Middle School Courses

Middle School Science

The Middle School science curriculum is a guided-discovery, hands-on approach to learning. Students collect and analyze data to develop an understanding of the nature and processes of scientific inquiry. This also leads them to appreciate both the power and the limitations of science. Content is selected to lead students to a foundational knowledge of science concepts and to an understanding of real issues of interest to them and their community.
Approximately 60 to 80 percent of class time is spent on laboratory, field studies or individual projects. With all labs, time is devoted to analysis of data and small group and class discussion. Numerical relationships within data are studied extensively using graphs and analytical writing.

List of 4 items.

  • Science 6

    In the fall, the focus of sixth grade science is “How To Think Like a Scientist”. Through experimentation, the students learn to use the scientific method in order to find answers to questions. Significant class time is devoted to learning experimental techniques, experimental design and basic lab skills. The students learn how to effectively communicate their findings through the creation of written laboratory reports which incorporate the inclusion of tables and graphs of their quantitative data.

    All sixth grade students are involved in an interdisciplinary project between the Global Connections and science classes through their reading of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Through this book, the students gain an understanding of the how the discovery and practical application of simple technology in Malawi became transformational for the members of that community. In science, the students create simple and complex circuits and ultimately use their knowledge of electricity to create a model windmill that will generate enough electrical power to power an LED light. Through this windmill project, the students are asked to think like scientists and inventors think as they solve problems and investigate variables in the invention of a useful product. By the end of the fall term, the students have been involved in scientific problem solving; as well as exploring the steps of the design process in the creation of an invention/innovation. Each year, professional inventors from the community are invited to share with the students their first-hand experiences with the design process. Each of the sixth grade students participates in an Invention Convention held just before winter break. This convention provides a venue to showcase their inventions/innovations.

    During the winter term, the focus of science 6 shifts to “What is Life?” The students develop an understanding of the organization of living things and the requirements of life for a macroscopic organism. Scientific investigation both in and out of the classroom have been developed to allow students to learn about plants and animals beginning from the cellular level. The role of energy in the environment and its effect and movement through plants and animals is emphasized. The winter term coursework expands the requirements of the study of life by exploring cellular growth and change.

    Spring term involves the students in various dissection activities in order to help them understand how cells, tissues, organs and body systems work within a macroscopic organism. In addition, the physical setting of the school offers a myriad of opportunities for students to gain first-hand field experiences. Basic ecological concepts and natural selection end with a multidisciplinary project related to plant species here on campus. Each year, the sixth grade students are given an acre of land at St. Stephen’s for research and restoration. On their acre, the students learn about native vs. non-native species and as a group begin to make long-term plans to restore their acre. As the sixth graders assess the condition of the land, they explore thought provoking questions: What is the current status of the land? What’s on it that should be there? What invasive species or remnant of human activities are present that should be removed or altered? What steps need to be taken to create a plan to restore it to a state closer to what USDA suggests is peak ecology? The goal of the one acre program is to promote an increased awareness and action for all forms of environmental stewardship.
  • Science 7

    One of the main objectives of the seventh grade curriculum is to help students go from concrete to abstract learning.

    7th Grade science allows the students through guided-inquiry to investigate the dynamic worlds of chemistry and physics through multiple laboratory experiments followed by classroom discussions. Emphasis is on providing the students with a better understanding of these two major areas of science and how they can be used to explain the world around them.  Graphical analysis of data and the creation of useful equations help students practice the processes of science. The physical and chemical concepts derived in class are then related to living systems they studied in 6th Grade Science and which will be useful to them next year in 8th Grade Science. Labs are always followed up with in-depth analysis in discussion and writing. 
  • Science 8

    8th grade Science examines planet Earth and our place and role on it, as well as our place in both time and space. Using the multiple scientific disciplines of geology, paleontology, weather, oceanography, astronomy, the students use concepts from both the 6th and 7th Grade Science courses to investigate everything from starlight to mineralogy and all that lies in between.  Laboratory experiments, identification of rocks, minerals, and fossils are complimented by open-ended discussions about how fundamental scientific principles can be used to explain the great diversity of both things and phenomena that we see in the universe.  This is a culminating course in Middle School Science. The overall goal is not only to have demonstrated the intricate, yet understandable, nature of science, but to have created in them a greater sense of wonder and interest so that they will continue to ask questions and seek answers.
  • Coding and Robotics

    Using a multidisciplinary approach, this course includes elements of science, engineering, art, programming, and design. Students first learn to manipulate LEDs, motors, and sensors by coding microprocessors. The course culminates in a student creating his or her own student-centered invention such as a scientific device, a robot, a new product, or art.

    This is a required course for seventh graders and meets once a rotation.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213