6th grade includes earth and space science and physical science. Students receive instruction in basic meteorology. Students learn about the earth, its characteristics and place in our solar system, galaxy, and universe. Students study the relationships between Earth and the sun and moon and investigate the possibility that other heavenly bodies may be able to support life. The course reviews scientific discoveries, theories, and scientists in relation to earth and space science. Students complete projects on constellations and are encouraged to observe the nighttime sky as we study astronomy aspects in class. The properties of light are covered as they apply to space travel. The Internet and software programs infuse the astronomy lessons.
Physical science comprises a major section of 6th grade science. Students expand on their concept of atomic structure. Chemistry experiments provide ways to explore various types of mixtures, chemical properties, and physical properties. Students memorize the first 18 elements on the periodic table, including the atomic number and symbol. Students may be required to choose an element and complete an oral and visual report on that element.
Energy is another major unit in 6th grade, and instruction includes the study of methods of energy production. Students take Internet field trips to observe the Hoover Dam and to visit a wind farm. Students learn about nuclear energy, coal mining, and the advantages and disadvantages of fossil fuels. A tour of our school buildings (everything from boilers/radiators to modern technology) lends itself to the discussion of heating and cooling (conduction and convection). Students build solar ovens during the solar energy study. We challenge our students with the question, “What is the best method (other than modern ways) of keeping an ice cube from melting?” Life science comprises all of 7th grade science and therefore is not part of the 6th grade curriculum.
7th grade life science focuses on the different forms of life on earth. Instruction in cell theory and genetics includes historical perspectives as well as investigation into more recent discoveries including the basics of cloning and the Human Genome Project. Students study the cell and its organelles and complete a project related to the cell. Microscopes, the Internet, and other types of technology enhance science studies. The majority of the year 7th grade science focuses on the kingdoms, classification and major phyla. Studies include diversity and adaptations of organisms. Students observe species from each kingdom and discuss how they affect humans. The class also covers theories of life science, scientists, and major discoveries.