The Lower School science program seeks to create an awareness of the importance of science in all aspects of life through active exploration. The curriculum correlates with the developmental stages of young children. Science concepts, skills, and approaches are taught to students through active involvement and guided discovery. An exciting process of inquiry is also used to promote independent thinking and problem solving. Basic primary scientific skills are introduced: observing, communicating, comparing and contrasting, classifying, measuring, and predicting. The scientific process of conducting an experiment is introduced to older students,who develop a question, set up tests, record results, and draw conclusions. Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively. They learn the important roles that note-taking, drawing, and labeling diagrams play in science by keeping journals throughout the year. The enjoyment of science is emphasized throughout the curriculum. Field trips to Black Rock Forest, science museums, and Central Park bring the experiences of the classroom to life. The Lower School Science Exhibition for Grades Two and Three is an exciting occasion for students to display their original scientific explorations.
In Pre-Primary, students learn about the five senses and their importance in making observations about the world. Students learn about color and light through investigations of rainbows,white light, shadows, and transparency. They develop their understanding of the naturalworldwith explorations in seasons, weather, animals and animal adaptations, plant structure, and growth life cycles. Students also exercise their scientific skills during experiments with sinking and floating, forces andmotion, and simple machines.
In Grade One, the fives senses are re-emphasized as important tools to observe the world. Students learn about the human body and its biological systems through the construction ofmodels, role-play, and experiments. The human body unit is supplemented with a study of health and nutrition. Students explore the diversity of animal life through examinations of various animal communities, including live animals in the classroom. Students investigate dinosaur diversity and replicate fossils. A study of the Solar System introduces the understandings of the relationships among Earth, the Moon, and the Sun.
In Grade Two, students learn about measurement and the use of the metric system in scientific investigation. Students compare the three states of matter and experiment with changing one state ofmatter into another. Explorations of different styles of bridge culminate with bridge building challenges and an Art Department collaboration constructing ceramic bridges. Students investigate the production of static electricity, electrical currents, and magnetism. In life science, various ecosystems are explored and the importance of biodiversity and preservation is discussed. Pollution and recycling studies round out the environmental unit. Links with the New York Social Studies curriculum are made frequently.
In Grade Three, students begin the year by applying the scientific method in a creative engineering project. Students explore space, study the planets of our solar system, examine the characteristics of water, and investigate energy by constructing solar ovens. Students learn about geology with an in-depth exploration of Earth’s layers, tectonic plates, earthquakes, and volcanoes. The year ends with a study of botany, focusing on the diverse adaptations that have enabled plants to survive in a wide range of environments.
In Grade Four, students study the characteristics and classification of living things. The focus narrows to the plant kingdom, where students track the seed-to-seed cycle of Brassica rapa and examine traditional medicinal uses of plants. Sustainability and conservation issues are explored through a unit on endangered species in the middle of the year. In the third trimester, students study topics in electricity, light, and magnetism.