Waverly Middle School Science
At Waverly, our curriculum does not tell students what decisions to make, instead, it provides them with knowledge, skills and understanding that will help them to make their own informed decisions. Our program, now fully designed for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is innovative is that the curriculum offers a wide variety of inquiry-based instructional strategies that give students experience with scientific processes and natural phenomena. Laboratory activities involve experiments and traditional science equipment. Investigations are hands-on activities that often simulate real-world experiments using specialized or nontraditional materials. Modeling activities explore scientific concepts through simulated or physical models. Readings present scientific information in a format appropriate for individual work or homework, while text-based Talking-It-Over activities are geared to classroom discussion and employ strategies that facilitate discussion. Role Plays encourage students to use oral and expressive approaches to explore concepts and historical information, and View and Reflect activities involve viewing and discussing videos. Project and Problem Solving activities are less common. Projects require student research and may extend over several days or weeks. Problem Solving activities engage students in finding a solution to a problem through mathematical approaches or data analysis.
The middle school curriculum at Waverly (Issues and Science 3rd Edition) was developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley by SEPUP (Science Education for Public Understanding Program) which creates innovative science curriculum for use in 6-12 education. Issue-oriented science forms the core of SEPUP's curriculum materials. Every unit uses personal and societal issues to provide thematic continuity for student investigations and observations. Relevant issues provide a framework for student work and reflection and a context in which to understand concepts. All students need to develop an understanding of science and technology to make informed personal and community decisions. At Waverly, students learn how to gather and interpret scientific evidence about issues of interest to them and their community. As a result, they begin to appreciate to power of science to understand the natural world. They also begin to recognize that science is much more than a set of answers to be learned, but rather a way of asking questions.
Over the course of two years, the middle school science program covers eight units in both life science and physical science. Descriptions of the units follow:
(All unit descriptions are from the Science Education and Public Understanding Program student book unit introductions.)
Fields & Interactions
Waverly has been chosen by SEPUP/Lab-Aids to field test this new unit to be published in 2019. This unit has a heavy focus on the Engineering Design process. You will investigate: How do engineers use a design process to solve problems? How is energy transferred with a transporter driven by gravity? What determines the amount of gravitational force between objects? What are the properties of magnetic fields? What factors affect the strength of a field? What are the properties of an electric field? Are electric and magnetic fields related? What effect does an electric charge have on the space around it? How do electric and electromagnetic fields work? You will answer these questions in the process of designing a transportation system for a hypothetical future lunar colony.
What are the different systems in your body? How do those systems communicate with each other? How does your body get energy from food? How does that energy get from your stomach to the rest of your body? What happens if one system is not working right because you are sick or injured? To investigate these questions, you will develop and use models to describe how your body turns food into energy that their bodies can use. You will gather and synthesize information about how your bodies send and receive messages to help your bodies function. You will develop explanations of how their body systems work together and what happens when a system is not working properly.
From Cells to Organisms
In this unit, you will investigate how scientists first learned about cells and how this led to new understandings on how infectious diseases are spread. You will gather evidence about the structures and functions of cells, including microbial, animal, and plant cells. You will also develop models of cells and explain how cells in animals and plants get the matter and energy they need to survive and grow.
Chemicals and chemical reactions are used to make and power many products, including the batteries and circuits in electronics. The reactions used to purify metals and produce cell phone parts, such as circuit boards, provide useful products, but they also create waste. How do these chemical reactions work? In this unit, you will analyze and interpret data to determine whether chemical reactions have taken place. You will develop models to describe what happens during a chemical reaction at the molecular scale and use their models to explain your observations of reactions in open and closed systems. You will also apply what you learn about energy and matter in chemical reactions to design, test, and modify a product and to develop methods to clean up chemical waste.
What are the properties of the waves and how do waves transmit sound and light energy? How are sound and light waves similar and different? What happens when waves move from air to another material, such as water, a mirror, or cloth? When are waves harmful? How do scientists and engineers use waves for research and communication? To investigate these questions, you will use mathematics to recognize patterns in the properties of waves. You will use models to compare the properties of various waves and communicate explanations about them. You will integrate scientific and technical information as you investigate advances in communication technologies.
What are the relationships between an organism and its environment? What effect do humans have on these relationships? In this unit, you will explore ecology: the study of the relationships between organisms—including humans—and the environment. You will practice some of the methods ecologists (scientists who study ecology) use to study the natural world, and you will develop models to help you understand and explain how ecosystems function. You will collect and analyze data about how changing one component of an ecosystem affects another, and you will have the opportunity to explore your own environment. What causes an ecosystem to stay the same or change? What causes some species to do well and others to decline? How do people interact with ecosystems and their components? These are just some of the questions that you will consider over the course of this unit. What are some questions that you have about the natural world around you?
Reproduction (formerly Genetics)
Have you ever wondered why some children look very much like their biological parents while others look completely different? Why don’t children look like a simple blend of their parents? Why do some siblings look so different from each other? In this unit, you will begin to find answers to these questions by looking at patterns in traits from one generation to another. You will develop and use models to explain those patterns in humans and other organisms. You will explore how organisms get their traits and what causes variation in those traits from one organism to another. You will also analyze and interpret evidence for how certain traits, which can be physical characteristics or behaviors, affect reproduction. You will learn how both genes and the environment can influence traits and apply what you learn to a human genetic condition.
