Seventh grade physics studies focuses on two main areas: a review and growth of 6th grade physics (heat and cold, optics, electro-magnetism) and an introduction to mechanics. This four week block required daily experiments, home projects, and much “tinkering” from the students. The seventh graders build their knowledge from the cause and effect of sixth grade into a chain of events learning (this causes that which ends with this), meeting their stage of development and critical thinking capacities. In the first part of the block, students learned about conductivity of metals; how to create a simple circuit using copper, zinc, and alligator clips; and were introduced to the relationship of electricity and magnetism. Students played with optics, observing reflections in puddles and mirrors, to find the relationship of angles and reflections.
In mechanics, our primary focus was the six simple machines: levers, wheels and axles, pulleys, the inclined plane, the screw, and the wedge. These studies and experiments focused mostly on the real life application and relationships of these machines, not the mathematical aspect of physics. These studies were mainly hands on, classroom and real life experiments, and the students’ work in their main lesson books was intentionally sparse. Instead of creating many pages the students were challenged to think and create creatively. They made a car/bus/wagon using the wheel and axle, and the final project for the block was for the students to design and present a machine that could transport the attendance sheet from the 7th grade classroom to the front office without using human power.