The goal for science at the elementary level is for students to come to understand scientific concepts at an age appropriate level, develop life long scientific attitudes and habits of mind and be able to apply scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills to problems.
All science lessons are designed around the Learning Cycle: focus, explore, explain and apply. Reasoning skills begin in first grade with students observing, measuring and identifying properties, and continue to build through middle school when students begin to design and conduct controlled experiments. In the elementary classroom, students use hands-on learning to develop understandings about science in four areas keyed to the Pennsylvania State Science Standards and Assessment Anchors: The Nature of Science, Biological Science (including Environmental Science), Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science. Students who follow through the elementary sequence are prepared to take the PSSA Science test in spring of 4th grade.
The science curriculum will help children develop skills in all areas. The inquiry-centered approach emphasizes cooperative learning, which helps students build their social and interpersonal skills. Additionally they learn to accept the opinions of others. Reading, speaking and listening skills are also developed as students complete record sheets, keep science notebooks, read stories about the topics being covered, and share their findings formally and informally. Math skills are developed as they measure, weigh, compare, design data tables and create graphs and charts.
Middle School Science
The goal for science at the Middle level is for students to continue to understand scientific concepts at an age appropriate level, develop life long scientific attitudes and habits of mind, and be able to use scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills in their lives. Students continue the hands-on, inquiry based approach started in elementary school, using the concrete observations done in the lab to construct abstract understanding of the world around them. Reading, mathematics, writing, speaking and listening skills are applied and reinforced in Science classes as students apply those skills to their Science lessons.
Students in 6th grade study topics in Earth Science and Physical Science. Students in 7th grade study topics in Life Science. Students in 8th grade study topics in Earth Science, Astronomy, and Chemistry. The Pennsylvania State Science Standards and Assessment Anchors provide the framework for the curriculum. As students move through the sequence of courses covering The Nature of Science, Biological Science (including Environmental Science), Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science at the middle school level, they are prepared to take the PSSA Science in the spring of 8th grade.
High School Science
Students at the high school level have a more diversified curriculum, with over 30 different science courses from which to choose, from General Science in 9th grade through the challenges of Advanced Placement Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science. After completion of the Biology course in 9th or 10th grade, students sit for the state Keystone Biology Exam. After successful completion of Biology, students are able to choose the science courses that will best prepare them for their college and career plans. All science courses at the high school level have a laboratory component, and many students take advantage of such opportunities as the Outdoor Classroom in Naylor’s Run Park and the gardens of the Horticulture program.
Building on the skills developed in the middle grades, students continue to move beyond making concrete observations of the world around them to constructing abstract explanations about the world around them, developing mathematical and other models to enhance their understanding. The science courses provide application of skills in reading, writing, and mathematics that support the learning in the other content areas. Communication skills are further developed as students work together, conduct research, and present their findings to their classmates in both written and oral reports. Math skills are developed as they apply concepts of algebra, trigonometry, and calculus to solve problems.
The Upper Darby School District Science Curriculum strives to create individuals who have the ability to apply scientific understandings and ways of thinking, and to provide the skills necessary for success in college-level science courses. These are essential for all citizens in a world that is shaped by science and technology.