Academics

Lower School Science

Essential Questions:
What are the different categories and systems of study within the world of science?
How am I connected to the world of science?
How can I identify and solve local and world-wide science problems?

Skills and Enduring Understandings:
The Lower School science program effectively begins with integrations, investigations, and units in the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten homeroom classrooms.  From there, science becomes a distinct Unified Explorations subject area, taught via two class periods per week, in grades one through four.

With ample discovery-oriented space in the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms and with a dedicated Lower School science classroom housed within the building (primarily for grades one through four), science is literally and figuratively a high-interest, hands-on experience in our Division.  In all grades, an emphasis is made to incorporate a wide range of science topics—from the physical world to the natural world with many exciting stops in between.  A highlight of the science classroom is the salt water touch tank which gives students the opportunity for up-close North Atlantic tide-pool studies.  Our expansive school grounds allow for engaging outdoor studies, including the the focus on campus trees and the appreciation of trails and woods on the back side of our campus.  Ultimately, students learn of the important goals that science is ever-present and that it is an exciting and important topic of study in which they can play a significant role.

Sample Unit or Activity by Grade:
Pre-Kindergarten (Rock Sorting): Students are drawn to the engaging process of sorting and classifying rocks based on various characteristics and attributes.  Color, texture, size, and weight are all examples of the classification ideas that students consider as they work individually and in groups to develop their ideas and determine their results.

Kindergarten (Tower Building): The allure of designing, building and recording towers with blocks based on various challenges comes to life for the kindergarten students.  Design challenges include planning strong foundations, building for height and coordinating for symmetry.  This unit supports the kindergarten students natural curiosity in this intriguing area.

First Grade (Water Studies): Students learn about the properties of water as they study objects that float and/or sink, as they build water pathways and as they organize complete water property experiments.  Making observations and keeping records are a major component of this unit as students begin formalizing their scientific approach.

Second Grade (Marble Tracks): Students are involved in active learning, inquiry and problem solving by building a marble track that will allow a marble to roll down the track as slowly as possible and land in a paper cup at the bottom. They apply the design process and work collaboratively in small groups, using math and reporting skills to analyze the different marble tracks that have been built.

Third Grade (Campus Trees):  Students take time to appreciate the trees on campus throughout the school year by adopting their own tree and deciding what to learn about it, such as identifying features, seasonal changes, trunk diameter, and environmental needs. Students contribute to a campus trees book at the end of the year by reporting on their tree scientifically, mathematically, through art, and through writing.

Fourth Grade (Nature’s Fury): As a spin-off to the First Lego League’s 2013 Challenge, students learn about a natural disaster of their choice, identify a problem that people have related to it, and develop a new way to help solve that problem. They then create that solution, or a model of it, and present it to Middle School judges who provide feedback via a rubric that would be used at an actual First Lego League tournament.  The rubric includes scores for core values, research, innovation, and the presentation of the solution.
 

Serving Maine, The Seacoast of New Hampshire, and the North Shore of Massachusetts

Berwick Academy is Maine's oldest, independent Pre-K through Post Graduate private school. Our community is dynamic, offering challenging academics, competitive athletics, and creative arts programs. Members of the community operate within a context of caring and respect as we pursue our quest for "useful knowledge" as "one school with three divisions." Students and faculty are encouraged to expand their horizons by balancing academics with athletic, dramatic, and musical options.