Shaping Middle Schools
by Fanning/Howey Associates, Inc.
Stop into a science class at Angola Middle School in Angola, Indiana, and you might hear a discussion of how human bacteria has launched a multi-billion-dollar, international perfume and deodorant industry.
At Edgar Allan Poe Middle School in Annandale, Virginia, eighth-graders in math and science may be checking the stock reports to review the latest figures for major consumer product and pharmaceutical companies.
And at A.l. Root Middle School in Medina, Ohio, students may be exploring the density of a steamer trunk as a part of a unit reviewing the history of U.S. immigration, or analyzing data on roller coasters collected on a field trip to Cedar Point amusement park.
Around the country, science and math programs at the middle school level have evolved into creative yet practical initiatives that engage students through a combination of multimedia instruction, field experimentation, computer-based analysis, interactive research, and hands-on activities.
Subject matter — as broad-ranging as analyzing the design of athletic shoes to predicting the weather — is often linked to curriculum in other academic areas, such as language arts, social studies, economics, and even physical education.
"We try as much as possible to integrate the curriculum for our team," says Louise Morello, an eighth-grade science teacher and chair of the science department at Poe Middle School. "I think it helps students understand the role that science plays, and how it affects their everyday lives.'
While science curriculum in particular has become more inventive, the application of technology has also become routine. Rather than logging data by hand, for example, students use "probeware" linked to computers that automatically document and graph statistics such as temperature, light density, or pH levels.
This article is excerpted from Shaping the Future: Middle Schools with permission of the publisher, Fanning/Howey Associates, Inc.
A science room at Angola Middle School has room for students to move around for hands-on activities.
Photo: David Emery
Science rooms at Wilson Middle School in Muncie, Indiana, include a fume hood, enabling students and staff to work with chemicals in a safe, well ventilated area.
Photo: David Emery
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