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7th Grade Science

Project-Based Science 2016-17

How does the Earth Work?

 Investigate the physics, chemistry and biology of our planet with iPads, FOSS, activities and projects in the lab and outside.


1. Introductions: How we’ll work together including norms and policies. What you already know and want to know about how the Earth works and what exactly IS science? Participate in the Socrates Café, online research, video clips and team building challenges. [PBL, creativity, collaborative norms for creative groups]

2. Take-a-Break Days:

Cool News in Science!: You’ll get regular opportunities to keep up with ANY area of science through TED talks and the very latest magazine articles.

Creative Collaboration Games: To hone our ability to work, learn and innovate together.

Picture It!: Take beautiful and informative pictures to illustrate concepts we are studying from the real world. Add to our class room art/science gallery. You’ll do at least one per unit.

3. Cool the School! Some of our classrooms at OIS get to over 85 deg.F! What can we do to cool them down without central AC? Investigate heat transfer with the ice cube/ice cream and the shoebox solar house challenges, survey the coolest places at OIS, and be an HVAC engineer to research and test your ideas for real. [Thermodynamics, engineering, scientific surveying, energy transformation, climate change]

4. Survive the Next Big One: Why are we at risk from earthquakes? How big is the risk and what can we do to stay safe? Learn all about plate tectonics and earthquake engineering with labs and challenges, culminating in an ad safety campaign for our community. National Shake Out Day is October 20th! [Plate tectonics, seismic engineering]

5. What’s the Story of the Hills? How did the hills behind the school form? Investigate the uplift and erosional forces, dig a hole and learn about how the soil formed. Model the forces with sand and sandwich models, hoses and mud. Tell the story as a children’s story e-book or a video clip that our elementary schools could use. [Geomorphology, tectonics, erosion, deposition, soil science, surveying]

6. Teach Kids the Timeline of Life: Use ‘study smarter’ strategies to learn the timeline of life yourself (and investigate the most effective, research-proven learning strategies for you.) Then develop a scale that kids will instantly understand, to show the main events in the evolution of life on Earth. Maybe a tetherball string, a day or the length of the Glorietta playground. If it’s good enough, you can actually teach this mini lesson in your favorite elementary teacher’s classroom. [Earth history, scale, cognitive psychology, math, art, teaching skills]

7. What’s the Story of You? Investigate the nature and nurture that led to you being you by interviewing your family, looking through photographs and putting together your family tree. Trace a trait to evaluate if it’s dominant or recessive. You’ll be interviewing each other for a ‘Storycorps’ podcast. [Genetics, developmental psychology]

8. Be an Advice Columnist for 7th Grade Sex Questions! Learn the science behind sexual reproduction in plants, animals and us. Apply what you’ve learned in school and in life to respond to questions with honesty, accuracy and compassion. The best will be displayed on a blog open to our whole school community. Anonymity guaranteed of course! [Sex education, reproductive system, letter-writing genre]

9. Strike it Rich – Which are the most valuable minerals? Why? And what can we do to preserve them and find new sources? Work this out and you could strike it rich in the real world! Use maps and stats, try your hand at gold panning and ore identification and learn all about mining, reclamation and recycling of these key resources. Your proposal for striking it rich will be presented in a Shark Tank business proposal format. [Rocks and minerals, sustainability, business plan writing, mapping]

10. All About Ecosystems: Get set for taking environmental action for your next project. Includes eco games, the state of life on Earth and true stories of hope.

11. The Take Action Project: All year, you will be collecting ideas for problems to effective and informed action on: What are YOU inspired to do? Make a small change in your own life that will help the world, then scale it up – what if everyone made that same change? What could the effect on the whole world be? Make an ad for others to take effective action to make the world a better place. Your ad will be played at the TAP Film Festival. [Sustainability, ecology and the cascade effect, climate change, resource shortages, plastics problems].