Middle School (6-8)

6th -8th Grade Middle School: Smithsonian Middle School

6th Grade

Electricity, Waves and Information Transfer (6)
In 10 lessons, this unit allows students to develop an understanding of concepts, test ideas, and gain engineering skills through experimentation with electric circuit components and optical fibers. They also research and present information about neurological disorders that affect sensory receptors and the storage or use of information.

Structure and Function (6)
During this unit's 8 lessons, students consider how plants and animals have unique structures that assist in survival. Students first learn about cells and how they work in systems to contribute to survival. Next, they investigate photosynthesis and cellular respiration. A close investigation of the nervous system and a frog dissection show the interdependence of organs and their systems. Finally, students research unique systems of organisms.

Weather and Climate Systems (6)
In 12 lessons, this 5-Class Unit Kit allows students to study storms, winds, hurricanes, and tornadoes. They model the water cycle, the collision of air masses to visualize these effects. Students design a solution to minimize the impact of a storm surge. By the end of the unit, students use data sets to predict the weather and make evidence-based claims.

7th Grade

Matter and its Interactions (7)
Everything students see and touch is made of matter—albeit composed of particles too small to see directly. In order to fully understand phenomena occurring on the macroscale, students must become familiar with matter at the particulate and atomic level. In this unit's 11 lessons, students make observations about matter, investigate its physical and chemical changes, and develop and use models to describe its composition and behavior. 

Earth’s Dynamic Systems (7)
How did that aquatic fossil end up on top of a mountain? In this unit's 12 lessons, students learn about gradual processes (erosion, deposition, plate motion, and fossilization) and catastrophic events (earthquakes, volcanoes) and how they contribute to changes on the earth's surface. Students track the transfer of energy, build models, and investigate mineral resources. Students conclude the unit with research on preparedness for catastrophic events.

Ecosystems and Their Interactions (7)
As the unit opens, pond ecosystems and butterfly ecosystems provide the launching pad for learning how various elements of systems interact. During the unit's 11 lessons, students build models and work with simulations to learn how the food web, predation, genetics, and the energy pyramid affect ecosystems. By the end of the unit, students apply their learning to timely issues such as invasive species, runoff and its impact on drinking water, and landslides.

8th Grade

Space Systems Exploration (8)
In 10 lessons, this unit clarifies what students already know about space. Then, starting with the Sun-Earth-Moon system, the unit challenges them to perform a series of investigations through which they extend and enrich this knowledge.

Genes and Molecular Machines (8)
In 11 lessons, this unit helps students explore the different ways that organisms reproduce and what that means for their genetics. Students learn how traits are passed from one generation to the next as they study zebra fish, plants, protists, and humans. By the end of the unit, students create their own "creatures" with unique characteristics and follow those traits to their offspring to learn about inheritance.

Energy, Forces & Motion (8) 
In 9 lessons, this kit allows students to develop conceptual understanding of Newton's 3 laws using equipment that is both familiar and developmentally appropriate. Daily life provides students with many experiences through which they can see evidence of forces and energy changes and observe how objects move. Students investigate different forces, how those forces change the motion of objects and energy, and the different forms energy can take.  

Current offerings that are slated to be replaced

  • Diversity of Life (6) - Life Science
    FOSS-Students observe and maintain protists, plants, and animals in the classroom and study their characteristic features. The study progresses from macroscopic to microscopic observation to discover the fundamental unit of life, the cell. Students then investigate organism subsystems and behaviors the consider their adaptive advantages for reproduction and survival.
    Lab Requirements:Must have microscopes with 4x, 10x and 40x optics and Electronic balances. Extra classroom sets are essential with this unit. Requires groceries to be purchased.

  • Light(6) - Physical Science
    STC- Students progress through a series of carefully sequenced activities that introduce the behavior of light, its properties, and many uses. Lessons are divided into three sections: The Nature of Light, Reflection and Refraction, and Using Light.
    Lab Requirements:Access to several electrical outlets. Classroom sets provide needed tubes and consumables for each additional class taught.

  • Planetary Science version 2 (6) - Earth Science
    Planetary Science (6) - Earth Science

    FOSS -Students study the Earth as a celestial object before progressing to lunar science and lunar exploration, and then on to the Solar System. Activities explore the origin of the Moon, celestial motions, Moon phases, lunar geology, cratering processes, imaging technologies, scaling, and space exploration.
    Lab Requirements:Balances and mass sets needed. Some groceries must be purchased.

  • Understanding Weather & Climate (7) - Earth Science
    STC (formerly Catastrophic Events)- The module begins with students using a globe to assess geological and atmospheric patterns related to storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other catastrophic events. The three parts of the module then build on this initial activity. Lessons are divided into three sections: Storms, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes.
    Lab Requirements:Need computer and projector for CD-ROM images. Access to ice and electrical outlets. Will need to collect 2 ltr bottles and purchase some groceries.

  • Experimenting with Forces & Motion (7) - Physical Science
    STC (formerly Energy, Machines & Motion)- During the module students construct a variety of machines as they explore both physical science and technological design concepts. Energy; investigating how forces transform energy. Machines; conduct inquiries to learn how simple machines work. Motion; explore the motion of three student-built vehicles.
    Lab Requirements:Balance, hammer and access to several electrical outlets. Additional classroom sets are essential if teaching more than one class of science. Many parts and pieces (KNEX building blocks).

  • Human Body Systems (7) - Life Science
    STC- Middle school students have a natural curiosity about their bodies and how they work. This module taps that curiosity and helps students extend their knowledge through a series of lessons divided into three sections: Digestive System, Respiratory and Circulatory Systems, and Musculoskeletal System.
    Lab Requirements:Access to sink and fan (light walnuts and marshmallows on fire). Classroom sets provide consumables for each additional class taught. Some groceries to be purchased.

  • Earth History (8) - Earth Science
    FOSS -Students investigate rocks and fossils from the Grand Canyon to discover clues that reveal Earth's history. They study the processes that created the rocks. Students then use the knowledge and data from rock observations to make inferences about organisms, environments, and events that occurred over Earth's history.
    Lab Requirements:Some groceries and supplies must be purchased.

  • Populations and Ecosystems (8) - Life Science
    FOSS- Students raise populations of organisms to discover population dynamics in a range of conditions from ideal to extreme. Populations (producers and consumers) are put together to discover balance. Concepts: predator/prey, food chain, consumer, producer, population, interdependence, ecosystem.
    Lab Requirements:Many organisms are provided with this unit, have your habitats ready. Need room (flat surfaces) to setup and observe mini-ecosystems. Some groceries to be purchased.

  • Experimenting with Mixtures, Compounds & Elements (8) - Physical Science
    STC (formerly Properties of Matter)- This module offers a series of carefully sequenced inquiries to develop students' understanding about what matter is, what its properties are, and how it behaves. Three part module: Characteristic Properties of Matter, Mixtures and Solutions, and Compounds, Elements and Chemical Reactions.
    Lab Requirements:Burners & burner stands (either alcohol or gas) are required!Many chemicals are used in this unit. Goggles and access to sink are essential