The Middle School science program develops an awareness of science as a way of exploring the world, connecting seamlessly to the foundation provided in the Lower School. Students expand their abilities to manipulate the tools of science, both physical and mathematical. Reading and report writing skills receive emphasis while the major focus remains firmly on direct experience through laboratory and field investigations. Targeted units and focused studies enhance students’ consciousness of sustainability issues in local, regional and global arenas. Boys are encouraged to think critically, ask questions broadly and challenge their preconceived notions of the natural world.
Developing practical skills in measurement is emphasized so that by the end of Middle School each boy should be able to demonstrate competence in the use of the following instruments: compound microscope, triple-beam balance, computerized motion detector, graduated cylinder, metric rule, thermometer, and the standard metric units of measurement.
Middle School Math-Science Research Projects are exciting opportunities for every boy to design and execute an interdisciplinary experiment over a period of about six weeks. At each step of the process, the boys discuss their progress with their science and math teachers. Through this process, boys develop a paper, construct a display, and present their investigations to parents, teachers and other students in an engaging evening event.
In Grade Five, the students receive an introduction to forces and motion. They examine some of Newton’s Laws of Motion. They look at the effects of friction, gravity, momentum, velocity, and aerodynamics on a car’s ability to travel down ramps at various angles. A large part of the curriculum will be a study of astronomy. We will examine the history of our space program, build and design our own straw rockets, complete a project about the planets in our solar system, and use mathematical formulas to calculate our weight on the different planets. We will also do an in depth study of stars, constellations, and galaxies. The astronomy unit will culminate with a debate about exploring outer space. Birds and migration are next on the agenda. We will be dissecting their own pellets, looking at how a bird’s beak affects its diet, and we will be going bird watching in Central park. A study of earthquakes and volcanoes will follow next. We will examine how to construct an earthquake proof structure, and we will look at some of the famous earthquake and volcanic eruptions that have occurred worldwide. The final topic of the year will examine environmental concerns. Students will have an opportunity to clean up a mini oil spill and discuss the importance of preserving our resources for future generations.
In Grade Six, the unifying theme is water. The students begin the year by studying water’s properties, the distribution of water on Earth, ways to protect this valuable resource, and how organisms are adapted to this habitat. Water is then studied in the context of an introduction to principles of chemistry. Next is an in depth study of weather and climate. Students will learn how weather is monitored. The 6th graders will build their own barometers and use infrared thermometers on a temperature study around The Browning School. Cloud identification is next on the list. Students will learn how to identify the major types of cloud types and the type of weather associated with them. Types of air masses and weather fronts will be discussed so that the students can better comprehend how weather systems move and interact. The 6th graders will learn how to read and interpret weather maps so that they can better comprehend the forecast whenever they are listening to a weather report on the television or radio or examining a map in the local newspaper. Finally, we will take a look at the types of major weather events that can occur in the United States. Using a computer software program, students will have an opportunity to make different sized thunderstorms and form different types of precipitation such as rain, snow, and sleet. Finally, safety rules for all types of major weather events will be covered so that students feel empowered to know what to do if a storm is imminent in their area.
Texts: Prentice Hall’s Science Explorer series: “Earth’s Waters,” “Chemical Building Blocks,” and “Chemical Interactions.”
This course is an introduction to the life sciences. Boys develop a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of the study of life: heredity and change; evolution; and identification and classification of simple organisms, plants, animals and the human body. Boys use laboratory work to reinforce the increasingly detailed study of biological systems. The discipline of dissection is employed to study the anatomy of a variety of organisms.
Text: McGraw Hill Glencoe: “Life Science.”
Form II Physical Science develops the formal aspects of physics and chemistry within a broader context of environmental topics. The language, methods, and concepts of physical science are refined with attention paid to the relationship between mathematics and science in experiment and theory. Motion, forces, energy and thermodynamics form the backbone of the physics concepts, which link to chemistry through the study of atomic structure, the Periodic Table of elements, chemical formulas and chemical reactions. A consciousness of environmental sustainability is woven into the discussion regularly.
Text: Prentice Hall: “Physical Science Concepts in Action.”