The Middle School science program achieves two primary goals. First, we give students a working knowledge of the scientific method as a systematic approach to problem solving. And second, we help them develop connections between what they learn in the classroom and their lives beyond it. We take a discovery approach to learning because students learn best when they uncover relationships and ideas themselves. In the laboratory we stress objectivity in observation, accuracy in data gathering and recording, and analysis and presentation of data.
The sixth grade science course primarily explores Earth science through an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach. The students begin the year by examining the structure, properties, and states of Earth’s water. They look at how water is responsible for weathering and eroding Earth’s land surfaces. Students will explore how water, as well as nuclear energy, can be used as an alternative energy resource. The students will also study the impact of the Indian Point Energy Center and hydraulic fracturing on the Hudson River Valley.
Next, students will investigate the key characteristics of Earth’s interior, focusing on rocks and minerals and how they make up the different features found on Earth. They will analyze the ideas of continental drift, sea-floor spreading, and plate tectonics to determine how and why the Earth's continents have changed positions throughout history. In addition, students will explore how plate movement relates to earthquakes and volcanoes.
During the spring, the curriculum shifts to life science, supporting the students’ work in their humanities project. Students will learn how to classify the Hudson River’s planktonic, nektonic, and benthic organisms into their respective taxonomic categories. They will also explore the energy flow in Hudson River ecosystems and the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers. Finally, the students will examine the human impact on Hudson River ecology.
In the seventh grade, students gain a detailed understanding of living systems. They build on basic principles by exploring cell structure and function, cell processes and energy, cellular organization, and change as a result of the transmission of genetic information from generation to generation. They analyze the history of biological thought and the evidence that supports it. They examine living systems including bacteria, viruses, protists and fungi.
Students also learn about the human body through the investigation of several body systems including the skeletal, muscular, integumentary, digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems. They conduct inquiry based laboratory investigations, compose formal research reports and develop skills including the organization and mathematical analysis of data, the manipulation of variables in experimentation and the identification of sources of experimental error.
Eighth grade science is a skills-based course designed to prepare students for the advanced science courses they will be taking in the Upper School. With an emphasis on developing understanding through investigation and critical thinking, students work with the equipment and tools that are found in high school science labs. Students cultivate their scientific literacy, learn to make conclusions based on evidence and data, and work on developing metacognitive skills. Cooperative group work as well as active learning experiences are keystones of this course. Some topics covered include scientific measurements, properties of matter, energy, forces and motion.