Ninth grade science develops skills at Confluence Preparatory Academy
Ninth grade science develops skills at Confluence Preparatory Academy
Posted on 09/17/2012
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What do you remember about your ninth-grade science class? What skills did you learn that you’re still using today?


At Confluence Preparatory Academy, a Confluence Charter School, ninth grade students are learning more than the elements of science. They are learning how science relates to other subjects, and skills that can be applied in every day life.


Danielle Huff teaches physical science. It’s the branch of science that focuses on matter and energy. The class has two parts – Introduction to Chemistry and Introduction to Physics.


“Physical science is a yearlong introduction to the foundational concepts of physics and chemistry,” Huff explained. “Students explore physics concepts including motion, Newton’s Laws of Motion, work, power, energy and momentum.


“Students explore chemical concepts including the atomic model, the periodic table, and physical and chemical changes.”


After greeting her morning class and explaining the day’s lesson, Huff placed students into groups of three to work on graphs – pie charts, line and bar graphs.


The students rotated among stations. At each station, the type of graph and the data displayed changed. The charts illustrated different data – types of movies and birthdays.


So how do graphs relate to science?


“One of the most important tasks in science is the presentation of data, without which we would be dealing with opinions and ideas instead of facts. In most cases, this is done by publishing research in science journals.


“In science, data usually is displayed in a graph or table form. I place an emphasis on graphing because it is a skill that will be used regularly throughout the year,” said Huff.


“Students find it hard to believe that science is more than cells and chemicals. Science skills can be applied to their everyday life in many ways.”


Using birthdays and types of movies as the subject for the graph was “less intimidating for students because it’s ‘in their language,’” she explained. “The focus of the activity was for students to practice a skill and I didn’t want them to be bogged down by science jargon.”


As students worked, Huff walked around the room, answering questions, asking questions, explaining elements of graphs and giving guidance.


“For the most part, I was answering questions because the students were second-guessing themselves. I was pretty much only needed to reassure students on things they already know. Many of the questions led with ‘Ms. Huff, when we do this graph, all we have to do is…’” she said.


“The more complicated questions were tied to the math skills required to calculate percentages for the pie chart, or scaling for the line and bar graphs.”


Huff said the class is taught in a lecture format with bi-weekly hands-on experiments, group work, homework assignments and monthly assessments. The course prepares students for upper level chemistry and physics courses, as well as for college level science classes.

Diamond Baldwin, Jerry Boyd and Dedreanne Bradford work together to create graphs in physical science at Confluence Preparatory Academy.