The Montessori science curriculum is focused on the study of life, the laws of life, the laws and structure of the universe, and how humanity has struggled throughout history to put our understanding to practical use. It teaches the students the process and philosophy of science: systemic observation, how to ask questions, collect specimens, gather and analyze data, and conduct experiments. Much of the science studies take place outdoors. Classmates grow flowers and vegetables in small gardens. They raise class pets and learn to recognize and name local trees, flowers, birds and animals and to identify familiar plants by their leaves, bark, and seeds.
Upper Elementary students begin to keep journals of their observations and write poems and stories that attempt to capture the sense of wonder and beauty all around us. In the classroom, they pursue their investigations using a wide variety of charts, displays, research materials, and reference books. Students collect specimens, bringing them back to the classroom for identification, labeling, and display. They collect leaves and learn the botanical names for each of their shapes.
More formal elements of biology are taught, as well, particularly at the Upper Elementary level, with the classification of the plant and animal kingdoms and the study of the internal and external anatomy of plants and animals. The students compare different anatomical systems among species, such as the eyes, teeth, hooves, and claws of various animals.
Elementary pupils also learn a wide range of important basic concepts of physics and chemistry, such as the structure of atoms and molecules, the difference between elements and compounds, the chemical composition of familiar compounds, three states of matter, and chemical and physical change. Students also enjoy doing research about the elements and receive a first exposure to Mendeleev’s Table of the Elements.
These students love to work with scientific apparatus and delight in seeing mixtures change color or testing liquids with litmus paper. They learn to observe and record what takes place during their experimentations. We endeavor to teach both the scientific method and the techniques for safety while working with science equipment.