Middle school students carry out hands-on inquiry in Hillside’s science lab, which was created with the generous support of Air Products. The science program emphasizes conceptual learning and critical thinking and gives learners many opportunities to strengthen executive skills.
The 8th grade curriculum focuses on physical science: students learn about the composition and properties of matter as well as physical and chemical change. Students develop an understanding of atomic structure and the Periodic Table, and experiments include growing crystals, identifying metals with flame tests, and measuring rates of CO2 production in a chemical reaction.
Seventh graders study life science, beginning with the organization and energy flow of living things at the cellular level and progressing through genetics, natural selection, and the relatedness of life on earth. Students isolate DNA from bananas, explain diffusion using a model cell system, and make root beer with yeast to understand cellular respiration.
Six graders enrich their classroom science by visiting the science lab for experiments and activities such as synthesizing polymers, building electrical circuits, and practicing measuring and mixing to build quantitative skills.
All middle schoolers participate in the STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) in which they build and learn to program Lego EV3 Robots. Students work in pairs to write code to solve a series of challenges that encourage collaboration, organization, flexibility, and perseverance.