Davis Waldorf School


Science Curriculum
In fifth grade, the student moves beyond the study of the animal kingdom to the plant kingdom. In the study of botany, the students learn the major categories of plants from simple to complex, plant growth and parts, and the geographical and climatological regions of plant growth on the earth.

In sixth grade, students have become keen observers and abstract thinkers and Physics meets these developing capacities. Students learn through experiments and demonstrations and draw their own conclusions about particular phenomena. They begin with the study of sound, through natural sounds, pitch, overtones, tone versus noise, the Doppler Effect, and the Chladni’s sound figures. The students also examine the phenomenon of magnetism and learn about positive and negative poles, attraction and repulsion, the magnetic field of the earth, types of magnets, and magnetic force through various substances. Additionally, the students examine and observe the phenomenon of heat and learn the concepts of expansion and contraction, conductivity of various states of matter, transference of heat (conductions, convection, and radiation), Fahrenheit and centigrade temperature scales, friction, phase changes of solids, liquids, gases, and evaporation and condensation. Finally, the students examine and observe the phenomenon of optics such as with the nature of light, reflection and refraction, color/prisms, and convex and concave lenses. By learning this way, students learn to trust their own observations and thinking and thus build confidence and a deep reverence for the world in which they live. Also in the sixth grade, the study of the kingdoms moves beyond the animal and plant world to mineralogy. The students develop an appreciation and understanding of basic minerals through examining crystals and gems and metals. The classification and formation of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks are also explored. The student now is ready to explore what lies beyond the earth and enters into the study of astronomy. Through observation and study of the movement of celestial objects including the sun, moon, stars and the planets, the student gains an awareness, appreciation and understanding of the human being as a part of our vast universe.

In seventh grade, students “have built a bridge to the outer world. They are now able to relate their own organism to outer processes and a new approach to physics is indicated.”[1] The curriculum complements this developmental stage by having the students study the power of transformation through fire. They learn about combustion, the formation of crystals, and the properties of acids, bases and salts. As in sixth grade, students participate in daily experiments where they learn to observe and record simple physical phenomena through observation. The writing of scientific reports guides the students in describing the experiences through observation. The students study concepts including acoustics, light, magnetism, electricity, a simple motor and the six basic machines (lever, gear, pulley, inclined plane, wedge and screw). During the Chemistry or Physics block, students may be tasked with building a “Rube Goldberg” project. This project challenges students to create a machine that performs a simple task. Often these machines are funny in nature, like creating a contraption to feed the dog. Students are assessed based on the successful achievement of the task at hand, creativity, complexity, humor and story-telling. As students venture out into the world beyond the human being and earth, they are now ready to venture into the study within the human being. Human physiology is introduced and the four basic systems of the human body are brought: respiratory, circulatory, digestive and reproductive. The underlying theme in these studies is nutrition and wellness as students experience physiology through the changes that are occurring in their own bodies at this time and their own personal ability to have a healthy body. The students also explore other topics such as the relationship of humans with plants in the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle, the flow of blood in the body, the flow of food in digestion, and the physiologic differences between male and female reproductive systems.

As eighth grade students have “achieved a higher degree of objectivity, they are able to study chemistry in deeper ways, particularly those relating to the human organism, such as starch, sugar, albumen and fat.”[2] With carbohydrates, the student experiments with simple sugars, starch, and cellulose and learns the properties of polysaccharides. The properties of proteins are studied as specimens are denatured with acids and heat. The student engages in activities such as making ice cream to demonstrate how sugars, proteins, and fats are integrated. The study of human anatomy is further explored in the interactive experience of the skeletal, muscular and nervous systems. Students develop a basic understanding of the bones and how the muscles, bones, and nerves work together. With physics, the student furthers the understanding of basic concepts of acoustics, magnetism, heat, optics and electricity. Because the eighth grade students’ faculties of observation and analysis are at their height, they will study concepts like meteorology, climatology, hydraulics, and aeromechanics. These concepts complement the history curriculum in eighth grade.

[1] Stockmeyer, E.A. Karl. Rudolf Steiner’s Curriculum for Waldorf Schools. England: Steiner Schools Fellowship Publications, 1969. Pg. 143.
[2] Stockmeyer 146-147


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