Before I was blessed with children of my own, I had the honor of working as a science specialist at two public schools in Oregon. Teaching middle school science was my dream job! We explored a variety of topics and enjoyed hands-on labs every week.
As a homeschooling mom, I understand that budgets are tight and we have to make tough decisions about what extra-curriculars and curriculum we can afford. The best things in life are indeed free so I have compiled a list of free science curriculum for middle school.
This is NOT just a list of free printables and a hodge-podge of activities – but complete curriculum units!
Life Science Curriculum
A secular middle school science text that is available for free on Amazon is CK-12 Life Science for Middle School. As a digital text, the 1143 pages won’t weigh you down and it contains all kinds of embedded media and related educational videos.
For nature study, you’ll absolutely love the Handbook of Nature Study! Barb has an incredible collection of tutorials and resources for using nature study in your homeschool. I’ve linked to her Getting Started post here, but be sure to browse around her site – there are enough printables and lessons to keep you busy all year long!
I have shared a number of great human anatomy lesson plans and activities here on my website. STEM Club: Introduction to Body Systems is the first post in the series. Read each for a complete unit study on the human body.
For great ecology lessons, your local extension agency is a fabulous resource. California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom are two examples.
Earth Science Curriculum
Also available from the CK-12 Foundation is CK-12 Earth Science for Middle School – a combination of various earth science disciplines encompassing geology, oceanography, climatology, meteorology, and even for the purposes of understanding the position of the Earth in the Universe, astronomy.
For those who desire a faith-based curriculum, Old Earth Ministries Online Geology Curriculum is designed to be a complete, web-based learning experience, with pictures, animations, and links for further learning. They also have an Earth History Curriculum.
Physical Science Curriculum
While I didn’t find a CK-12 Physical Science text, there are high school level physics and chemistry available on Amazon.
The Periodic Table of Elements – A lesson about every single element on the Periodic Table from TED-Ed.
Science Journals for Middle School
Scientists report their research in journals, which enable scientists to share information with one another.
There are many free issues to download and read. When you click on each issue, it tells you what the theme will be and some of them have additional lesson plans to download. Each free issue is full of pictures, ideas, and questions to stimulate the science mind.
Science News for Kids is another great source for current events and news. It is an online collection of articles and resources for students and educators. Some of the recent article titles include: Something’s Cooking on Saturn’s Moon, Chickens Spread Latest Deadly Bird Flu, and Corals Dine on Microplastics.
Scientists keep notebooks. The scientist’s notebook is a detailed record of her engagement with scientific phenomena. It is a personal representation of experiences, observations, and thinking – an integral part of the process of doing scientific work.
The science notebooks of Charles Darwin, Linus Pauling, among other scientists are also available online. These primary source documents capture the words, the thoughts and the intentions of the past. It is fascinating to look at the illustrations and sketches famous scientists have made and to compare them with our own.
You can find many notebooking resources on my Science Notebooking Pinterest board.
As developing scientists, middle school students should be encouraged to incorporate notebooks into their science learning. Read more about using Science Notebooks in Middle School in this PDF by FOSS.
Students today enjoy creating interactive elements for their notebooks – mini books and foldables to record new vocabulary or gather data from a lab activity. There are many science notebooking printable available online to accompany a wide variety of topics.
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Online Resources for Hands-on Labs & Activities
SciGirls is a television show for kids ages 8-12 that showcases bright, curious real tween girls putting science and engineering to work in their everyday lives. SciGirls Connect provides inquiry-based STEM activities for a variety of science topics.
I am sure everyone is already familiar with Steve Spangler‘s store but did you know he also has a number of Fun Science Experiments?
Another great resource for junior high science teachers and students is The Science Spot.
Citizen Science Opportunities
One the most exciting ways of teaching science to middle school students in engaging them in real science. Citizen science projects and service learning opportunities are exploding. The internet makes it super easy to collaborate with others and share research data.
You can find more on my Citizen Science Pinterest board.
Involvement in citizen science projects enables students to make connections with relevant, meaningful, and real experiences with science. Most also provide lesson plans and curriculum to help you get started. Here are a few great citizen science projects to consider:
- The Great Sunflower Project – Take counts of the number and types of pollinators visiting plants (especially sunflowers).
- Darwin for a Day – A web application that allows you to explore the Galapagos Islands through Google Street View and document its unique plants and animals.
- Old Weather – Help scientists recover Arctic and worldwide weather observations made by United States ships since the mid-19th century by transcribing ships’ logs.
As students develop their own science skills, it is equally important that they get a feel for what scientists are actually doing. Integrating career exploration gives students an opportunity to learn about real scientists and the variety of jobs available with a science degree.
The US Forest Service has put together a great set of Scientist Trading Cards. Print the cards to learn more about each scientist and then create your own. The USFWS – Pacific Region has an incredible set of photos on Flickr, #ScienceWomen.
In my history of science series, Science Milestones, I highlight architects, engineers, inventors, and scientists whose discoveries and advancements have made a significant difference in our lives or who have advanced our understanding of the world around us. In each post, I share learning guides or unit studies featuring basic facts about the person, questions for discussion, and places to read, watch and otherwise learn more.
For more FREE resources on a variety of topics, be sure to visit The Best Things in Life are Free link-up at iHomeschool Network.