To begin, I believe students should know about the atomic hypothesis. Everything we see around us is made from indivisible, indestructible particles including protons, neutrons, and electrons. When students understand how these particles fit together and interact, they will develop an understanding of why cement walls are solid and why light can travel through glass. In other words, a fundamental understanding of the atomic hypothesis allows students to make sense of the building blocks in our universe.
Students should also be familiar with the double-helix of the DNA molecule—a structure found inside nearly every living cell. Knowledge of this structure helps students understand the way life has evolved on our planet. It also sheds light on where humans fit within the natural order on earth.
And third, students should understand
how energy is always conserved and never created or destroyed. With this
knowledge, students can understand the cycle or energy from chemical to heat to
mass and use that knowledge to experiment with adding energy or changing the
energy balance in a controlled environment. When doing so, students can observe
the physical, chemical, and biological processes that begin when energy is
added or subtracted.
There are, of course, many other essential lessons in STEM. And with all that is around us to inspire original theories and drive our imagination, not to mention all there is yet to discover, these methods and core scientific knowledge can provide a strong foundation for students to engage deeply in these fields to develop their own processes and bodies of knowledge.
A side note: This year, Crossroads Academy has partnered with the New Hampshire Academy of Science to offer classes and after-school programs in a new, state-of-the-art science lab on our campus. We are delighted that students are able to conduct original research and publish their findings in peer-review journals. To learn more, please click here.