The goals of science education at FSMN are to develop scientifically literate students, nurture curiosity, and develop critical thinking skills and scientific inquiry thinking. We have created space for emergent curriculum, especially in the early primary grades, to help children become observers and ask the questions that lead to higher-order thinking.
FSMN’s science curriculum reflects our progressive philosophy and our identity as a Quaker school. FSMN is guided by the principles identified by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The intent of the NGSS Framework is to describe a coherent vision of science education by
- viewing learning as a developmental progression,
- focusing on a limited number of core ideas to allow for in-depth learning (in both cross-disciplinary concepts with applicability across science and engineering, and concepts central to each of the disciplines), and
- emphasizing that learning about science and engineering involves integration of content knowledge and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design.
The commitment to Quaker values also influences the curriculum through our focus on stewardship of the earth and its resources, and the use of science to address social concerns.
The curriculum encompasses four domains as identified by the Next Generation Science Standards: the physical sciences, the life sciences, the earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology, and applications of science.
K-8 students at FSMN develop their understanding of science through hands-on exploration and use of scientific inquiry. This hands-on approach to science is used to capitalize on students’ curiosity. They develop the ability to make observations, categorize, measure, construct models, and make predictions. All students use the following scientific inquiry process, as follows:
- ask a question
- plan an investigation
- gather materials
- gather data
- organize and present results
Students also use the following engineering design process:
- define a problem
- develop a design to solve the problem
- test the design
- modify the design and test again
- share the solution
The information gathered in such activities enhances development of scientific thinking as well as attitudes about science.
In lower school, resources include emergent and integrated science units, field trips, school yard studies, FOSS modules (developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science University of California at Berkeley), Engineering is Elementary modules (developed by Museum of Science in Boston), guest speakers, place-based education, and independent research.
In middle school, science is taught as a discrete class. Resources include field trips, schoolyard studies, guest speakers, place-based education, and independent research. In addition, each grade level covers a core theme from one of the four domains of science identified by the NGSS.
Throughout the K-8 experience, students are asked to design and carry out their own scientific investigations. The complexity of these investigations and the expectations grow as students develop new skills.