Middle School Science
Rod Allen, with Da Vinci Academy since 2002
Phone: 847-841-7532 ext 239
Mr. Allen's Degrees Held
Graduate level work in science education, Benedictine
University, Lisle, Illinois
M.S. in Geology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
B.A. in Geology, Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
State certified for teaching middle-school and high-school level
National Science Teachers Association since 2002
Illinois Science Teachers Association since 2002
American Geophysical Union since 1988
Other Teaching Experience & Training
For the past five summers, I have been employed by
Benedictine University to mentor pre-service teachers who are
participating in the alternative certification program for
secondary math and science. I was also employed for five
years by the Problem Based Learning group at the Illinois Math and
Science Academy to work with other professional teachers and
develop problem-based curricula for use with middle school students
doing week-long summer camp programs.
I approach science in an adventuresome manner, raising
questions as the basis for lab activities, readings, and group
discussions. Lab activities are frequent and encourage
cooperation and collaboration through small group-oriented
activities, but often require each student to provide a written
report or summary of the results. My goals are to provide a solid
program that prepares the students for rigorous high school science
curriculum. I also allow students to enjoy the process and to
discover the fascinating world around them. I strive to find
"the science" in every student. I enjoy working with the
Da Vinci Academy students because of their typically high level of
interest and knowledge of science, and their willingness to share
it with the fellow students.
Sixth Grade (principally earth sciences)
In sixth grade, students learn about the properties of minerals,
the rock cycle, plate tectonics, oceanography and ocean resources
(with an emphasis on the ecology, biology and evolution of squid),
and then a climatology unit related to the local watershed.
Skills include classification, maps, scale, models, classification,
geological time, animal dissection, and water-quality
testing. Students are assessed through a mineral collection,
presentations on the geology of planets & moons, an animation
on plate tectonics and Earth's history, and unit tests. We
will take class trips to a local quarry, the Shedd Aquarium and
several small trips to collect samples and data regarding the local
Seventh Grade (physical science:
properties of matter)
Seventh grade science covers chemistry-based topics: the
properties of substances, conservation of matter, mixtures,
compounds and elements, radioactivity, the electromagnetic spectrum
and radon. Skills include research, journaling, lab safety,
lab equipment, experimental methods, the metric system, unit
conversions, scientific models, science methods, graphing,
predicting outcomes, experimental design, and team work.
Students are assessed through presentations on research topics, lab
performance, lab reports, lab tests and unit tests. Field
trips include the Elgin drinking water plant and a
behind-the-scenes trip to Fermi lab.
Eighth Grade (Project-Based
During the fall and winter, eighth graders will do a
research-based project and participate in science fair. For
the balance of the year, they will do a variety of
multi-disciplinary projects, each designed and implemented under
the direction of the middle-school staff.
I assess students' learning using a variety of methods, such
as projects, collections, reports, presentations, journals, as well
as using more conventional quizzes and tests.
How to Help Your Child Be Successful
Much emphasis is placed on the use of the science journal (bound
composition books) for taking notes, making sketches, collecting
data, and summarizing results from classroom activities and
homework. Students are required to use their journals.
I typically review and comment on them several times throughout the
term. Each student should also have a pocket folder to hold
handouts and graded assessments so they are available for studying
later or conferences.
Here are several things students can do to be most successful in
- Come prepared: make sure you have your journal, pencil and
- Turn your homework in on time and finish it before you come to
class: does it have your name? Did you follow
instructions? For reports and projects: did you or someone
else proof read it carefully and make sure it is free of
- Help make the classroom a productive and enjoyable place to
learn for everyone: be an active participant during class (ask
thoughtful questions and provide thoughtful answers), be a good
listener, only speak when given permission, and share personal
experience only if relevant, short and interesting to all.
- Keep your journal neat and up-to-date. Know what's in it
and where to find the information. Don't lose it.
- Follow instructions: listen carefully when they are
given, and follow them carefully. If you don't understand
something, please ask.