Students at Swift Creek learn science through hands-on activities. In all three grade levels, there is a focus on helping students gain an understanding of the nature of science. This understanding is developed throughout grades K-12. In middle school, students continue to explore the idea that explanations in science are determined through logical thinking. These explanations are developed through testing using the process skills of observation, experimentation, modeling, and gathering evidence using systematic procedures and measurements. Emphasis is placed on the necessity of experimental evidence to defend these explanations yet understanding that they are subject to change with additional scientific evidence. These explanations may then be used to predict the consequences of future actions.
Promoting environmental stewardship among students at Swift Creek is a recurring theme in all three grade levels. Students and faculty are encouraged to recycle throughout the school and the science department supports these efforts. Sixth grade classes in particular explore energy conservation at school and at home.
Content specific to sixth-grade science involves the process of change through studies of transformations of matter and energy. Students learn the effect of the sun’s energy in Earth’s systems on water in the environment, on air, atmosphere, and weather. Basic chemistry concepts are introduced. A study of the geography of Virginia’s watershed systems is done with an emphasis on keeping water and air free from pollution. Students gain a more detailed understanding of the solar system and space exploration. Natural resource management is introduced and a study is made of its relation to public policy focusing on the cost/benefit tradeoffs in conservation policies.
In seventh-grade science, students study life science. Emphasis is placed on changes in cycles, patterns, and relationships in the living world. Building on these concepts, students explore basic principles in cellular organization and classification of organisms. Relationships among organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems are examined. A study of change resulting from the transmission of genetic information from generation to generation is also done.
In eighth-grade, the academic year is divided into two parts. For the first half of the year, students study the basics of chemistry – properties of matter, the periodic table of elements, chemical reactions, etc. During the second half of the year, our focus switches to the basics of physics – energy, motion, and forces. 8th grade science serves as an introduction and foundation for high school physics and chemistry.
Science Systems I – 6th graders taking this course study the 7th-grade life science curriculum with half of the traditional 6th-grade curriculum added in. This is an accelerated course and paces the students to take Earth Science in 8th grade.
Science Systems II – 7th graders taking this course study the 8th grade physical science curriculum with the other half of the traditional 6th-grade curriculum added in. This is an accelerated course and paces the students to take Earth Science in 8th-grade.