The fifth-grade science program at Open Window School promotes scientific literacy by guiding students through meaningful project-based, inquiry-driven units of study. An emphasis on the building of scientific skills, integrating math concepts and boosting individual student confidence and joy in designing experiments to find answers to questions they have about the natural world are the key elements of this course.
What Do Scientists Do?
Our junior scientists begin by diving into scientific methodology (including identifying, controlling, and considering variables in a variety of engaging experiments), metric measurement and estimating, and graphing to better understand how scientists begin and conduct experiments in the real world. These important skills provide the foundation for the hands-on activities throughout the rest of the year.
The Nature of Energy
Students explore forms and sources of energy with a special focus on solar energy, where much of earth’s energy originates. Students demonstrate learning through hands-on energy and electricity investigations using materials specially curated for them. In addition to designing, building, and testing the efficiency of solar ovens, students observe and measure energy transfers and consider and compare the potential of solar and other alternative energy sources o through meaningful collaborative projects. Students conduct research as evidence in support of their positions during The Great Energy Debate, honing leadership, and teamwork skills. Award-winning literature (fiction and non-fiction) are offered as students learn to read and discuss science-based concepts in small book club groups.
Human Body Systems & Nutrition
Students investigate human body system structures and functions through a systems approach that includes hands-on investigations, text analysis, and simulations to support building concrete understanding from abstract concepts. Students are introduced to the history of the microscope, learn how to prepare wet slides to study cellular structure and function, cellular respiration, cellular reproduction (meiosis and mitosis), and cell specialization in human body systems. Students select topics and present on the cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, muscular, and skeletal systems. Researching and reporting on major scientific discoveries in medicine (and potential future breakthroughs) and connecting with professionals in fields connected to their research further deepen this learning. Through a study of neuroscience, students design and conduct investigations uncovering how the mind and body are indelibly connected and can affect their own performance and personal wellbeing.
Populations and Ecosystems & Microscopy
Featuring frequent laboratory experiments, simulations, field studies, interaction with local scientists, experiential exercises, and student-developed scientific experiments, students analyze the forces that shape the natural world. Connecting to their study of energy with the source of most life on earth: our sun, students study ecosystems, the largest organizational unit of life on Earth. Students recognize that every organism has a role in its ecosystem and has structures and behaviors adapted to allow it to survive. Opportunities to research, report on, and experiment with populations of organisms (such as macroinvertebrates), use microscopes and stereoscopes as well as computer simulations allow students to discover population dynamics and interactions over a range of conditions. This study includes limiting factors, heredity, inheritance, and natural selection as ways to understand similarities and variation within and between species. Fifth grade students design and conduct their own macroinvertebrate population studies comparing organisms inhabiting the local wooded areas and organisms found in other ecosystems in Washington such as the Olympic Peninsula.