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Grade 8

The Grade 8 curriculum focuses on change: 1) changes in Earth (Climate Change and Chemistry) and changes in life over time (Evolution, Genetics/Heredity). In addition, 8th graders design and carry out a science or engineering project, which they present at the Harvard Science & Engineering Showcase at the end of the year. The theme for the Showcase is: How can we use science and engineering to solve problems?

Unit Description Essential Questions
Chemistry
In conjunction with their study of climate change, students learn the chemistry they need to understand the complex interactions that are occurring on our Earth. They study exothermic and endothermic chemical reactions, mixtures, how substances are made from different types of atoms that combine in different ways, changes in properties of substances before and after chemical reactions, and the rearrangement of atoms during a chemical reaction to form new substances with new properties.
How can we explain the structure, properties and interactions of matter?
Climate Change
Students analyze data to make claims about climate change using critical thinking skills. They study weather and can explain how it differs from climate data, and explore the diverse interactions of energy on Earth (including the impact of the oceans on weather and climate). Students also investigate human activities and how they might contribute to climate change (based on data).
How do Earth’s systems and human activities affect each other?
Evolution
Students investigate changes in life forms throughout Earth’s history and compare fossil and living organisms to try to explain why these changes have occurred.
How can there be so many similarities among organisms yet so many different kinds of plants, animals and microorganisms?

How and why have living things changed over Earth’s history?

Genetics and Heredity
In this unit of study, students explore how the characteristics of one generation are passed to the next. They study the roles of chromosomes and genes, genetic factors, natural selection, mutations, asexual reproduction, and use models to explain how characteristics are handed down to offspring.
How are the characteristics of one generation passed to the next?

How can individuals of the same species and even siblings have different characteristics?