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Planting Seeds for the Love of Science

By the Science Department: Mrs. Ellis, Mrs. Hogsett, and Mr. Rimlinger 

Science education is a core component of the learning experience of Harbor Day students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Our approach emphasizes the progression of knowledge, with concepts becoming more complex as students advance through each grade level. By following the California Next Generation Science Standards, we ensure a cohesive and comprehensive curriculum that builds upon itself from K-8. Our aim is to cultivate inquisitive and curious learners who have a love for science and learning. We recognize that true mastery of scientific concepts requires sustained engagement over years rather than mere weeks or months, and we employ learning progressions to guide students along this journey. By focusing on natural phenomena, we foster deeper engagement with the material, encouraging students to explore the world around them. Our emphasis on depth over breadth allows students to develop a thorough understanding of scientific explanations. For instance, students delve deeper into the study of plants as they progress through each grade level:

Kindergarten scientists embark on a journey to understand the fundamental requirements for the growth of plants and seeds. First graders learn about the structure and function of plant parts and how to match a baby plant to an adult plant. Moving into second grade, students investigate the intricacies of seed dispersal and explore how plants strategically harness sunlight for their survival. Imagine if you could create food using sunlight, would you opt for pizza or sushi? In third grade, students take a fascinating trip back in time to examine how plants have evolved over the ages through the process of natural and artificial selection. 

Fifth grade scientists focus on the core idea that energy moves through ecosystems and that energy is transferred from the sun to plants. They also develop the understanding that the plants get the materials they need to grow chiefly from air and water. They learn that plants are unique in the fact that they create their food through the process of photosynthesis. Each student is required to memorize the chemical equation for photosynthesis due to its significance in our lives. The students then see firsthand what plants need by growing radishes in a project known as “Lily’s Garden.” In this activity, students investigate the role water, space, and light play in the growth and development of one type of plant in order to determine the best-growing conditions for an indoor potted plant. They see the change from seed to radish and the effect their variable has on the outcome of the radish plants they grow. They make recommendations based on their testing and observations.  

Eighth grade scientists learn about photosynthesis on a cellular level. As students studied chemistry during the first semester, students begin by learning about the photosynthesis chemical equation (6 CO2 + 6 H2O + Energy ⇒ C6H12O6 + 6 O2) and how that is the reciprocal of the cellular respiration equation (C6H12O6 + 6 O2 ⇒ 6 CO2 + 6 H2O + Energy). The reciprocity of these equations helps explain how we can have life on Earth—so neat! We analyze these processes at the cellular level and discuss what key components are essential for these processes to occur: stomata, chloroplasts, & mitochondria. We then investigate stomata in greater depth by foraging for leaves, creating leaf impressions, and analyzing these underneath a microscope. Students can see how a plant's location impacts the number of stomata observed and, thus, the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. 

Science education at Harbor Day School is the very foundation upon which our students build their understanding of the world. From kindergarten through eighth grade, our curriculum is designed to nurture curiosity, foster critical thinking, and instill a deep appreciation for scientific inquiry. Through hands-on experiences, real-world applications, and guided inquiry, our students not only gain knowledge but also develop the skills and mindset necessary to engage with science meaningfully throughout their lives. As they delve deeper into topics such as plant biology, from understanding the basics of growth and structure to exploring cellular processes like photosynthesis, our students are empowered to ask questions, conduct experiments, and make connections that deepen their understanding of the natural world. Our goal is to cultivate a generation of lifelong learners who are not just proficient in science, but who are passionate about discovery, eager to explore, and equipped to tackle the challenges of tomorrow with confidence and curiosity.

Harbor Day School

3443 Pacific View Drive
Corona del Mar, CA 92625 Phone<title><script type="mce-text/javascript"> (function(a,e,c,f,g,h,b,d){var k={ak:"984895077",cl:"EfBCCP-Fv3UQ5ZzR1QM"};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[g]||(a[g]=k.ak);b=e.createElement(h);b.async=1;b.src="//www.gstatic.com/wcm/loader.js";d=e.getElementsByTagName(h)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a[f]=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,k,d,null,new Date,e)};a[f]()})(window,document,"_googWcmImpl","_googWcmGet","_googWcmAk","script"); </script><head><body>1-949-640-1410<html></html></body></head><br><br><br>
Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.