Academic Program
Middle School



The Middle School science program is designed to give students a solid foundation in the discipline and to provide a link between scientific concepts and their application to real-world situations.
We endeavor to cultivate in our students a sense of wonder, curiosity, and awe about how much the field of science has given us, along with the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. We want our students to understand that science is a process of creating and refining models of the world around us as we continually strive to find a balance between our need for resources and the long-term viability of our planet. In the Middle School years, courses are inquiry-based, allowing students to explore science through the process of asking questions and discovering possible answers by taking part in experiments and investigations. Topics in science that are relevant to their own lives are explored in each grade. Students contemplate both the world around them as well as the changes they witness in their own bodies. In the process, they develop the skills of reading critically, taking thoughtful and detailed notes, and analyzing data. Students work both independently and with their classmates to solve problems. Classes are structured so that questions are encouraged, inevitably leading to even more questions.

Middle School Science Curriculum

List of 4 items.

  • Grade 5: Naturalist Studies

    Students begin the year with a study of ecology that centers on flowering plants endemic to the New York City area. During this unit, students study Linnaean classification, photosynthesis, floral reproduction and adaptations by exploring, experimenting and conducting fieldwork. Eventually, they learn to identify trees found near the school. In the study of meteorology that follows, students conduct research by collecting weather data. They then explore the relationship between ecology and weather including graphical analysis and a discussion of climate change. A unit on “kitchen chemistry” introduces Grade 5 students to concepts such as thermodynamics, pH, physical vs. chemical change and the importance of the scientific method. The year ends with a bird study in which students learn about biomes, evolution, habitats and ecological interdependence in the context of a bird of their choice.
  • Grade 6: Investigative Science

    In this course, students will tackle questions such as: “How can infectious diseases be transmitted?” “Why would a lake become more acidic if there is a factory nearby?” "How can I build a catapult that will launch a projectile further than my classmates?" While investigating mysteries, students formulate and discover the answers to sophisticated questions in biology, environmental science and physics. This course continues to build on the research, presentation, experimental design, and observation skills learned in Lower School and Science 5, and prepares students for the more challenging material in future grades.
  • Grade 7: Human Biology

    The human body is at once mysterious and familiar, especially to adolescents. Many adolescents, however, judge their own growing bodies by unrealistic standards communicated by the media in information that is often contradictory. The goal of this course is to present scientific facts through “minds-on” activities and to enable students to better assess information and make sound judgments about their bodies. Before covering the anatomy and physiology of all major organ systems (including the skeletal, muscular, dermal, digestive, circulatory, respiratory, excretory, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems), students are introduced to the basic principles of genetics. This allows students to consider how we acquire certain physical traits, some of which are caused by genes and others by the environment.
  • Grade 8: Earth Science

    How is the interior of the Earth studied? How is electricity generated? What impact does the use of resources have on the future of humanity? Through an inquiry-based approach, students will explore these and other questions. For each topic, students begin by examining their own conceptions and expand and build on their perceptions through activities and experiments; at the same time, skills in technical-reading comprehension, critical thinking and information synthesis and summary are developed. This course serves as a springboard for more complex phenomena explored in the Upper School.

Explore Our Curriculum

A K-12 independent school in New York city, The Spence School prepares a diverse community of girls and young women for the demands of academic excellence and responsible citizenship.


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