Children are natural scientists, observing the world and asking, "Why?" The Lower School Science curriculum is designed to encourage children in these questions and to allow them to find joy in scientific explorations. The program is also designed to introduce students to the processes of science and give them opportunities to practice these skills.
Goals of the program include:
  • Students come to view themselves as scientists, empowered to satisfy their curiosity through inquiry and experimentation. They learn to ask good questions and learn tools and processes to find out the answers.
  • Students engage in hands-on activities that are relevant to their own experiences and interests.
  • Students learn to compare ideas, experiment, recognize patterns, and share their observations with their peers.

The particular topics studied in science class are vehicles for teaching these broader skills and concepts. Often, topics tie in with other subjects in the main classroom. Units usually last four or five weeks to allow time for in-depth study. They include a variety of individual, pair, and group work. In the older grades, they may also include longer-term projects that span several weeks. When appropriate, field trips augment the in-school work. 
The girls come to the science lab weekly, accompanied by one of their classroom teachers. Science lab time varies according to grade level depending on the students' needs at different ages:
Kindergarten: 50 minutes
First grade: 60 minutes
Second grade: 70 minutes
Third grade: 60 minutes*
Fourth grade: 75 minutes*
*In addition to this time, third and fourth grade students participate every other week in small group classes (half of their usual class section) focused on design technology and simple machines. One of the highlights of third and fourth grade science is the annual Invention Convention.

Department Specialist

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Elizabeth McDonald

    Elizabeth McDonald 

    Lower School Science Specialist
    415.751.0187, ext. 273
    Swarthmore College - B.A.

List of 1 news stories.

  • Fourth Grade's Invention Convention Shows Imagination

    Fourth graders staged their Invention Convention in the Lunchroom on the morning of Friday, February 27, giving students (and teachers) in all grades a chance to see what they've been busy inventing in their Lower School science classes.
    Read More
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.


An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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