Science

Often a group of Brookwood science students can be found venturing beyond their classroom walls to explore our campus and the surrounding areas. They study specimens from and make maps of the Cutler Pond, collect water and soil samples from the Brookwood stream, compare and contrast the school’s wetlands areas with the surrounding woods, create a vernal pond field guide, investigate why salt marshes are among the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world, and examine the critical link between the salt marsh and the ocean. 

At each grade level, field studies such as these complement the investigations that are taking place in dedicated laboratory spaces. Inside, students can be found constructing clay and paper reptiles and amphibians for the Herp Museum, practicing presentations for our upcoming Tech-Know Faire, using Newton’s Laws of Motion to construct and test water bottle rockets, learning African American and Iroquois cultures through the study of constellations, or using student-constructed models to discover how the systems in the human body work and how to maintain a healthy body.

At Brookwood, our students engage in the type of study that both promotes scientific understanding and also develops the scientific habits of mind that can help them make sense of the natural and designed worlds. The work that students do at each grade level is hands-on and often collaborative; it is also skill-based and built upon observation and problem solving.

Outstanding technology, state-of-the-art facilities, a campus that lends itself to scientific inquiry, and a dedicated faculty support the Brookwood science program. We boast a 1,000 square-foot Science Gym, a kind of gym of the mind dedicated to all aspects of the science experience; four science classrooms, each with outdoor access and complimentary lab space; our own set of wireless laptop computers; Smartboard technology in each classroom; at least six different aquatic habitats, as well as a 55-foot long, original, interactive wildlife mural that depicts each of those habitats from a uniquely Brookwood perspective.

Science Curricular Goals
Generally, the Science Department seeks to have Brookwood students:

  • Demonstrate curiosity and passion for inquiry, seeing scientific inquiry as a dynamic, enjoyable, and exciting endeavor 
  • Understand science concepts covered at grade level and those observed in daily phenomena
  • Ask meaningful questions to deepen understanding about the texts read, the observations made, and the conclusions drawn
  • Capably use models to facilitate comprehension, such as diagrams, physical replicas, analogies, and computer simulations can bringing certain features of a topic into focus
  • Design and carry out systematic investigations, developing familiarity and skill with basic lab equipment and appreciating the myriad ways in which scientific investigation can occur, including the scientific method
  • Properly analyze and interpret data, making careful quantitative and qualitative observations that can reveal patterns and relationships
  • Formulate logical explanations for science concepts, as the goal of science is to construct theories can explain phenomena 
  • Support explanations with appropriate evidence, constructing a convincing argument that can be defended
  • Critically evaluate quality of scientific claims, recognizing when a claim can be refuted or critiqued due to insufficient evidence or flawed scientific practice
  • Communicate findings through oral expression and clear, detailed written work  so that scientific work can be evaluated for merit, validity, and reliability of claims, methods, and ideas
  • Use iterative process to design effective solutions honoring the design thinking and improvement cycle necessary for well engineered ideas and projects
     

Grade Level Curricular Goals and Focal Points (aka: “Grade Level Benchmarks”)
At each respective grade level, our goal is to have Brookwood students:

PreK/Kindergarten:

  • Explore concepts and content related to solar system, gravity, space travel
  • Explore and draw conclusions from the Arctic food chains
  • Explore and draw conclusions from studying light, the tilt of the Earth and seasons
  • Support and broaden concepts and observations from Kindergarten’s Outdoor Classroom


Grade 1:

  • Gain familiarity with cycles of life and death in nature
  • Understand the basic structures of our solar system
  •  Become familiar with basic weather phenomenon
     

Grade 2: 

  • Understand how scientists group plants and animals
  • Understand the ecological role of insects
  • Understand how scientists conduct research, ask questions, collect evidence in an iterative environment
  • Understand the ecological role of reptiles and amphibians
  • Understand the ecological role of mammals
  • Understand the properties of magnets


Grade 3:

  • Understand basics of pond ecosystems
  • Understand the basic physical properties of water
  • Understand the basics of water treatment, distribution and usage.
  • Understand the dynamic forces that shape the surface of our planet
  • Explore the nature of friends and family groupings


Grade 4:

