In keeping with the field studies program at the School, the 3rd and 4th grade students spend one day every two weeks conducting field research, visiting museums, science centers.
The course has a Life Science focus using birds and their communities to discover habitat, adaptation, evolution, food webs, and the scientific skills of observation, data collection, and record-keeping. Texts: Project Wild, published by the Council for Environmental Education; Classroom Birdwatch developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and the National Science Foundation; Homes for Wildlife developed by the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department.
Students focus on Earth science and extend their studies to the universe and the solar system. Students observe rocks, minerals, tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, soil, the exchange of energy in the form of electricity and magnetism.
Approaching science from the field naturalist point of view, the program engages students in all elements of middle school science: earth, life, and physical sciences. Students must understand the interaction of each of those elements on the world around them. The School uses the outdoors as the primary learning space for science classes guiding the students to observe the interaction among those three strands of scientific inquiry.
The environment provides authentic science experiences that develop active minds. Students use the outdoors to develop answers using evidence acquired during the focus of study, a skill that carries over into other academic work.
The School complies with the Vermont requirement of 120 hours per course, but compresses the hours together. Four times per school year, for one full week, grades 5-8 board the bus with their science journals to devote their energies to observing, collecting data, cataloging species, and gathering comparative information. The seasonal changes, locations, and transportation offer an immersion program that begins with phenology in the fifth/sixth grade, studies life science in the seventh grade, and concludes with earth science in the eighth grade. By the end of eighth grade students have learned to function as field scientists.
The goal is to create students who can walk into any ecosystem and explain how it came to be the way it is and what factors may, and inevitably will, change it.
The core of our innovative science program is what makes it unique: working outside in a hands-on environment. We explore the natural world to better understand the ecosystems studied in class.