Middle School Curriculum

At Durham Academy Middle School — comprising grades 5 to 8 — we strive to prepare our pre-teen and teenaged students for the challenges ahead academically, and support them personally on their path to maturity.

Middle Schoolers develop habits of learning that define them as students and discover their passions, with a rotating schedule that allows them to challenge themselves through core courses and electives. Students experience all five fine arts during their first two years, with the ability to study a full semester of two fine arts selections in seventh grade and and a full year of their fine arts selection in eighth grade. Middle Schoolers also have the opportunity to focus their foreign language classes on the language of their choice, with options to study Chinese, Latin, French and Spanish. 

Challenging courses prepare increasingly independent learners for high school and beyond.

Explore Our Course Offerings

  • Science
Science 5

Fifth-grade science focuses on the basic skills and concepts that provide a foundation for sixth-grade science and beyond. Class discussions and readings emphasize science as a method and explore the nature of scientific inquiry. Lab activities help students develop new science process skills. Students demonstrate their understanding of concepts and skills through written and oral reports and an independent project.

  • Grade 5
  • Science
Science 6

Introduction to physics. Through projects, labs, readings and class discussion, students explore their physical world. Sixth-grade science is a hands-on-project-oriented physical science curriculum that is the foundation for later studies of physics in high school. Each unit has a two- or three-week in-class project that students work on with a lab partner in class. There are chapter tests for each unit and nightly homework from the textbook. The textbook is an “e-text” that students can access from any computer to watch videos and take practice quizzes to supplement the printed text.  

  • Grade 6
  • Science
Science 7

Introduction to botany/ecology. Through outdoor explorations, projects, lab experiments, readings and class discussion, students will investigate the interconnections between the biotic and abiotic factors making up an ecosystem. From researching major biomes to examining our own middle school campus, students will learn about the structure and function of plants, the cycling of matter, the flow of energy through food chains and webs, the basic requirements for healthy soils, healthy plant communities and therefore healthy ecosystems. We will conclude the year with a field experience tying together the major components our year’s work.

  • Grade 7
  • Science
Science 8

The eighth-grade curriculum focuses on earth science. Topics covered are properties of water, ocean motions (waves, tides and currents), coastal geology and ecology and the relationship between oceans, weather and climate. Eighth grade is a critical time to refine and enhance independent thinking, research and project development skills. To facilitate and guide this growth, each student devises an independent study and experimental design project. Eighth-grade science thus continues to develop the practices of scientific methods presented in earlier grades culminating in a comprehensive multi-faceted independent project demonstrating science inquiry and process skills.

  • grade 8
  • Science
Science in Action

Science In Action​ is a class — an optional seminar with no required homework and no formal grades — designed to provide students an opportunity to find out how changes to our present Middle School campus will affect the greater community and to compare its impact with that of a more natural habitat. 

Students will plan and carry out investigations to measure and evaluate how the construction process will affect the ecology of our area. Students will then present their findings and recommendations to help ensure that the transformation of our campus takes advantage of the best opportunities for a positive impact on the world around us. Students will leave this class with a better understanding of how human actions affect the environment, what regulations are in place to protect it, and how responsible decisions that are made today affect what kind of difference the new Middle School campus will have on future generations.

  • Grade 7
  • grade 8
  • Technology
STEAM by Design

The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) by Design Seminar is a year-long elective seminar offered to eighth-grade students. The seminar — which is optional for students and has no grades or homework — integrates the elements of STEAM using design thinking (define, understand, imagine, prototype, try and repeat) during explorations in coding, electronics and 3D design and printing. The seminar is project-driven and features design challenges.

  • grade 8
  • Physical Education
Physical Education 5

This class will focus on students’ physical fitness and wellness through five PE classes in a seven-day cycle. Students will have sports and fitness units that will stress fundamentals and skills as well as small competition and sportsmanship. We will provide our students a wide range of activities that promote physical, social and emotional growth with the goal of keeping students active, engaged and feeling successful while emphasizing kindness, cooperation and respect for one another.

  • Grade 5
  • Physical Education
Physical Education 6

This class will focus on students’ physical fitness and wellness through five Physical Education classes in a seven-day cycle. Students will have lifetime, individual, dual and team sports focusing on fundamentals, skills, tactics and rules as well as competition and sportsmanship that will reinforce responsible personal and social behaviors. In addition, students will learn to maintain a physically active lifestyle through personal fitness exercises and activities.

  • Grade 6
  • Physical Education
Physical Education 7

We want our students to understand the importance of physical activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the lifetime benefits of health and wellness. We will provide our students a wide range of activities that promote physical, social and emotional growth with goal of keeping students active, engaged and feeling successful while emphasizing kindness, cooperation and respect for one another. Seventh-grade physical education will be an intergraded wellness curriculum with a traditional seven-day rotational calendar with one day dedicated to classroom health education. The five  days of physical activity class will include a combination of muscular strength training, muscular flexibility training, cardiorespiratory training and a variety of team and recreational sport activities.

  • Grade 7
  • Physical Education
Physical Education 8

This class will focus on students’ physical fitness and wellness through five PE classes in a seven-day cycle. Students will have sports and fitness units that will stress fundamentals and skills as well as competition and sportsmanship. We want students to feel good about physical fitness, enjoy playing different sports and learn about how to win and lose the right way.

  • grade 8