Science Lab

In 2016, we opened The Meridian Science Lab with the intention of preserving and further enhancing our place-based approach to science instruction, while increasing STEAM and inquiry-based activities throughout the school.

 

This year, all students investigated the question, “What is a Scientist?” They focused on engaging their curiosity, developing experiments to answer questions utilizing the scientific inquiry and design thinking processes, and collecting and interpreting data. Science also includes a connection to Global Studies, as we explore science topics relevant to our region of study.

Kindergarten

Life Science: Kindergarteners begin to explore the world around them through observation, classification, and hands-on experiences.  The year begins with a study of habitats and how plants and animals meet their basic needs in different types of habitats.  Kindergarteners visit the Woodland Park Zoo to compare the different types of habitats found around the world.  Students also begin their tree study in the fall in which each Kindergarten class chooses a tree on our campus to study throughout the year. We observe the tree through the seasons and learn about the life cycle of trees with a specific focus on an apple tree.

Partnering with a local expeditionary artist, Maria Coryell-Martin, Kindergarteners learn the joy and scientific purpose of nature journaling.  They journey into their Seattle backyard, including the Good Shepherd Center, Seattle Aquarium, and Green Lake to observe and document the plants and animals we find in our place.

In the fall and spring, students visit the Children’s Tilth Garden to observe and learn about the seasonal growth and parts of a plant.

Physical Science:  We introduce engineering and problem-solving with the Rig-ama-jig set.  Students work in teams to build an apparatus that can be used to complete a task.  These tasks build up to our Simple Machines unit where we introduce more tools students can use to make a task easier.  Finally they are introduced to science investigation through the Balls and Ramps unit where they explore with different balls, height of ramp, materials that create friction.  They then ask a question, design an experiment, collect data, and make conclusions.

First Grade

Life Science:  First graders begin the year with a science investigation, asking the question “What does a plant need to survive?”  They create an experiment around either water or sunlight and collect data in their science notebooks, all along learning about the parts of a plant and photosynthesis.  Students then take a look at plant and animal adaptations and investigate the unique characteristics species have that help them survive.  An engineering activity stems from their learning as they explore biomimicry and how humans can use these adaptations to inspire sustainable design.

Physical Science:  Adding on to the knowledge of force and motion learned in kindergarten, first graders gain even more knowledge about direction of force, friction, and material properties. Students observe, use, and compare different balls and ramp types, noting the difference in materials, size, and weight.  An experiment is then collaboratively created to test not only student knowledge about force and motion but also data collection and the scientific method.

Earth & Space Science: Using a variety of tools, students observe and discuss the changes in the moon and the sun in relationship to the earth.  In our moon unit students learn, “How does the night sky change yet also stay the same?” Students learn that objects in the sky have patterns of movement.  We study the planets and investigate how each planet is alike and different from one another.  Finally students learn about astronauts and space engineers and what it takes to work in one of these jobs.

Second Grade

Life Science: In our Plant Growth and Development study, students develop understanding of the life cycle of a plant as they care for and collect data on Wisconsin Fast Plants (Brassica rapa).  Students record their observations of all stages including seed germination, growth, flowering, and finally seed production.  They also learn the importance of bees and their connection to plant pollination.  Students then create their own experiment around plants, choosing a variable and collecting data.

Physical Science:  Second graders experiment with and discover the properties of both sound and light waves.  Students explore a variety of devices such as tuning forks, slide whistles and strings to learn that sound is produced by vibrations within objects and columns of air.  In music, students learn about the families of instruments and how they create sound and in creativity lab students apply their knowledge to create their own instruments.  For light, we explore how the eye sees color and how mixing different colors of light creates new colors.

Earth & Environmental Science:  During an in-depth weather unit, students learn the pieces that create weather systems and the data that is associated with those systems.  We explore types of clouds, precipitation, wind, temperature and the specific tools that measure these features as well as severe weather. The students apply their learning to a STEM project where they collaboratively build a structure to withstand different extreme weather conditions.

Third Grade

Life Science:  Third graders complete an in-depth study of the interconnectedness within ecosystems and the food chains and webs present in different ecosystems of both Washington State and around the world.  Students investigate the interactions among living and non-living organisms, and recognize that ecosystems are ever-evolving and the important role each organism plays.  Students’ knowledge is enriched during our overnight environmental education trip to Camp Seymour.  The unit culminates in a collaborative art and science project, creating a bulletin board ecosystem equipped with painted paper organisms and informative signs about ecosystem roles.

Physical Science:  Our electric circuit unit ignites the inquiry and innovation of third grade students.  Through a series of investigations, students learn that electric circuits require a complete circle through which an electrical current passes, and that different types of circuits show different characteristics.  Once students have mastered creating simple circuits, they apply that knowledge to real world design projects, building flashlights, and designing and wiring their own cardboard houses!

Earth & Environmental Science:  This flexible global studies research unit combines science, reading, and writing.  Students not only learn about the science behind an environmental issue, but also how to read a non-fiction text for information and create an informative presentation.  In the past, topics have included climate change, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching.

Fourth Grade

Life Science:  During this unit, students take ownership of one of the Pacific Northwest’s most valuable resources, salmon.  The unit kicks off with the arrival salmon eggs, which students monitor and collect data on all the way until the salmon are released as fry.  We learn about types of pollution that affect salmon and how we can reduce pollution and conserve natural resources.

Physical Science: Students explore the fundamental of flight and rocketry by assembling and experimenting with a hangar full of flying machines.  They learn about both lighter-than-air flight and heavier-than-air flight and about different types of flying technology, from parachutes and airships to jets and spacecraft.  Students also work collaboratively to develop a science experiment centered around flight, collecting data and testing the science they learned.

Earth & Environmental Science:  Through a series of hands-on models and investigations, students explore the massive and miniscule movements that are constantly shaping the Earth.  Students learn how rocks provide clues to Earth’s history, structure, and geological activity and begin to think of the Earth as a geological mosaic, constantly being refitted.  In the spring they attend an environmental education overnight at Mt. Rainier institute to learn how fire and ice have shaped the mountains around them and read the geology of the mountain.

Fifth Grade

Life Science:  Students use background knowledge of the inquiry scientific process to conduct their own experiments with plants.  This experiment features rapid-cycling Wisconsin Fast Plants (Brassica rapa) as a vehicle for experimentation.  Students design and conduct controlled investigative experiments.  With the life cycle of the plant complete, students reflect on their experiences and share their data and conclusions with the other students in the class.

Physical Science:  Students are introduced to chemistry and the periodic table of elements with a series of hands-on investigations.  The inquiries allow students to build an understanding of the physical and chemical properties that distinguish the three types of matter.  The unit culminates in students chemically creating carbon dioxide, oxygen, and hydrogen gases and performing a flame test.

Earth & Environmental Science:  Students investigate the interactions between land and water with a stream table model they use to create hills, build dams, and grow vegetation.  Miniature valleys, waterfalls, and canyons form in the stream table as water flows over and through the soil.  From these firsthand observations, students discover how water changes the shape of land and how features in the land, in turn, affect the flow of water.  In the spring, students take their classroom knowledge and observe, firsthand, watersheds, estuaries, and how dams affect the land. Field trips to the Mercer Slough, Cedar River Watershed, Padilla Bay estuary and Nature Bridge, an overnight environmental education center in the Olympic National Forest, provide these experiences.