Middle School


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 fifth grade curriculum is an exploratory investigation of diverse scientific topics. Units include the Sun, light, color, the human eye, and the human brain. Each topic is addressed with an interdisciplinary approach and based in the scientific method of inquiry. Students learn cooperative and individual laboratory procedure, scientific dialogue, discussion skills, data analysis and the ability to formulate conclusions and associations based on their observations and engagement. Each student is given an opportunity to demonstrate understanding of the material through constructed research, creative interpretations and collaborative interactive assignments. Students are encouraged to share prior knowledge, and consider alternative perspectives and ideas with relevant and respectful participation. The fifth grade program is designed to examine differentiated topics through experiential learning and critical thinking development, which is necessary for further studies in science at Masters.
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.  Students explore how water, as well as nuclear energy, can be used as an alternative energy resource. Students also study the impact of the Indian Point Energy Center on the Hudson River Valley.
Next, students 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 analyze the ideas of continental drift, seafloor spreading, and plate tectonics to determine how and why the Earth's continents have changed positions throughout history. In addition, students explore how plate movement relates to earthquakes and volcanoes.
During the spring, the curriculum shifts to life science.  Students learn how to classify the Hudson River’s planktonic, nektonic, and benthic organisms into their respective taxonomic categories. They also explore the energy flow in Hudson River ecosystems and the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers. Finally, students 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, circulatory, and reproductive 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 science courses they will be taking in the Upper School. The overarching question for the course is “How do scientists work together to solve problems?” Students find several answers to this question through a series of collaborative exercises that all have an emphasis on developing understanding through investigation, critical thinking, and the recording and reporting of data. Students also cultivate their scientific literacy, learn to make conclusions based on evidence, data, and accepted scientific knowledge, and work on developing their metacognitive skills. Collaborative group work as well as active learning experiences are keystones of this course. Topics covered include forces, Newton’s Laws of Motion, graphing, scientific measurements, and properties of matter.
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