Science at McCall has completed a three-year transition to the integrated model of the 2016 Massachusetts state standards. The Massachusetts Frameworks are organized into themes with content from all of the traditional disciplines: Physical Science, Earth & Space Science, and Life Science, and at the end of grade 8, students will take a MCAS test that covers the contents of all three years of the science curriculum.
The science curriculum focuses on the integration of STEM through earth and space, life, and physical sciences. Science activities will provide students with relevant and engaging opportunities to understand the natural phenomena and design problems that highlight the relationship of structure and function in the world around them.
The methods of inquiry are utilized to master the concepts of science and to motivate the students’ enthusiasm for learning science. Science literacy focuses on claim, evidence and reasoning to provide support of scientific concepts and explanations. Student use models and provide evidence to make claims and explanations about structure-function relationships in different science domains.
Grade 6 Science: Structure & Function
Grade 6 students will be introduced to the International System of measurement (metric) and will become familiar with the tools of the science laboratory. Students will delve into Earth’s place in the Universe with a focus on waves, moon phases, gravity, and motion. Students will interact with matter – the building block of the universe throughout the school year and formulate a working definition of matter and its interactions. Students will explore biology from molecules to organisms with a focus on structure and processes. Students will gain concrete experiences with energy by experimenting with several energy-containing systems. Students will investigate Earth’s systems by analyzing and interpreting maps showing the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence that Earth’s plates have moved great distances, collided, and spread apart.
Grade 7 Science: Systems & Cycles
Students in grade 7 focus on systems and cycles using their understanding of structures and functions, connection and relationships in systems, and flow of matter and energy developed in earlier grades. A focus on systems required students to apply concepts and skills across disciplines, since most natural and designed systems and cycles are complex and interactive. They gain experience with plate tectonics, interactions of humans and Earth processes, organism systems to support and propagate life, ecosystem dynamics, and motion and energy systems. Through grade 7, students begin the process of moving from a concrete to a more abstract perspective, since many of the systems and cycles studied are not directly observable or experienced. This also creates a foundation for exploring cause and effect relationships in more depth in grade 8.
Grade 8: A Changing World
Grade 8 students will use more robust abstract thinking skills to explain the causes of complex phenomena and systems. Many causes are not immediately or physically visible to students. An understanding of cause and effect of key natural phenomena and designed processes allows students to explain patterns and make predictions about future events. In grade 8 these include, for example, causes of seasons and tides; causes of plate tectonics and weather or climate; the role of genetics in reproduction, heredity, and artificial selection; and how atoms and molecules interact to explain the substances that make up the world and how materials change. Being able to analyze phenomena for evidence of causes and processes (that often cannot be seen), and being able to conceptualize and describe those causes and processes, is a significant outcome for grade 8 students.
Students who wish to be recommended for Honors Biology must demonstrate high academic achievement in 8th grade Science and Math and score well on a qualifying exam in the spring. Interested students will be notified of the date and time of the exam. The score of the test will be used in conjunction with science and math grades and teacher recommendation to determine if placement in Honors Biology is appropriate.