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Science - 6th Grade

Middle school science is taught through inquiry-based learning as well as through hands-on projects in mix-aged classes of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. All students learn the same information and receive the same assignments, but the expectations for their work, testing, and grading are different according to grade level and ability. Students work on projects individually and in small groups, which allow older students to serve as mentors and model more sophisticated approaches to learning and problem solving

We use a wide variety of sources, particularly from the San Francisco Exploratorium where our instructors have received training through the Exploratorium Science Teacher Institute. The science curriculum is done in three-year rotations and is based on the Next Generation Science Standards.

Curriculum Rotation
  • Climate Change (atmospheric science) and the Alternative Energy Symposium
  • Chemistry (periodic table, atomic structure, chemical element project, bonding, chemical reactions)
  • Infectious diseases (mosquito-borne illness, immune system)
  • Force and Motion (Galileo gravity experiments + Newton Scooter Derby)
  • Astronomy (gravitational motion)
  • Water quality and soil chemistry (outdoor education)
  • Plate tectonics and Earthquake Engineering Project
  • Continental Drift and Fossil Record
  • Evolution (comic project – lightning natural selection simulation)
  • Cell structure and function (model building)
  • Genetics and reproduction
  • Ecology and energy flow in ecosystems
  • Energy, Power, and Work (Rube Goldberg challenge)
  • Light (energy, eye anatomy and function)
  • Electricity and Magnetism (Circuits Circus)
  • Climate Change – manufacturing simulations, air quality monitoring
Approaches to Learning
  • Inquiry
  • Experimental design
  • Forming arguments and presenting evidence
  • Design process
  • Building models
  • Science and Invention Fair (individual projects)
  • Cornell note-taking
  • Science journals to record data and observations from labs and demonstrations