The Science program at The Day School provides students with opportunities for discovery. Through research, questioning, experimentation, and collaboration each child is able to develop greater understandings of topics and satisfy individual curiosity. The spiral curriculum provides opportunities for students to revisit topics covered in early grades for more in-depth study. All grade levels use a wide variety of classroom activities that address the learning styles of students. In addition, Judaic topics are integrated wherever possible to fulfill the school’s mission of creating a curriculum in which Jewish values are seen as an integral part of our complex world. A unit related to health matters is included at each grade level in order to fulfill our Jewish obligation to take care of our bodies since we were created in the image of God. The listings below indicate topics and activities that are covered at all grade levels, although topics may shift to other grade levels depending on the structure of the grade in any given academic year.
Sixth grade students begin the year by demonstrating proficiency in basic science skills such as measurement, using various temperature scales, using the metric system, graphing data, and designing an experiment using dependent and independent variables. Once they have completed this course of study, they are ready to dive into their study of the world’s oceans. (The order of topics may vary from year to year.) The work begins by examining the physical oceans including such topics as the geography and topography of the oceans, currents, waves and tides, and buoyancy and displacement. Students then explore the biologic make-up of the ocean by looking at biological zones, various marine creatures and their adaptations, and the Chesapeake Bay. The final unit of study in the sixth grade relates to weather, a topic that is revisited from the earlier grades. During this year, students look at what causes various weather phenomena and their characteristics in great depth. They are able to use precise scientific language to explain and describe the various topics covered. The sixth grade health curriculum focuses on some of the “habits of mind” that are essential in order to effectively deal with the many challenges they will face in the future. They learn to make healthy relationships, positive decisions, and develop a sense of self and group connectedness.
The seventh grade science program takes students from flight within our atmosphere and outside of our atmosphere to explorations of minute cells and systems in our own bodies. Students explore the scientific principles behind flight and orbit, parts of our solar system, and various concepts in the field of astronomy. In their study of the cell, students build on previous knowledge of cell structures and different types of cells. From cells, students progress to human systems and discover how each system supports the cell’s functions. Each system of the human body is studied individually and their interrelatedness is also explored. The health curriculum is incorporated into the Human Systems unit of seventh grade science. It covers topics related to nutrition and human sexuality.
The Science program in grade eight is a challenging study of our physical and chemical world. Students explore geology by developing understandings related to geologic eras, the structure and movement of parts of our planet, weathering and erosion, as well as the role of volcanoes and earthquakes in continuing to shape our world. Eighth graders enjoy delving into chemistry, beginning with scientists’ early understandings of atomic structure and moving into formulas, chemical equations, chemical reactions, explaining the pH scale in using acids and bases. The study of genetics and heredity introduces students to the functions of chromosomes and DNA, mitosis and meiosis, and hereditary patterns. This unit naturally leads into a study of evolution. The concept of natural selection is discussed as well as how Darwin and Lamarck’s theories have changed over the years. The eighth grade health curriculum deals with topics of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. In addition to the science of these diseases, students learn that these diseases can be prevented by avoiding risky behaviors and making responsible decisions.