Science 6, 7, 8 ~ Citizen Scientists Making Meaning of the Natural World
"Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."~ Margaret Mead
St. Luke’s Middle School embraces the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) approach to science teaching and learning and is working towards full integration of the Next Generation Science Standards in its practices and curriculum. Students develop proficiency in essential science and engineering practices, consider these practices and science content in the context of crosscutting concepts, while exploring core disciplinary ideas. A key component of the middle school science program is students’ participation in the annual school science fair. Students research and conduct science or engineering investigations to answer testable questions. Their investigations are then shared with an authentic audience of citizen scientists who evaluate their work.
The topical curriculum in middle school science is “spiraled,” with a progressive disciplinary focus in the earth & space, physical, life, and environmental sciences explored each year. The acquisition of critical inquiry and hands-on skills is emphasized. The metric system of measurement is used throughout the middle school science experience. Students learn that there is no one scientific method; science and engineering involve using many different and dynamic methods to answer questions and solve problems.
The program encourages students to “do science” through lab experiments, field investigations, group activities, modeling, dissections, simulations, and the use of content-rich print and online resources with the goal of developing life-long citizen scientists.
Topical focus by grade:
6th grade students learn about Earth’s interior structures and processes, layers of the atmosphere, and natural disasters, in their study of earth science. Physical science topics include the structure of the atom, magnetism, electricity, and electromagnetism. Life science focus topics are the study of living things, scientific classification, plants, and cell structures and functions.
7th grade students learn about Earth’s surface structures and processes, topography and mapping, and environmental changes in their study of earth science. Physical science topics include force and motion, energy, and work. The focus of life science is on the classification, structure and function, life cycles, and adaptations of animals.
8th grade students learn about Earth’s fresh and salt waters with a focus on the many environmental challenges and remedies to our water systems. Students conduct an extended field study of a nearby urban creek to explore these issues on a local level. In physical science, students extend their understanding of the atom as the basic unit of all matter through a study of the periodic table, exploration of the elements, and chemical bonding and reactions. Life science topics extends the study of animals to include the human body structures and systems, including disease and disease prevention.
Astronomy and space exploration are studied by middle school students together every third year and features an onsite portable planetarium program as well as a sponsored amateur astronomers’ night sky event.