in grade 7 focus on systems and cycles using their understanding of structures, functions, connections and relationships in systems, and the flow of matter and energy developed in earlier grades. A focus on systems requires students to apply concepts and skills across disciplines, since most natural and designed systems and cycles are interactive. Students will gain experience with plate tectonics, interactions of humans and Earth processes, organism systems to support and sustain life, ecosystem dynamics, motion and energy systems, and key technological systems used by society. Through grade 7, students will begin moving from the concrete to the abstract perspective, since many of the systems and cycles studied are not directly observable. Students explore these concepts through a varied and hands-on approach including labs and modeling experiences.
Green Team: Matthew O'Connell, firstname.lastname@example.org & Christy Kouris, email@example.com
Grade 8 students use more robust abstract thinking skills to explain the causes of more complex phenomena and systems. An understanding of the cause and effect of key natural phenomena and designed processes allows students to explain patterns and make predictions about future events. Students will develop and use models to assist them in visualizing such phenomena as: seasons and tides, gravity and its role in planetary motion, atoms, molecules and their interactions, weather and climate, plate tectonics, and the role of genetics in reproduction, heredity, and artificial selection. Being able to analyze phenomena for evidence, of causes and processes that often cannot be seen, and being able to conceptualize and describe those causes, is a significant outcome for grade 8 students.
Stemscopes is our online curriculum platform aligned to support the current Massachusetts Science, Technology and Engineering Standards. The Stemscopes platform follows the “5-E” method of delivering science content providing opportunities for students to Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate scientific phenomenon. Additionally, Stemscopes provides opportunities and support for intervention and acceleration.
The University of Colorado, Boulder, has created free interactive math and science simulations. The PhET simulations are built on extensive education research and have developed interactives that engage students in intuitive, game-like simulations where students have the opportunity to learn through discovery and exploration.
Writing in science is an integral part of the middle school science experience. Students receive instruction and practice to learn how to “write like scientists.”
Tips for “Writing like a Scientist:”
Avoid personal pronouns, science writing should be objective.
Use content vocabulary to demonstrate connections to what is being taught.
Write in complete sentences, especially when asked to explain an answer.
Label all drawings, diagrams, data tables and graphs to help communicate findings clearly.
Additionally students learn how to use the Claim/Evidence/Reasoning (CER) style of science writing. Students will learn how to arrive at a scientific claim using prompts or their own collected data. Students will identify evidence from the prompt or data that supports the claim. Students will then explain the reasons why the evidence supports the claim.