Science


Introduced in Kindergarten and evolving through high school, science at Maret is inspiring, rigorous, and directly connected to the world in which we live.


Goal

Maret’s science program is based on an inquiry model; students experiment, observe, make predictions, and test their hypotheses. Students design experiments, collect accurate data, and analyze results.

Our goal is to give the students both the opportunity and the desire to understand the natural world around them.”

How We Teach

At every level in science, students use tools and techniques new to them to discover the principles underlying the field. Once these are in place, we ask them to apply their newfound knowledge to novel problems and situations. Throughout their scientific career at Maret, students continue to develop their abilities to solve complex problems, to thoughtfully and carefully analyze data, and to develop strong scientific arguments that are always supported by evidence.

Curriculum Snapshot

LOWER SCHOOL science focuses on process: making observations, asking questions, setting up experiments, and analyzing data for patterns. Classes are small and are grounded in direct experience.

MIDDLE SCHOOL students start to weave foundational principles in biology, chemistry, and physics into project-based, problem-focused classes.

UPPER SCHOOL students take classes in biology, chemistry, and physics in a sequence that best suits their interests and learning styles. Students can also branch into upper-level electives that are wide ranging, from gravitational astrophysics to biotechnology.

Lower School

Program Overview

The science program is based on an inquiry model. Through hands-on activities, students experiment, observe, and test their hypotheses. In small groups of six to ten students, children learn how to design experiments, collect accurate data, and analyze results.

The open-endedness of many assignments downplays the notion of a single “right” answer and allows children to take risks in becoming creative problem solvers and critical thinkers. Through their science classes, K–2 students also work in a community garden. Kindergarteners study earthworms, first graders plant in the spring, and second graders reap the harvest in the fall. Third and fourth graders focus on investigations, engineering, and problem-solving through projects like building a Rube Goldberg contraption and experimental design. Science classes are very small since only half of the homeroom class attends science at a time. These intimate class sizes allow all students to become active, engaged learners in the discipline of science.

Middle School

5th Grade Science

In the integrated mathematics and science sequence, students engage in hands-on experiments and numerous project-based activities. Fifth graders are busy making measurements, collecting data, finding ways to display that data effectively, and examining patterns in order to draw conclusions about real-world phenomena. Classroom activities encourage experimentation and exploration and range from creating and testing a new glue to participating in a soap box derby. Every fifth grader keeps a math/science folder in which he or she records observations, writes solutions, and documents individual understanding of concepts and problem-solving strategies. Students use calculators to compute and, more importantly, as tools to explore mathematical patterns. Each winter, fifth graders perform and report on an original scientific experiment as part of an annual science fair.

6th Grade Science

In Science 6, students explore three major themes of life science in depth: ecological interactions, structural and functional relationships within plants and animals, and genetics. Throughout the year, the variety of activities and projects requires both individual effort and cooperative group skills. Role plays, laboratory investigations, lab reports, modeling, and oral, visual, and written presentations provide a framework for development of understanding about concepts. The year begins with an exploration of ecology, as students investigate the features of the ecosystem in which they live. Plants on the Maret campus are the focus of their study as they learn how all organisms have evolved to depend on one another and the environment for survival. Following the ecology unit, students develop a Science Fair project to carry out at home. The project involves research, data collection, and analysis. Second-semester work involves students in human biology; they study the workings of their organ systems and their genetic make-up. Sixth graders also learn basic microscope skills in order to connect the visible features of organisms to the basic structures and functions of cells.

7th Grade Science

Seventh grade science is a hands-on conceptual physics course that emphasizes problem solving through controlled experimentation and practical engineering. Using a foundation of newly introduced basic physics concepts, students will build musical instruments, gliders, roller coasters, electronic quiz boards, and more. Additional engineering projects involve Lego robots, which students then program, using the computer, to perform a set of tasks in the Robotics Exhibition. The year ends with an in-class Rube Goldberg project. Major emphasis is placed on documentation of the experimental process: identifying variables, creating graphs to analyze data, and supporting statements with evidence.

8th Grade Science

Science 8 introduces students to the study of chemistry. Topics covered include physical and chemical properties, chemical bonding, the periodic table, and chemical equations. The course strongly emphasizes connections between chemistry and the environment. Students further develop the skills of investigation that they learned in seventh grade by collecting, organizing and analyzing their own data in a bound notebook. Science 8 begins with a forensics unit to introduce students to comparing unknowns to knowns, and ends with an extensive climate change project. Acting as representatives of a variety of countries, NGOs, and businesses, students meet in a conference and publicly present their research and come to a consensus on a number of climate change proposals.

Upper School

Science Courses and Requirements

REQUIREMENTS: Three credits; one course each in biology, chemistry, and physics is strongly recommended

BIOLOGY

  • Biology
  • Advanced Biology
  • Lab Research

CHEMISTRY

  • Chemistry in the Community (Chem Com)
  • Chem Study
  • Advanced Chemistry
  • Advanced Topics in Chemistry (MSON)
  • Introduction to Organic Chemistry (MSON)

PHYSICS

  • Physics
  • Advanced Physics AB
  • Advanced Physics BC

ELECTIVES

  • Advanced Environmental Science
  • Biotechnology: Techniques and Applications
  • CSI: MSON – Forensic Science (MSON)
  • Fundamentals of Nuclear Science (MSON)
  • Genetics And Genomics: Diving Into The Gene Pool (MSON)
  • Gravitational Astrophysics
  • Health Physics and Nuclear Technology (MSON)
  • Meteorology (MSON)
  • Modern Physics (MSON)
  • Waves, Optics, and Sound

SUMMER ELECTIVE

  • Sanibel: Subtropical Zone Ecology

The upper school science program builds on the strong foundation of data analysis and experimental design skills established in Middle School. The upper school curriculum is designed to include a wide selection of courses in each discipline, geared to a wide range of abilities and interest levels in science. There are many ways that students may progress through the program; see the accompanying chart on page 33 for possible scenarios.

Three years of science are required, although most students complete four or more courses. It is the strong recommendation of the department that this requirement be met by one course in each of the three principle disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics. Typically, the entering ninth grader will take Biology to begin the sequence. Any of the courses listed may be used to complete the requirement. Some of these courses focus on developing the advanced knowledge and laboratory techniques needed to excel in college science; others seek to provide the student with the breadth of knowledge and problem-solving skills needed to make intelligent decisions about the scientific issues faced by all citizens. The department is committed to providing both future science majors and non-majors with hands-on experience and instruction at a level that will be appropriately challenging for them.

The department is well prepared to meet the needs of the program with three fully equipped labs in the Upper School. Each course is laboratory-based and designed to encourage critical analysis and the application of mathematics at a level appropriate to the course. Computers are used to enhance data collection and analysis.

Science Internship Summary

Maret continues to promote and encourage students to gain real-life, out-of-classroom experience in scientific areas.

  • Approximately 20 students were placed in science related internships last year
  • Made relationships with organizations have been strengthened allowing students a more reliable supply of internship mentors
  • Students craft resumes and cover letters directed toward specific internships
  • Younger students gain experience by participating in science programs to better position them for obtaining an internship the following summer
  • Numbers of students participating in student internships continues to grow

Science News

Faces of Science