• Dear Eighth Grade Families;

    Welcome to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Family Pages. We hope the information you find here assists you in supporting your child while s/he is learning important skills and concepts throughout the eighth grade. 


    Eighth grade science is the place where the knowledge students have accumulated over grades 6 and 7 across all three science disciplines can be refined and applied to some of the most interesting and sometimes sophisticated scenarios. There is a particular emphasis on the physical interactions between objects to explain much of what happens in the natural world around us. Students will consider how interactions between objects generate motion and transfer energy to explain sound, how the earth moves and how the Earth in the context of space and those interactions create phenomena like days, seasons, eclipses and tides. Students will also build on their understanding of physical sciences and the chemistry of life from grade 7 to understand why we look similar to and different from others, and even why we have the biodiversity that we see around us. This will be an opportunity to consider the really big questions of nature and our world, having built scientific skills and a degree of independence in their scientific thinking. Students will propose investigations that verify cause and effect relationships between variables, they will draw on increasing numbers of core ideas to explain phenomena, and they will increase their ability to apply mathematical thinking to the patterns they observe and try to explain.

    2022-23 Eighth Grade Science Units 



    Contact Forces













    Sound Waves














    Chemical Reactions & Energy










    Forces at A Distance (Magnetism and Electricity)







    Earth in Space



















    Natural Selection & Common Ancestry













    Amy Deller-Antieau

    District Chair Secondary Science


  • Oh, no! I’ve dropped my phone! This common experience anchors learning in the Contact Forces unit as students explore a variety of phenomena to figure out, “Why do things sometimes get damaged when they hit each other?” Students investigate what is really happening to any object during a collision using free-body diagrams, mathematical models, and system models to explain the effects of relative forces, mass, speed, and energy in collisions. Students then use what they have learned about collisions to engineer something that will protect a fragile object from damage in a collision. They investigate which materials to use, gather design input from stakeholders to refine the criteria and constraints, develop micro and macro models of how their solution is working, and optimize their solution based on data from investigations.

    Focal scientific concepts include Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter, Structure and Function, and Stability and Change. Focal science practices include Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, and Engaging in Argument from Evidence.




    In this unit, students develop ideas related to how sounds are produced, how they travel through media, and how they affect objects at a distance. Their investigations are motivated by trying to account for a perplexing phenomenon — a truck is playing loud music in a parking lot and the windows of a building across the parking lot visibly shake in response to the music. They figure out that patterns of differences in those vibrations are tied to differences in characteristics of the sounds being made. They gather data and use patterns to explain loudness and pitch. Students also conduct experiments to support the idea that sound needs matter to travel through, to explain how sound travels through matter at the particle level.

    Focal scientific concepts include Patterns along with Scale, Proportion and Quantity. Focal science practices include Developing and Using Models, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, and Engaging in Argument from Evidence.



    This brief unit will review concepts of Chemical Reactions introduced in grade 7 and ensure students have developed core ideas around chemical reactions that store and release energy.



    This unit a speaker as it plays music. In the previous unit, students developed a model of sound. This unit allows students to investigate the cause of a speaker’s vibration in addition to the effect. Students will dissect speakers to explore the inner workings, and engineer homemade cup speakers to manipulate the parts of the speaker. They identify the common parts of a speaker and investigate each of these parts to figure out how they work together in the speaker system. Along the way, students manipulate the components (e.g. changing the strength of the magnet, number of coils, direction of current) to see how this technology can be modified and applied to a variety of contexts, like a Maglev train, or an electric motor.

    The focal scientific concepts include Cause and Effect, and Systems and System Models. The focal science practices include Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Developing and Using Models and Planning and Carrying Out Investigations.



    This unit will explore explanations for what we see on Earth and in the sky as a result of the Earth-Moon-Sun system and stars.



    Students use videos, photos, data sets, and readings to investigate what causes an animal to get extra-big muscles after seeing some interesting photos. They will consider environmental factors and genetic factors that may play a role, and explore the way that scientists study family traits and patterns in how those traits are inherited. They will look at the structure and function of cells to understand the mechanics of inheritance and how they influence the heavily muscled phenotype. They will apply their understanding of extra-muscled animals to explain other trait variations they’ve seen and to understand types of reproduction in varied organisms.

    The focal scientific concepts include Cause and Effect, and Structure and Function. The focal science and engineering practices include Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information, Using Mathematical Thinking, and Developing and Using Models. This unit also relies heavily on other key practices that have been fostered across grades 6, 7 and earlier in this 8th grade year.



    Students analyze data about modern penguins and one particular penguin to develop initial explanations for how these penguins could be connected. They consider questions like  1) Where did all the ancient penguins go? 2) Where did all the different species of modern penguins come from? and 3) What other organisms alive today might also be connected to organisms that lived long ago? Students explore variations in body structures and behaviors in modern penguins and ancient penguins, and they also analyze data from ancient and modern species of horses, whales, and horseshoe crabs to see whether these organisms have similar patterns. Students will develop models to explain changing heritable trait distributions and consider other data that can support models of common ancestry.

    The focal scientific concepts in this unit are patterns, cause and effect, structure and function, as well as stability and change. Focal science and engineering practices include analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence. In addition to these practices, students will need to draw on the other science and engineering practices they have been using across all three grades in this culminating unit.