Within this STEAM Reader Activity Book, the sixth-grade students at Sunny Street Middle School continue their journey with our readers. The following describes key content areas in the book and is meant as a general summary as it is not comprehensive of all subject matter.
Our reader book opens with ‘The Koi Pond Mystery,’ where we find students Sarah, Hamza, and Riku in middle school where they have to solve the mystery of what attacked the Koi fish in the school pond. The water is very smelly, leading our students to ask what is in a drop of pond water. They discover single-celled and multi-celled organisms and study the cell theory and cell structure which leads them to learn about the classification of all living things. Through stealthy detective work, they discover the Koi pond culprits- raccoons again, and through this discovery, they learn about ecosystems.
Matter features dominantly in this Reader Book, and the students begin their study of matter following a soccer game where Louis and Zane get lunch together. They wonder why the egg white changes from a clear liquid to a solid white when cooked and take their question to the classroom, where they begin an exploration of matter. They learn about atoms and their subatomic particles, neutrons, protons, and electrons. They discover the Periodic Table and the information provided for each element and learn about the differences between elements and compounds. Finally, they study physical and chemical changes and how to identify if a chemical change has occurred. Their study of chemical changes leads Louis and Zane back to the change observed after cooking an egg, and they identify this as a chemical change. Lia and Sarah continue their fascination with chemistry as they shadow Lia’s mother, Dr. Lerner, a forensic scientist for the day. They put their knowledge of chemistry to the test as they solve a crime near the school.
Tlingit’s grandfather Taku, a native American, rejoins the group with Tlingit, Rosa, and Zane as they learn about the Universe after identifying a satellite in the sky at dusk. They learn about the Solar System and its components and the critical role that gravity plays in its organization. Rosa’s father is a satellite engineer and joins the class to talk to the students about the history and future of space exploration.
We join the class again as they begin their study of renewable and nonrenewable resources, including energy. They look at the different and interchangeable forms of energy and learn about the Law of Conservation of Energy. This information is put to good use as they build solar cookers that come in very handy for the post-soccer cookout to heat their hot dogs. They then resume their energy study, including force and work, as the class learns about simple machines and Newton’s Laws of Motion. They put their knowledge into action to build a ramp for Yue to wheel her chair into the Robotics room.
We join Mee, Elena, and Anika as they prepare for a camping trip with Mee’s family to study geology- Mee’s father, Dr. Son, is a geologist. They studied geology at school and had learned about the structure and composition of the Earth and the Pangea formation and separation. When the camping trip arrives, they are excited to explore rock formations. When camping, they feel an Earth tremor, and Mee’s father explains the tectonic plate structure of the Earth and its role in Earthquakes and tremors. They explore caves and discover inorganic mineral formations and how they are classified. Dr. Son also teaches the students about the different types of rocks. When they are back, they grow mineral salt crystals as a project.