Science in the Middle Division

Investigating the why behind natural phenomena and everyday occurrences is the building block of Science lessons in the Middle Division. Additionally, thinking about the systems that exist and how different things (living and non-living) are connected is an essential component of scientific study. Science teachers regularly look to connect science content with experiences that students encounter in everyday life and help build their curiosity to find out why these things occur.  Beyond why, students also explore the ideas of how systems work, what happens in a system when one or more elements are changed/impacted, and what the human impact is on various systems.

As seventh and eighth graders in Mrs. Menker’s and Ms. Whitaker’s classes wrapped up their Earth Science unit, they looked at forces that shape the Earth’s surface, including gravity, wind, and water. They modeled erosional and depositional forces in a stream table and then looked at landslides as naturally occurring results of these processes. Students examined factors that cause landslides, how to identify possible future landslide conditions, and the devastation and loss that can result from landslides. Then they discussed how people might be able to avoid future landslides by reducing erosion and deposition. Students looked at ways of diverting water (irrigation pipes), building retaining structures, reducing slope, or adding vegetation, and created a list of suggestions for those in La Conchita, CA, who frequently experience landslides.

Sixth graders in Mr. Taylor’s Science class recently studied photosynthesis: plants are the base for life on Earth.  Students reviewed cell structure from Unit 1 aabout certain parts of the cell helping produce food for the plant.  They began investigating how the process occurs: They knew plants “breathe in” carbon dioxide and ‘breathe out’ oxygen, but didn’t know how.  Using a Post-it note simulation, students discovered the chemical changes that happen in a plant between carbon dioxide, water, and light. The process changes carbon dioxide and water into glucose (sugar), water, and oxygen.  They also discovered that all elements are moved around and none are created or destroyed.


Kristen Huenemann
Head of Middle Division