Work in science is less restricted to a weekly or monthly schedule. Our work follows a project-based approach and assembles students into teams of 3-4, using process science-skills (observation, recording, measuring, communicating, evaluating, suggesting, illustrating) in working toward a common goal. What this work seeks to find varies, but a presentation of work product requires students to provide hypotheses (claim and evidence) backed by data. This approach is part of a larger philosophy of constructivism, where learning builds incrementally toward ideas for new investigations.
In 5/6, our first area of investigation will be with ecology science. You will study how populations of organisms, communities of animal species, and biotic/abiotic factors work to create the world we have around us. For our study, we'll focus on the Browns River and its characteristics as the basis for our specific study. When we are remote learning, we'll also have textbook learning combined with online experiences to enhance our exposure to ideas. Fieldwork will likely occur after school for those choosing to have an in-person experience collecting specimens.
We will conduct a science debate on an as-yet-to-be-named topic.
In 7/8 our first area of investigation will be around earth sciences - specifically the structures that constitute landforms on our planet. A new initiative will be to begin a new unit using an autumnal pool, also known as vernal, ephemeral, temporary and static pools. I have been monitoring an area for over a year and feel the time is right for inclusion into our curriculum. At the same time, we'll be investigating landforms that make up the earth. If you have ever been on the town trails either on the school side or across the road, you already know that we live in a diverse geologic area. One archaeologist I spoke with years ago believed that Westford was actually on the shore of the Champlain Sea at one time! As with 5/6, remote learning will utilise textbook/online sources for continued study. Autumnal pool visits might be made an option for after-school if limitations are placed on our classes.
The scientific method is very important to investigations. Rubrics will be provided for students when starting an investigation. These are extremely important "road maps" to effective and efficient learning. These are regularly reviewed as teams work toward the completion of projects. Self-assessment of finished products are made - then this is done again by the instructor. In this way, the evaluation system provides a comparative basis.
Along the way, students supply incremental work steps. These form formative assessments. Completed projects usually have several options in how culminating work looks; whatever is chosen, the assessment is summative. Google Classroom will be the universal format by which work will be sent out and collected for assessment.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, team efforts will be limited this year.
7/8 classes will include a debate on a science topic currently in the news (and of a controversial nature.) Past topics have included solar farms, catamounts in Vermont, global warming, and cryptozoology, and wind energy as a viable optional source of power.
Another tradition is to have every student create a science fair. you will notice that the next item on the webpage list references works involved in choosing and creating a successful science fair.
I am also in the process of developing an archaeological dig experience. There is a place just off school property where an early 20th-century sap house once stood. Our project will to locate and excavate the site to recapture artifacts from that time. All participants will be given specific and ended training in proper dig technique and recording of work. Remember, any disruption of soil destroys a site as it currently is, so we need to proceed with brains if we get one scientific shot at peeling back the layers of soil to discover our past.