The Hawken Middle School science program is designed to nurture curiosity about the natural world, develop a scientific mindset, engage students in frequent laboratory investigations and projects, and incorporate both independent and group learning experiences. We often integrate science with other curriculum subjects in a multidisciplinary approach. Teachers focus instructional units on subject matter that is relevant to students’ lives, interests and experiences, and guide students in applying content and skills to explain phenomena, create models, and design solutions to real-world problems. We connect the classroom to the community through place-based learning opportunities; provide real-life experiences that enable students to develop an awareness of science-based careers, and present opportunities for critical thinking and decision-making activities.
In sixth grade science, students:
investigate three major topics: earth’s atmosphere, weather and climate; magnetism & electricity; and human anatomy;
experience an intensive multidisciplinary math/science climate exploration;
combine science, art and writing skills to research and create short biographies for a diverse set of ground-breaking scientists;
maintain detailed lab reports and journals to record observations, organize data, and analyze results from lab experiments and projects;
utilize tablet computers and Microsoft OneNote as “digital paper” for all written work; and
enjoy frequent peer collaboration opportunities during project centered learning. Major projects include the multi-week electromagnetic fishing pole project, and the construction of a mechanical human hand.
In seventh grade science, students:
explore ecosystems, the roles of organisms, and surveys Earth’s major biomes;
examine simple machines, aerodynamics, and impact forces to learn Newton’s Laws;
focus on the process of science by crafting hypotheses, drafting experiments, and analyzing data using Microsoft Excel and TI-Nspire to produce tables and graphs;
are introduced to the Harkness Method to discuss science concepts and current research topics;
investigate LEED-certified building concepts;
reinforce 7th grade math and art concepts and curricula through a series of co-instructed, integrated units centered around experiments, measurement, and design; and
utilize tablet technology to effectively and efficiently collect, organize and analyze scientific data.
The 8th grade science program builds on scientific literacy and data analysis skills from earlier grades. In eighth grade science, students:
investigate water quality in connection with the Sierra Club, conducting water testing on local rivers and streams and submitting their results into a national database;
research evidence for climate change in connection with studies on our atmosphere;
study energy in a unit that culminates with the design and construction of small-scale working turbines;
work to understand the dynamics of population growth and the human population’s impact on global resources, biodiversity, and the environment. This includes a brief consideration of the origins of the earth and our own emergence as a species; and
use tablet technology to collect, organize and analyze scientific data, in some cases using scientific probes that help to do this more efficiently and accurately.
Middle School SCIENCE Electives
A Brief History of Several Billion Years
Using a problem-based learning approach, students will explore the question: “How did the world as we know it come to be, and what’s next?” Collaborating with a local museum and natural history experts, each student team will focus on a particular continent and analyze evidence for motion of the Earth’s crustal plates over time. They will address evidence of the fast and slow processes that have changed the Earth’s surface, including geologic formations, the evolution or extinction of particular organisms as evidenced by fossil records, distribution of water and mineral resources, and the formation of climate zones. Students will also develop an informed prediction of likely geologic and climate-related shifts moving forward. Each student team will share findings at a public reception through use of an interactive digital timeline and/or virtual museum exhibit.
This course will introduce students to the structures and functions of major organs and organ systems in the human body and how these systems work together to create a functional whole. We hope to cover the skeletal, muscle, skin, digestive, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, and nervous systems. Though we will build upon some concepts from sixth grade science, new students will not find themselves at a disadvantage. We will also explore human health and disease topics. For a culminating product, students will choose a specific body system to research in more depth in order to create an interactive display.
We live in a world where science advances at an alarming rate. Just in the past few decades, we have pushed the limits of aging, seen pictures of black holes for the first time, printed replacement body parts, and even begun to clone human beings. Yet, all our advances make us reflect even more on our place in society and the world. Some of the most memorable science fiction stories have used our advances in technology to hold up a mirror to our society. Although they are fiction, these stories are based on real science and can be interesting predictors of future life on earth and in outer space. These stories may help us reflect on our society and our purpose in the world. By proposing possible visions of the future, science fiction asks questions of us, who we are, or where we are going. In this course, we will read and analyze short stories, plus one longer text, from various classic and modern science fiction authors. We will also analyze television and movies that present different types of science fiction. Students will have the opportunity to write, illustrate and share their own science fiction stories.