The science department provides students with a strong foundation to better their understanding and appreciation of the diversity and relationships among all living and nonliving things.
Scientific study begins in kindergarten, where a nature-based curriculum encourages wonder, excitement, and an appreciation of the natural world. In grades 1–5, science courses prompt students to achieve a better understanding of themselves and their environment. The curriculum covers a variety of general science topics from ecology, weather and climate, to magnetism and astronomy.
Students in the middle school progress through a year-long exploration of STEM in sixth grade, chemistry in seventh grade, and physics in eighth grade.
Skills taught throughout all grade levels include content reading and comprehension, note taking, content outlining, study skills, test preparation, test taking, appropriate and safe use of laboratory materials, and making connections between the classroom and the natural world.
Hands-on, project-based learning is the basis for the engineering curriculum at MTS. Starting with engineering classes in Kindergarten and continuing through 6th grade STEM, students dive into the engineering design process to creatively solve authentic problems and challenges.
They become makers and tinkerers as they learn that failing, redesigning, and iterating are all essential parts of the creative process. Students use a wide variety of tools - from cardboard cutters to hot glue guns and hammers - to build confidence in their ability to build and solve problems. They also use a wide variety of materials, both familiar - such as pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks - and new - such as foam cubes, wax paper, and more - to design and redesign prototypes.
As groups of students work together to solve engineering design challenges they collaborate, think critically and creatively, and learn to communicate effectively with one another. By solving problems meaningful to their own lives - such as how to keep the playground surface from getting too hot in kindergarten or how to design building codes to minimize damage from an earthquake in 4th grade - students become changemakers and take action in the world around them.
New STEM Lab
Over the past 4 years, our STEM program, with its interdisciplinary, hands-on project approach, has become a favorite of students in Kindergarten to 6th grade and is a wonderful example of our project-based, highly engaging curriculum. Completed in August 2020, STEM classes will now live in the newly renovated STEM Center. It features improved student-accessible material and project storage, a “maker shell” with 3D printers and a laser-cutter, a massive folding door allowing for better indoor-outdoor learning, and technology around the perimeter with flexible working space in the middle of the classroom.
Mount Tamalpais School hosts an annual STEM Fest in the fall. A free event, open to the greater community, the school invites families with children in preschool through third grade to come and explore the world of STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Children are invited to participate in engaging activities in each STEM discipline. Our STEM Faculty lead activities for participants, assisted by our very own MTS middle school student volunteers. STEM Fest is a day full of fun hands-on/minds-on activities for all involved as the school becomes a veritable Exploratorium!