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

April Update – Yosemite and Projects

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In April the 6th graders took a week long trip to Yosemite. This was definitely a highlight for the year for myself and the students. We all learned so much about Yosemite, each other, and ourselves. This is a trip we take every year in 6th grade as part of the science curriculum. Below is a picture of the class waiting to go out on trail.

While the 6th graders and I were enjoying being in nature, the 7th and 8th graders worked diligently on projects where they end up teaching the class. The 7th graders researched living organisms while the 8th graders investigated the mysteries of space. Part of the project requires the students to come up with activity to enhance their presentation. Students were especially creative this year.

In 7th grade we simulated a bacterial disease spreading throughout a population, viewed pond water to find protists and also sampled protists (ice cream and chips), modeled spore dispersal for fungi and played “Mold the Bread”, potted our own plants, and made observations of living animals. Below are two pictures from some of the activities.


In 8th grade we played “Orbital Race,” a game where “moons” raced around “Earth” by answering a series of moon cards and conducting task cards. Another group created a relay race to fill out the life cycle of a star, which was played many times. Below is a picture of one group presenting on the characteristics of stars and then another group trying to match star descriptions to star photos.


March Update – Science Fair Updates

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Science Fair News: NDV sent four students to the San Francisco Science Fair held at the Randall Museum and all four placed! The students in first and second moved on to the Bay Area Science Fair. Out of the three students that went, we had one student place 4th. The 6th and 7th graders were competing against high school students – so this is quite an accomplishment.

In addition, we sent a group of girls to compete at the Mercy High School Women in Science competition. The team placed first overall – meaning they had the highest average score! And we had a 6th grade place first in her category as well.

Congratulations again to all of our students’ hard work!

February Update

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6th grade has been learning about genetics, the study of heredity, by focusing on our essential question “How can two yellow labs have brown puppies?” We started with Gregor Mendel, made Punnett squares, and calculated the probability of offspring. Here they are simulating three different crosses using marbles:



7th grade has been exploring the question “Where does most of a plants matter come from?” They conducted research and various investigations such as making a leaf imprint to discover the stomata on the underside of a fern leaf. The also used thin later chromatography to separate the various leaf pigments. Here are a few pictures of their investigation on looking at pigments:



8th grade has been determining “Why do roller coasters usually start with a BIG hill?” through the creation of their own paper roller coaster. In groups, students were tasked to make a roller coaster prototype and film an advertisement for potential investors. Within their video they explain the roller coasters theme, state cost, and explain how they calculated gravitational potential energy and various kinetic energies. To be determined which group gets most of the investors’ money!


January 2019 Update – Science Fair!

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In January the 6th and 7th graders worked hard on completing their science fair experiments. Each student had to come up with their own question to investigate, do background research, and ultimately conduct their own experiment. The results were analyzed and displayed on poster boards. First and second place winners are moving on to the San Francisco Science Fair held later in February. Congratulations to all for a job well done!

In 8th grade, the students continued to learn the basics of physics by conducting various experiments relating to motion, speed, and acceleration. They also practiced their math skills and applied them to various physics problems.

Below are some photos from the science fair, where various classes came to hear about the projects the 6th and 7th graders conducted.



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!


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!