"Engineering for a Dynamic Planet": We use inquiry and design engineering to explore how climate change affects Earth systems — from building sensors for detecting air pollution to exploring the special properties of water that make it so important for the survival of all life on the planet. Students use problem-solving skills to explore how technologies can meet evolving human needs. The sixth-grade science curriculum engages students in hands-on, in-depth, and interdisciplinary learning. With a focus on inquiry and real-world connections, students will engage in a rich and challenging study of science and engineering.
After a review of lab safety and scientific process skills, we briefly explore and review some basic principles of chemistry and physics, including properties of matter, heat transfer, and density. Our understanding of these concepts informs our study of Earth systems (air, water, and land) through the lens of climate change. Topics like air pollution, drought, and deforestation are covered.
Students also study geological evolution, the history of our planet and the geological processes that continue to shape its surface. From building earthquake-proof structures to exploring how processes such as weathering and erosion have affected California’s topography, we study the connections between geology and our lives here in The Bay Area.
Next, students study biological evolution and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, looking at the connections between the environment and how unique adaptations help organisms carry out life processes and contribute to the biodiversity across our planet.
A major highlight of sixth-grade science is the ExploraVision project. During this long-term endeavor, students will work in small groups to research the history of a particular technology and then envision how the technology might evolve 25 years into the future to solve an ongoing problem. They consider the pros and cons of their technologies, along with the scientific breakthroughs that would need to occur for their inventions to become reality. As part of this project, students learn about design thinking processes, prototyping, fabrication, and website design.
As the girls broaden and deepen their understanding of the world around them, they also learn and apply essential skills that guide scientific inquiry. These process skills include:
- Designing and conducting controlled experiments
- Observing and collecting data using both measurement tools and technology
- Analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and communicating these results
Special projects and current events throughout the year will support these learning goals. Students are encouraged to ask questions, make observations about the world around them, and be aware of current science events. Investigations such as collecting real-time data on air pollution and observing the behavior of the magic tube will emphasize observation, data collection, and questioning skills.
Assessments will include class work, labs, homework, quizzes, and projects.