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.