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Fifth Grade Science

ScienceIn 5th grade science at Cambridgeport, we learn science skills and content by becoming scientists. We start this process by thinking about scientific practices - what do scientists really do? Then we start actually doing these things - asking questions, designing experiments, developing and using models, collecting and analyzing data, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence. Our work is driven by authentic student questions and at the end, we are left with strong understanding and even deeper questions.

Our work emphasizes the importance of curiosity, and the keeping of a science notebook to capture observations, ideas, and questions. Much of our learning flows from our rich scientific conversations. Two students from our classes wrote a forward to our journal Nature: Cambridgeport that captures the feel of our process at Cambridgeport.

All of the fifth grade students at the Cambridgeport School now have a great understanding of plants - the inside of them and the outside! But the process of learning what we know was even more interesting than the facts themselves. First we explored … looking and drawing from the outside in. We gazed through microviewers and saw tiny, unfamiliar worlds. We tasted the sugary water in the stems. We took what we learned and thought about what we already knew and put the pieces together. Our plants were leaning towards the light; they wrapped around things and climbed. We wondered if they could think. We designed experiments to answer our questions. Designing pushed us to think deeper, and use what we found to explain our discoveries. Experimenting in teams made us feel like we were finding something new. We felt like we were allowed to make our own choices and decisions. We felt like real scientist getting to research real questions.

This year our district curriculum topics for study include the units: Earth, Moon and Stars, Matter in Earth Systems, Living Things in Ecosystems, and Chemistry: Properties of Matter. An overarching theme of the year is systems, and the science and technology practices receiving special focus are those of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions and Engaging In Argument from Evidence. Other practices that we will emphasize in specific units are: Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Developing and Using Models, Asking Questions and Defining Problems and Planning and Carrying out Investigations.