Eighth Grade Science
Our Princeton Friends School science program puts a world of scientific inquiry, discovery, and delight into lessons that are relevant – and inspiring! In the 3rd through 8th grades, students meet three periods per week for science – two of those periods scheduled back-to-back to allow for extended laboratory experiences. In general, lab periods involve an activity, model, or experiment to engage students in the “doing” of science, while the third class involves more content-oriented instruction designed to illuminate the topic currently under investigation.
Each year begins with a review of the principles guiding all scientific disciplines, after which the focus shifts to developmentally appropriate units in life science, physical science, and earth science. Content within each unit follows specific recommendations of the National Science Education Standards, while each unit is also approached through the lens of the year’s Central Study theme. An inquiry-based approach allows students to develop problem solving skills as they formulate questions and hypotheses, plan experiments, systematically record observations, interpret and analyze data, draw conclusions, and communicate their results. Project-based and hands-on learning are part of this approach, as well as the integration of science, technology, engineering, art, and math education.
Mathematical application plays an important role as students determine the reasonableness of estimates and measurements using a variety of instruments. Class discussions invite students to raise questions about the world around them and to discover that science is not merely a collection of facts, but a process of thinking about and investigating the world in which we live.
The 8th grade curriculum starts with physical science, investigating the laws of physics through several hands-on projects and labs. Much of our early work is on bicycles, which encompass several physics topics and enables students to physically connect with and creatively work through the material. Students also design, build, and test tracks and models that demonstrate the content. Next is chemistry, which includes the study of chemical reactions and the chemical changes that occur in our natural environment. Students examine environmental case studies and work to develop new ideas and proposals for solutions. Each student is responsible for creating a research project based on his or her interests and creative capacities that is presented to the school community. Class content and discussions help prepare students for their transition to high school science.