Science Processes: Inquiry Process, Inquiry Analysis and Communication, Reflection, and Social Implications
The seventh grade content expectations present the final opportunity for the middle school learners to refine and develop their inquiry skills prior to the introduction of the high school curriculum. Students should be able to recognize that different kinds of questions suggest different approaches for scientific investigation. Students should be able to generate a variety of questions through observation, sets of data, manipulation of variables, investigations, and research. They further develop and sharpen their skills in measurement and the use of tools and scientific equipment. They collect and organize their own sets of data into charts and graphs, make sense of their findings, evaluate and analyze their own data as well as the data of others, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their findings and the claims of others. Students recognize the importance of collaborative science discourse. Learners understand that science investigations and advances may result in new ideas and areas of study generating new methods and possibly resulting in new investigations. Reflection and social implications are the application of the students’ new knowledge and affects their decision making and their perception of the effect humans, scientific discovery, and technology have on society and the natural world
Physical Science: Energy, Properties of Matter, Changes in Matter
Seventh grade students continue their exploration into the concept of energy through the exploration of light energy and solar energy effects. Students gain a greater understanding of the role of the sun’s warming and lighting of the Earth, and how light energy is transferred to chemical energy through photosynthesis. The transfer of energy is studied through examples of waves (sound, seismic, and water) and how waves transfer energy when they interact with matter. Their earlier studies of properties of matter emphasized observable physical properties. Seventh grade students explore a more in-depth study of physical properties (boiling point, density, and color) and chemical properties of matter (flammability, pH, acid-base indicators, and reactivity). Students are introduced to organization of the Periodic Table of the Elements and recognize the atom as the smallest component that makes up an element. Seventh grade students draw upon their knowledge of properties of matter and use evidence to describe physical and chemical change. They recognize that when a chemical change occurs, a new substance is produced and that the new substance has different physical and chemical properties than the original substance. Students describe evidence of chemical change as a change in color, gas formation, solid formation, and temperature change.
Life Science: Organization of Living Things and Heredity
Seventh grade students expand their investigations of living things to include the study of cells. They demonstrate that all organisms are composed of cells and that multicellular organisms and single cellular organisms exist in ecosystems. The seventh grade study of cells includes how cells make up different body tissues, organs, and organ systems and are specialized in their functions. Cell division is explored to help the students describe growth and development. Seventh grade students have the fine motor skills and conceptual development to use a light microscope and accurately interpret what they see. This enhances their introduction to cells and microorganisms, establishing a foundation for molecular biology at the high school level. In the seventh grade content expectations, students expand their knowledge to include how characteristics of living things are passed on through generations, both asexually and sexually. Seventh grade students are able to understand that genetic material carries information. They compare and contrast the advantages of sexual vs. asexual reproduction, and recognize that reproduction is a characteristic of all living things and necessary for the continuation of every species.
Earth Science: Earth Systems and Fluid Earth
The primary focus of the Earth science content expectations is understanding the relationship between the sun’s warming of the Earth, the water cycle, and weather and climate. In the sixth grade Earth science curriculum, students studied the rock cycle and physical and chemical weathering. The seventh grade units of study explore another Earth cycle in the context of the water cycle and the composition of the atmosphere. Students investigate the sun’s warming of the atmosphere, land, and water, and how it affects the movement of water through the atmosphere, weather, and climate. Their knowledge of weather goes beyond the more basic observations of weather from the elementary curriculum to include the frontal boundaries, major air masses, and the jet stream. The reflection of their knowledge is applied to how human activities have changed the land, oceans, and atmosphere, and the implications of pollution, climate change, and threatening or endangering species.