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Science & Engineering – Primary (grades 1-4)

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Using real materials and posing authentic problems, Primary students determine cause-effect relationships, make predictions, conceptualize hypotheses, test their ideas in real life situations and reach conclusions. They learn to observe and record their observations and to collect and display data. Science topics are integrated with social studies, language arts, math and art wherever possible.

The 1st and 2nd grade science curriculum covers life, physical, and earth sciences, as well as the design/engineering process. These students study habitats and animal adaptation as well as plant and animal life cycles. They are taught to respect and protect the environment. In every two-year cycle, students study chemical and physical changes in matter, gears and electricity, and the human body and nutrition. They study the food pyramid and learn to make informed choices as health-conscious consumers. By the end of 2nd grade, students are expected to make good observations and record complete and accurate descriptions of events. They have learned to formulate questions and are learning to devise ways of investigating those questions. They have been introduced to methods of collecting and organizing information and are asked to determine cause-effect relationships, make predictions, conceptualize hypotheses, test their ideas in real life situations and reach conclusions.

Inquiry skills and familiarity with the scientific method are strengthened in the science program in the 3rd and 4th grades. Students study rocks, fossils and earth history; the solar system; gears, pulleys and other simple machines. They also engage in investigations of mystery powders (chemistry). students learn about ecosystems, using their experience at camp to explore a prairie, a pine forest and a marsh. They also learn about biodiversity by studying a meadow close to Ancona. Students learn about the food chain by growing grass in terrariums, adding crickets and introducing anoles into the grassy environment. Inquiry skills and their knowledge of the scientific method are strengthened as they attempt to design habitats in which their anoles thrive. They begin to understand the interconnectedness of disciplines and the effect that science has on everyday life. They are able to determine cause-effect relationships, make predictions, conceptualize hypotheses, test their ideas in real-life situations and reach conclusions. By the end of fourth grade, students are expected to make good observations and record complete and accurate descriptions of events. They are expected to formulate questions and to devise ways of investigating those questions. They should initiate successive trials as hypotheses or models are refined.
Students begin the primary school years still engaged in sorting out magic from science. At this age, students are hungry for explanations, and their curiosity often drives the curriculum.

Students collaborate and communicate while engaged in scientific exploration. Like real scientists, they learn from one another, think of new problems and gain insights as they discuss and share ideas and experiences.
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