At Rockwern Academy, science education promotes curiosity, encourages children to ask questions, and helps them to develop the skills and confidence to seek solutions to problems. Critical thinking and science process skills are developed through cooperative investigation and experimentation.
We use an inquiry-based lab curriculum as adopted by the Ohio Department of Education for the Model Curriculum. This incorporates the principle that students should actually “do” science themselves. We provide a stimulating environment that encourages students to actively participate in experimentation and investigation. Teaching students in this manner affords them the opportunity to experience a stimulating science environment that is sensitive to individual differences and provides opportunities for active learning.
Preschool and kindergarten students experience science within their classrooms. It is taught by the classroom teacher according to the curriculum. Hands-on activities and flipcharts allow kindergarten children to be actively involved in discovery and exploration of science concepts. For example, students put beans in a plastic bag with a towel and water and document their growth. Microscopes and other tools increase their desire to find out more about the subjects at hand.
Beginning in first grade, students have specific periods three times each week in which they come to the lower school science lab for instruction by the lower school science specialist. Fifth grade students meet four times per week. Sixth through eighth grade students have science classes five times per week, taught by the middle school science specialist. These classes have both a science classroom with a Promethean board and a dedicated middle school science lab.
Technology is used at all grade levels as it is incorporated into the classroom activities. Interactive whiteboards and student computers provide opportunities for research, documentation, and exploration. ExploreLearning.com provides virtual lab experiences as well as online simulations for students to investigate concepts individually, with partners, or as a whole class.
Students in kindergarten through second grade focus on developing science skills necessary for discovery in understanding their natural world. To understand the natural world, kindergarten students focus on daily and seasonal changes, while first grade students explore a variety of materials including types of wood, metal, and plastic and their properties. Second grade students investigate forces of nature including balance, motion, and weather.
Using scientific inquiry, students in third through fifth grades explore the components of various systems and subsystems while investigating relationships between them. In third grade, students have an opportunity to compare relationships when studying matter, forms of energy, and life cycles of plants and animals..
Students in sixth through eighth grades discover patterns and interactions that may exist in the natural world. Sixth grade students explore basic principles of forces and energy by studying how atoms combine to form various types of matter, and how matter can change forms when energy acts on it. They also investigate how living things are composed of cells that reproduce in organisms allowing for growth and repair. Seventh grade students explore phases of the moon and its effect on ocean tides.
Our school garden provides an outdoor learning environment for students. While the fourth grade is responsible for cultivation and harvest, third grade students take care of compost for the garden.We encourage students to stretch and broaden their understanding of science concepts. We base assessment on factual knowledge mixed with the ability to make and defend predictions and judgments.
In addition to regular classes, students have the opportunity to extend STEM investigations through weekly after school Lego clubs. Each trimester, Lego Robotics is offered for students in fourth grade and up, while Lego Science is offered for students in second and third grades. Students have the opportunity to construct a variety of designs as well as to create their own designs. They then use NXT or WeDo programming to add motion to their work.