Science in the Lower School is designed to tap into young students’ natural curiosity about their environment and how the world works. We help students, through inquiry, to continually build on their abilities and revise their knowledge. The goals of the program are to provide students with engaging hands-on opportunities and experiences to guide them toward a more scientifically based and coherent view of the Earth, space, life, and the physical sciences. In the Lower School, science involves integrating engineering and technology to provide a context in which students can test their own developing scientific knowledge and apply it to practical problems.
In fourth grade, students are introduced to scientific reasoning. The focus is on understanding the scientific concepts and applying them to engineering challenges. Students are taught to analyze data and use inquiry skills that are essential for investigating the natural world. The science curriculum introduces students to the diversity and interdependence of living things in the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They examine the functions of internal and external plant and animal structures in growth, reproduction and information processing. They explore the roles of weathering, erosion and deposition in shaping the Earth’s surface. Students analyze patterns in wave motion, and how energy is transferred by sound, light, heat and electric currents. They are able to use evidence to construct an explanation of the relationship between the speed of an object and the energy of that object and are expected to develop an understanding that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat and electric currents or from object to object through collisions. Students apply their understanding of energy to design, test and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.