The science program at ACDS incorporates studies of Earth, Physical, and Life sciences as well as Health, Biology and beginning Chemistry. Faculty assist students in gaining an understanding of the subject matter, as well as an appreciation for and curiosity of the natural world. Through their learning and exploration, students are asked to think critically, observe, analyze, experiment, predict, and communicate their thoughts, ideas, and observations through writing, speaking, and drawing. In K-8, science concepts are integrated across the curriculum when possible. In addition, increasing opportunities for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) integration are being made at each grade level, and the entire 6th grade year is dedicated to STEM integration.
ACDS science teachers believe students learn best when they are actively engaged in the process of learning. To that end, teachers conduct demonstrations, incorporate hands-on experiments, plan field trips, integrate technology, and plan long-term student-led projects as much as possible into their units of study. Teachers strive to build students’ abilities to think critically and problem solve effectively in science class, in their future educational career, and in their future occupation. ACDS teachers work to help students carefully evaluate information presented orally, in print, and through media in all their science classes.
The Lower School science curriculum is designed to build on a child’s natural wonder and curiosity about the world around them. Hands-on activities allow students to explore, question, predict, and observe. Students participate in experiments modeled after the scientific method, build models, and perform direct observations. Balanced science lessons in the Lower School include read-alouds, independent and paired reading, writing, drawing, labeling, categorizing, classifying, observations, demonstrations, experiments, field trips, and beginning note-taking. Classes reflect active learning, critical thinking, and discovery.
In fourth grade, science learning becomes more specialized as one of the core teachers takes on the teaching of science to the grade level. In the fourth grade, students build on their curiosity about the world around them and begin to tackle more complicated science tasks. Students begin more formalized research skills through the writing of reports and papers, as well as conducting scientific experiments independently. The work that takes place in fourth grade science prepares students for the experience they will have in the ACDS Middle School science program.
The Middle School science curriculum is a dynamic, project-based, technologically rich program. Units of study build upon the foundation of scientific curiosity ignited in the Lower School. The curriculum is thoughtfully designed to incorporate communication and collaboration, critical thinking, study skills, research, and note-taking skills. The 1:1 iPad program in the Middle School allows students to gain powerful, hands-on experiences and hone their pertinent technological capabilities while continuing to develop their love of the scientific world. At each grade level, the Middle School student learns through experiments which follow the steps in the Scientific Method and includes written lab reports, observations, modeling, detailed and organized data collection, advanced note-taking, in-depth research papers, lectures, discussions, independent readings, demonstrations, and field trips. Fifth graders begin this more advanced approach to science, albeit with the appropriate support and pace. Sixth grade is designed to be a year of problem-based learning centered around key concepts such as: engineering, electricity, energy, motion, and DNA. The students improve their 21st century skills (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) as well as become proficient at using the iPad as a tool for learning. Seventh and eighth grade students build on the previous year’s foundations, exploring the fields of Life, Earth, Chemical and Physical Sciences while doing so, they also have the opportunity to showcase their knowledge through a Science Fair, the winners of which go on to a regional competition.