From wearing laboratory goggles to conducting experiments, most people have distinct memories of middle school science. Many of the best curriculum resources consider the study of science both a physical and mental activity. Students who perform hands-on science activities experience the scientific method in the real world, learning how to ask questions, find solutions and use that data to ask new questions. The group discussions and active learning that take place in middle school science classrooms provide a foundation of earth science, life science and physical science on which students can build in high school.
A solid middle school science curriculum generally covers earth science, life science, physical science and contemporary issues in science. Earth science may cover geology, weather and ecology. Life science often includes broad biological study and may incorporate dissection and microscopy. Physical science usually includes the fields of physics and chemistry.
6th Grade Earth Science
Earth science is often the focus of sixth-grade science objectives, including the study of earthquakes, volcanoes, geology, plate tectonics, rocks, tsunamis, floods, landslides and topography. Students usually study the earth’s surface and the many layers that make up the planet. Weather is also a key concept in many sixth grade science programs, especially as it pertains to pressure systems, clouds, atmosphere and humidity. Ecology and ecosystems are usually introduced to first-year middle school students along with understanding the mechanics of the scientific process and experimentation as a whole.
7th Grade Life Science
Seventh-grade science curriculum frequently centers on life science. Basic biology, including rudimentary cellular biology, genetics, cloning, reproduction and life cycles in both plants and animals are often chief topics of study. Other biology topics frequently taught at this level include DNA, evolution, anatomy, and an overview of the systems of the human body. Some life science programs include animal dissection and introduce microscopy.
8th Grade Physical Sciences
Eighth graders often study physical science principles, including velocity, distance, time and speed. Many programs introduce basic chemistry concepts like the structure of matter and the periodic table. At this stage, labs and experimentation may comprise a significant segment of classroom time as students prepare for group work and the more sophisticated experiments that will take place in high school the following year.
Current Science Topics
Since the fields of science see rapid advancements in conceptual ideas as well as technology, many middle school programs also cover topical science news and current events. These may include scientific topics such as space exploration, robotics, technology, climate disturbances, global warming and water conservation. Some science teachers ask students to comb through newspapers, magazines and online sources to report on timely subjects of a scientific nature.