Science

The primary goal of science instruction at Norwood is to help students work towards science literacy: the desire and ability to pursue lifelong learning in science. We emphasize knowledge of fundamental concepts and themes, skills, and attitudes towards science. To create lifelong learning, students must be engaged in their own learning, so the approach kindergarten through eighth grade is “hands on, minds on”. Students explore and discover the world around them by creating hypotheses, testing them through experimentation and observation, and drawing conclusions through analysis. 

List of 10 items.

  • Pre-kindergarten

    Pre-kindergartners approach science class by immersing themselves in the scientific process. Children investigate units such as physics, bubbles, and the environment in order to develop skills fundamental to scientific inquiry. In physics, students learn how to observe data in order to make conclusions about falling objects and gravity. Children will also work in the school garden, observing plant growth during their unit on the environment. Throughout the process, students learn through hands-on instruction that is both engaging and active.
  • Kindergarten

    Kindergartners approach science class by immersing themselves into the scientific process. Studying units on physics, bubbles, and the environment, they explore the topic through investigation and build skills fundamental to scientific inquiry. In 'bubble-ology', they focus on communicating with their teacher and peers. In physics, they look at data to make conclusions about falling objects and gravity. When exploring the environment, students work in the school garden, observing plant growth. Throughout the process, students learn through hands-on instruction that engages active and curious kindergartners.
  • First Grade

    Through hands-on activities, first graders continue to explore the world through the scientific process. Students develop their observational skills in a unit on invertebrates, noting lifecycles and physical characteristics. In the chemistry unit, students classify liquids based on certain characteristics and explore states and changes of matter. In the unit on forensic science, students arrive in class to discover a roped-off crime scene; someone has stolen a fictitious teddy bear and students must work together to solve the crime using a series of forensic tests and other clues. By immersing themselves in the experimental design process, students learn the content by experiencing the scientific process.
  • Second Grade

    Second grade marks the first time that students maintain a science journal where they collect their observations and notes during the year, and these journals continue to be an integral part of the science curriculum through eighth grade. During the Simple Machines Unit, second graders study levers, pulleys, ramps, and gears to explore measurement and data analysis as they develop a conceptual understanding of how these machines make work easier. Students also learn about light and color, exploring concepts such as refraction, reflection, and other properties of light through hands-on activities with mirrors, prisms, and lights. During the Ecology Unit, second graders study two distinct habitats on Norwood’s campus: the eastern woodland and a marsh wetland. They learn about food webs and the importance of plants. They grow and observe plants and water-cycle terrariums. They also take local field trips to the woodlands and marsh and discuss the similarities and differences in these two habitats.
  • Third Grade

    In third grade, students begin to create larger and more complicated experiments. As they study force and motion, students create a roller coaster to test Newton’s laws. Observing differences among the experiments, students draw conclusions about the impact of different elements of the coaster on the motion of the car. When students study planetary science, the unit culminates in their designing and creating their own space rover; students apply the knowledge they have about other planets' climate, topography, and atmosphere to construct a machine that can collect information to send back to Earth.
  • Fourth Grade

    Fourth graders continue to immerse themselves in the hands-on world of the science curriculum. In the unit on human anatomy, students complete a peer teaching project where they work in a group to study a specific human body system in detail and then present the information to the class. In the robotics unit, students use LEGO NXT kits to explore energy conservation and asses the efficiency of solar and wind energy. That data is tracked on a tablet PC, and students evaluate the data sets completed during the experiment. 
  • Fifth Grade

    Fifth graders work with greater independence as they explore the topics of the year. In the microbiology unit, lab partners work to research specific bacteria that cause food borne illnesses and then present those findings to the class. For the weather unit, students, after studying weather systems and measurements, create their own weather device. After collecting the data, they compare it to Norwood’s Weatherbug station to assess the accuracy of their device. A major element of the fifth grade science curriculum is the Contraption Challenge, where students work in teams to design, build, and test a Rube Goldberg-style device while solving problems. They hold an open house for parents during Super Science Week to demonstrate their contraptions.
  • Sixth Grade

    In sixth grade, students take on a greater degree of responsibility and demonstrate their understanding of the scientific process by participating in the Experiment Expo. Each student designs and conducts a unique, individual experiment. They learn about the key components associated with experimentation: writing a hypothesis, conducting trials, collecting and analyzing data. They then present these findings to the community during the school-wide Super Science Week. Students also study units of genetics followed by a diversity of life unit where zoology is studied through the lens of evolution; we explore a variety of living organisms and preserved organisms as well as completing their first scientific dissections of earthworms, starfish, and perch.
  • Seventh Grade

    Seventh grade students work primarily in a lab setting. Lessons continue to be grouped in units, but students do the bulk of their work with lab partners as they explore the content of the lesson. Completing 2-3 small labs per week, they practice gathering data, analyzing it, and drawing conclusions. In addition to these weekly experiments, students complete larger, longer term experiments such as: Dr. Snow’s Broad Street Outbreak Simulation, the Silver Oaks point-source contamination simulation, and the material/physical science Eggsalent Car Crash Challenge. Through all of these, problem-based and inquiry learning drive the curriculum and challenge students to apply their knowledge to solve problems. 
  • Eighth Grade

    The eighth grade science curriculum centers on very big questions like, “How do we know what we know?” Addressing fundamental questions in science, students apply the lesson, knowledge, and skills that they have built over their careers at Norwood to tackle a series of experiments. While the content is based in physical science, students practice the finer skills of lab science such as measuring volume and mass, progressing from mixtures to compounds to elements. In the process, students learn about some of the characteristic properties, both physical and chemical, by which substances are recognized and separated. The emphasis in the course is on accurate observation and recording as well as completing the experiments themselves. The Sludge Project, where students must identify the substances given to them in a container, is a highlight of the year and a capstone to a Norwood student’s science career.
     

Faculty

List of 6 members.

  • Samantha Kagan 

    Lower School Science Teacher and Third Grade Math Co-Teacher
    University of Wisconsin-Whitewater - B.S.
  • Annette Matzner 

    Middle School Science Teacher and Advisor
    Augustana College - B.S.
    Carnegie Mellon University - M.A.
  • Debbie Pakaluk 

    Middle School Science Teacher, Advisor, and Service Learning Coordinator
    Cornell University - B.S.
    University of Kansas - M.A.
    Washburn University
  • Karen Saxe 

    Science Teacher
    Indiana University - B.A.
    George Washington University - M.A.T.
  • Claudia Sorenson 

    Science Teacher
    University of Wisconsin - B.S.
    John Hopkins University - M.A.
  • Chris Ward 

    Lower School Science and Math Teacher
    Wellesley College - B.A.
    Rice University - M.A.T.
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.