6th Grade

Science

Sixth grade scientists at Moses Brown develop their understanding of–and practice with–the scientific method.  In developing hypotheses, designing their own experiments, recording observations, and deriving conclusions from experimental data, they practice the habits of mind and work process that are essential to any successful, responsible scientist.

Whether studying Earth science, chemistry, cell biology, or human anatomy, teachers always seize opportunities to connect the science curriculum with study units in other subjects, helping students develop broad, nuanced understanding of interrelated issues.

In learning about Earth science, students examine how weathering, erosion, and deposition continually change the surface of the earth, building a stream table with pumps, sand, soil, and rocks to model erosion and deposition patterns.  Then they build and test functional irrigation systems, calculate damage costs from flooding, and experience the difficulties of trying to protect their model towns from an unpredictable river.

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At the same time that they’re using an erosion table to understand the factors that create various landforms, in history class they’re studying how geography influences the development of culture.

Sixth graders learn the basic principles of chemistry, including atomic structure, theory, and chemical bonding, culminating in an in-depth research assignment for our ‘Adopt an Element’ project.  Students pay special attention to the properties of chemical bonds, leading into the chemistry of cell structure and functions.  As a delicious capper, students use edible materials to build their own accurate models of a plant or animal cell: gummy worm endoplasmic reticulum, marshmallow peanut mitochondria, the gumball nucleus! Science never tasted so good!

In cell biology, they examine the role of DNA and the relationship between structure and function in biologic systems. A human physiology unit connects the study of cells to the human body. Students become experts in a specific body system and teach it to the other students, focusing on structure-function relationships of particular organs and cell types.

As an example of past interdisciplinary work, students have applied their understanding of DNA forensically: entering an ancient Egyptian tomb, where they find the mummified remains of a great pharaoh, complete with his royal wardrobe and jewel-encrusted scepter. Within days, the tomb has been raided and the scepter stolen. The only clues are a few fingerprints and some drops of blood. Using their knowledge of DNA, students have worked to find the thief by comparing the crime scene DNA with samples taken from the only possible suspects–the middle school faculty!

Faculty

Mike DeAngelo

Middle School Science and Middle School Science Department Chair

About

Mike DeAngelo

Hobart College – B.S.

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