Middle School

Sixth Grade Science

In sixth grade science, students start off the school year by learning how to make scientific observations. This allows them to explore our campus and garden,  gather data, and understand the natural world and the processes that govern it. The scientific observation process allows students time to slow down and really understand what is happening in our world on a smaller scale. Students make connections on the relationships between the organisms they see, like a bee pollinating the flower or finding specific foods in our DE garden. Also, students explore the origins of food during our sixth grade cross-curricular Food and Identity Unit. In choosing a dish that represents them and their family, students learn about the history and culture of food. Students explore the relationships and interconnectedness between species in a food web, they identify native, nonnative, and invasive species, and locate the origins of their ingredients. This experience has led to understanding where our food comes from, how it travels around the world, and differentiating between non-GMO and organic food.

Sixth Grade CFA Partnership

The Sixth Grade has a long relationship with the Center for Food Action Garden in Englewood. This garden supplies fresh, organic produce to families struggling with food insecurity, adding variety to their diets and supplying essential nutrients. This garden was first constructed by sixth graders in 2016, and that grade continues to be key to its success: all sixth grade students go on short field trips in small groups to the CFA, where they assist with planting, harvesting, and weeding in this garden, enriching their scientific study of food with a hands-on experience and initiating their service-learning journey at the school.

Seventh Grade Science

In a subunit of this class, students answer the guiding question, “How Can I Help Protect the Planet?” In doing so, students address ways they can realistically have a positive impact on the environment; for instance, students learn about the direct impacts of our waste, with a particular focus on plastics(micro and nano), inspiring them to waste less and use more sustainable materials when possible in their daily lives. While an emphasis is placed on actions that can be taken by seventh graders, the environmental effects of air pollution, deforestation, and mass production of meat are also covered. An anthropological component rounds out this green theme, helping students understand why living sustainably can be a difficult task for some people around the world to do, and why it is so critical that they do their part. All of this is interwoven through a more traditional ecology unit.

Dwight-Englewood in the Garden (DIG)

DIG, an elective “discovery class,” provides a hands-on experience in organic gardening to interested 7th and 8th grade students. Lessons on the history of agriculture, the science behind modern farming, and the effects of practices like monoculture on the environment are complemented by first-hand experiences that take full advantage of the school’s many green spaces. Students plant, tend to, and harvest crops from their individual beds in the Nettie Coit Teaching Garden, using homemade compost from the Compost Arena as fertilizer along the way. Some start their seedlings early in the Greenhouse, and, after the harvest, all enjoy the classes on cooking with hyper-local produce, which take place in the Saphier Kitchen, a specially-designed cooking classroom in the MS building. Lessons on animal husbandry draw a stark contrast between the school chickens, allowed to roam free through the Nettie Coit Garden during the day, and those living in cramped, dark warehouses. Students in this class typically take on a group capstone project that applies principles learned earlier in the year to improve one of the aforementioned spaces for the benefit of future students.

DIG students grinding corn in the Saphier Kitchen. The corn was grown in the Nettie Coit Teaching Garden.

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