In Middle School science class, students are encouraged to think, explore, and behave like scientists. Science is an ongoing, evolving discipline, not simply a body of facts, and the more students are able to participate in the scientific process, the more keenly they come to understand this.
Students are introduced to a variety of investigations and current events that enable them to explore natural phenomena while learning to collect and interpret data, devise hypotheses, and develop theories. That includes an indepth exploration each year of all the people who have contributed to our scientific understanding of the natural world, particularly people of color and women. Laboratory facilities provide all Middle School students the opportunity to work in a contemporary lab environment. All curricula is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Building upon the sixth grade theme of community, students will explore the Earth and its environment through a variety of scientific activities. This year-long course is dedicated to an investigation of Earth and environmental science, in which we explore the ideas of biological communities, adaptations, equilibrium, and interdependence in the context of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These concepts continue to be applied to our studies of ecology, the water cycle, climate change, geology, and the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. Using Moores Branch — which runs through our campus — as a model, we collect data related to the chemistry and biology of our portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed to assess the health of the stream and to understand the relationship that we have with the Bay.
Sixth grade science is a time for students to become aware of their role on planet Earth. Using principles from ecological literacy, place-based education, and differentiated instructional practices, students learn the methods and skills necessary to carry out scientific explorations through both teacher-directed and student-designed labs, projects, and activities.
This inquiry-based course is an introduction to the theories and practices that make up physical science. After an introductory unit on the processes and practices of science, the class then moves into the study of the basic concepts in physics, such as motion, forces, magnetism, and electricity. Using the basic principles of engineering, the emphasis is on investigating these topics through experiential and lab activities, and analyzing and applying experimental results to real-world problems. During the second half of the year, the focus shifts to the nature of matter itself: chemistry. This investigation begins with a history of the study of the atom and understanding the periodic table.
Students gather observational data about how matter behaves, investigating, for example, the differences among solids, liquids, and gases, and chemical bonding and reactions. As they try to explain what they observe, students become familiar with the “particle model of matter.” The chemistry unit is capped by participation in applied chemistry activities. The students then apply what they have learned over the course of the year to understand the causes and impacts of global warming or climate change.
Strong emphasis is placed on accuracy in measurement and the importance of recording, then analyzing, comprehensive lab results. Students learn how to use laboratory equipment safely and effectively. Use of a wide variety of technology is interwoven throughout the year. Students also learn how to design and carry out a controlled experiment, the significance of evidence, and how to properly communicate their findings.
The human body is the focus of the eighth grade year. Building on the lab skills already learned in Middle School, each unit includes student-generated experiments that follow scientific method, as well as a variety of hands-on activities interwoven with essential factual information. Specific lesson plans are frequently adapted to incorporate current events and general student interest.
Curricular emphases such as nutrition, cardiovascular health, and brain development support the eighth grade theme of advocacy by providing students with the tools to make healthy lifestyle choices. Differentiated instruction opportunities are included to make sure each student is offered the appropriate level of challenge throughout the year.