Class Science News - by Grade


In Kindergarten we have been learning about farm machinery and simple machines. We did two experiments that involved the incline plane and a lever. When learning about an incline plane, we talked about what we see in our everyday life that is an incline plane. Some examples the children came up with were, a slide, a hill, and how we could make our legs in the shape of an inclined plane. After we thought of what we see every day, we did an experiment to explain how they work.

Students were shown two long blocks. They were then rested up against our white board at circle; one being more slanted than the other. The students were told that we were going to take toy cars and put them down the two blocks at the same time and see which one goes faster. Before we tested them out, we talked about some hypothesis. After we tested it out, of course the children came to the conclusionthat the car going down the steeper block went faster.

The next day we learned about levers. We also talked about what we see in our everyday life that could be a lever. The most common example was a seesaw.  For this experiment, we took a long wooden block and rested it on a rounded block to act as the fulcrum. Then the children were told that we were going to rest a book on one end and see where the fulcrum needed to be to be easiest to lift the book up (middle, closest to book or farthest from book). Again, we talked about our hypothesis. The children had mixed feelings this time, which made the experiment even more exciting. As we tested each way, the children were able to feel how easy or hard it was to lift the book.

We will be learning about more simple machines and their uses, as well as making a farm machinery book. 

First Grade

The First Grade science theme focuses on the Animal Kingdom. Children in First Grade learn about the unique characteristics associated with each family of animals. Having Shelburne Farms right outside the classroom, First Graders have had many opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat and will continue to throughout the school year.

One experience the children took part in was visiting the garden in the fall to observe insects pollinating flowers. Upon returning to the classroom, students squished blueberries, counted their seeds, and determined how many times that blueberry plant had been pollinated prior to fruiting.

To learn about animals that the children might not encounter in Vermont, such as penguins, students were guided in creating life-size representations of various penguin breeds found throughout the southern hemisphere. This allowed the children the opportunity to use math by measuring the height of their penguin and art to draw and color it, which are two components of our STEAM program. In addition, the children began learning how to read non-fiction text to identify specific information about their breed of penguin.

To continue practicing this skill and learn the importance of research, the children have begun mammal projects, in which they are becoming an expert on a mammal from around the world. First Graders will compile information about diet, habitat, and unique characteristics pertaining to their animal into their very first research report and create an accompanying poster to present to the class. These projects will be on display in the hallway during the month of February for everyone to enjoy. Stop by and take a look at what our amazing First Grade scientists have learned!

Second Grade

The exciting science themes in Second Grade include The Earth and Geology, Astronomy, and Weather/Meteorology. All science themes are enriched with in-class studies, hands-on experiences and projects, field trips, and guest speakers. 

Some of the highlights of our study of The Earth and Geology this fall were linked to the many hands-on experiences the students had exploring rocks, minerals, and fossils up close. As the children handled and examined rock samples, they learned to sort, classify, and identify them as well! We had a visit from a local geologist who showed the students how to further classify and identify rocks and minerals by performing the scratch test for hardness, as well as the acid test to detect the presence of certain minerals in the samples. Each second grader thoroughly enjoyed creating their own rock collection, which they proudly took home at the end of our unit. 

Our Astronomy unit began in January and students’ eyes were opened to the sheer vastness of our universe! Now our focus is primarily on the objects in our Solar System. Each Second Grader will become an expert on a specific object in our Solar System as they research and write a report on this object. The students will become astronomers as they learn about the planets, stars, and phases of the moon. They will begin to look at the night sky with a new perspective. 

In the springtime we will begin our unit on Weather/Meteorology. Once more, through hands on activities, students will learn about the water cycle, the atmosphere, and weather. They will have an opportunity to learn about and use weather instruments as they collect data and make predictions about the weather. This unit is often enriched by a visit to a local news station where students can meet with an actual meteorologist!

Of course science beyond the themes mentioned above happens regularly in Second Grade as well! Students enjoy various STEAM activities in our own classroom or with a mixed-grade group as part of our Living Arts program. Beginning in March, each Second Grader will also be selecting a simple science experiment to practice at home that they will then demonstrate to their classmates at school. Through this process students learn about the scientific method and have fun demonstrating their science experiment for their classmates.

Third Grade

Third Grade is a very exciting year for students here at the Renaissance School as it is their first year participating in the school science fair! Meteorology, Geology, and Botany are the three branches of science we will be focusing on. Students were able to choose an experiment that aligned with these science themes that are taught in Second and Third Grade to ensure there was sufficient prior knowledge of their topic.

We have been learning about each component of the scientific method as students plan, prepare, and conduct their experiments in class. Students are given the tools they need to ask questions and find answers that are factual, verifiable, and provable.

Right now we have started three science experiments in our classroom. Bean seeds were planted and are placed under the grow lamp where the students are watering them daily, measuring them, and performing tests to collect data needed for their experiments. Next we will begin experiments that involve growing different types of crystals and minerals! We hope to see you at the science fair where the exploration and findings of each experiment will be displayed!

Fourth Grade

Fourth Graders have been busy scientists this year. They began with an investigation into the systems of the human body in which they measured their heartbeats, learned how to splint broken bones, and compiled their own research into a seven paragraph paper on a specific body system.

From there, the Fourth Grade class started to explore the scientific method. They are learning how to develop research questions, form hypotheses, and record scientific data. These skills will culminate with their science fair presentations. They are already hard at work on their experiments.

Fourth Graders are really looking forward to their spring science focus: life cycles. During this unit, students will investigate the life cycles of both plants and animals as well as explore the role of environment and non-living things in an ecosystem.

Perhaps most exciting of all, over a three week span in May, Fourth Graders will be caring for hatchlings from egg to newly-hatched chick. We are looking forward to welcoming these little chickens as Fourth Grade explores life cycles up close. It has been an exciting year of scientific investigation and we look forward to the exploration to come. 

Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade started the year learning about matter in science. Students learned about the states of matter, physical and chemical properties, acids and bases, and atoms. The unit consisted of hands-on experiments and guided inquiry. Students especially loved testing for acids and bases using cabbage juice and black tea as indicators.

A UVM graduate student, Morgan Cousins, visited the class and conducted experiments with acids and bases as well. The students enjoyed working with her and learning about the variety of occupations that require a professional degree in chemistry. The class ended their unit learning about atomic structure and The Periodic Table of Elements. Each student researched an element of choice and created a 3-dimensional model of their element as well as a commercial advertising a product that contains their element. Overall, it was a fantastic unit that has given students an interest in chemistry.

We are currently preparing for the Vermont State Science Fair. This will be this class’ third time participating in our school Science Fair. Students have created or borrowed an experiment idea and will be following the process of The Scientific Method. Each year, students focus more in depth on the skills needed for this process. This year, students will be learning how to create an Abstract. The children are looking forward to carrying out their experiments.