Middle School Science at MTC has been very busy lately! We are starting the third and final trimester focusing on various grade-level content while also reviewing the scientific inquiry process. Students are completing experiments every week that require them to think critically and identify the components of a scientific test, specifically honing the skill of comparing the independent and dependent variables while maintaining a controlled, valid inquiry.
Eighth grade science has just completed a unit on the dynamics of weathering, erosion, and deposition and how those Earth processes are constantly shaping our planet. Students observed and tested actual sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks throughout the unit. They were also required to model the formation of each type of rock in the lab through an experiment in which students broke down different colored candy-chips to represent sediments. Then, students used various methods they determined to compact the sediments together and form a “sedimentary” rock. Students also used hot plates to melt down and re-solidify their new rock to model the creation of an igneous rock within the rock cycle. The 8th grade is currently looking forward to utilizing the engineering process to design and build mini race cars and compete to see whose race car can go the fastest.
Seventh grade science recently tested the rate of decomposition in different materials. Students chose fruits and vegetables, added them to various substances, and observed over the course of the week which substance resulted in the greatest amount of decomposition. Students discovered that soil resulted in the fastest breaking down of matter compared to water and sand. Just last week, students in the seventh grade tested how the amount of sunlight a plant gets affects the amount of carbon dioxide a plant is able to absorb. This was accomplished by students exhaling into the substance bromothymol blue, which acts as an indicator for carbon dioxide by turning yellow when it is mixed with the gas. Students then added an aquatic Elodea plant and the solution to two test tubes. One test tube they exposed to the sun and the other they wrapped in tin foil. Based on the observations after a day that the bromothymol blue turned back to blue in the test tube exposed to the sun, indicating the carbon dioxide was absorbed out of the water and into the plant, and the test tube that was wrapped stayed yellow, students were able to conclude that exposure to sunlight is necessary for plants to absorb carbon dioxide.
Sixth grade is currently diving into the exciting world of basic chemistry, learning about trends within the Period Table and how to utilize the Periodic Table to learn all about the matter they are surrounded by. Sixth grade students have mastered being able to calculate the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in an atom. They also have been practicing the creation of Bohr Models and Lewis Dot Diagrams, recently enjoying making the diagrams out of different colored jelly beans. We are now shifting our focus towards the interaction of valence electrons and chemical bonding.
Fifth grade is embracing learning all about how different components of an ecosystem affect one another. They recently completed an online lab simulation that had them add different producers and consumers to an Australian desert habitat and see how each affected the population of the other. This week, fifth grade will explore the effects of invasive species on the ecosystem of an area.
As you can tell, there are no signs of Middle School Science slowing down during the third trimester. In fact, this looks to be the most action-packed, exciting trimester yet!