7th Grade AALI Science

In 7th Grade AALI Science, we started out the year with a Science of Locations project. Students picked a location and researched a large variety of topics including the geological and biological history, the current ecosystem, potential threats to the organisms, and much more. This is a project that students complete each year in AALI Science. By researching a different location each year, students can show and reflect on their learning over the past year as well as make connections between the locations they learn about. This year our Science of Locations project had an exciting twist as students used Google Tour Creator to make their on virtual reality tours for their locations.

In October, 7th graders started reading The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. This book is part of our AALI Science book study program in which we read a nonfiction book connected to our middle school standards each year. The Sixth Extinction tells the story of each of the five mass extinction events of our planet and the scientists who study them. It also tells of the organisms around the world currently faced with threats tied to human actions. Our reading and discussion focuses around the driving question, "How do changes in environments and ecosystems lead to evolution and extinction?"

During this book study, students also work toward a better understanding of fossils and the evidence they can provide about organisms and environments of the past.

In November, our reading brought us to the topic of ocean acidification which we explored as one of the possible changes to environments and ecosystems that may lead to evolution and/or extinction. In order to understand this concept, students took part in labs to learn about pH levels, chemical changes, and how adding carbon dioxide to water can result in acidification. Students then asked questions about how acidification is affecting our oceans and the organisms that live there and completed a research project to answer their own questions.

In December, as our book study continues, we are turning our attention to climate change. Students are learning about the causes and effects of climate changes that have occurred throughout Earth's history. They are also using real world data and modeling to explore current climate change and make predictions about the future of our climate. During this work, we are constantly connecting back to our driving question, "How do changes in environments and ecosystems lead to evolution and extinction?"

In January, 7th graders had the chance to be the very first class of students to pilot and give feedback on a new module created by the Concord Consortium. This new program allows students to write the code needed to create their own models of volcanic eruptions to assess risk. This was a great opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at scientific simulations and models and work on computational thinking while also gaining a better understanding of how scientists use data from past geologic events to forecast location and likelihood of future catastrophic events. It was especially significant work as several students in the class had found issues with the climate change models we used back in December. Now they know a bit more about what goes into creating those models and have coded some for themselves!