Middle School

Science

In Middle School science, girls explore topics in life, earth, physical, and environmental science each year. The spiraling curriculum builds on concepts and skills at increasingly complex levels as girls progress through the Middle School. Inquiry-based, hands-on activities foster students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Collaborative small group experiences that develop engineering skills are embedded into units at each grade level. Students design investigations, collect and organize data, analyze information, and draw conclusions from investigation results. They experience the scientific method in action when they design and carry out their own consumer product investigations. Following a study of Newton’s laws of motion, students construct and test their own roller coasters. Trips to local natural areas provide opportunities for students to apply classroom learning and cultivate an environmental stewardship ethic. Competition electives including PJAS, Future City, and PRSEF engage the students in further opportunities to delve deeply into current topics through both independent and collaborative work.

Integrated Science

List of 7 items.

  • Grade 5 Integrated Science

    Required Course

    In this course, topics include states of matter, elements and the periodic table, minerals, Earth’s fresh water regions, and skeletal and muscular systems in the human body. Throughout the course of study, students look at the properties of solids, liquids, and gases at the molecular level as well as the causes of phase changes between states of matter. They learn about atoms, molecules, and basic chemical compounds. Students get a chance to combine their history knowledge with their understanding of chemical substances in interdisciplinary projects. Students design investigations, collect and organize data, analyze information, and draw conclusions from investigation results. They learn to distinguish between observations, inferences, and predictions. The course also includes instruction and practice in the use of laboratory equipment and emphasizes journaling techniques, class discussion, and group work with lab partners.
  • Grade 6 Integrated Science

    Required Course 

    Integrated Science in grade 6 explores interactions between living things as students study populations and communities with an emphasis on species in Western Pennsylvania. A spiraling curriculum builds on concepts and skills at increasingly complex levels as students progress. Students explore living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem and simulate population changes and class discussion focuses on the roles of different organisms within environments. After studying plant and animal adaptations, students explore environments. Interdisciplinary learning is emphasized as students deploy their artistic skills to explore energy roles within ecosystems and nutrient cycles. Students also explore the forces that shape the earth while they discuss plate tectonics and learn about simple machines. Girls work in teams to explore various building techniques to prevent slide and shear during an earthquake and deploy their collaboration skills as they design and build models.
  • Grade 7 Integrated Science

    Required Course

    Topics covered in this course include atomic structure, chemical bonds and chemical reactions, cells, genetics and heredity, taxonomy and classification, and primitive animals. Students use microscopes to study the structure and function of cells and cover diffusion and osmosis through activities and labs. To understand the stages of mitosis, students design and create 3D models using TinkerCAD. Students also deploy their research skills in a unit on genetics. Inquiry-based, hands-on activities foster students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they learn about chemical interactions, atoms, and the periodic table.
  • Grade 8 Integrated Science

    Required Course

    This course covers climate change, bacteria and viruses, motion, forces and energy, astronomy, and the nervous system. Students explore evidence-based assessments of climate change, conduct labs to model how energy moves through a system, and research presented strategies to mitigate climate change. Students also study taxonomy and classifications and learn about viruses and bacteria. Students also cover forces, motion, and energy and conduct labs to measure these forces as they learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion. Collaborative small group experiences that develop engineering skills are embedded into as they design and conduct experiments. Students refine their analytic skills as they prepare to write lab reports in Upper School science courses.
  • PJAS

    Elective Course | Grades 7-8

    In this course, students review and practice how to apply the scientific method when investigating a question that they pose, explore the use of various resources of research and design and conduct a research/investigation project, and prepare a speech and presentation for the regional PJAS competition or the Pittsburgh Science Fair. Research and design of final investigations are completed in class and as homework, whereas the actual implementation of the investigation design is done at home.
  • Future City

    Elective Course | Grades 7-8

    The Future City Competition offers students a resourceful way to learn about engineering, the design process, and project management. This course requires a team of students to work together on three separate components: a city design using SimCity software, an essay explaining their response to a specific engineering challenge, and a scale model of a city of the future along with an oral presentation of the model. Students work together during class as well as during after-school work sessions and a local engineer works with the team to introduce them to different aspects of engineering. Local schools compete in the regional competition and the top regional school advances to the national competition. Class space limited to eight students.
  • Fairchild Challenge

    Elective Course | Grades 7-8 

    In this course, students work together to complete a series of interdisciplinary challenges centered around environmental issues. Project work is submitted to local sponsoring organization Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for entry in the Fairchild Challenge competition. Supporting science content is presented in class and may include field trips and/or speakers. Students demonstrate leadership by sharing their work on the Ellis campus through modes that may include an assembly, bulletin board, presentation, or an on-site installation. Class space limited to twelve students.