Have you ever wondered about the variety of organisms on Earth? How did they evolve? How are they related? Scientists investigate these questions by looking at patterns in data, gathering evidence for cause-and-effect relationships, using models, and constructing explanations for such phenomena as the evolution of new species and the extinction of other species. In this unit you will explore one such explanation that is so universal, it has become a scientifically accepted theory: Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. You will learn how populations of organisms change over time and how new species arise while others go extinct. You will learn to interpret the many sources of evidence for the evolution of live on Earth now and in the past. You will also explore how evolution impacts us every day and how we can affect the patterns of evolution.
End of the Year Comments from Students
"The curriculum is really fun with so many hands-on experiments; creating your own labs and getting to understand not just the facts but see them and why they are that way. " - Alex N.
"Thank you for two amazing years of science. Every new unit was interesting, challenging and fun. I don't know what I want to do when I grow up, but I know it has to do with science!" - Ali
“I have had a lot of fun in science for the past two years and I have learned so much. Toby is an amazing science teacher and I will miss her very much next year. In elementary school, I always liked science, but we never really had a lot of it and when we did, I didn't really learn that much. But in middle school, I have learned about so many different topics and Toby has taught me so much. All of the hands-on activities were fun and interesting and really helped me learn a lot.” - Claire
"I find science very helpful. It teaches you a lot about life an has a lot of hands-on activities." - Dylan
“The Waverly Middle School Science class has had an amazing school year. I have had a great experience with Toby, who not only teaches science well, but also helps students when needed. I am very thankful to her, as she has been an amazing teacher and guide for these past nine months. Between "critters" and embryos, this year has been a whirlwind of knowledge for me.” - Ellycea
“Science in the Waverly MS was a completely eye-opening experience. It is something I won't ever forget because of all the new concepts and facts I have learned during my two years of Middle School.” - Emmett
"Science this year with Toby was amazing. I couldn't have had a more positive experience. Toby is such a great and wonderful teacher and has such an amazing way of teaching. Toby always knows how to make things fun and interesting!" - Ester
"Science for me has not only been interesting but sometimes plain fun! One of my favorite things is how engaging it can be and how interesting the discoveries in science are. For me, science inspires creativity and innovation. It answers all of those 'how?' and 'why?' questions you may have had as a child. If that was you (like me), science is going to be anything but another pointless class. I look forward to continuing studying science in whatever field I'm interested in at the time. To incoming 7th graders, being passionate about science will not only make your life more interesting, but help with your understanding of it." - Ethan
"I always loved science, but Toby really helped me understand it. When I go to a new school next year, I will miss the science curriculum and especially Toby so much! I learned so much information from force and motion to what an animal cell looks like, and I feel super confident about my science knowledge. Thank you so much for an astounding two years of great and interesting science. I will miss everything so much." - Frankie
“In Toby's class you will learn much more than science.” - Kayla
“In science we learned many things, from waves, to ecology, to reproduction, and evolution. We did many labs, and they were a fun experience for me. We also wrote procedures, conducted arguments, answered analysis, made tables, and graphs. Science with Toby is not only a class, but an experience.” - Kiera
"Science this year has been super fun. I loved how we did an experiment almost everyday. That made it so much fun learning instead of a boring old textbook. This year I think I have learned more that my last 7 years in elementary school combined!" - Lyla
" I liked science a lot. I have never had a science class before, so it was new. I loved the energy and force and motion units the best because I love physics and how it relates to space time, which is prominent in my interests." - Noah
"This has been the best science class I ever took. Almost everything we do is hands-on which helps me learn so much better. Toby is one of my favorite teachers and I cannot wait for next year." - Nolan
"Before Waverly 7th grade science, I thought only math geniuses could become scientists or do amazing labs. Then in 7th grade I was proved wrong. I got to do amazing labs, find out what causes what, and learn how to organize data. I got to discover what science was and it is all thank to Toby. Never stop teaching us! Thx!" - Nora
“I do feel I have grown as a person in science and I owe that to having Toby as such loving and engaged teacher.” - Olivia
“This years science class was challenging but I think everyone did really well and if you are in seventh grade now you have all this experience to help you be an even better student next year!” - Rose
"Science has been a wonderful experience for me. I enjoyed the exciting labs, the interesting assignments and the various activities done in this class. My favorite activity was probably the critter activity in the genetics unit that I had in 7th grade." - Rui
“Science this year was a fun yet educational experience. We made critters out of marshmallows (mine was called Steven, but he got eaten by ants), made a news video about invasive species, and played jeopardy. Sounds great, right?” - Sadie
"I really enjoyed my eighth grade year, and I especially liked science. My favorite unit that we did was the cell biology and disease unit. I loved working with the microscopes and I liked Activity 48 "Wash your hands, Please!" because we got to use the glow germ powder and see our hands under a blacklight." - Zoe