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By GreatSchools Staff
The life sciences include everything from the human body to ecology. With so many topics, at any given time students in middle school might be immersed in studying a particular insect, or observing a terrarium or aquarium to learn about ecosystems. Junior life scientists also learn about plants, including the basic processes, like photosynthesis, that allow them to thrive.
Middle school earth science lessons begin with a look at how the earth was formed. Kids should learn about the earth’s orbit around the sun as well as the moon’s orbit around the earth. Parents should help their children make connections between orbits and time. Kids should understand that a year is the length of time it takes the earth to orbit the sun and a day is based on how long it takes for the earth to make one rotation on its axis.
Teachers often include a geology lesson that focuses on a single point of interest like the Grand Canyon. By studying the Grand Canyon, for example, students can follow in the footsteps of professional scientists, learning to read geologic lessons in the rock and discern the effect erosion has on the earth’s natural features.
Many middle schools emphasize the relationship between science and technology. To help them make the right connections, science teachers lead children in a variety of activities. These technology-focused activities might include a study of bridge design or a discussion about robots’ value to society. Lessons should give special attention to the way science and technology can be used to solve human problems and meet human needs.
While studying science, your child will also be learning about the process of scientific inquiry — how to ask incisive questions, design experiments, gather evidence, formulate answers, and communicate the results. It’s not uncommon for students’ ideas and misconceptions to be challenged or changed.
By contrasting and comparing, students hone their critical thinking skills, analyzing errors and making summaries of what they’ve learned. Many other soft skills should grow and develop while studying science. For example, students might begin to learn the importance of recording their observations or recognize the limitations their own memories.
Rock solid math skills are crucial to success in science. Whether students are being asked to create a new calendar for an imaginary world or calculating sea rise from an arctic ice melt-off, they’ll use a wide variety of math skills involving basic arithmetic, geometry, and pre-algebra.
Creating graphs and tables, measuring to scale, calculating ratios, determining weight, distance, and volume – all these are math skills needed for science.
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