The Junior School science curriculum is planned to ensure that students receive balanced experiences that introduce students to the concepts and methods that underlie scientific thinking.
As they sharpen their skills through hands-on activities to investigate the world, students increase their knowledge base through problem-solving that is meaningful to them.
In all grades Junior A to Junior Four, activities are planned to facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to learning that develops the student’s investigative skills as well as introducing them to scientific concepts. Students are engaged in learning that is:
- Hands-On: Students perform science as they construct meaning and acquire understanding.
- Minds-On: Activities focus on core concepts, allowing students to develop thinking processes and encouraging them to question and seek answers that allow them to acquire an understanding of the physical and biological world in which they live.
- Authentic: Students are presented with problem-solving activities that incorporate real-life questions and issues that encourage collaborative effort.
Starting in Junior A (Kindergarten), students are involved in a comprehensive activity-based science program, studying earth, physical and biological sciences through experimentation and observation. Scientific investigation is an integral part of the program where students develop their scientific skills such as observing, predicting, recording and reporting their findings.
During the next four years, the students study the following themes and concepts: living things, plants and animals, ecology and environment, body systems, matter and its properties, energy, force and motion, electricity and magnetism, geology, space and weather. As they learn about these topics they consider the global implications of the technological applications of science.
The strategy in Junior School science is to look at a particular issue or phenomenon and help students understand it using multiple approaches employing concepts from more than one of these themes.
In Junior A students learn about the sun, earth, stars, day, night, the wind, temperature, the seasons, snow. These are all linked to observations and students explore these topics through their senses. Living and non-living things are observed and classified. The lives of seeds, eggs, butterflies and horse-shoe crabs are investigated and understood in terms of the conditions in which they live.
Three themes are explored in Junior One: Our senses and personal health, weather and the states of matter, and animal studies. Our senses and personal health includes ears, sound and hearing, mouth, tongue and taste, skin and touch, eyes and seeing. Weather and the states of matter, includes making and calibrating thermometers, measuring wind speed and interpreting clouds. Students learn about solids, liquids and gases, and use a spring scale to determine mass. They study the properties of air by making gliders, parachutes and balloon rockets. Animal studies include invertebrates with and without exoskeletons (brittle stars and jelly fish), insect metamorphosis, earthworm behavior, and the lives of frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Five themes are explored in Junior Two: Botany, Light and Color, Electricity and Magnetism, Other Forces, Native American perspectives on science, and Food and Digestion. Botany includes seeds, leaves, tree rings, sap, bark, roots and flowers. Students conduct investigations using the Junior School greenhouse. Light and Color includes prisms and the spectrum, mirrors and bending light, transparent, translucent and opaque objects, and making a kaleidoscope. Electricity and Magnetism include static electricity, conductors and insulators. Students investigate and classify magnetic and non-magnetic materials, and make their own magnetic compass. Other Forces includes balancing forces and investigating gyroscopes. Native American perspectives on science include sundials and constellations, native American plants, and making natural dyes. Food and digestion includes the digestive system of humans and other animals, food groups and nutrition.
Five themes are explored in Junior Three: Rainforests, Deserts, Bones and Muscles, New York City machinesand structures, and Electricity and alternative energy. Rainforests includes the canopy and the soil, macaws and hissing cockroaches. Students look at different adaptations, including camouflage. They make paper and rubber. Deserts includes the nature of deserts and the adaptation of animals and plants to life in the desert. Bones and Muscles includes the skeleton, bones and muscle. New York City machines and structures looks at bridges, wheels and pulleys. They investigate the importance of friction in designing machines. Electricity and Magnetism includes simple circuits. Students think about how to substitute solar power for energy from fossil fuels, and use solar power to bake apples.
Three themes are explored in Junior Four: Ecology, Geology, and Early humans and Evolution. Ecology includes studying deer populations and the idea of food chains and webs by investigating owl pellets. Students learn about photosynthesis and investigate fermentation in yeast. They learn how to prepare microscope slides and look at living specimens under the microscope. Geology includes rocks and weathering. Students make models showing the rock cycle and investigate the composition and formation of soil. They learn about the everyday uses of minerals. Early humans and Evolution includes understanding the concept of a geological timeline and the evidence for evolution from fossils and bird beak adaptation; how bird beaks change in response to environmental opportunities. Students learn about the human circulatory and nervous systems.
Full details of the Junior School Science Program are available on the UNIScienceNET web site.