As November rolls around, the middle school science classrooms will be buzzing with construction noise. Our students will be spending the next month planning, building, testing, retesting, and problem-solving a simple issue, how do we move “it”? Using common engineering/physics skills and examples of simple machines (inclined plane, wheel and axle, levers…etc) , we are challenging groups of middle school students to build the most efficient and also creative designs.
Middle School Science
Students finished up this past month (May) with unique unit on the genetics of dragons, and learned how meiosis helps them to understand how genes get passed down to their children. For the last unit, we will encounter our final frontier with our short unit on space. We are looking at common misconceptions that people have about outer space and finding the correct information that allows us to understand why people think like that and why it is incorrect.
The middle school science class is documenting growth as we “journey” through the life cycle of plants and cells. We are combing through the forest at Honey Creek, as well as starting our own experiments on what variables will impact how fast plants’ growth happens. The month of May will truly bring flowers to the classroom as we will also participate in some plant maturation. Hopefully our thumbs will stay green so that we can see how plants grows.
We will transition quickly to the cells of the plant, as we prepare for spring bloom with plant life. We will look at how plants grow and what factors can affect their timeline. We plan to make a photographic project out of this and hopefully identify the wonderful plant life in our own backyard here at school.
The middle school students are continuing to learn about the particular parts of the body and their systems. We plan to construct different parts of the body to create our own version of a practice corpse that we will use to eventually do some surgery on. We will close out the last part of this unit with a comprehensive Jeopardy-style event that will quiz the students on their gained ‘medical’ knowledge. In April, we move towards a short unit on the Solar System, as we focus specifically on the Mars Rover and what that “journey” is going to tell us about the planets around us.
The middle school takes a “journey into the body” as we look to understand both the form and function of how we are set up. More than what each part of the body does, we will use the science of medicine and nutrition to help us diagnose some of the issues facing society today. We will turn this into a service-learning opportunity to help our community to become more aware of our health and what we can do to foster more positive behaviors. If you are a health professional and interested in helping out as a source of information, please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our Earth Rocks! unit ends at curriculum celebration with our presentation of our different models that help us understand how the Earth works. At the end of January we will switch to our new unit investigating the human body and the systems that combine together to work as a well oiled machine.
The middle school will spend time “journeying” towards the amazing and tropical islands of Hawaii. There we will spend time understanding the processes of how the Earth created and allowed the islands to develop. From the different geological processes that shaped the islands to the biological areas that make Hawaii a unique place to evolve over time, we will be using our knowledge about watersheds to see it working there. In addition, we will journey to other places (Michigan, areas of earthquakes, etc.) and see how the Earth is being shaped there as well.
The middle school is getting our “hands wet and dirty” with the “Earth Rocks!” unit by continuing to journey through our watersheds. We will continue this towards the middle of this month and then followup with a project on the Hawaiian Islands as our real-life example. We successfully took a journey to our local watershed, the Huron River, at Island Park and learned about water quality testing with help from our community partners at the Huron River Watershed Council at the end of October. This month, we will be working to use the knowledge we gained from our lab activities in porosity and permeability, regarding the water cycle, and Earth processes and apply them to the Hawaiian Islands. Although we can’t take a physical field trip to Hawaii, we will simulate experiences that will help students to learn more about how the “Earth Rocks!”
Earth Rocks is the first unit that the middle school scientists will be investigating this semester as we “journey” in, over, and around the Earth. We start off with investigating watersheds, especially the one that Honey Creek School is involved with… the Huron River watershed. We are partnering with HRWC to do a field stream study as an outdoor school trip and will need parent volunteers to help chaperone students groups. We are projecting Thursday, October 25th as the date, rain or shine. If you are interested in helping out please feel free to contact me or signup when the informational email comes out this week. In addition we are partnering with Sarah Fick, graduate student at University of Michigan, to assist and participate in her graduate work in science education. Our own classroom will be a laboratory area where we will help her investigate how students learn science topics most effectively. With parent permission she will document and use this data for her dissertation.