The seventh grade can be a tremendously challenging and rewarding year for the children. The seventh grader stands on the brink of puberty. Not only are great physical changes taking place, but a major shift in cognitive development is also under way. The children are enthusiastic to express themselves and to assert their independence more strongly. Social relationships become a primary focus.
Historically, a similar period of change took place in Western civilization around the end of the fifteenth century. The study of the Renaissance, Reformation, and the Age of Exploration thus echo what the children are experiencing within themselves. The Renaissance was not only an artistic event, but was the beginning of a whole new way of looking at the world. During this time, the principle of learning through observation of phenomena emerged; leading directly to the development of our modern scientific method.
In chemistry the children discover through observation the properties of various substances and the way in which they interrelate. They examine the phenomena of combustion, the water cycle, and the nature of acids and bases. In physics the children study the laws of refraction, reflection, heat, and electricity. At this age the children are particularly able to look at issues of health and nutrition in an objective way. The class considers those factors that foster health or illness in the human being, including an exploration of how various substances can promote one or the other condition.
In mathematics the basic concepts of algebra and plane geometry are introduced. The children learn how the Renaissance artists used geometric principles to develop the laws of perspective, and practice the application of these laws in their own drawings.
The children learn biographies of great figures who went against the prevailing views of their day in their own search for truth, freedom, and self-expression. Through studying the lives of Galileo, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, Elizabeth I, and others, the children find reassurance that in their struggle to become themselves they also can contribute to the world.