An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Science

At Lakeside, learning science means doing science. Students are encouraged to be curious, ask questions, discover, and take intellectual risks. Our courses emphasize active, exploratory, hands-on learning: 6th graders learn about pressure and mechanical advantage by constructing hydraulic mythological creatures; 10th graders understand circuit rules by building LED voltmeters; and seniors master the engineering design process by designing and fabricating skateboards, among other exciting projects. Students are taught to think like scientists; they analyze data, identify patterns, and apply their understanding to new situations. They emerge from our program with a deep understanding of the natural world and the ways in which science explains their day-to-day life.

Middle School: Hands on, minds on

A wide variety of “hands on, minds on” science and engineering activities engage students’ curiosity in Middle School science classrooms. “Hands on, minds on" means not giving students the answers but rather having them engage in the scientific process by asking questions, designing experiments, analyzing data, interpreting results, and drawing conclusions based on their own laboratory work. Students work together on projects and activities in which they apply their developing knowledge of physical science, life science, and earth science.

Everything changes: The archetype of knowing everything about a subject is completely ridiculous. But good scientific habits – what again and again has helped humanity solve problems through testable means and peer review and having a curiosity about things – that’s a great skill to have. And it’s the perfect time to let kids experiment with that. – Antonio Hopson, middle school science teacher

A focus on engineering threads throughout the Middle School science program – part of an overall embrace of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Projects are designed to encourage innovation and reward creativity, persistence, teamwork, and self-motivation. For example, after learning about conditions on Mt. Everest, 5th graders use insulating materials to design a jacket for cold-weather exploration. Seventh graders practice the engineering design process (brainstorm; build; test; redesign) by building self-propelling boats that incorporate lessons about natural selection and the evolution of aquatic animals. And as part of studying climate change, petroleum, and alternative energy sources, 8th graders design and construct model wind turbines.

Students leave the Middle School with a solid sense of the roles science and engineering play in the world, supported by a firm grasp of natural science principles and what it means to have scientific habits of mind. Students use this understanding as they become increasingly active global citizens.

Read more about the Middle School science program in the Middle School curriculum guide.

Upper School: Real world science

The Upper School science department offers a broad range of rigorous classes designed to encourage curiosity about the natural world and build skills in scientific thinking and research. Our faculty is an experienced group of lab and field scientists who help students learn to think like scientists: coming up with meaningful questions, analyzing data, identifying patterns, and applying their understanding to different situations. In the process, students take intellectual risks by engaging in a process of experimentation and revision.

We strive to develop in students a deep understanding of scientific history, process, and content in the life and physical sciences.

Much of our coursework focuses on laboratory and real-world experiences and allows students to learn in different ways. Recent examples include: designing mountaineering oxygen sensors; synthesizing biodiesel and test driving it in a teacher’s car; analyzing acceleration data from NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander; and monitoring gene expression in genetically engineered worm strains.

Science is about trying, taking risks, failing, picking yourself up, and trying again. You’re not going to get it the first time, but you’ll be successful enough that you’re going to want to try it again. – David Joneschild, upper school science teacher

Students take three core yearlong laboratory-based introductory courses: biology, physics, and chemistry. Students can delve deeper into these disciplines through advanced elective courses in organic chemistry, pharmacology, physiology, molecular and cellular biology, field ecology, calculus-based physics, and engineering. Electives may vary from year to year. Independent study opportunities are also available for students who want to study one-on-one or in small groups with a teacher on a topic of their choosing.

Read more about Lakeside’s Upper School science program in the Upper School curriculum guide.


Learn more about science at Lakeside

Advanced Physics: Applications in Engineering

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Meet a Teacher: Michelle Wahlin

Chemistry teacher Michelle Wahlin knows how powerful teachers can be.

Meet the science faculty

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