Jenna Salmon: “My goal as a science teacher is to create an engaging environment that fosters a deep sense of wonder and insatiable curiosity.”
The Academy’s lower school science program is devoted to inquiry-based learning. Through hands-on investigations students learn core concepts, develop analytical skills, and practice creative problem solving. They are expected to answer questions and come to their own conclusions based on evidence and observations. Their understanding is then refined through discussion and further investigations. Students regularly perform guided experiments and learn to design their own to further explore ideas.
For the engineering component of science, students are expected to solve design challenges throughout the year. Including engineering projects in the curriculum supports the development of critical thinking skills and innovation. Through identifying problems, tinkering, analyzing, and redesigning their solutions, students develop resilience and confidence in their problem solving skills.
In the Spring, all students, including kindergarteners, have the opportunity to design and perform an experiment of their own choosing. They pose a question, perform experiments, interpret and write-up their findings, and finally, present their discoveries at the annual Academy Science Fair.
The curriculum I implement is designed to foster inquisitiveness through engineering projects, planned lab experiments, and investigations based on student questions. Specific content for each grade is guided by the Next Generation Science Standards, with room for student driven inquiry into other topics. The main NGSS content that will be covered includes the following:
- Animal homes – where do animals live and why do they live there?
- Forces and motion – How do things balance? What happens when you push or pull an object?
- Weather – What is the weather like and how does it change?
- What happens when materials vibrate?
- What happens when there is no light?
- What are some ways plants and animals meet their needs so that they can survive and grow?
- How are parents and their children similar and different?
- What objects are in the sky and how do they seem to move?
- What do plants need to grow and how do they depend on animals for seed dispersal and pollination?
- Compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
- Analyze and classify different materials to understand their properties.
- Understand that wind and water can change the shape of the land and compare design solutions to slow or prevent such change.
- Understand that earth events can happen quickly (earthquakes, volcanoes) or slowly (erosion).
- Investigate seasonal weather patterns and extreme weather events
- Evaluate design solutions to reduce the impact of weather-related hazards
- Investigate life cycles
- Understand that traits are inherited and can also be affected by the environment
- Use fossil data to develop models of how living things and environments of the past were similar or different from current life and environments
- Experiment with the effects of unequal forces on an object, including magnetic forces
- What are waves and what are some things they can do?
- How can water, ice, wind and vegetation change the land?
- What patterns of Earth’s features can be determined with the use of maps?
- How do internal and external structures support the survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction of plants and animals?
- What is energy and how is it related to motion?
- How is energy transferred?
- How can energy be used to solve a problem?
- When matter changes, does its weight change?
- Can new substances be created by combining other substances?
- How does matter cycle through ecosystems?
- How much water can be found in different places on Earth?
- Where does the energy in food come from and what is it used for?
- How do lengths and directions of shadows or relative lengths of day and night change from day to day, and how does the appearance of some stars change in different seasons?