The St. Michael’s science curriculum provides a dynamic combination of academic study and hands-on experimentation. Our teachers employ a variety of instructional strategies, including the inquiry method, which encourages students to form and then answer their own questions about the world around them. This process stimulates curiosity, problem solving, and independent thinking. Students acquire a solid knowledge base in the physical, life, and earth sciences as well as an understanding of the scientific method. Through collaborative lab work, students also develop the skills necessary for effective cooperative learning.
A $100,000 grant awarded by the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation in 2008 will endow our science programs and fund the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment and technology for years to come.
Sixth Grade Science
In sixth grade, students investigate earth science. Using our online CINCH textbook, four main topics are focused on over the course of the school year: geology, astronomy, meteorology, and oceanography. Labs and internet-based research activities allow students to discover their own answers about the earth and sky. In addition, the sixth grade students spend a significant amount of time from September through January, immersed in the scientific method as they conduct their own science fair project in preparation for the St. Michael’s School Science Fair. The great majority of this project is completed at school during science class.
Seventh Grade Science
Seventh graders tackle physical science. Students examine the mysteries of forces, properties of matter, the interaction of matter and energy, chemical interactions, electricity, magnetism, and wave theory. Frequent lab experimentation connects abstract formulae with tangible evidence of physics in action. Students are often observed heading outdoors, meter sticks in hand, to put Isaac Newton’s theories to the test.
Eighth Grade Science
In eighth grade, students explore life itself. Units cover the study of cells and life processes; the classification and organization of living things; the interactions of living organisms with their environment; and human body systems. Frequent lab activities illustrate and enrich these studies, including the comprehensive observation of living and preserved specimens. Students also are able to take advantage of an outdoor wetlands and garden area adjacent to the main classrooms.
Students in sixth and eighth grades also create their own innovative research studies for the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair (SARSEF). Numerous St. Michael’s students each year receive top awards in the SARSEF competition. In 2008, five of our students took home top awards for projects ranging from the efficacy of solar water heating to the impact of Ipods on hearing. A St. Michael’s student was one of ten national finalists in the Discovery Young Scientist Challenge in 2008.