  • Appreciate the importance and function of local, on-campus wetlands
  • Experience problem solving in engineering
  • Gain familiarity with the biodiversity of life on Earth and why it is threatened
  • Understand the interconnectedness of the major systems of the human body
  • Understand the relationship between the human reproductive system and the onset of puberty
  •  Understand the importance and relevance of local vernal pools
     

Grade 5:

  • Explore ‘how I learn’ – metacognition, learning styles, brain research
  • Appreciate the complexity of saltwater marsh ecology
  • Use libraries to find books and web sites that are appropriate research tools to investigate and report on a salt marsh organism
  • Understand the beginnings of the human race; from where and how humans travelled to populate six continents
  • Understand that DNA contains the code for life and that small but regular changes in DNA facilitate evolution and can lead to adaptations
  • Complete an introduction to robotics, including design and construction of a robot capable of reacting to its environment
  • Understand that materials are composed of and have properties determined by extremely small particles that have existed since the beginning of the universe
  • Identify different energy resources and evaluate the relative pros and cons of each
  • Explore how human ingenuity and resources intersect in the fields of engineering and technology
  • Understand bees and beekeeping, including construction of hives, introduction of bee colonies, and harvesting of honey and wax
  • Explore coding using C++ based Arduino kits to control lights, motors, and servos
  • Use the metric system to estimate, measure and make calculations
  • Understand natural, quantifiable changes that occur during spring; collect longitudinal data; and create and present a representative graph
  • Categorize the changes of puberty and both identify and recognize the structure and functions of the male and female human reproductive systems
  • Appreciate the role(s) that self-esteem, friendships, and decision-making have in our daily lives
  • Understand the relationships between biological gender, gender identity, gender roles, and sexual orientation


Grade 6:

Earth Science

  • Explain the theory of plate tectonics, describe how tectonic plates move, locate tectonic plate boundaries, and identify geologic phenomena that occur because of tectonic plate movement
  • Understand different earthquake faults, different types of seismic waves, and their impacts  
  • Participate in computer simulations to learn how to reinforce bridges and towns for improved earthquake resistance
  • Use the Design Process to build multiple iterations of an earthquake-proof structure 
     

Space Science

  • Use models to describe and predict the patterns of motion for the Earth, the sun, and the moon
  • Understand the reasons behind day and night, daily and seasonal changes in temperature and length of daylight, phases of the moon, and solar and lunar eclipses
  • Explore the properties of the terrestrial and gas planets, as well as compare and contrast meteors, asteroids, comets, and dwarf planets. 
  • Examine the different methods of space exploration historically, now and in the future
  • Use the Design Process to build multiple iterations of a strong and lightweight rocket structure  
  • Investigate the physical properties of stars (including our sun), the life cycle of low mass and high mass stars, and the recycling of matter in the universe
     

Life Science

  • Explore how matter and energy move through an ecosystem by studying the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and food chains and food webs
  • Map water flow on Brookwood’s campus, identify prevalent bird and tree species, and track local fauna on campus
  • Examine how and why plant and animal adaptations allow individual species to survive and thrive in their environments
  • Understand the process of forest succession, identify evidence of natural and human-made forest disturbances, and explain the role of conservation in protecting natural resources and maintaining biodiversity


Human Sexuality

  • Review the physiological and emotional changes associated with puberty and adolescence
  • Understand the basics of human reproduction, including male and female anatomy,   the menstrual cycle, sperm and egg production, conception, and unique pregnancy scenarios such as multiple births and assistive reproductive technologies
  • Explore the development of the blastocyst, embryo, and fetus through birth
  • Discuss the terminology and nuances of biological sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression


Grade 7:

Scientific Inquiry

  • Understand the importance of objectivity in science
  • Practice making careful qualitative and quantitative observations during experiments and in the field
  • Evaluate the reliability of science experiments through experimental design, data collection methods, graphing skills
  • Practice science writing skills in order to master the concise, evidence-based tone of science writing
     

