Middle School Science


Middle School Science in CREC Magnet Schools is based on the Connecticut’s Science Standards which are the Next Generation Science Standards. Starting in the 2023-24 school year, CREC middle schools will be using the OpenSciEd curriculum. This comprehensive middle school science curriculum was identified as the model curriculum by the CT Department of Education. OpenSciEd is a comprehensive middle school science curriculum that empowers students to ask questions, design investigations, and solutions, and figure out the interesting and puzzling world. OpenSciEd empowers students to be the knowers and doers of science and develops a classroom in which the ideas we hear from our peers help to move our thinking forward as we develop our abilities to think, read, write and argue as scientists and engineers. 

  • Phenomenon Based - Centered around exploring phenomena or solving problems 

  • Driven by Student Questions - Storyline based on students’ questions and ideas 

  • Grounded in Evidence - Incremental building and revision of ideas based on evidence 

  • Collaborative - WE, the class and the teacher, figure out ideas together 

  • Equitable - Builds a classroom culture that values ideas and learning of all


Key Concepts Addressed 

Grade 6

In all three grades, content and skills build off one another, weaving together life, earth, and physical sciences into all grades. 

Students practice and use science and engineering skills such as developing models (physical or drawn representations of scientific phenomena); conducting investigations, including data analysis; and communicating like a scientist through argumentation and explanation. 

Additionally, students work to make deeper connections through understanding ideas that cross all science content areas, like how structure is related to function, how systems work, patterns, cause and effect relationships, and how energy and matter flow through our universe.  

The conservation and flow of energy is one of the main themes that flows through these 6th grade topics: 

  • Light and Matter

  • Thermal Energy

  • Weather, Climate, and Water Cycling

  • Plate Tectonics and Rock Cycling

  • Natural Hazards

  • Cells and Systems

Grade 7

The conservation and flow of matter, in addition to energy, is essential to the 7th grade understanding of these topics: 

  • Chemical Reactions and Matter

  • Chemical Reactions and Energy

  • Metabolic Reactions

  • Matter Cycling and Photosynthesis

  • Ecosystem Dynamics and Biodiversity

  • Earth’s Resources and Human Impact

Grade 8

Principles of force and motion are essential understandings 8th graders develop before shifting to an understanding of genetics and heredity. 

  • Contact Forces

  • Sound Waves

  • Forces at a Distance

  • Earth in Space

  • Genetics

  • Natural Selection and Common Ancestry

The goal of science instruction in CREC middle schools is to engage students in understanding fundamental questions about the world through investigation. Science courses in middle school build towards a goal of students having gained enough knowledge of scientific practices, skills, and core ideas of content to engage in public discussions on science-related issues. Science instruction provides opportunities for students to become critical consumers of scientific information as it relates to their everyday lives. Finally, instruction in science seeks to create a desire to continue to learn about the beauty and wonder of science throughout their lives. 

To meet this end, CREC science teachers commit themselves to engaging students in real-world problems and phenomena. Students are being asked to figure out what something is, or why something is, through investigation and research. Teachers are telling students less, and asking them to figure out more as deep and critical thinkers, working with their peers to solve problems. 

Throughout each unit, students will:

  • Collaborate with their peers and conduct investigations to understand scientific concepts and to solve real-world problems. 

  • Communicate scientifically, through formal writing, such as lab reports or technical reports, as well as through more informal explanations and arguments. 

  • Practice and utilize scientific skills for investigation and design. 

  • Use productive discourse to deepen understanding through small group and whole class discussion. 

Classroom Materials:   

Schools identify and use a variety of classroom materials including:

  • Science notebooks

  • CREC curriculum resources including common activities and assessments

  • Various investigative or design lab materials and resources

What You Can to Do at Home:

Helping your child make sense of their learning:

  • There is no pre-teaching vocabulary because words often have multiple meanings, and are often easier to remember once students have some experience with it; therefore, ask your child to recall evidence or experiences to help elaborate on what their ideas and explanations are.

  • Encourage your child to connect how their models or drawings help explain their ideas about the phenomena they are learning about.

  • Ask your child how different structures or parts interact with other structures within their models.

  • Ask your child what question(s) they are working on currently, and how the class has made progress so far.

  • If your child sees the phenomenon or a similar phenomenon outside of school, encourage your child to record it and share with the class, or explain to you what they think is happening.

Having conversations about science:

  • Encourage your child’s curiosity through talking about their own noticings and wonderings.

  • Hold off on providing answers right away for your child; we want students to make progress on their own (& others) questions and to think of ways to make sense of what’s around them.

Other ways to support and engage your students in science learning: 

  • When your child asks how something works or why something is, don’t tell them. Ask them to try to figure it out, and listen to their reasoning to keep them curious. If possible, have them fidget with items to see their inner workings. 

  • Help your child develop a routine for doing homework, studying, eating, and sleeping that will establish a lifelong pattern for healthy habits. Continue to reinforce that your child maintains a daily routine for doing homework, studying, eating, and sleeping. 

  • Watch special science-related TV and video programs together (e.g. Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, The Weather Channel, NASA TV). Watch the news on TV together, and discuss articles about natural disasters, advances in medicine, and disease transmission.

  • Share newspaper or magazine articles and informational books about topics your child is interested in and/or are studying in school.

  • Observe Science. Visit local nature centers, museums, planetarium, and science centers. Visit local reservoirs and waterways (e.g. Connecticut River, Long Island Sound, ponds or streams in your neighborhood) and observe what the water does to the land. Take a family hike in a local state park during all times of the year to observe the habitats of the local plants and animals.

  • Encourage your students to tinker, engineer and conduct science investigations at home. You can provide opportunities to safely use various tools when you are putting something together or building or fixing things around the home. Plant and grow a vegetable or flower garden or potted plants at your home. Provide homes for birds. Start composting and ask your child to explain how composting relates to energy passage.

  • Encourage your child’s interest in music, either singing and/or playing an instrument. This practice can develop more abstract thinking skills that are beneficial for science learning.  

  • Read about science. Encourage friends and family to give books or magazine subscriptions to your child as gifts. Share newspaper or magazine articles and informational books about topics your child is interested in and/or are studying in school.

  • Share and discuss how you solve problems and use measurement in your everyday life, such as while cooking, building, gardening, or caring for a family pet.



Contact Information  Julie Christianson, Supervisor for Science, [email protected]

Contact Information: Julie Christianson, Supervisor for Science, [email protected]
For access to the full version of the CREC Grades 6-8 Curriculum Guide, click here.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.