Technology

Parent Guide to Middle School Science

Helping your child develop a strong sense of wonder and questioning is a beautiful skill for them to have, and science is all about asking questions.

As a parent, you strive to give your child every advantage and tool you can to help them succeed in school and life. As your child moves into middle school, their learning challenges become more significant, and one powerful asset you can provide for them is to help prepare them for what lies ahead. 

Today, we’ll talk about the middle school science curriculum and how you can help your child prepare and be comfortable with the material they’ll be covering. Science involves asking questions and methodically determining the answers, encouraging your child to start thinking like a scientist. 

Instead of simply giving your child answers for their science questions, treat the questions like an experiment. Their question and guess will be a hypothesis, and the method for determining the response will be the testing. After they’ve found the answer, check with them as to whether their theory was correct. The essence of science is asking and answering questions.

Grade Six students will look at earth and space sciences (geology), including how the Earth formed, plate tectonics, weather systems, and resources. Grade seven students will be covering life sciences (biology), focusing on cellular organisms, diversity and adaptation, and how they adapt and change genetically. Grade Eight students will study physical sciences (chemistry and physics), including the properties of light, how atoms work, and changes in states of matter.

Grade Six – Earth and Space Sciences

Grade six science students will focus on how the Earth formed, focusing on its physical features, such as the crust, mantle, etc. The concept of processes and cycles will be covered, including the water cycle, to understand the importance of natural resources and their role in sustaining life. 

Weather and climate will be discussed, including the effect of the sun and atmosphere on regional weather conditions. They’ll cover resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, and the impact of humans on the environment.

The focus will move outward as students cover the solar system and how planetary bodies move. Students gain an understanding of distances in space and look at galaxies and the universe. They’ll earn about the hierarchical relationship of stars, planets, and moons.

One way you can help your child understand the concepts of earth science is to discuss climate with them. If they’re not familiar with the idea of drought, you can look at houseplants and discuss what happens when they don’t have enough water. If they’re familiar with drought, talk about how it affects areas like Southern California, where over a third of US vegetables and two-thirds of its fruit and nuts are grown. Talk about what impact a lack of water might have on the rest of the country and how the weather in one region can impact other places in the world.

National Geographic has many online activities and units covering earth science. New Path learning offers worksheets and study guides online, and there are several workbooks and study guides for sale through Amazon.

Grade Seven – Life Sciences

Grade seven will turn the discussion inward, as students will learn about the basic building materials of life, the cell. The cellular composition of organisms, including plants and animals, will be covered. Students will learn about photosynthesis and cellular respiration and how the body moves oxygen and water around.

Students will talk about the major organs in the body and life systems and the role of reproduction and heredity from genes and genetic traits. Diversity and adaptation, as well as natural selection, will also be discussed.

Students will learn about infectious diseases and how the immune system works to defend the body. The discussion of the role humans play in the ecosystem and how population size affects food webs will be covered.

If you have a local science center nearby, give them a call or go online to see what exhibits they are offering and whether they relate to life science. You can also encourage your child to grow a plant from seed, checking in with them to discuss how roots, photosynthesis, and water help the plant to grow over time. 

New Path has free online worksheets, and you can also find many instructional videos through Youtube. However, it’s essential to preview any videos to determine how and what they are teaching. With cellular structures, visual guides can help make understanding the different parts easier. 

Grade Eight – Physical Sciences

Grade eight students will tackle physics and chemistry at the introductory level. They will learn the base composition of matter, discussing atoms and molecules, and how the parts of the atom work.  They’ll also cover the differences between compounds and elements and the physical and chemical properties of matter. 

Students will take on the periodic table of elements, covering chemical change and how the distance between particles changes the state of matter. The material will lead to the energy transformation of kinetic energy, how electricity, light, sound, and heat. 

Students will cover how electric, magnetic, gravitational, and friction forces act upon each other and how those forces affect objects in the real world. They will discuss an introduction to Newton’s laws of motion, inertia, energy, and mass.

You can come up with home experiments based on gravity and motion, perhaps a domino run or Rube Goldberg device to walk your child through how inertia and friction play a role in the movement of an object.

Help Teaching offers worksheets covering physics and chemistry for eighth grade, as does etutorworld.TEDEd offers videos about grade eight science-related topics.

If your child is interested in the material, visit the American Physical Society online for information about preparing for a career in physics.

Conclusion

Helping your child develop a strong sense of wonder and questioning is a beautiful skill for them to have, and science is all about asking questions. Ensure to engage your child, ask questions, and try different methods to explain if they struggle with the material. Best of luck, and keep at it; learning is a marathon, not a sprint. 

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