Curriculum Spotlight: 6th Grade Physics

“Middle school science is most essentially about bringing students to think in an entirely new way. This new way of thinking requires that we set aside assumptions we have lived with since our own earliest science lessons, assumptions of which we are mostly unconscious. It requires that we see for ourselves the patterns the world has placed in front of us. It requires that we think for ourselves, based on our own experience.” – Jennifer Chace, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction

This Curriculum Spotlight features a peek into a Physics Main Lesson with Mr. Ebert’s sixth-grade class during which the students were challenged to share their observations after experiencing how temperature affected their hands, pewter, brass, and liquid — all in the course of two hours!

Mr. Ebert teaching a portion of Main Lesson to his sixth-grade students. As is common for a school guided by the Core Principles of Waldorf Education, our teachers use the outdoors as an extension of their classrooms.

 

As part of their exploration of temperature, the students first put their hands in ice water and then tried to tie their shoes. They found it to be quite a difficult task.

 

 

Mr. Ebert heated up pewter and then poured it into a bucket of ice water so that his students could touch the pewter after it interacted with the cool water. They loved examining the texture and temperature of the pewter in its changed form.

 

WATCH VIDEO OF PEWTER EXPERIMENT HERE

 

The pewter after it was poured into ice water.

 

Exploring how heat affects brass.

 

An example of how heat affects liquid.

 

“Physics is introduced in the sixth-grade year. During the course of study, the child learns to understand and appreciate the phenomena of sound, light, heat, electricity, and magnetism, while developing his/her observational and explanatory skills. It is at this stage that concepts based on the laws of mechanics are introduced. The introduction of the physical sciences at this age is also a response to the intellectual development of the sixth-grade child, which is characterized by greater powers of discernment and judgment and a new capacity to grasp cause and effect.” (Alliance for Public Waldorf Education)