Browse Curriculum

Science

  • Science 4-5s

    Scientific observation has its own special place in the 4-5s’ classroom. Through ongoing scientific exploration, the children are learning to examine and investigate the constant and exciting changes of the physical world around them. This is accomplished primarily through our weekly visits to a wooded part of Central Park where students engage in both teacher-directed explorations as well as independent play-based interactions with the natural world.  As we see the seasons change outside, we also experience change and growth in the classroom. In the fall we witness the metamorphosis of the monarch caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Later in the spring we incubate duck eggs to experience the wonder of nature as the ducklings hatch and grow. Caring for, watching and nurturing plants and animals in our classroom are also important parts of our science curriculum. With guidance from Ian Weill, our science teacher, we are continually learning how to be scientists as we ask questions about what we observe and note the changes that occur around us all the time.
  • Science 5-6s

    The science curriculum in the 5-6s’ classroom connects students with the natural world through hands on investigations and nature play in the green spaces in our neighborhood. In the fall, students visit the Urban Assembly garden on 84th Street and Amsterdam to care for the plants, dig for worms, learn about various gardening tools, and taste the many vegetables and fruits that are ripening at this time of the year. We also investigate the different parts of plants and monitor how our plants are growing and changing over time. In the winter, we turn to physical science, investigating simple machines such as ramps, levers and pulleys. In the spring, we turn our thoughts to the Urban Assembly garden again. We start seeds indoors in our Growlab and, when they are ready, we transplant them outside.

    The other core element of our science curriculum is exploration in different areas of Central Park. Students rotate through different outdoor Science jobs each week that direct their investigations in these natural spaces. For example, the class ornithologists use field guides to identify the different birds that are found and record the number of sightings for that day. The class meteorologists use thermometers to measure the temperature of the day, record their observations of the weather through drawings, and predict the weather for the next day. We return frequently to the same spot to investigate and play, and in the process, students become keen observers of all the minute changes that occur throughout the year in nature.
  • Science 6-7s

    The 6-7s have the opportunity to investigate, observe and record various transformations that occur in the natural world. We begin the year by working on our skills of observation and notation, learning how to make a scientific drawing and to write descriptive sentences. We study insects in our classroom and in natural spaces in our neighborhood and document the complete metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly. In the winter, we turn to physical science and experiment with making a ball of clay float. In the spring, we learn about the physical and behavioral characteristics of birds, hatch chicks in the classroom, and birdwatch in Central Park. The children also practice having scientific discussions in the classroom where they share their observations and raise questions that lead to further investigation. We use Central Park and the Community Garden as part of our laboratory. We return to specific locations throughout the school year, which allows us to become connected to a place and notice all the minute changes that occur throughout the year in nature.
  • Science 7-8s

    The 7-8s’ science program focuses on the interconnectedness of living things and their environments. The cornerstone of this program is our trips to Central Park and the Urban Assembly Garden on 84th Street and Amsterdam, places where students are able to formally extend their scientific learning as well as informally make a close bond with the natural world. In the fall, we utilize the park to study the lives of trees. Each student chooses one tree to follow throughout the course of the season. We learn about trees’ different parts and the process through which their leaves change color and fall. We also look at the larger role a tree plays in its ecosystem by studying decomposition. In the classroom, students work with and care for various decomposers such as pill bugs, worms and millipedes. Outdoors, students hunt for fungi, search for insects in rotting logs and observe natural decay first hand.

    At the Urban Assembly Garden, students take on the role of caretakers of the MCS garden plot. They learn about the characteristics of various seasonal crops, the conditions in which they best grow, and then choose which seeds they would like to plant. Following seed planting, the students rotate each week through different garden jobs that help maintain a thriving school garden while also directing their investigations in this natural space. For example, the class horticulturalists water and amend the MCS plot while also tracking seed propagation rates and plant growth. The class ornithologists use spring scales to weigh the garden bird feeders, refill it when necessary, and refer to field guides to identify and record the different birds that are observed each day.

    In the winter, we explore human habitats through creating electrical circuits and learning about energy and its cycles and consumption. In the spring, we return to our studies of the natural world through investigations in Central Park and continued work in the Urban Assembly Garden. In preparation for the students’ spring farm trip, we compare and contrast these urban green spaces to what students may experience at the MCS Farm.
  • Science 8-9s

    The 8-9s’ science program encourages students to become curious about the world in which they live, and includes learning about times long ago and places far away. The science curriculum complements the social studies unit about Indigenous Peoples of the U.S. We learn about the ecology of the Eastern woodlands, including how the Manhattan landscape looked before the arrival of Europeans. Our work takes us out to the Urban Assembly school garden, where we observe first hand the growth of corn, beans and squash and investigate why the Lenape chose these plants as their staple crops. We also take trips to wild spaces in Central Park and recreate Native American dwellings through shelter building activities.

    In the winter, we use role-playing, in situ woodlands investigations, and secondary sources to study mammals native to New York State, their habitats, family structures, and food chains. Through a collaboration of science, shop, and art, we build shelters for mammals and learn about resource use and survival. In the spring we return to our study of ecology, this time focusing on waterways, river ecology and topography. We care for aquatic creatures and learn about interdependent relationships in our local waterways.
  • Science 9-10s

    The science program places a strong emphasis on understanding through discovery and problem solving, providing opportunities for hands-on experimentation. Students will further their understanding of the scientific process by asking questions, designing experiments, making predictions, and recording and analyzing data to come up with logical conclusions. During this process, the 9-10s will delve into drawing diagrams, creating models, and writing and talking about their scientific thinking as a group as well as individually.

    We begin the year with a focus on light and sound. We will manipulate both sound and light to see how their qualities can be changed. Using our powers of observation, we will look at ways that light and sound function in our everyday world, both natural and built. We will examine these forms of energy and how the human body receives and processes them. This leads into our study of the human body. Through models, dissection, and close observation, 9-10s will explore the various systems that keep our bodies functioning and healthy. In keeping with the theme of interconnectedness, we move into simple machines. Through building, the 9-10s will have direct experience with how we use simple machines to multiply the efficiency of the work we do.
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