At Madison Country Day School, each student learns the scientific method and philosophy of science, beginning with laboratory experience, in the first grade. The Japanese science curriculum is a sophisticated experiment-based program using and teaching the scientific method.
•To support students in becoming active, independent learners with a sense of wonder and curiosity.
•To develop science process skills such as observing, predicting, communicating, classifying and inferring.
•To develop the skills and confidence to design and implement experiments utilizing the scientific method.
•To develop an appreciation and practical use for recorded information such as data, observations, and predictions.
The science curriculum is an adaptation of the national Japanese science curriculum. Students are led through an in-depth exploration of a number of selected topics, guiding them toward an appreciation of the processes and discipline of science while helping them to develop a detailed understanding of the specific topics studied. The majority of student time is devoted to work within a hands-on, exploratory learning environment. Students learn both through guided exploration and careful teaching of the scientific method. In guided exploration, students are encouraged to express their curiosities while practicing making detailed observations. During teaching of the scientific method, students are expected to formulate questions, make predictions, and determine various means for answering their questions. Students are continually assessed on specific objectives. Assessments are oral, written, and manipulative at all grades.
Students in grade one are introduced to the process of science, predicting and observing. Students study the campus environment, in particular, the Yahara River and related life cycles. Additionally, students study oceans, nutrition and simple machines.
Students in grade two continue to develop a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world while developing a more concrete sense of the process of experimentation. Students learn to hypothesize, observe and study the results of their experiments. Topics include prairie and desert ecosystems, plant and animal adaptations, solubility, nutrition and electricity.
Students in grade three use the scientific method through their hands-on experiments. They learn to predict, observe, classify, and communicate their findings, and they begin to design experiments and develop a more concrete sense of variables and controls. Topics of study include plant life cycles, insects, soil composition, electricity, and magnets.
Students begin designing experiments and learn to pay special attention to dependent and independent variables. Students learn to predict, observe, classify, and communicate their findings. They also learn to graph data, how to read a graph and then draw a conclusion from it. Emphasis continues to be on hands-on experimentation. Topics of study include properties of heat, phase changes of water, the water cycle, how seasonal changes affect living things, electricity and light, erosion, working with weights and balances, and the effects of exercise on the body.