Middle school science teacher Sharon Surette updates us about what each grade level is learning as the school year comes to a close.
Sixth grade students are engaged in exploring a range of significant environmental issues in the Environmental Detectives unit. In this unit students are asked to solve a mystery in a watershed, “the Gray Area,” which includes forests, a city, a town, a coastline, three rivers, a lake, and a pond. Students investigate the crime: a fish die-off that began five years ago. Every week students hear statements from various “suspects” in the crime. They must integrate information from these statements, gather relevant information from reference materials such as newspaper articles and graphs, and results from testing eight different water samples in order to solve the crime.
Students have been studying the many factors that contribute to a fish die-off, including chlorine pollution, acid rain, erosion, and sediment. Students will conclude this year by further investigating predator-prey relationships, phosphate pollution, algal blooms, and oil pollution to obtain solid scientific content and research-related inquiry skills.
By placing science learning in a real-world context, students become more aware of the interconnectedness of the natural world, how humans affect the environment, and the complexity of many environmental problems.
Seventh grade students have covered a lot of learning territory this semester. For the past month, we’ve been focusing on natural selection and evolution. We modeled natural selection of finches on the Galapagos Islands in the Bird Beak Buffet lab and did several graphing activities for finch population data. Furthermore, we’ve been learning about how Earth itself bears evidence that life has changed over time on our planet. One of our class activities was making a geological timeline. Before long, we’ll be wrapping up the year with an evolutionary timeline project for a species of each students’ choice. It’s been a great year, but we’re all looking forward to summer and moving on to the eighth grade!
Eighth grade students have been exploring physics this quarter. They have already learned about speed, velocity, acceleration, and Newton’s Laws of Motion. We are tying all of our physics concepts together through an egg drop unit, where students will use eggs to simulate astronauts re-entering Earth’s atmosphere and landing safely. Students are using the engineering design process to create reentry capsules that will be dropped from a height of 9 meters. Students will create and test multiple prototypes with different designs to see which one successfully allows their astronaut to land. Students have also been working diligently this semester to write scientifically. They will continue to develop their scientific writing skills until the end of the year as they prepare for the transition to high school.
Photos from Sharon Surette.