How does a tin can become a camping stove?
Step into the RMDS science lab. You’ll see a six-foot-tall DNA model. A student-built camp stove made from soldering two aluminum cans together demonstrates principles of vapor pressure and evaporation. Students cluster around lab tables, examining leaves with magnifying glasses and microscopes. Lab books lie open beside them, full of notes and drawings.
Authentic learning in the science classroom requires moving beyond textbooks. Students learn to be scientists through learning to ask questions. They gather and evaluate data, challenge their preconceptions, and consider novel points of view. They consider how science connects to other domains: geometry students use parabolas to calculate the altitude of a water-propelled rocket’s flight; guitars and pianos from music class demonstrate waves and vibrations.
Hands-on science lets students experience the world fully—through all their senses, with all their curiosity, and for life-long understanding.
By combining classroom learning, hands-on projects, and outdoor explorations, sixth graders study earth science. Beginning with a study of earthquakes, students go on to explore weathering and erosion, examining topography and sediments. From the earth’s surface, students move upward, examining heat transfer and movement, and its effects on weather. In their study of ecosystems, students consider the relationships between organisms and their environments, culminating in an examination of natural resources. Practical labs such as creating waterproof rain gear and earthquake preparation give students opportunities to experiment with the concepts they cover in the course material.
Seventh graders study life science, the relationships of living things with each other and their environment. Beginning with cells and cellular functions, the class moves on to study DNA, heredity and genes. Students discuss evolution and adaptation, leading to an exploration of classification and taxonomy. Seventh graders compare structures and functions in plants and animals to prepare for their study of the human body and its systems. Hands-on labs and build projects give students the opportunity to put their knowledge into action, investigating and proving the concepts they have studied.
Science in eighth grade covers topics in physical science. Beginning with properties and states of matter, students explore phase changes through reading, discussion and experimentation. The class moves on to consider the composition of matter: elements, compounds and mixtures. An introduction to atoms prepares students to investigate the periodic table, followed by an introduction to chemical equations to describe bonding, reactions and compounds. Students go on to study atomic energy in concert with their study of the ethics of nuclear warfare in their history class. As eighth graders transition to high school, they leave RMDS with a solid grounding in the fundamentals of scientific knowledge.