The fifth grade science classroom is centered around the exploration of the world around us. It is our intent that lively discussions and hands-on lab experiences cultivate a love of science discovery.
Students begin the year with an introduction to the scientific method. Emphasis is placed on forming hypotheses based on what students already know, recording thorough observations and then forming conclusions from what they have observed. Introduction to the scientific method prepares students for laboratory work this year, in the sixth grade and beyond.
Students further develop their skills of observation in a year-long field study of Indian Mountain School’s pond. Through their study of the pond habitat, students make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and what they observe in the natural environment.
Connections are also made with the social studies curriculum. Students learn about humans’ interactions with their physical world, while studying the ecology of oceans and rainforests.
Reading assignments are enhanced by hands-on activities in order to facilitate comprehension. Short- and long-term research projects, many inspired by the students’ own questions, develop their familiarity with library and internet resources.
Ninth graders at Indian Mountain take Applied Biology, which we regard as gaining an understanding of the scientific processes and mechanisms that impact the human population living on Earth and, reversely, the impact that our population has on Earth’s systems. In addition to being a study of living systems, this course touches upon a myriad of key science disciplines including environmental science, ecology, oceanography, climate science, and human health.
Aligning with themes within other core courses, Applied Biology utilizes current events and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations as a gateway to foundational science understanding and skills. Students delve into topics such as infectious diseases and consider the ethics behind genetic engineering. They study plant biology and human nutrition and contemplate how to feed a global population. They learn about keystone species and analyze the impact of population decline on other species within an ecosystem. Throughout the year, opportunities present themselves for students to follow their own interests as well as to work collaboratively with their peers.
Applied Biology aims to give students a relevant lens through which to learn about the science of today to address the problems of tomorrow.
Seventh Earth Science
Seventh graders at Indian Mountain take Earth Science. The program investigates the following: geology, including studies of rocks, minerals, and plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes; meteorology; astronomy, including the origins of the universe and the life of stars; and mapping. A major focus of the course is to give the students a sense of scale, time, and perspective regarding the earth, its history and its place in the universe.
Lab work is done as often as possible, and much time is devoted to discussion of how and why things work the way they do. Considerable emphasis is placed on the processes that occur in the lithosphere, atmosphere and deep space. Other skills that are stressed include highlighting, writing (and rewriting), reading for content, note-taking and organization. In preparation for the eighth grade program, seventh graders design and implement sociological and psychological data collection projects. Digital presentation, data analysis, and public speaking are all key skills that result from the research phase. As in every science course at IMS, creativity, curiosity, and independent thought are fostered throughout Earth Science.
Earth Science aims to give students a sense of understanding about the physical place in which they find themselves currently and in the future, here on Earth as well as within the universe.
Eighth Grade Lab Science
Eighth graders at Indian Mountain take Lab Science, which centers around chemistry and engineering. Throughout the first two terms, students focus on matter and its physical and chemical properties. Through a great deal of experimentation and lab work, (hence the name: Lab Science) students gain an understanding that matter cannot be created or destroyed but rather cycles through different phases and forms based on what else is in its environment, including energy. Utilizing the data generated by their lab work, students practice analyzing results, graphing, and drawing conclusions. Additionally, writing scientifically, which is detailed yet concise, is emphasized.
The third term is reserved for an introduction to engineering, where they investigate the nature of function and design. In teams of two or three, students build an underwater ROV from scratch. Because the nature of this project demands it, by the end of the year, students are just as comfortable measuring a liquid in a graduated cylinder as utilizing a power drill or soldering a pin on a circuit board. The culminating affair is an Olympics-style contest where underwater ROVs participate in individual and team events.
Lab Science aims to give students a window through which to see the possibilities of further application of these fields of science as well as a mirror with which to see themselves doing that science.