In the Middle School, science is taught as a single subject.
In each year ten different science areas are explored: Matter and its Properties, Chemistry, Electricity and Magnetism, Sound and Light, Ecology and Organisms, Plants, Body Systems, Earth and Space, and Energy, Force and Motion. Each time students return to these ten areas in successively higher Middle School grades, they do so at a greater level of sophistication, with new concepts and different examples. Each of the ten areas is structured around key laboratory experiences. Students are expected to show increasing independence in their laboratory work over the four years of the Middle School, culminating in the Middle School Science Fair in Middle Four.
There is a strong emphasis on skill-building in the middle school. Problem-solving skills using logical reasoning and simple mathematics are developed by working through problems of increasing difficulty in each successive grade. Communication skills, both written and oral, are developed through presenting ideas and arguments in written assignments and during class presentations. Students become adept in using correct scientific vocabulary. The ability to draw and interpret graphs is a crucial skill in science, and as students move through the four middle school grades they learn to create and interpret graphs of increasing sophistication. Once an understanding of a scientific concept is acquired, students are given experience in applying that concept in novel situations. There are many skills associated with laboratory work: use of scientific equipment and techniques, precise observation, accurate recording of data, the presentation of data to demonstrate its significance, analysis of data, drawing conclusions from data. Most important of all, students learn the skill of making testable predictions based on their ideas about the nature of the world
In Middle One students learn about states of matter, the distinction between melting and dissolving, the atmosphere and combustion, the heart, lungs and blood system, endangered species, fossils and fossil fuels, cell structure, the classification of organisms, the earth and the solar system, the nature of electricity, insulators and conductors, and how to measure electric current with an ammeter. They explore the nature of light and the properties of mirrors. They learn about forces and how energy is transferred when work is done.
In Middle Two students investigate pendulums and learn about speed, time and distance using motion sensors. In Chemistry they are introduced to the periodic table, atoms and molecules, and learn about chemical reactions and pH. They continue to develop their understanding of light by exploring the properties of lenses, linked to the structure of the eye. In Electricity they investigate batteries and are introduced to the concept of electric charge. They measure volts with a voltmeter. They study the earthworms as an organism, and learn about habitat and niche in ecology. Body systems focuses on human reproduction and the changes associated with puberty.
In Middle Three students learn about density and convection, as well as pressure/volume relationships in gases. In Chemistry they learn about endothermic and exothermic reactions and the nature of isotopes. They explore ideas about heat and temperature. They study the ways in which the earth’s surface is formed by the physical forces that act upon it, including the role of plate tectonics, and build seismographs to investigate the nature of earthquakes. They learn about the earth’s magnetic field. They are introduced to amplitude and frequency in order to understand the nature of sound, including the Doppler effect. They study the ear and measure noise in decibels. Evolution as a consequence of natural selection is explored by investigating several organisms that show adaptation to particular environments. Body systems focus on human reproduction and pregnancy.
In Middle Four students study gravity and acceleration, potential and kinetic energy. In Chemistry they investigate rates of reaction, and learn about radioactivity, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. They build motors to explore the connection between electricity and magnetism. Photosynthesis and respiration are understood as chemical reactions and experiments are done to investigate anaerobic respiration, using fermenting yeast. Students learn that the Doppler effect can apply to light as well as sound. This becomes important for cosmology: using light to find out about the history of the universe. Students study DNA, elementary genetics, and human inheritance. Body systems focus on reproduction, birth control and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.