Middle School science classes at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School meet in a well-equipped laboratory/classroom. Science equipment and supplies are also available to the Lower School when needed. Students work in investigative groups of two to five. These groups complete labs that are designed to develop critical thinking skills and encourage collaboration. For each of the middle school classes, approximately 50% of their class time is spent in labs and/or activities. Some labs are Pre-AP, which are rigorous in design and prepare students for high school. Many of them are STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) labs, an approach that prepares students for jobs in their adult lives. They are designed to help students connect their learning to real-world situations. Additionally, middle school students benefit from our BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) program. This resource has allowed us to easily have collaborative labs, Google Classroom, Khan Academy, Ted ED, TWIG, and many others. Field trips are planned to supplement content and class activities.
In the sixth grade science curriculum, physical science is emphasized. Basic concepts of matter and its properties, elements, compounds, reactions, forces and motion, as well as work, power, and efficiency are included. Hands-on activities and experiments enhance the basic curriculum. Students focus on being a better scientist. The scientific method is presented as a logical approach to problem solving. Students’ skills with the scientific method help them with creating a science fair project as it is their first experience with such a long term project. The following are some of the labs to reinforce concepts taught in the classroom: the emergence time of a sponge, density of unknown solutions, making ice cream, identifying chemical reactions, constructing paper airplanes, skimmers, gliders, jet toys, Barbie bungee jumping, roller coasters, and many more. Each year students attend the Chem Expo which is presented by the LAIA.
The life science curriculum of the seventh grade begins with a brief ecology study, which brings all the biomes from the lower school together for the student. Students learn what characteristics are needed for an organism to be classified as living. Organisms are then broken down into the most basic unit of structure and function, which is the cell. Students study the cell’s processes and reproduction. Genetics offers several opportunities to study how traits are inherited from one generation to the next. In the lab, students create baby “reebops” and fictitious offspring. They also learn how to extract the DNA from a strawberry. Students also study taxonomy, which allows us to concentrate on each of the five kingdoms. We dissect a variety of organisms for comparative anatomy. At the end of the year, human systems are studied. When available, students dissect a deer’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys for us and relates it to human organs. Each year students team with the fourth graders and the LSU Coastal Roots Program to plant long-life pines and grasses which students have planted and nurtured on campus. This is two separate field trip opportunities for our students.
The eighth grade students are encouraged to become more independent learners. Cooperative learning skills are enhanced through group work. The earth science curriculum features a study of mapping our Earth, Earth’s structure, geology (earthquakes and volcanoes included), weather and climate, water and other resources, and astronomy. Students learn how to test the water quality from several types of equipment/test kits. They also participate in a water quality lab in which they identify point source and non point source contamination. Some of the labs covered in the eighth grade are: survival island, mousetrap vehicle, mechanical and chemical weathering of rock, crystal trees, testing of ground level ozone, tracking hurricanes, locating an earthquake’s epicenter, ornament making, and many more. Students attend the McNeese Engineering Fair. They tour the department and campus facilities as well as participate in demonstrations of student projects in civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical engineering and computer science.
The EDS Science Fair is an annual event. Higher order thinking skills are further developed in this activity. Students develop hypotheses and design experiments that are scientifically sound. Technical writing is used in reporting research. Middle School grades participate in either the Science Fair or Social Studies Fair. EDS regularly participates in both the regional and state competitions.