Using a hands-on approach to discovery and building on children’s natural curiosity, we are moving our program in alignment with the best of the Next Generation Science Standards, an approach where students “figure out” actively rather than “learn about” science passively from teachers. We give students opportunities to build and deepen their understanding, by making connections, engaging in sensemaking discussion, learning from mistakes, and engaging with tools and technologies to further their scientific literacy. See our Science Vision statement.
Our beautiful outdoor learning environment allows children to explore nature and begin to compare and contrast living and non-living things. Initiated by the children’s curiosity, teachers follow their lead to develop curriculum that explains the wonders of nature and how they as individuals can interact with it to promote and preserve all living organisms.
Students typically study life science, earth or space science, and physical science each year. Mixed age classrooms alternate science topics from one year to the next, so that all students receive the equivalent of a 1st/2nd or 4th/5th science education after two years in the class.
Our science and technology units often tie to environmental justice and service learning. For example, in 1st and 2nd grade, students study the story of the earth and life, combining earth, life, and physical sciences, and how to better sustain the earth by considering waste, decomposition, and resource preservation. In 3rd grade, students learn more about plant and animal adaptations, ecosystems, and ways to protect the local ecosystem they live in. The 4th and 5th grade classes study physical sciences, like sustainable energy, and use engineering, such as design-thinking and building, to solve problems like creating an efficient solar oven. Students practice the skills and thinking of scientists and engineers, integrating art with observation, discovering through hands-on activities, and explaining thinking by creating models and defending them.
Sixth grade students study earth science with the goal of understanding Earth’s systems, with a particular focus on the geology and topography of the Bay Area, and using that knowledge to make informed decisions about humans’ impact on the planet and sustainability. Concepts include Earth’s history, structure and dynamic processes, weather and atmosphere, energy resources and pollution and Earth’s place in the universe. Field trips, integrated throughout the year, include a visit to an active mineral mine, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, science museums and a week exploring sustainable farming and energy use.
Seventh graders complete a laboratory-based life science course that introduces them to themes such as ecosystem concepts, cell biology, reproduction and heredity, DNA and biotechnology, and evolution and natural selection. The 7th grade science curriculum also integrates field trips that involve scientific study of local ecosystems along with science-related service learning opportunities.
Eighth graders study physical science with a focus on chemistry and physics, in addition to a unit on sexuality education. The focus is on lab experiences and concepts that will be integral to their high school science learning. Design thinking comes to the forefront with a number of projects including mousetrap cars and egg drops. In addition, they continue some of the field-based projects that they started in the 7th grade.
For more information
Paula Farmer, Director of Admissions
(510) 665-8800 Ext. 103
K - 8 Campus
1310 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
Early Childhood Campus
2030 Francisco Street
Berkeley, CA 94709