Our science program in seventh and eighth grade alternates years of study between Physical and Earth Science (Year "A"), and Life Science (Year "B"). Central to both years of middle school science is our use of the scientific method and our emphasis on hands-on inquiry and experimentation.
● Physical Science, Holt Science and Technology
● Life Science, Holt Science and Technology
● Full Option Science System (FOSS), Lawrence Hall of Science - UC Berkeley
● Teacher Created Lessons
Every good scientist keeps a record of his or her observations, hypotheses, thoughts, plans and ideas. Such notes are for the scientist's use rather than for public consumption, and can be used all sorts of ways. I adapted the term "waste book" for such a notebook from Isaac Newton, who used to fill his with diagrams of eyeballs, geometrical proofs, notes on "the calculus" (as he called it), and recipes for alchemical experiments. In middle school this year, every student will keep a "waste book" and use it every day as an essential tool in both math and science. When preparing their work for others to see, students will use the information in their waste books to craft well-organized and clearly presented reports of their investigations. Students are free, even encouraged, to carry their waste books everywhere, but they must be sure to bring them to class every single day.
In addition to their waste books, students will have dedicated three-ring binders in which they collect handouts, returned work, and formal notes and review guides used to study for tests and quizzes. For the most part, these binders will remain in the classroom, although they may be carried home in preparation for tests.
Students will demonstrate scientific learning by building models, presenting and sharing information, completing labs and experiments, taking quizzes and tests, and designing their own research projects. Students will exhibit their knowledge of the scientific method by accurately recording data in their lab notebooks and sharing their results with the community. In addition, in Year "B", each student will present a science project at the Cascade Canyon Science Fair.
Sample Cross-curricular Contexts:
Language Arts – Reading scientific articles and texts and assessing reading
comprehension; developing scientific vocabulary; scientific writing
Math – Measuring and collecting data and organizing it in tables, charts, and graphs; problem
solving; calculating rates, proportions, volume and area
Social Studies – Investigating key historic discoveries and ideas from around the world, especially in Arabic countries under the rise of Islam and later in Renaissance Europe; exploring
current research and events in science
Arts – Creating scientific models; acting out scientific processes
Year "A" – Physical and Earth Science
We will study physical and earth science through hands-on activities, scientific textbooks and articles, labs, experiments, field trips, and discussion. Students will be collecting and analyzing data throughout the year based on the scientific method. They will strengthen their data organization and presentation skills. During both science and math classes, we will focus on recording information and creating tables, graphs and charts.
Units of Study:
• What is science?
• Asking a question, forming and testing a hypothesis, collecting data, analyzing results, drawing conclusions, and communicating results
• Using objects and ideas as models for experimenting and understanding
• Measurement: length, volume, mass, temperature, area, density
The Properties of Matter
• Calculating mass, volume and weight
• Physical v. chemical changes of matter's
• The four states of matter: solids, liquids, gases and plasmas
• Boyle's Law and Charles's Law
• Changes of state: melting, freezing, vaporization, condensation and sublimation
Matter and Forces in Motion
• Measuring and calculating speed, velocity and acceleration
• Forces, friction and gravity
• Isaac Newton
• Motion and air resistance
• Terminal velocity
• Projectile motion
• Newton's Three Laws of Motion
Energy and Energy Resources
• Kinetic, potential and mechanical energy
• Different types of energy: thermal, chemical, electrical, sound, light and nuclear energies
• Energy conversions
• Law of conservation of energy
• Perpetual motion
• Renewable and nonrenewable resources
• Atomic theory
• Atomic number, mass number, isotopes, atomic mass
• Forces at work inside atoms
• Classes of elements and element groups
• Chemical bonds: ionic, covalent, metallic bonds
• Writing and balancing chemical equations
• Acids, bases and salts
• Earth's seasons, revolution and rotation
• Models of the solar system
• The Moon and Earth's tides
• Our solar system: Inner planets, outer planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, meteors, comets
• Characteristics and life cycles of stars
• Galaxies, quasars, nebulae, black holes
Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. Students will develop their own questions and perform investigations based on the scientific method. Students will collect and analyze data, and report their scientific findings to the school.
Year "B" - Life Science
Students will study life science through hands-on activities, scientific textbooks and articles, labs, experiments, field trips, and discussion. Students will be collecting and analyzing data throughout the year based on the scientific method. They will strengthen their data organization and presentation skills. During both science and math classes, we will focus on recording information and creating tables, graphs and charts.
Units of Study:
We will study life science through hands-on activities, scientific textbooks and articles, labs, experiments, field trips, and discussion. We will continually emphasize the fact that life is organized into complex, interdependent systems in which every member acts to sustain itself and at the same time fulfills an important role in the larger living system. From this perspective, we will begin to address our responsibility to care for the Earth and its ecosystems. We will discuss sustainable lifestyle options, the importance of being knowledgeable about the environment, and the way our choices impact the Earth.
The Study of Living Things
• Scientific Method: Asking a question, forming and testing a hypothesis, collecting data, analyzing results, drawing conclusions, and communicating results
• The Tools of Life Science
• Characteristics and Necessities of Life
• Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells
• Structure and Function of Plant and Animal Cells
• Cells in Action: Energy and Exchange with the Environment
• Cellular Differentiation of Multicellular Organisms
• Genotypes and Phenotypes: Mendel and his Peas
• Genes, DNA and RNA
• Dominant and Recessive Alleles
• Genetics and Health
• Genetically Modified Organisms
• Evidence for Evolution: Geology, Fossil and Comparative Anatomy
• Causes of Evolution: Genetic Variation and Environmental Factors
• Processes of Evolution: Variation and Selection
• Endangered Species
• History of Classification
• Evolutionary Ecology
• Ecosystems of California
Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. Students will develop their own questions and perform investigations based on the scientific method. Students will collect and analyze data, and report their scientific findings to the school. Each student will present a project of their own design at the CCS Science Fair.
Sexuality and Personal Health:
Our Life Science year of study also includes a unit of sex and health education for students in grades 7/8. A parent permission slip for student participation will be sent home ahead of the course. This part of the curriculum includes the topics of sexuality, personal health, relationships and self esteem. Although certain topics, such as anatomy and the mechanics of reproduction, will be introduced and guided by the teacher, other topics may be explored in response to student questions. Students may be split into gender-specific groups for some discussions, but will remain together for others, in order to hear and learn from each other.