Science Department

High quality science instruction is for ALL students.

MCPS Science engages all students through phenomenon-based, 3-Dimensional learning and provides opportunities for students to connect their learning to real world problems. Our instructional goal is to prepare students for lifelong learning by developing skills necessary for success in college and career as outlined by the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices.

Vision:

All students achieve full scientific literacy through standards referenced, problem/project based instruction that develops critical thinkers who apply scientific and engineering practices to authentic problems in a globally competitive society.

Mission:

We will support community partnerships, provide schools with curricular instructional support and professional learning that model science and engineering practices, incorporate literacy and math, engage students and make connections to real world phenomena.

 

Curriculum

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Elementary Curriculum

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Middle School Curriculum

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High School Curriculum

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STEM Opportunities for Students

BigFuture Days College Fair

College Board is hosting their first-ever series of virtual college fairs called BigFuture™ Days. This program, geared towards sophomores and juniors, gives students an opportunity to connect directly with college admissions representatives and current college students. They'll have a chance to explore colleges in a way that's not overwhelming, ask questions about topics they want to learn about, and take action on key college planning steps. Any interested participants can click on the links below to access additional information.

***Note: The regions and respective dates below are based on location of the colleges in the US. Students may attend any or all of the four sessions.

BigFuture Days West + Southwest: Saturday, February 6

BigFuture Days Southeast: Tuesday, February 23

BigFuture Days Northeast:  Sunday, March 7

BigFuture Days Midwest: Thursday, March 11

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The Exelon STEM Leadership Academy

The Exelon STEM Leadership Academy is a free, week-long, residential* program for 10th and 11th grade girls interested in STEM to learn from women working in STEM and other leaders; explore sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change; and connect with like-minded peers. The Academy concludes with an energy challenge and a chance to win great prizes! Each participant will also receive an iPad to use for Academy activities and to take home at the end of the week.

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Featured Scientist:

Catherine Johnson

Mathematician/NASA Scientist

In 1952, Catherine Johnson began working as a human ‘computer’ for NACA (the early predecessor of NASA), helping to calculate flight trajectories and other important mathematical figures necessary for technological advancement of the flight program.  Unlike many of her colleagues, all African American women, Johnson showed a great deal of curiosity beyond that of the complex calculations they were tasked with, raising the eyes of many scientists working within the organization.  This curiosity landed her a position with the newly budding space program at NASA and soon she found herself attending meetings with top officials as they prepared to send humans into space.  Johnson’s mathematical skills were instrumental in the early development and success of the space program, helping to send the first humans into space and making it possible for astronauts to land on the moon.  Johnson's mathematical calculations and abilities also aided in the safe return of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission that had trapped three astronauts in space with little hope of survival. Despite the increased use of electronic computers, Johnson remained relevant into the 1980’s as she manually checked over the work done by computers to confirm their accuracy and collaborating on space projects throughout the 70's and 80's including NASA's Space Shuttle program. Her contributions to NASA helped vault the United States as a major player in space exploration and altered its course forever.

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Katherine G. Johnson  
 
 

Monthly Challenge Activity

Have you ever looked down and seen a set of footprints on the ground and looked to see where they went? Wonder what was inside a hole your found in the woods and pondered what could be living in it? Notice weird markings on a tree near your house and been curious about what made them? If so then you aren’t alone! Animals, including people, leave signs of their existence all the time. Your challenge for this week is to search for signs of an animal’s presence somewhere in the world around you. Take a walk outside if you can and see what you can find and share it with your teacher! If you have to stay indoors, no problem! Use the Internet to find a cool creature and the prints or marks it leaves behind!

Elementary:

Draw a picture of what you found and make a guess about what could have made those marks! Draw a picture of the organism you think made them.

Middle School:

Draw a picture and write a description about what you found. Use the internet to determine the animal name and hypothesize what behavior it might have been displaying.

High School:

Draw a picture and write a description about what you found. Use the internet to determine the animal name and then classify the organism using the taxonomic categorizing system from Kingdom down to species.

Science News for Students

Founded in 2003, Science News for Students is a free, award-winning online publication published by the Society for Science dedicated to providing age-appropriate science news to learners, parents and educators.

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Science Spotlights

MCPS Science - School Highlights - Outdoor Education  

School Highlights

Outdoor Education Program

This month we would like to celebrate the wonderful Outdoor Environmental Education Staff for the amazing work the team has done in transitioning the Grade 6 OE program to the virtual platform and highlight the amazing program they developed for this school year.

The dedication and commitment from the Outdoor Environmental Education Programs (OEEP) Staff is evident in their lessons to support Virtual Outdoor Education, tailoring each program to the “visiting” school so that each group of students felt as though they were stakeholders in the program. Team members Antonio Carrillo, Mark Granger, Courtney Hebert, Stephanie Lee, and Brian Shilling take time to create videos featuring participating teachers so that students see familiar faces and, when possible, show students the path of water run-off from the school to its local stream. The team even goes so far as to bundle up in frigid weather to examine the biotic and abiotic factors in streams local to the school area to show that biodiversity does exist in our local streams. The amount of time and effort put in by this amazing team is evidenced by the level of student engagement shown throughout participating schools.

“We really appreciated the structure, effort, and flexibility with the use of Nearpod Lessons. The staff were so wonderful in taking the lead while still deferring to the classroom teacher for specifics on the "vibe" of each class. I also wanted to commend the staff for focusing on student engagement over a final product, while still emphasizing the importance of setting a thirty day pledge to do something at home to help the environment.” (Alison Yates, 6th Grade Science Teacher, Hallie Wells MS)

 

Student Highlight

“Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate.” That is what the brilliant young scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao told actor and philanthropist Angelina Jolie about her process, over Zoom, from her home in Colorado, during a break in her virtual schooling. Just 15 years old, Rao has been selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees as TIME’s first ever Kid of the Year.

MCPS Science - Teacher Highlights - Virtual Collaborators  

Teacher Highlight

Early in 2020, our nation and schools were flipped upside down as the Covid-19 pandemic thrust all into a position not seen before in modern times. As a district we were forced to approach teaching and learning in an entirely new direction as we had to transition our entire curricular program into a virtual platform and recreate the student engagement our students experienced in person in our classrooms into the virtual world. In order to do so, the Pre K-12 team relied upon a group of incredible teachers who volunteered their time to write, review, and publish new content, all while continuing to perform their own teaching duties and support their students, families, colleagues, and friends. We want to take a moment to say thank you to all of these dedicated staff members, many of which continue to support the creation of new materials for use in our ‘classrooms’ as we progress into the second half of the school year.

Virtual Collaborators