The curriculum in the Middle School has a dual role: the presentation of information and the guiding of the students’ critical thinking skills from memorization to thoughtful, independent analysis of the material being presented. The curricular content continues to support the liberal arts background that IAS believes to be an integral part of each student’s educational foundation. In early adolescence, students begin to develop analytical thinking skills. Using the material in each course, Middle School teachers challenge their students to support opinions with facts and to question the world in which they live. The purpose is to continue the shaping of responsible young people who will contribute to their society
Grade 7 science focuses primarily on physics and earth sciences, but also includes material from other scientific disciplines. Through these topics, students are introduced to the scientific method of inquiry and critical thinking. In physics, the following topics are addressed: the metric system, heat and kinetic theory, phase changes, air pressure, sound, motion, electricity, electronics, magnetism, and light. In earth science, emphasis is placed upon the structure and dynamics of planet formation (plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain building), the atmosphere (formation, functions, and global circulation), weather, climate and climate change (greenhouse effect, global warming, acid rain, ozone depletion), ecosystems and change (desertification, deforestation, land use planning) and the role of people within the environment. Students are kept up to date on the role of science in our world with regular study of Science World magazine or other periodicals that feature articles from all fields of science, and through the use of on-line resources and other emerging technologies. The course meets seven times per week. Teaching techniques include lectures, discussions, group activities/team projects, demonstrations, audiovisual presentations, and laboratory exercises. An emphasis is placed on the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students may be exposed to a Socratic lecture format designed not to give information but to elicit student knowledge and expand upon it. Laboratory experiments reinforce concepts from the text and provide hands-on experience and discovery. Games and deductive logic puzzles are used to enliven the learning process. Work in this course includes the nightly review and updating of class notes, answers to questions from the texts, and lab reports. Students are given several days to complete assignments. All quizzes and tests are announced well in advance. A final exam is given at the middle and end of the year. Exams are comprehensive and formulated by the curriculum guide.
Eight and Ninth Grade Science introduces fundamental principles of chemistry and biology along with related topics in physics. Course content includes systems and standards of measurements; exponents and scientific notation; dimensional analysis; properties and composition of matter; shorthand of chemistry; chemical equations; chemistry of acids, bases, salts, oxides, and water; chemistry of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids; biology of three human systems; heat and temperature; and specific heat, thermal capacity, and latent heat. Science meets seven periods each week. Teaching techniques include lectures, discussions, group activities/team projects, demonstrations, audiovisual presentations, and laboratory exercises. Like Grade 7, this course emphasizes the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, thorough and accurate scientific observational skills, and inferential reasoning, as well as technologies, Internet resources, and other emerging technologies are used to present and illustrate aspects of these disciplines and to keep students abreast of current developments in these areas. Two of the seven periods are spent in the laboratory. Laboratory experiments reinforce concepts from the text and provide hands-on experience and discovery. Each week the student has a lab report to write; typically the student will do a lab one day and then hand the report in the following week. Other homework assignments vary, but include studying class notes, reading and answering questions in the textbook, and completing worksheets written by the teacher. Most quizzes and tests are announced in advance; they are diverse in their presentation (essay, short answer, multiple choice, and mathematical problems). A final exam is given at the middle and end of the year.