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Seventh Grade Science

Fire Ecology

Fall semester in 7th grade science focuses on how scientists study wildfires. The history of forest fires, forest fire management & policies, the relationship between weather, topography and fire intensity, and the interconnected role fire plays within the natural regeneration of redwood forests are key ideas covered. Students use the Presidio redwood grove as an experimental forest, identifying surface, ladder, and crown fuel distributions and the effects of different physical conditions on fire behavior.

In the lab, students build model forest replicas, manipulate controlled burn experiments, recording and analyzing each test. This format develops individual inferences, critical thinking skills, and personal lab reports. Recording burn patterns, tree survival rates, and flame heights teach students how scientists use techniques to predict when wildfires will occur, how intensely they will burn, and why larger fires are occurring more frequently today. 

 

LEED Engineering & Architecture Design Challenge

PHS’ Sustainable Design Project challenges student teams to design and construct a building model that meets Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) criteria. This challenge promotes environmental and storm-water education integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math and ties directly to our social justice and environmental science curricula. Conserving resources, reducing pollution and carbon emissions, and managing storm-water both within their building and on the surrounding property are points of emphasis. We take a solutions approach to mitigating climate change in 7th grade. In this way, students are not only learning about our changing planet but how to work together to solve some of sciences biggest challenges. 

Student architect teams submit a building application file that includes a set of to-scale blueprints that meet basic building and engineering code requirements and a site map that outlines each teams plot map layout. Original designs are developed drawing inspiration from San Francisco architecture, national certified LEED buildings, and from the designs of Studio Gang’s architecture firm. 

Teams choose a region and research the climate, seasons, potential renewable energy sources, and local building materials for that area. Storm-water control, native landscaping, transportation, the heat island effect, and social justice standards are additional LEED benchmarks they focus on.