Sixth Grade

Click on the link below to view a description of a curriculum unit that exemplifies how different core subject areas are enacted within a particular grade. These descriptions provide a glimpse of life inside SCCS.

Architecture Acid Rain


“From the Ground Up” - Architecture

Sixth graders undertake a unit entitled, "FROM THE GROUND UP". During this study, students take the role of apprentice architects as they build a house to scale. This idea of creating and designing a “dream house” captures the imagination of students. Each component of the design process is studied and constructed using the metric system. This includes the floor plan, a site plan, walls, windows and doors, and the most challenging component, the roof. Students throughout the study are mathematically engaged as they problem solve utilizing elements of measurement, geometry, and computation.


Designing and constructing a house involves hands on work with materials and multiple opportunities for problem solving as children think about size and scale, as well as elements of design (exterior and interior). One of the most challenging problems is how to create a roof that addresses the issue of water and drainage. To help solve this problem, we take walks around the neighborhood and observe different kinds of roofs and ways of addressing this dilemma. Not only do the students design and build the houses, they also determine the cost of each component as well as the total cost. During this study we invite guests speakers in to share their knowledge and make connections to the real world. Guests may include local architects, realtors, a roofer, interior designers, and landscapers. Towards the end of the project students become realtors whose job it is to sell the home via a carefully and imaginatively constructed sales brochure. The study culminates with an open house where the students share their houses and their process with their friends and families. They also create a virtual presentation in the technology lab.

Acid Rain Study

Acid Rain
Acid Rain

Every spring the sixth grade classes embark on a comprehensive study of acid rain. The unit is, initially, a science course introducing students to the Periodic Table of Elements, the nature of acids and bases, and the pH scale. Hands-on experiments include planting sunflower and pea seeds in various solutions of vinegar and water and charting their surprising progress; filtering water through soil from various locations and observing how different soils impact the pH of water in different ways; testing local water supplies and measuring the acidity of spring rains; and mixing acids and bases in order to observe the byproducts of that chemical reaction (carbon gas and salt).

A deep understanding of both acids and the water cycle makes it possible for students to connect the facts about acid rain and imagine possible solutions to the problem. Students propose original inventions that would interrupt the acidification of precipitation and then compare their inventions to actual methods in use today.

Once the science of acids and acid rain has been explored, the Acid Rain unit takes on an aspect of social studies. Students consider the ways in which acid rain affects different groups of people, and how different groups of people might respond to various interventions. Guest speakers from the Smith College science department speak to the sixth graders and present several sides of the issue. Students consider the political, environmental, professional, and economic aspects of acid rain, and culminate the unit with a simulated town meeting. In the town meeting, students participate by speaking for a contingency to which they have been assigned (fishermen, politicians, locals, and business owners). The objective is to agree upon a plan for reducing acid rain in “Lake Imagination” while being responsible to special interest groups.

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Fifth GradeSixth Grade

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