Middle School Science Overview

  • Amplify Science is a brand new science program,  in which RTSD is implementing in grades 6-8.  With a rich blend of digital learning tools and physical materials, the program includes: lessons with diverse types of activities within engaging real-world storylines, embedded formative assessments and summative assessments, hands-on materials, scientific articles and texts, various partner and group projects, thoughtful student to student discussions, robust digital simulations, engaging media, and physical and digital models. With Amplify Science, students learn to talk, read, write, think, and argue like real scientists and engineers through investigations of real-world problems and scientific phenomena.

Grade-Level Summaries

  • 6th Grade

    6th Grade Science focuses largely on earth science. Students will explore 5 units: 

    Unit 1: The Scientific Method

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How does the use of independent and dependent variables allow scientists to draw conclusions?
    • How do hidden variables and repeated trials affect the validity of results?
    • How does a scientist determine the most effective way to communicate results?

    Unit 2: Geology and Plate Tectonics

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How do scientists use evidence to support their claims?
    • How do scientists use models to test their ideas?
    • How are the identifiable features in a rock a reflection of the materials from which it is created?
    • How can conservation of matter be observed through the rock cycle?
    • How does rock formation represent a recurring/ cyclical process?
    • How is Earth’s diverse composition evidenced through various soil types?
    • How do the characteristics of soil affect water quality and movement?
    • How do rocks and fossils help us to better understand the earth’s past?
    • How do cross sections of rock layers  (including fossils) help to show how the earth has changed?
    • How has tectonic plate movement changed earth over time?
    • How are the effects of plate movement observed and determined?

    Unit 3: Soil, Geologic Time and Water Systems

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How is Earth’s diverse composition evidenced through various soil types?
    • How do the characteristics of soil affect water quality and movement?
    • How do rocks and fossils help us to better understand the earth’s past?
    • How do cross sections of rock layers  (including fossils) help to show how the earth has changed?
    • How do the physical characteristics of freshwater and saltwater systems affect the living and nonliving components on Earth?

    Unit 4: Water Cycle, Weather and Climate

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How do ocean currents impact climate throughout the world?
    • How does unequal heating and rotation of the Earth affect atmospheric and oceanic circulation?
    • What is the water cycle, and how does it work?
    • Why do different regions of the world have distinct climates?
    • How do aspects such as pressure, temperature, moisture and wind combine to create weather?
    • How do aspects such as pressure, temperature, moisture and wind combine to create weather?
    • How do global winds and currents cause varying weather patterns on Earth?
    • How does understanding the causes and evidence of climate change help us to take steps towards slowing down the process?

    Unit 5: Astronomy

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How does the alignment of the sun, earth and moon determine various phenomena that we experience on Earth?
    • How are the planets similar and different from each other? What makes Earth unique?
    • How has space exploration changed over time?

    7th Grade

    7th Grade Science is a hands-­on, inquiry-­based learning experience. Students will utilize the scientific method and other problem solving skills to answer questions about the world around them. They will focus their study on cell structure and function including DNA and genetics. Students will also discover similarities and differences between living organisms. During the study of ecology,students will explore various land biomes and how organisms adapt to their environment. Finally, the course allows students to examine the big picture as they identify various components of our environment and how it is affected by human impact. Students will experience a wide range of individual and collaborative research and group projects that range from, but not limited to, scientist research project, cell project, biome project and the science fiction novel project. Additionally, students will take a common grade level test at the completion of each unit.

    7th Grade Science focuses largely on life science. Students will explore 6 units:

    Unit 1: Nature of Science

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How can the scientific method be used to solve everyday problems?
    • How can we identify independent and dependent variables in the world around us?
    • How does drawing conclusions help you synthesize a lab experiment?
    • Why is the metric system used in the world of science?
    • How is a microscope used to explore microbiomes?

    Unit 2: Microbiomes

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How can we distinguish between living and nonliving things?
    • How do you explain the relationship between the structures and functions of cell organelles?
    • How small are the microorganisms that live on and in the human body?
    • How do microscopic things vary in size?
    • How can fecal transplants cure patients infected with harmful bacteria?

    Unit 3: Cell and Cell Process

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How do substances enter and exit the cells in your body?
    • What does the human body need to function?
    • Which molecules do cells need to function?
    • How do molecules from food and air get to the cells in the body?
    • How can having a medical condition affect the delivery of molecules to cells in the boys?
    • How are the molecules in the cells of a healthy body different from those in a body with a condition?
    • Which molecules do the cells need to release energy?
    • How do oxygen and glucose molecules release energy in the cells?
    • What can happen in the cell as a result of energy released from cellular respiration?
    • How does blood doping affect metabolism in the body?
    • How does the practice of blood doping affect cellular respiration in an athlete’s body?
    • How are metabolism and athletic performance related?
    • Why is cell division an important process in your body?
    • How does meiosis differ from mitosis?

    Unit 4: Natural Selection

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How can we describe a population?
    • How do individuals in a population get their traits?
    • How do new traits appear in populations?

    Unit 5: Evolutionary History

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • Why do different species share similar structures?
    • How does an ancestor population evolve into descendant species with differences in their shared structures?

    Unit 6: Matter and Energy

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • Where do the energy storage molecules in an ecosystem come from?
    • What factors affect how many energy storage molecules producers are able to make?
    • Where does the carbon dioxide in abiotic matter come from?
    • How do organisms give off carbon dioxide?
    • If the amount of carbon changed in one part of a closed ecosystem, what happened to the carbon in the rest of the ecosystem?
    • Why does deforestation lead to increased carbon dioxide in the air?

    8th Grade

    The 8th Grade Physical Science course will explore the principles of motion, forces and energy; waves, sound and light; the nature of matter; applications of chemistry; and electricity and magnetism. At the beginning of the year, there will be a comprehensive overview of watersheds, aquatic organisms, and ecosystems in preparation for the annual 8th Grade Sandy Hill field study.

    8th Grade Science focuses largely on physical science. Students will explore 6 units:

    Unit 1: Nature of Science

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How do scientists solve scientific or technological problems?
    • How do scientists use instruments to collect data?
    • How does Energy affect how something moves or changes?

    Unit 2: Phase Change and Properties of Matter

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How can the appearance of a substance change without it becoming a different substance?
    • How is matter structured and organized?
    • How do characteristic physical or chemical properties distinguish one substance from another?
    • How do new substances form?
    • How are elements organized in relationship to their physical and chemical properties?

    Unit 3: Electricity & Magnetism

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How is electricity created and transferred?
    • What constitutes an open or closed loop system?
    • How do magnets move objects in different ways?

    Unit 4: Waves, Sound & Light

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • How is energy transferred through waves?
    • How does light interact with materials?

    Unit 5: Motion, Forces and Energy

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • What effects do mass and acceleration have on motion?
    • How do forces affect  motion?
    • How is energy transferred within a system?
    • How are forces transmitted through fluids?
    • What is the relationship between work and power?
    • How can simple machines be connected to perform a simple task?

    Unit 6: STEM Career Investigation

    Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

    • What careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics are in demand for the 21st century professional?