Students will engage in the exploration of the four disciplinary core ideas in science; life sciences, earth sciences, physical sciences, and the scientific process and scientific applications. In each grade, the use of technology, engineering and art is integrated within the science curriculum. In the Early Elementary years, students are introduced to scientific patterns, such as cycles. They eagerly explore and answer questions relevant to the world around them as they engage in explorations of mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, weather, trees, seeds, biomes, solids and liquids, and the water cycle.
Science continues to be inquiry based in the Middle Elementary years. Students continue to study the four disciplinary core ideas, as well as use technology to connect their work at The Cooper School to the work of student scientists around the globe. Students compare and collect data, begin writing lab reports detailing their use of the scientific process, and explore science tools of investigation. Students collaborate on projects that are meaningful and purposeful to them, all while charting growth and change, structure and function, and cause and effect. Students are expected to apply a scientific concept to content knowledge.
In the Upper Elementary years, the four disciplinary core ideas continue to be examined. Students are expected to reach performance standards based on understanding and application. Students independently engage in scientific practices, and design experiments using the scientific method to present during the science fair. Our older students delve deeper into engineering design methods and model construction. In addition, our outdoor education program supports the integration of science learning in our backyard biome and local community. Students graduate with the skills, practices and concepts necessary to demonstrate developmentally appropriate proficiency as they gather, describe, interpret and use data about the world. Our students develop a passion for environmental stewardship and conservation through our environmental science strand. Students learn through hands on investigation of our backyard biome, compost and garden area. Students in all grade levels seek practical solutions to environmental problems as they learn how to integrate and apply background knowledge. Fifth graders culminate their environmental studies unit by a weeklong trip to Green River Preserve in Cedar Mountain, NC.
Research shows that the best way to learn science is by doing science. We use the Foss Next Generation Science Curriculum, which is an instructional model that delivers fewer science concepts in greater depth. Modules are truly connected and build upon one another within and across each strand, progressively moving students toward the big ideas of science.
Sixth Graders will study 3 main units over the course of the year. Water and Weather focuses on Earth’s atmosphere, weather and water. Students learn about atoms and molecules, density, wind, and energy transfer, then investigate phase change, the water cycle, ocean currents, climate change, and meteorology. The Diversity of Life unit begins an exploration of cells, organisms, and the vascular system. Students then explore the relationship of organisms to their environment, and recognize life as a temporary condition experienced for various lengths of time by all living things. Lastly, students will study living systems, including disease, organ interaction and malfunction, and the nervous system.
Seventh Graders explore Chemical Interactions, conduct experiments to observe macroscopic matter transformations and apply kinetic particle theory to explain those transformations at the microscopic level. They also observe energy transfers associated with reactions and infer energy transfers associated with phase change. During their unit on Earth Science, students grapple with Earth’s processes and systems that have operated over geological time, coming to understand the rock cycle, human interactions with natural resources, and the technology that supports the geosciences. Lastly, in Populations and Ecosystems, students learn that every organism has a role to play in its ecosystem. To understand how ecosystems work and what they need to remain healthy, students explore how changes to one part of the ecosystem affect others.
Eighth Graders will study the theory of evolution is the unifying principle that explains both the similarity and diversity of life and is supported by a wide variety of observable evidence. Students explore the evidence, including the fossil record, the similarities between past and present organisms, the genetic principles of inheritance, and how natural selection produces adaptations that lead to changes in species and eventually the creation of new species. The next unit, Planetary Science, develops a historical sense of humankind’s exploration of the cosmos and then delves in far greater depth into the modern questions surrounding space exploration. Students develop a thorough understanding of the local cosmos—including the organization of the solar system and the reason for the seasons—before turning their study to the top planetary science headlines of our times: the NASA Kepler Mission and the hunt for exoplanets. Lastly, The Waves Course proceeds from the most concrete observations, those of physical properties of mechanical waves, to the most abstract concepts, by which students develop a model of electromagnetic waves. They manipulate springs and lasers to determine properties that eventually will be used to explain how their cell phones work. Students leave this course with a greater appreciation and understanding of modern communications technology and a solid foundation for high school and college physics.