The primary goal of the science program at BB&N at all levels is to give students a systematic approach to scientific problem solving and an exposure to the different methods of “doing” science, including inquiry and iterative design. At the Middle School, we aim to make science engaging and relevant to our students through hands-on activities and applications of current science; in seventh grade, our focus is mainly topics in physics, with an emphasis on energy, while the eighth graders study topics in chemistry.
We recognize that, developmentally, the seventh and eighth grade are years when students are transitioning from concrete to more abstract thinking, and each student is doing this at their own pace. Our classes are designed with this in mind, and we develop our curriculum to address multiple styles of learning. We hope that students leaving the Middle School science program are positive, proactive, productive, confident, and competent learners; we expect that students will gain confidence in approaching problems creatively, collaborating effectively, and working independently.
In the Middle School, the science program familiarizes students with laboratory science skills and emphasizes the importance of mastering the processes, skills, and vocabulary of the physical sciences. Through our work together, students develop strong study and collaboration skills as well as a framework for approaching novel ideas and experiences. While our courses prepare students for success in their future science classes, a more essential goal is supporting students in becoming engaged and informed citizens of our world.
In Science 7 students explore a variety of topics from physical and natural science, each of which incorporates hands-on experiences, whereby students are able to investigate new topics as well as to apply the skills and concepts learned.
The first unit serves as the foundation for the study of science in the Middle School. Students study measurements, scientific methods, graphing, and data analysis through a variety of short experiments. Students then make use of the skills learned in this first unit to explore topics in energy as well as forces and motion, with an emphasis on understanding the science and how it relates to their lives through the exploration of various applications. Design challenges are incorporated into each unit to provide students with an opportunity for creative and collaborative problem-solving, and, where appropriate, students are introduced to problem-solving using mathematical equations. In the energy unit, there is emphasis on exploring climate change as well as human consumption and the need for energy. At various points throughout the year, students will engage in cross-curriculum work that seeks to broaden their experience and understanding of the world around them; for example, through the Penguin Palace project, students learn about building methods and resources available in the country they study for their Latin America project in history class and then build an insulated structure with the goal of minimizing loss of mass in an ice penguin.
Science 8 serves as an introduction to topics in chemistry: classification of matter, atomic structure, periodic table, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, and acids and bases. Wherever possible, students further develop their laboratory skills and techniques through classroom activities that provide students with evidence of the chemical nature of our world. Accompanying each topic is an investigation or series of activities designed to showcase an application of chemistry, and students will explore additional applications and types of chemistry through research and round table discussions. Over the last several years, applications have included forensics, materials science, water purification, color & pyrotechnics, poisons/toxins/venoms, mineralogy, food science, and climate changes. In the spring, students will study one of the application topics in greater depth to present to parents and the BB&N community at Science Knight; students create a demonstration or hands-on activity to explain the science behind their topic and develop and prototype an “invention for the future” that could help further one of the UN’s sustainable development goals.