Intertidal Zone Ecology

  • Study the mechanisms of tides as well as the influences of gravity and inertia
  • Understand overarching concepts in ecology such as levels of organization, trophic levels, feeding behaviors, food webs, energy flow in an ecosystem, abiotic and biotic challenges
  • Practice identifying common intertidal organisms through the use of a field guide
  • Participate in field trips to local beaches to make observations and collect data in order examine how this habitat changes over time
     

Cells

  • Understand the specific ways in which living things maintain homeostasis
  • Gain facility with compound, light microscopes
  • Understand the structure and function of prokaryotic cells and the major organelles found in eukaryotic cells
  • Explore the concept of surface area and its importance in the efficient functioning of organelles in the cell
     

Cellular Processes

  • Understand the methods by which cells transport materials across the membrane
  • Practice calculating percent concentration of solutions
  • Examine the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration, their relationship to each other, and their role in helping the cell maintain homeostasis
  • Discuss the connections among photosynthesis, cellular respiration, surface area and passive transport
     

Genetics and Evolution

  • Analyze the cell cycle and the process of mitosis
  • Understand the structure and function of DNA, the process of DNA replication, and the progression from DNA to genes to proteins to traits
  • Investigate basic probability in relation to genes and heredity
  • Explore the concepts of natural selection and evolution and how these processes relate to one another
     

Ocean Organisms

  • Understand the importance of a methodical system of classification for living things and the hierarchical nature of taxonomy
  • Investigate the distinctive features of the major groups of invertebrates in the ocean 
  • Compare and contrast the physiology and behavior of bony fish, jawless fish, and cartilaginous fish
  • Learn to to “read” a fish based on its coloration, body and fin shape, mouth location, and special appendages
     

Human Sexuality

  • Review the structure and function of the human reproductive system, as well as the process of meiosis
  • Gain familiarity with the causes, consequences, treatment, and prevention of common bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections
  • Understand the effectiveness of different types of contraception in protecting against sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies
  • Practice respectful, honest, and strong communication skills
  • Understand the concept and importance of consent


Grade 8:

Metric System and Scientific Inquiry

  • Understand the metric system and be able to use it to estimate, measure, and make calculations with respect to length, volume, mass, and density
  • Understand the roles of independent, dependent, and potentially confounding variables in a controlled experiment
  • Construct graphs of experimental data and use slope calculations to analyze results and trends
  • Use scientific methods to design, carry out, analyze, and report the findings of chemistry experiments
  • Understand the design cycle and the role of the iterative process in engineering and creative problem solving
     

Chemical Science

  • Explain the states of matter and distinguish between elements, compounds, and mixtures
  • Identify, compare, and contrast chemical and physical changes; understand the role of atoms, molecules and energy in each
  • Compare the subatomic particles of an atom and explain their role in the ordering of the periodic table
  • Understanding the periodic table, chemical patterns, and nomenclature
  • Understand and be able to predict the compounds formed by ionic and covalent bonding as well as identify the 5 main chemical reaction types
  • Understanding properties of water as a vehicle for understanding concepts of molecular polarity, adhesion, cohesion, and surface tension
     

Climate Change

  • Investigating the science behind natural climate cycles of the planet
  • Learning about the atmosphere in terms of gaseous composition, how greenhouse gases work to protect and regulate global temperatures
  • This also serves as an introduction to the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Examining science behind increasing greenhouse gas levels and how this influences the natural planetary cycle of heating and cooling
  • Identify point and nonpoint sources of pollution that may or may not contribute to climate change, calculating ecological footprints and considering real-world solutions to local issues related to climate change
     

Physical Science

  • Understand types and forms of energy and be able to describe energy transformations that occur in common situations
  • Examining work, power, and simple machines with the end result being construct one’s own simple machine designed to solve an identified problem - instilling engineering design process
  • Identify the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and the relationship between wavelength and frequency of mechanical and electromagnetic waves
  • Explain the relationship between forces, motion, velocity and acceleration
  • Understand Newton’s three Laws of Motion and identify common examples that illustrate each
  • Apply an understanding of engineering principles and Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion in the construction and testing of a water bottle rocket
     

Human Sexuality

  • Understand gender, conception, pregnancy, birth, birth control and ways to keep the human reproductive systems healthy
  • Learning and reinforcing concepts related to sexual health, physical, mental, and emotional

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