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Mount Mansfield Unified Union School District

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We believe the main focus of science instruction has shifted from “learning about” to “figuring out.” At the anchor of every science unit, students are exploring puzzling phenomena and observable events in their world that lead them to discover relevant scientific ideas. 

At MMUUSD, students are actively developing their science and engineering practices across units. They are not just constructing understanding of core concepts, they are also developing the habits that all scientists use. These science and engineering practices are lifelong skills that endure inside and beyond school.

  • Investigating puzzling questions about our world through Inquiry
  • Modeling to describe the way things work
  • Communicating ideas supported with evidence
  • Engineering to design solutions to problems

This way of teaching science enables students to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of science beyond memorizing facts, 
  • Connect science ideas to their everyday life and interests
  • Experience engineering as they plan and test their solutions to problems 

Big Science Questions Explored in Grade 8

Matter, Energy, & Chemistry (Physical Science)

  • How can we model and describe the structure, properties, and interactions of matter?
  • How is energy transferred and conserved?
  • How do substances combine or change (react) to make new substances?
  • How do engineers design, construct, and test devices to release, absorb, or control thermal energy?

Energy & Waves (Physical Science)

  • What is energy and how is it conserved?
  • How are forces related to energy?
  • How is energy transferred between objects or systems?
  • What are the properties and behaviors of waves?
  • What is light? How can we model and explain the behavior of light?
  • What other forms of electromagnetic radiation are there?
  • How are instruments that transmit and detect waves used to extend human senses?

Human Impact on Earth Systems (Earth & Space Science)

  • How do humans change the planet?
  • How do people model and predict the effects of human activities on Earth’s climate?
  • How do engineers solve problems of human impact on the environment?

Helping your student learn outside of school

  • Look for opportunities that encourage your child to ask questions about their world
  • Help your child make connections between what they are learning in school and everyday life.
  • Point out how your curiosity about science has impacted your life
  • When your child asks a puzzling question, start by responding “What could we do to find out more about...”
  • Share in the excitement when they solve a problem or understand something for the first time.
  • Read more about supporting your child’s inner-scientist

Questions you can ask your student

  • What do you notice? What do you wonder?
  • How do you think that works? Why do you think that?
  • How is that idea like something else you know about?

Links to Parent Resources

Looking back
These ideas are built upon...

How These Ideas Grow
Across the Grades

Looking Forward 
These ideas are next explored

In Grade 5 students analyzed how humans can have positive and negative impact on ecosystems

Human Impact on Earth Systems


In Grade 9 Systems Science students analyze how Earth Systems are interconnected, including concepts of feedback loops created naturally and anthropogenically

In Grade 5 students investigated properties and changes in matter

Matter, Energy, & Chemistry

In high school Chemistry students apply the laws of thermodynamics to different chemical systems 

In Grade 6 students explored Newton’s Laws of Energy

Energy: Potential & Kinetic

In high school Physics students explore energy changes within and between dynamic systems

In Grade 4 students investigated how waves can be used to design technology that can transfer information

Waves & Technology

In high school Chemistry,  students investigate the wave/particle duality of photons and how electromagnetic radiation led to the development of quantum mechanics