Weston Middle School

Life Science Course Materials

Weston, Massachusetts
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Grade 7 Biology- Introduction- First Days

Course Home



Calendar- First Week

Major Projects

General Information



Additional Material

Topic/Chapter Notes  Assignments


What is science?

The importance of careful observation

Science is a verb-

a way of making predictions about the natural world

The goal of science is to investigate and understand nature, to explain events in nature, and to use those explanations to make useful predictions.

Scientists make observations to collect evidence, then attempt to interpret the data to derive a hypothesis.

Drawing Techniques-jd


Biology Binder Guidelines-jd

Complete Schedule of Assignments-jd


Ask students to write down as many questions as they can think of about the living world.

Give each student an acorn or maple seed- how does this become a mighty tree? Where does the 'stuff' in the tree come from? How would you test your theory?


Activity-A different point of view-jm

Activity: Observation of Shell-jm

Activity-Enlightening your senses-jm

Important to observe what is really there.

Biology is more than book-facts- read quote from Charles Dickens

"...everybody can draw, but not everybody’s going to make fine art. It’s a discipline that should be taught as writing is taught. It’s a discipline. And it isn’t about necessarily even expressing yourself. It’s just about learning to really concentrate on something. Learning to really look and ask questions, hard questions. That’s to me what drawing is about. And sometimes you make something that stands on its own ..."

"...Seeing necessitates looking and thinking. When I teach drawing, I must constantly remind my students to distinguish between what they see and what they think they see. Thinking — at least the lazy, day-to-day kind of thinking — often gets in the way of the drawing process, which requires a stubborn curiosity about why things look they way they do. Nothing can be intelligently or intelligibly recorded on a piece of paper unless true seeing occurs: first on the part of the person making the picture, and then on the part of the person reading it.

I honestly think all of us would be better off if everyone took the time to draw, if for no other reason than the better we see, the more inevitable curiosity becomes. Lack of curiosity is the first step towards visual illiteracy — and by that I mean not really seeing what is going on around us. On one level, avoidance of informed looking and thinking results merely in inappropriate architecture, endless rows of neon signs, advertising agencies, political-marketing consultants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie dolls, and Hallmark cards — in general, mediocrity. But on another, much deeper level, it threatens to turn us into isolated, insensitive, incapable, and ultimately helpless victims of a world of increasing complexity and decreasing humanity..."

- David Macaulay, Author and artist


Classroom Rules and Procedures

Outline of course

What do you want to learn?

Safety Rules

Homework Policy;

Assessment and Grading


Review basic rules for the class-behavior, bathroom, lateness, what is expected. Disruptive students will be removed from class. Will receive 0 for missed classwork unless made up within one week.

  • Homework policy
  • classwork expectations
  • quizzes

Do-Now: Optical pictures-jm

Video Clip from Infinity on the importance of careful observation

3x5 card

Side 1:  Write a question about nature you don't know the answer to.

Side 2: Seating preferences (3 choices)


What is science?

What is biology?

Homework-finish drawing, bring in binders


Handout: Lab Safety-jm

Handout: Lab Safety Rules-jd

Safety Contract-jd

Do-Now: Safety rules boggle-jm


Scale of Life


Do-Now: Getting to Know You-jm

Seat assignments

Powers of 10 video

Scale of Life from How Life Works



Measurement Principles- Weight, volume, density, temperature, pH, etc.

Measurement Lab


Note: Leftover cut-up apples from measurement lab can be saved to decompose slowly as an object-lesson for the next unit, Environmental Science.


What is Inquiry?

Independent Variables, Responding Variables

Activity: Inquiry- What do You Observe and Infer-jm

Pulse Rate Experiment

Pulse Rate Worksheet

Lesson Plan: Introduction to Scientific Inquiry-jm

Handout: Identifying Variables-jm

Handout: Writing a Hypothesis

Hand-Out: How To Write A Scientific Paper-jd

Homework: Practice With Variables-jm

Homework: Practice with Variables-II-jm

Homework: Identifying Constants and Scenarios-jm


Using Microscopes

Microscopes enable us to observe small objects and life-forms

Notes: How Microscopes Work-jm

Lab: Introduction to Microscope-jm

Lab: Calculate the Speed of a protozoan

Handout: Parts of a Microscope-jm

Lab: Pond Water Field Trip and Microscopic Observations


Comment: Do some science the first day- try not to talk the whole time.

Feynman on Youtube

The Scientific Method:

Active Art: Redi and Pasteur Experiment 

Scientific Method/ Habits of Inquiry

Microscopy Gallery


Revised June 2008 by Jonathan Dietz, dietzj@mail.weston.org