Ms. Jessica Yates

6th-8th Science Teacher
Hello! Welcome to the Middle School Science page. I believe science is best learned in a hands-on approach, which allows for the scientific mind to really develop. I encourage students to always ask questions and question the world around them. I have high expectations for my students and will ensure they receive the proper tools for success, not only in my class but for the future.

What's Happening in 6th-8th Science

Investigating Chemical Reactions!

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In 8th grade this week we investigated various chemical reactions. Students were looking for signs on whether a chemical reaction occurred or not. The signs include gas formation, formation of a precipitate, an unexpected color change, and a change in temperature. Here are a few photos of the student conducting the investigations:

Microscope Investigation

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This week the 6th and 7th graders learned how to use a microscope, how to focus a prepared slide, and how to make their own slides. Each student made an iodine stained cheek cells slide – using their own cells! Some students even made slides using their own hair and eyelashes. Students were fascinated with what they saw. Below are a few pictures from the investigation:



Beginning of the Year Science Labs

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At the beginning of the school year, basic science skills and safety are reinforced in 8th grade through conducting the “Rainbow Lab.” Students must be precise in their measurements using a graduated cylinder and beakers. Effective group work is also essential and was a focus for the “Mealworm Races” conducted in 6th and 7th grade. Below are some pictures of the various investigations.


Welcome to the 2018-2019 School Year!

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Welcome Back!

I hope everyone enjoyed their summer break and is fully rested for another amazing school year. 6th graders – it was wonderful to met some of you over the summer and investigate Mars. I look forward to meeting the rest of you this week. Get excited for our week long trip to Yosemite in April! 6th and 7th graders – begin thinking of a scientific question to investigate for the science fair that is held in January. 8th graders – here’s to an outstanding last year learning chemistry and physics.

See everyone on Thursday and Friday,

Ms. Yates

Quarter 4 Projects

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6th Grade: Have been working hard on creating a volcano documentary. Groups have gotten very creative and even made up entire songs about their volcanoes. They will finish the year by creating a biome diorama and presenting them to the class.

7th Grade: Just started a research paper on the evolutionary history of a species of their choice. They are gaining in-depth knowledge about how evolution works and also refining their researching skills.

8th Grade: Are making a physics video lab in replace of a written lab write-up. Groups are investigating questions on speed, velocity, acceleration, and forces.

Looking forward to a fun end of the year!

Exploratorium Free Days!

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The Exploratorium offers free admission on specific days – the first one is this Sunday!

Exploratorium Free Days
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm
Pier 15, San Francisco

2017 Annual Free Dates

  • Pi Day (Tuesday, March 14, 2017)
  • Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 14, 2017)

2017 Free Community Day Dates

  • Sunday, January 22, 2017
  • Friday, June 23, 2017 (evening hours only, after 5 pm)
  • Saturday, September 23, 2017
  • Sunday, October 22, 2017

On free days, museum entry is on a first-come, first-served basis.

We also take a field trip to the Exploratorium in 8th grade – see a previous post about a past trip!

Upcoming Science Event: Bay Area Science Festival

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2017 Bay Area Science Festival

October 26 to November 11thUnleash your inner scientist at the 7th Annual Bay Area Science FestivalTen days and 35 events highlighted by Discovery Day at AT&T ParkSat., Nov. 11, 10a-4p, a free on-field event with 150 hands-on science exhibits – a science wonderland with robots, astronaut training, and scientists engineering the next medical cure.

Quarter 1 Summary

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The first quarter of the school year is coming to a close on Friday October 27. Here is a summary of some topics and projects we have discussed so far:

6th Grade: investigation on density, Earth’s natural resources (created a comic strip), investigation on whether or not rocks absorb water, weathering (types – mechanical and chemical), soil (students brought in a soil sample to learn more about), erosion, and deposition. Below are images showing students collect data on various objects to determine what density is.



7th Grade: how to use microscopes (viewed cheek cells, Elodea under fresh and salt water), cell structure and function (students drew analogous structures to represent animal cells), investigating why does eating popcorn cause ones lips to dry out (osmosis and diffusion), and where does most of a plants mass come from. Below are images showing students viewing microscopes and collecting data.



