Pre-K students describe changes in organisms and the natural environment over time. Students compare and contrast characteristics of living, non-living, man-made and naturally occurring things. Through playful encounters preschoolers make observations about physical properties of objects, motion of objects, and changes in matter. Preschool students learn to plan and carry out investigations using predictions, information gathering, testing, and analyzing results.
The Kindergarten curriculum explores the fundamental concepts of sustainability through interactive, hands-on lessons about seasonal changes, temperature and day & night. Kindergarten students also explore the care and basic needs of such animals as fish, snails, bugs and worms. Students are introduced to classification through the exploration of size, color, weight, and shape.
1st grade students investigate the continuity of life with emphasis placed on life cycle of animals. Students at this level identify the behaviors and physical adaptations that allow organisms to survive in their environment. The characteristics of the cycle of life vary from organism to organism. Students observe and describe the three states of matter. Students describe, categorize, compare, and measure observable physical properties of matter and objects. Lastly, students explore push and pull through experimentation.
2nd grade students explore simple machines and investigate how they work. Manipulation and application of simple tools and machines help students learn about the relationships between forces and motion. Students learn about living things such as animals of the Arctic and Antarctic, bugs and insects, ocean life and sea life. Understanding the variety and complexity of life and its processes can help students develop respect for their own and for all God’s creations. Students investigate plants, learning how they survive and reproduce. 2nd grade students learn to care for their own bodies with healthy exercise. Students also learn proper tooth care, hand washing, and germs. The five senses are explored and discussed.
3rd grade students explore stars, galaxies, the universe, sun, moon, and constellations. They compare different types of flowering plants and conifers along with the plant life cycles, edible and inedible plants, and chlorophyll. Students focus on tree growth, Identification, native Rhode Island trees and plants. Students study owls, whales, and their life cycles. In health, students focus on care of the skin, nutrition, the 5 senses.
4th grade students learn the characteristics and properties of electricity and magnetism and the relationship between the two. An indepth study of rocks and minerals follows. The study of light and sound completes the science curriculum.
5th grade students start the year identifying components of the ecosystems and classifying organisms by how they obtain energy and use energy. Through explorations, students analyze data, explain using models, and draw conclusions about ecosystems and how human decisions impact life within the ecosystems. Students learn about weather, landforms and climate changes. Students learn about forces and motion, and renewable and nonrenewable resources. 5th graders are introduced to the scientific method including inquiry. Students put the scientific method to practice when they design an invention for our annual Invention Convention.
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 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.