The Weston science and technology program is designed to guide students toward science literacy in our increasingly complex technological world.
Our goal is to help students learn to think scientifically in analyzing and evaluating important science-based questions, while at the same time encouraging curiosity and wonder about the details they observe in the world around them.
Likewise, through project-based experiences in design, computer-science, and the technological arts, students learn to both understand and to become active creators of the human-made world that surrounds them.
The middle school science and technology/engineering curriculum has been revised in accordance with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and updates to the Massachusetts Science Frameworks. In place of traditional disciplines, science and technology/engineering is taught in a spiraled manner, emphasizing cross-cutting concepts including patterns, systems and system modeling, energy and matter flows, cause and effect, scale, proportion and quantity, structure and function, and evolution.
Grade-appropriate reading, writing, and mathematics concepts are embedded throughout the curriculum, as recommended by the Common Core Standards.
Additionally, in each year, students explore the connections between science and technology/engineering through a series of engineering design projects, both within their science courses and through their choice of technology/engineering electives that take place during the arts blocks.
Sixth Grade science is centered on student-based inquiry learning and problem solving. As much as possible we like to get kids doing things with their hands, experiencing science directly. We work to instill scientific thinking processes and basic engineering/design principles in our students as we build things and explore the world around us.
Following the engineering design process, we will build instruments, boats, and windmills as we study the nature and properties of matter and energy transformation. Measurement of scale, proportion, and quality are applied to both engineering design and chemical reactions of matter. Weather and the environment as studied as systems, both driven by energy flows originating from the sun.
Reading and writing are also important skills that we try to emphasize in science (all classes are English class!). We will learn the importance of communicating ideas in science by writing several lab reports throughout the year, culminating in a Design-Your-Own-Lab project in the 4thquarter.
Course M470/M471 GRADE 7 SCIENCE Full Year
Building upon the study of the environment at the end of Grade 6 Science, students in Grade 7 focus primarily on the study of the biological world around them, its change over time, and its interconnection with earth’s long history.
Central areas of study and investigation include classification and the six kingdoms of living organisms( based on both physical structures and genetic patterns); the study of cells and their function as a system of interacting organelles, genetics and heredity; and biological evolution. This is connected to its basis in changes in the earth over deep time, created by the energy flows and convection currents which drive plate tectonics. Mathematical concepts such as scale, proportion, modeling, and exponents are woven throughout, applied to such areas as deep time, growth of organisms and populations, and levels of biological organization from atoms to ecosystems.
Significant skill-based learning goals for this course include teamwork in lab, effective note taking, personal organization, study and test taking skills, and meaningful participation in class and lab. Content and skills are developed through a variety of approaches including technology-based activities, inquiry labs, and regular assessments.
Course M480/M481 GRADE 8 SCIENCE Full Year
In Grade 8 science the study of systems is a recurring theme. Students study the earth as a system driven by energy flows, including plate tectonics, interactions of matter, atmospheric science, and climate change, as well as the earth’s place in space as a component of the larger solar system. Systems on a more personal scale are studied as well, through the exploration of the interacting organ systems of the human body. Forces on objects, and their resulting motions are investigated, both qualitatively and as through application of Grade 8 algebra, illustrating the cross-cutting concept of cause and effect. Students culminate the year by using the engineering design process to model, develop and implement a design for a bottle rocket, analyzed as a system which includes guidance, propellant, and engine subsystems.
Major emphasis will be placed on the application of organizational skills, continued acquisition of study skills, discovery by inquiry and critical thinking, data collection and presentation of experimental information.
Course M874 GRADE 7 ROBOTICS Quarter Year
This course introduces students to concepts in mechanical engineering and computer programming, utilizing the LEGO EV3 robotic design system and EV-3 programming environment. Students begin by learning sturdy construction methods with Lego Technics beams through the design of a sturdy box. The use of gears and other mechanisms to transform speed, torque, and motion are explored. The application and programming of microcomputers are then investigated, applying sensors, motors, and sounds to solve a series of robotic design challenges, learning concepts such as loops, decision trees, and signal thresholds in the process. Finally, the various building and programming techniques learned are applied to one or more open-ended design challenges, such as a robotic amusement park, transportation system or exploration voyage, which emphasize engineering systems. Throughout, students are introduced to the work of current leaders of robotics research, and the application of robotics to real-world applications.
Course M876 GRADE 7 DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION Quarter Year
This course introduces students to the engineering design process, through projects emphasizing structural concepts. Students begin by building and testing to failure models of an antenna tower, beams, and columns, and learning the forces that act on structures, including tension, compression, bending, and shear. Students learn about how these principles apply to the various types of bridge designs including beam bridges, truss bridges, and suspension bridges, and how their design has changed through history. Next, they apply these concepts to the building and testing of prototype truss bridges, using both physical modeling and an engineering simulation program to explore concepts such as efficiency and redundancy. In the final unit, students learn about affordable architectural design. Students design a house using a computer-aided design program, and then build a structural model of a timber-frame house, using saws, drills, and various other shop tools.
Course M884 GRADE 8 DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION Quarter Year
An Introduction to Craftsmanship
This elective course gives students experience in design, technological problem- solving, and craftsmanship in woodworking, using both hand and power tools. Students begin by reviewing shop safety, tool use, and technical drawing, in the context of an introductory wood project such as a kitchenware. Next, they learn the use of miter saws, routers, bandsaws, sanders, drill presses, and finishing techniques though the design and construction of a fine art miter-joint box or bandsaw box of their own design. In a final project, they design and construct a small table or chair, building a scratch model, then using mortise-and-tenons and other joinery concepts to construct a final product.
Other projects are possible with advance planning and additional work sessions.
Course M890 ROBOTICS AND MAKING
This makerspace-based elective will lead students on an exploration of robotics, computer science, mathematics, and art, using a variety of the latest technologies.
The course will begin with some ‘tinkering’ activities. Students will make artistic works with buzzing motors and blinking lights, such as scribbling Machines, Paper circuits, and simple homebrew robots, learning basic circuitry and electronic tool use in the process.
Following this will be an in-depth exploration of robotics, using the new Lego EV3 Mindstorm System, in which students will design and build advanced robots which respond to light, color, sound, and motion, and solving a series of challenges.
Students will explore game programming using the SCRATCH visual programming environment and the Makey-Makey, applying some of the mathematical concepts learned in 8th-grade algebra, to make games of their own design which respond to both keyboard commands and DIY(do-it-yourself) sensors.
We will then make a brief excursion into Arduino micro-controllers, programming lights, sounds, sensors and motors using either text-based programming or MakeBlock, a Scratch-based language.
Time permitting, students will work on an original project of their own choosing, exploring one of the above areas in greater depth.
Students will also have the opportunity to explore the basics of vector imaging using Adobe Illustrator, which will be used to laser-engraver both artistic and mechanical projects, as well as creating works with the 3D printer.
While this course does not require any specific prior knowledge, it does require a willingness to problem-solve, take artistic risks, and learn independently.