What do you focus on more: content or process? This question was recently posed to Jake Eaton, Science Department Chair, about the middle school science program at MCDS. His answer? Well, both.
Our mission is to provide an intellectually stimulating, personally enriching, and academically challenging education in the liberal arts and sciences. Our goal is to provide students the opportunity to succeed in any field of their choosing, and to be able to change their minds and find equal success no matter when that change of mind occurs. We want our students to think like scientists—but we also want them to think like historians, writers, artists, musicians, and just generally amazing human beings.
Today in middle school science, the sixth graders were comparing their drawings of what they initially believed atoms and molecules looked like with what they now know them to look like. There were some exclamations when they saw how much these pictures, and, more importantly, their thoughts have changed.
I loved this exercise for so many reasons, but mostly because it gave the students an opportunity to reflect on both the content and the process. At MCDS, we don’t just focus on content, and nor do we expect the students to forever remember all of the facts and nuances of atoms and molecules. What we DO expect is that students remember the feeling they had when they realized how much they learned. We want them to continue to question their initial beliefs and be open to them changing. We want them to reflect on how far they have come and to be eager for the opportunities that lie ahead of them. And yes, we want them to remember something about atoms and molecules, and we want them to make those connections to other things . . . for example, trying to figure out how metal forms bond. Just another day in middle school science.