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Curriculum » Science Curriculum Overview

Science Curriculum Overview

ITDS aims to give all students an opportunity to engage in hands-on inquiry that helps them delve deeply into scientific concepts and ideas, guided by the national Next generation Science Standards. The common framework used for inquiry projects in science, as elsewhere, is the “Wonder-Experiment-Learn” cycle, which is a continuous cycle of learning that works through students’ understandings of new topics and inspires students to embrace scientific thinking as a way of solving mysteries and a practice of challenging assumptions and biases.
Preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten: What is it? Following our curiosity
Young children are naturally curious and always question the world around them. In our early childhood classrooms, we support and encourage that curiosity through hands-on learning experiences and engaging in the Wonder-Experiment-Learn cycle with a variety of topics. In preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten students connect science with social studies during explorations of skin, senses, and the human body, learning about similarities and differences in people. They explore design, construction, and cause and effect with engineering challenges. They also discover the natural world by observing plant and animal life cycles as well as changes in the nature around them.
Science 1-2
First and second-grade students use their inquiry skills to explore a variety of scientific concepts. First graders begin their year with a study of the sun, moon, and stars, including a study of shadows and how they change. In life science, first graders explore animal adaptations, creating their own imaginary animals adapted for a specific purpose. First graders also connect science to the study of music, creating their own instruments in order to study sound. In second grade, begin the year with Earth science, exploring how wind and water have affected various biomes. Second graders explore a wide variety of habitats, completing a research project on one particular habitat.
Science 3-4
Third grade begins their year with a study of weather, studying weather in various regions of the world using data analysis. Connecting to engineering standards, third graders design a structure that would help solve a weather-related hazard. Students also explore balanced and unbalanced forces in both magnets, electricity, and other physical forces. Through the inquiry process, students design, build and adapt their own roller coasters. Students also explore the interdependent relationships of ecosystems, studying how plants and animals work together in symbiotic relationships. Fourth-grade science includes immersive investigations that explore plant and animal structures, energy, Earth’s changing surface, and waves. Students learn how plant and animal structures are used for support and growth, protection, and reproduction. They learn how energy transfers from one place to another through sound, light, heat, and electric currents. A unit focused on Earth’s changing surface examines erosion, fossil formation, and natural hazards. Each topic of study includes a performance assessment where students define a design problem reflecting a need or want, generate possible solutions to the problem, and plan and carry out tests of their solutions and identify areas for improvement.
Science 5-6
Fifth and sixth graders dive into hallmark ITDS projects to continue developing their scientific skills and broaden their base of scientific knowledge. In 5th grade, students seek to answer how Earth is unique among the planets of the solar system, and how those unique characteristics allow for life. Students delve into the solar system, ecology, chemistry, and physics as they explore interplanetary scale, build model planets, and design experiments to explain seasons and celestial phenomena. 6th graders shift their focus to weather, climate, and the science of climate change, the move into a project-based investigation into the intersection between ethics and science, centered on the question of what humans can and should do to both prepare for and mitigate natural disasters caused by global warming.
Science 7-8
In seventh grade, students study Earth history, the evolution of life, and human impacts on evolution, with a focus on phenomena-anchored instruction and student-led inquiry. Acting as paleontologists, students collect data from fossil sites around the world, analyze the data and find patterns between the fossil sites to gain an understanding of the history of life on Earth. During a unit on evolution, students study the evolutionary history of whales, analyzing whales’ features and explaining why whales have traits of land mammals. Students also study human impacts on evolution, where they research and debate how humans should deal with environmental changes that affect the survival of other organisms. The eighth-grade science curriculum focuses on life science standards. Students examine the plants and animals of Madagascar and study the physical and behavioral traits that have helped them survive in Madagascar’s unique environment. In a lengthy study of the human body, students learn how people get sick and how illnesses are diagnosed, study plant and animal cells and their systems, and learn how genes determine an organism’s traits. They study genetic mutations and learn how an organism’s traits can be altered by a change in its genes.