First Unit: Earth History
Students exercise their inferential thinking, and the study of earth history is made to order for this effort. They begin to grapple with Earth’s processes and systems that have operated over geologic time. Students make observations and do investigations that involve constructing and using conceptual models. They generate questions for investigation, which may lead to new questions. Through their study of earth history, students become more confident in their ability to ask good questions and to recognize and use evidence from the rocks to come up with explanations of past environments. This course uses the anchor phenomenon of the Grand Canyon to engage students with history of Earth and introduce them to the geologic history of a place.
Second Unit: Waves
The course proceeds from the most concrete observations, those of physical properties of mechanical waves, to the most abstract concepts, by which students develop a model of electromagnetic waves. Students will also delve into engineering applications and real-life connections along the way. Students leave this course with a greater appreciation and understanding of modern communications technology and a solid foundation for high school and college physics. The driving question for the course is how is energy transferred through waves?
Third Unit: Diversity of Life
Middle school students are ready to consider what it means to be a living organism. What are the characteristics that scientists use to define life? Are those characteristics hard and fast or are they flexible? Does something as outlandish as an archaea that lives in boiling hot springs or a virus that depends upon other life-forms to reproduce fit into the definition students create? Students consider these questions as they encounter life throughout the unit.
Fourth Unit: Human Interactions
- Middle school students explore how organ systems interact to support each and every cell in the body. What happens when the body is attacked by an invader or an organ system malfunctions? How do cells get the resources they need to live? How do cells gain access to the energy stored in energy-rich compounds? How do systems support the human organism as it senses and interacts with the environment?