The popcorn is popping, the bells are ringing, and we sit and observe the ice melting and the condensation it leaves behind.


These are not the scenes from a holiday party, but rather from the Lower School’s most recent department meeting dedicated to learning about how we can provide the best hands-on experiences for our youngest scientists.


Janet Vande Berg, Middle School science chair, and Patrick Knox, Lower School science instructor, completed mini-demos of several science lessons for PK-4 classroom teachers. Teachers had an opportunity to be the “students” while engaging in different hands-on experiments. Resources from the NSTA (National Science Teacher Association) and Picture Perfect Science Lessons were shared, and teachers learned how easy it can be to integrate children’s literature with current science topics.


The excitement for science in Lower School is all the buzz right now! Students are deeply engaged in reading and writing non-fiction texts that naturally set the stage for the science content and skills they are learning in the lab and in the classroom.


Prekindergarten science lessons during the month of December are related to weather–particularly “icy” weather as they study the letter I.  Their study of crystals, snow, and ice provides an introduction to the properties of water and a beginning understanding about the states of water. Students will participate in exciting experiments that include observing how salt lowers the freezing point of water and a comparison of melting speeds of ice on dark and light backgrounds.


Kindergarten students will continue to explore physical properties of wood and paper according to size, texture, color and weight. Students will use the knowledge gained from their observations to make creative constructions out of wood and paper. Our youngest inventors are sure to surprise us with their imaginations.


First graders are currently enjoying a unit of study on rocks and minerals. They have been observing rock collections and learning all about how geologists study rocks and minerals. As students engage in many hands-on experiments, they are learning the value of accurate and detailed observations as well as how to work collaboratively with others.


Second graders have begun to explore a unit of study on fossils and dinosaurs. Students are applying their knowledge of nonfiction text features as they read books and articles about fossils and dinosaurs.The students are engaged in researching, taking notes, organizing, and crafting expository writing about a dinosaur of their choice.The second graders are experiencing life as “paleontologists” by sifting through dirt to discover fossils in the science lab and in the classroom.  They will even have the opportunity to create their own fossils!


Third graders are busy learning about the earth, moon and sun. Students have been to the Morehead Planetarium and even had a visiting scientist here on campus who helped them make sun dials. Students are observing and recording how the sun, Earth’s star, rises in the east and sets in the west in a predictable pattern.  They are using tools to collect and analyze data to develop logical conclusions about the movements of objects in the sky.


Fourth graders are in their second science rotation of the year (students in this grade switch classes for science and have the opportunity to learn from all four teachers throughout the year).

Students exploring different body systems with Mrs. Aurilio are learning how to take their resting, walking and running heart rates as they learn about the circulatory system and the heart.

Students exploring properties of light with Ms. Childrey are studying the eye and how it relates to light and color.

Students exploring weather with Mrs. Simpson are keeping track of local temperatures and weather conditions and graphing the data on line graphs and pie charts.

Students exploring plants with Mrs. Price have spread mulch over the rain garden and are growing plants in the classroom in their study of native N.C. plants.


Fifth graders are working hard in a geology unit of study and are completing different laboratory experiences that include modeling glaciers and demonstrating how water erosion can change the Earth’s surface.  If you feel some extra movement in the fifth grade center, it is because they are simulating earthquakes in their classrooms!


‘Tis the Season for Science in Lower School!

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