8th Grade: reviewed safety and accuracy when conducting experiments, how heat transfers, learned the various states of matter (solids, liquids, gases, plasma), state changes, and an introduction to atoms and the periodic table. Below are images showing students conducting a rainbow lab and focusing on working together and following directions exactly.


Looking forward to the rest of the year!

2017 Summer School – Math and Science

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Over the last two weeks some students came back to NDV for a math review and science enrichment. For the math review, students went over basic foundational skills involving decimals, fractions, proportions, and algebra. One group of students investigated what would happen when people are presented with a calorie food menu vs. an exercise food menu – would they change their order and choose healthier options once they saw how long they would have to exercise? Another group calculated the number of minutes people would have to exercise depending upon the restaurant and the exercise they conducted. The last group of students investigated whether the International Olympic Committee should change racing events so that distances are proportional to athletes heights. Below is an image of each group presenting and sharing their results to the class – they all did an amazing job.


For science enrichment, students learned about roller coasters through creating their own paper roller coasters. We watched videos and discussed the fundamentals of potential energy, kinetic energy, and speed. Once the roller coasters were completed, students conducted a speed experiments to calculate which parts of the coaster were the fastest. Below are a few images of groups with their roller coasters.



Earth Science (6th grade): we will learn about processes related to the Earth, which includes weathering and soil, erosion and deposition, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, the atmosphere, weather, climate, and ecology. For a more detailed description, please see the California science standards starting on page 27.
Textbook: Focus on Life Science, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-201272-3

Life Science (7th grade): we will learn about processes related to life, which includes cells structure and function, genetics, evolution, viruses, bacteria, protists, fungi, structure and function of plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates, and the human body systems. For a more detailed description, please see the California science standards starting on page 31.
Textbook: Focus on Life Science, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-201272-3

Physical Science (8th grade): we will learn about processes related to chemistry, physics, and astronomy, which includes matter, elements, atoms, chemical reactions, acid and bases, carbon chemistry, motion and energy, forces, space, the solar system, stars, galaxies, and the universe. For a more detailed description, please see the California science standards starting on page 27. Textbook: Focus on Physical Science, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-201270-7

Online Textbook Login - Pearson SuccessNet


65% Assessments: Includes tests, quizzes, labs, and projects.
25% Daily Assignments: Includes homework and classwork.
10% Participation: Includes involvement in class discussions, asking and answering questions, appropriate class behavior, prepared for class, and effort.

*see Middle School Handbook, page 2, for what qualifies as an “A”



Google Classrooms: Announcements and assignments will be posted here. To join, go to the website and click the + in the upper right hand corner. Use the code given in class to add.

Quizlet: Will be used to reinforce key terms, study for assessments, and for homework assignments. Usernames must include first name and last initial (I must know who you are). To join, go to the website and in the search bar type the class name:
Earth Science (6th grade) 2017-2018
Life Science (7th grade) 2017-2018
Physical Science (8th grade) 2017-2018

IntoScience: This is a fairly new program that allows for a more interactive online science experience. It will be used for class activities, assignments, and as a study tool. A unique username and password will be given (same as Mathletics).

Online Textbook Login - Pearson SuccessNet

Middle School Homework page


Classwork: often labs or various projects. If not completed in class, will be taken home as homework.

Middle School Homework page

Ecology Club

Ecology Club Meetings: about twice a month, during Middle School lunch (schedule TBA)

Any Middle School student may join Ecology Club at the beginning of the school year. Members should have a love of the environment and a passion for making the world greener. We will do various environmental friendly projects throughout the year. Members are also in charge of the recycling and compost program at NDV.

Focus: spread the message of reducing waste and re-instill a love of nature to members!

Field Trips

8th Grade Trip to the Exploratoirum

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Last week the 8th graders went to the Exploratorium for the day. They had a wonderful time and learned a lot. Some favorite activities were the brain games against each other.

IMG_2778Enjoying the mist off the bay.IMG_2813Working as a team to set a new high score for the day.IMG_2829Brain game fun!

IMG_2787Describing shells to each other and trying to guess the correct one.

IMG_2805Exploring hills and slopes.

IMG_2825Voting for their favorite team – red or blue!

20160525_102834Plants that respond to touch.

20160525_114526From the “leave an item, take an item” bowl, $100 was taken!