Nichols’ science curriculum is designed to help students appreciate nature and the world around them;learn how to pose and answer meaningful questions using logic and evidence; become more scientifically literate, responsible, and informed citizens; and head into our Upper School science offerings with the skills and knowledge base to be successful. Hands-on learning is at the center of our teaching, whether it is surveying Scajaquada Creek or dissecting a pig heart. Teachers also integrate technology into the curriculum so that students are exposed to the tools that scientists use and how and when to best utilize those tools.
The 5th grade students have created a Field Guide for the Nichols campus, which includes 38 varieties of trees, 30 types of birds, a sampling of insects and spiders, and close looks at the mammals. We use binoculars, magnifying scopes and measuring tools to observe and record growth and behaviors of the life around us on campus, in our backyards and vacation spots. Google Earth is used to store information and to give some perspectives. In addition, the numerous topics explored in this course include: Variables, Levers and Pulleys, and Populations and Ecosystems around the country.
This course introduces students to the foundations of chemistry, while also touching on topics in biology and physics, within the general context of environmental science. Often, this course will focus specifically on water, freshwater ecology, and the Great Lakes system. In dealing with these topics, our course will be based on inquiry, observation, and classroom discussion. Numerous laboratory and field experiments highlight the course, including a comprehensive two‑part stream study of Scajaquada Creek and an opportunity to raise live trout in our own classroom. These extensions allow students to apply the knowledge that they have gained over the course of the year to relevant, real‑world situations occurring outside of the classroom.
The science curriculum for the 8th grade reinforces concepts and skills introduced in previous years, and then apply them to life science topics. Scientific principles from chemistry (structure of atoms and molecules, concentration gradients, movement of molecules, periodic table) provide the tools used by students to understand the complex processes at work in the living world. In exploring cells, metabolic processes, genetics, evolution, and human systems, we are able to investigate the basic principles of biology to explain why and how various things happen. The same approach is used as we explore modern scientific breakthroughs in the biological, medical, and genetic realms.
The students will engage in laboratory experiments that reinforce concepts and principles introduced during discussion and text book learning. Throughout the year, the scientific method is never far from our thoughts. Collecting and evaluating knowledge and using this knowledge to support and extend our learning are part of everything we study.