In the most basic sense, science is the systematic study of nature, natural events, and conditions. The three main disciplines of science are biology (life science), geology (Earth science), and physical science (energy and nonliving matter). Here in the science department, we strive to show how science is related to everything that we do whether we are moving, thinking, and even sleeping. It is our hope that by the time students leave this school they will be more informed in the practices of science and have a better grasp of the usefulness of science and its methods in daily life.
This will be achieved through laboratory investigations that include the use of scientific inquiry, research, measurement, problem solving. Laboratory apparatus and technologies, experimental procedures, and safety procedures are an integral part of this course. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) recommends that at the middle school level, all students should have multiple opportunities every week to explore science laboratory investigations (labs). School laboratory investigations are defined by the National Research Council (NRC) as an experience in the laboratory, classroom, or the field that provides students with opportunities to interact directly with natural phenomena or with data collected by others using tools, materials, data collection techniques, and models (NRC, 2006, p. 3). Laboratory investigations in the middle school classroom should help all students develop a growing understanding of the complexity and ambiguity of empirical work, as well as the skills to calibrate and troubleshoot equipment used to make observations. Learners should understand measurement error and have the skills to aggregate, interpret, and present the resulting data (NRC 2006, p. 77; NSTA, 2007).
The following instructional practices are also implemented throughout our department:
Ensuring wide reading from complex text that varies in length.
Making close reading and rereading of texts central to lessons.
Emphasizing text-specific complex questions, and cognitively complex tasks, reinforce focus on the text and cultivate independence.
Emphasizing students supporting answers based upon evidence from the text.
Providing extensive research and writing opportunities (claims and evidence).