Science

The PMFS Science program connects students’ natural curiosity with the structure and building blocks needed to understand the world around them; children learn to see science as a part of their everyday lives.

Helping the children make connections between themselves, their actions and their communities is an important part of Lower-Grade Science classes. With each lesson and year, students deepen their understanding not only of science, but of themselves and their role as scientists in their everyday lives.

Teacher-chosen topics for investigation from life, earth, and physical science are quickly supplemented with student-generated ones, creating a dynamic and emergent curriculum each year. Students are empowered in the Science room not only to ask questions, but to suggest subjects for inquiry. Using the inquiry method, Lower-Grade Science guides students from simple curiosity, wondering, and questioning to formulating scientific questions and testing hypotheses.

Early Childhood

Each Early Childhood class meets once a week for 30 minutes. When classes are conducted outdoors, children explore and connect nature and the PMFS campus. Indoor classes may connect art or literature and science. Science class always encourages the true sense of wonder in the children.

Kindergarten

In Kindergarten, students begin to formally ask and answer questions, such as “Are ice and water made of the same thing?” “How do animals use sound? and, “How does energy make things move?” Activities and investigations around each class topic provide the students with a developmentally-appropriate background in scientific process and experimentation.

First and Second Grade

Curriculum for First and Second Grade establishes the connections between Science and other areas of curriculum and community, from integrating the yearly classroom theme into science activities to a unit on art and science. First Grade students connect with students in Mexico and much more in the Journey North program, a program tracking seasonal change and migration of Monarch butterflies. Through a study of habitats and food chains, Second Graders learn to see themselves as part of an ecosystem. Journaling and identifying scientific terminology and concepts further solidify students’ understanding of the relationship between science and our everyday world.

Third Grade

Third Grade expands upon previous questioning and relationships, contrasting the scientific method and design thinking as ways to solve problems. With the objective of a spring “Invention Convention” recently expanded to a multi-school project, Science class and the Third Grade classroom integrate invention and inventor curriculum. Third Graders compare and contrast inventors and scientists, learn the formal steps of the scientific method, identify ‘problems’ to solve, and begin the hypothesis and testing phase of what will become their inventions. After months of collaborative activities, the Convention is a proud moment for PMFS Third Grade inventors. Accurate use of scientific vocabulary and journaling additionally prepare students for Upper-Grade Science.

Upper-Grade Science at PMFS is similar to Lower-School Science in that we continue to connect the natural curiosity of children to an understanding of the world around them. As children grow, so do their skills in noting relationships, making connections, and putting pieces of the overall puzzle together for themselves. No matter what topic is presented, the development of critical thinking and sound scientific process skills are at the core of Science class: formulating and testing a hypothesis, making and recording accurate observations, learning from observations, deductive reasoning, and sharing findings.

We dig deeper in the Upper Grades, and also link our science studies with major themes in art, history, social studies and current events, for science is woven through almost every aspect of our everyday lives. As Neil deGrasse Tyson points out, science literacy is crucial, for as informed citizens grounded with science understanding, we are better equipped to build, and function in, a sustainable world system.

Fourth Grade

Fourth Graders learn the basics of recording their observations through the use of journals, following the sequential steps of the scientific method, and the importance of recording and reflecting on data.

Units include:

  • Basic measurements in science, proportions and ratios
  • Birds: art and history, J. J. Audubon, migration, and adaptation
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • Types of energy: kinetic, electricity, magnetism, wind, and solar
  • Kingdom Fungi (Mold Symposium)
  • Scientific method

Fifth Grade

In Fifth Grade, students are ready for increased demands for Science preparation including doing homework, organizing information in a Science binder, and preparing for and taking quizzes. They evaluate their research findings instead of just recording them, make inferences instead of simple observations, and do more compare-and-contrast in their explorations.

Units include:

  • Garden science: decomposers, comport, food webs, nutrient cycles, and soil
  • Earth’s biomes: with emphasis on the deciduous and tropical rainforests
  • Plants and photosynthesis: tree identification and studies
  • Earth Science: Earth from core to crust; plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquakes; rocks and minerals
  • Environmental justice: clean water, trash, our environmental “footprint”

Sixth Grade

By Sixth Grade, Science class operates at a middle school level: students have regular homework, can study independently, answer open-ended questions, represent their research findings in tables, graphs or charts, understand experimental design (with variables & controls) in scientific investigations, and write complete lab reports.

Units include:

  • Dinosaurs: timelines and chronology
  • What does it mean to be a living thing? It begins with cells’ structure and function
  • The human body: tissues and organs working in systems
  • Introduction to basic chemistry: atoms, Periodic Table, molecules, pH, chemical reactions
  • The electricity powering our lives: inventors and innovators (“War of the Currents”)
  • Car-crash physicals: Annual Egg Drop design challenge