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Middle School Science Curriculum

Durham Academy’s science faculty believes that doing science is the best way to learn about science. Experiential learning is therefore the central feature of our program. Learning experiences are based on developmentally appropriate concepts and skills as students progress from concrete to abstract levels of understanding and skill development. Our goal is for students to leave the Middle School with a sense of wonder for the natural world, a solid set of foundational critical thinking and laboratory skills, and a sense of obligation to apply scientific knowledge and skills to issues facing local and global communities.

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  • Evaluate claims for scientific validity and bias in order to develop opinions and make informed decisions.

  • Formulate testable questions and apply the scientific method to investigate possible solutions.

  • Model phenomena that are difficult to observe directly.

  • Analyze data and draw conclusions to support evidence-based claims or design decisions.

  • Communicate data-driven ideas and findings so that they can be understood by diverse audiences. 

  • Apply knowledge and processes of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on issues relevant to a changing world. 

Middle School Science Course Offerings

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Science 5

Fifth-grade science focuses on the basic laboratory skills and scientific concepts that provide a foundation for middle-school science and beyond. Whole-class discussions and activities emphasize science as a method and explore the nature of scientific inquiry. Small-group lab activities help students develop new science process skills. Students demonstrate their skills and understanding of concepts through written reports, oral presentations, and a culminating independent project.  

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Science 6

Sixth-grade science focuses on further developing the skills necessary for scientific inquiry and building foundational laboratory skills that will prepare students for future laboratory courses. Students build these skills through a variety of hands-on, iterative engineering challenges requiring them to apply scientific principles to the design process. Some content focus areas include electromagnetism (students design and build working electrical models) and Newtonian motion (students construct and test a functional rocket).

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Science 7

Seventh-grade science focuses on further honing laboratory skills through more complex investigations and developing more nuanced critical-thinking skills and science-writing skills to prepare students for writing formal lab reports in eighth grade. Seventh-graders study what it means to be a living thing. Students explore the structures and processes necessary for living things to maintain life and reproduce, as well as how life evolves over time to adapt to a changing environment. Seventh-grade science includes an age-appropriate module on human development and sexual health and culminates with an in-depth look at the anatomical structures that support life through a series of biological specimen dissections. 

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Science 8

Eighth-grade science focuses on the flow of energy through Earth’s system using the steps of the scientific method. Students explore the chemistry of matter and water and how Earth captures and delivers the sun’s energy throughout our biosphere. Topics covered in these concepts include tides, ocean currents, atmospheric conditions, climate change, and human impact on these systems. Students will demonstrate their understanding of concepts through a variety of labs in the form of written and oral presentations, both individually and in groups. 

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