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.
Life Science: Kindergarteners begin the year with the question, “What is a scientist?” They learn to explore the world around them through observations, wonderings, and hands-on experiences. 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 Meridian Park, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, and Green Lake to observe and document the plants and animals we find in our place.
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 and simple machines are introduced and explored to see how a task can become easier. Finally they are introduced to science investigation through the Forces & Motion unit where they use a toy car to investigate energy, direction, and friction. They then ask a question, design an experiment, collect data, and make conclusions.
Life Science: Students take a look at plant and animal adaptations and investigate the unique characteristics species have that help them survive. An engineering/design thinking activity stems from their learning as they explore biomimicry and how humans can use these adaptations to inspire sustainable design.
Physical Science: First 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 the properties that make an object seen, how the eye sees color, and how mixing different colors of light creates new colors.
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.
Life Science: In our Plants and Pollinators 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 pollinators and their connection to the plant life cycle. Finally we check out many different types of seeds and learn how they are dispersed and what organisms or natural events they depend on for dispersal and germination. Students also explore different habitats and the characteristics of organisms that live in those habitats.
Physical Science: Science and writing combine in second grade’s Properties of Matter unit. Students learn about matter, the different attributes matter can have such as density and viscosity, and then how to classify materials based on their properties. During the process, students learn how to write about a scientific study from introduction, procedure, to results.
Earth & Environmental Science: Students explore the different shapes of the Earth by investigating bodies of water and land forms. We learn how to decipher the Earth’s shape by looking at topographic maps and explore how the land was formed into the shapes we see. Students create their own 3-D models of Washington State, the United States, and North America.
Life Science: Students take a look at traits that are inherited vs. traits that are influenced by the environment in which they live. We also begin to look at how environmental changes affect different organisms which will be continued into the unit on climate change and design thinking.
Physical Science: Our electricity and magnetism 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. We also study magnetism and how magnetic forces influence motion of an object and electric current. Once students have mastered creating simple circuits we use our knowledge to help solve a real-world problem.
Earth & Environmental Science: During an in-depth weather and climate 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. We then extend this learning to an in-depth study of climate change and its effects on people around the world. This flexible global studies research unit combines science, social studies, design thinking, 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, develop an informative presentation, and create a prototype that could help solve the problem.
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 of 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: To kick off our understanding of physical science, students delve into transfer and conversion of energy. We study the natural resources humans use to generate the power we depend on everyday including coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels. In Science Lab and Creativity Lab students develop, create, and test a device that can convert energy into a different form.
Earth & Environmental Science: Through a series of hands-on models and investigations, students explore the massive and minuscule 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. They then shift their understanding of larger Earth movements to more subtle changes in land as they investigate the interactions between land and water with a stream table model. 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.
Life Science: Fifth 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. This unit evolves as students investigate human impact on the environment and innovate ways they can have a positive impact on the larger environment.
Physical Science: Students explore the history of NASA and space exploration through a series of cooperative lessons in which they work together to solve problems. The unit culminates with a collaborative project between Science Lab and Creativity Lab in which the students design several rockets powered by air, water, and solid-fuel and test their designs to achieve merit in several tasks including maximum altitude, payload carry, landing distance from launch, and ability to reuse the rocket.
Students are also 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 series of tests to identify the product of a chemical reaction.
Earth & Space Science: Students observe, document, and graph the observable patterns that led to the scientific understanding of the Earth’s relationship to the sun, moon, and stars. Using models to demonstrate these recognizable phenomena, students gain a better understanding of how the orbit of the Earth and the Moon, together with the axial rotation of Earth connect to create day length, sun position, moon phases, and seasons.