The eighth grade curriculum brings the students into the modern world and aims to help them understand the present day. History begins with the Reformation and then focuses on the revolutionary period, including the French, Russian, American and Industrial revolutions. The rejection of the old and creation of the new social orders echoes the eight graders’ own need for independence as their individuality develops. The students study American history from the revolution through the twentieth century. They become familiar with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the biographies of leaders who helped to shape our nation.
Eighth graders explore the physical and cultural geography of Asia and Africa. Map- making skills become more sophisticated. The students also study global atmosphere and the effects of wind, ocean currents, geological features, climate, and weather systems on our planet.
Physics lessons complement these historical and geographical surveys. In addition to further studies in acoustics, thermodynamics, mechanics, climate, electricity, and magnetism, the students are now introduced to hydraulics, aerodynamics, and meteorology.
Anatomy continues, now examining the muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems. Organic chemistry focuses on the nature and function of carbohydrates, proteins, oils, fats, and cellulose. Nutrition is addressed, including metabolism and the effects of organic compounds on the body.
In math, the students review previous work in algebra and learn to solve linear equations, manipulate polynomials, factor monomials and binomials, and perform operations with negative numbers. Students also learn to graph linear equations, to solve quadratic equations, and to work with rational and irrational numbers. Students are introduced to geometry in three dimensions. They learn about the platonic solids and construct them in paper and clay.
Writing lessons emphasize research reports, including writing outlines, note-taking, paraphrasing, summarizing, and citations. Grammar lessons include subordinate, dependent, and independent clauses, passive and active verbs, and direct and indirect objects. Spelling and vocabulary continue. Eighth graders usually perform a play by Shakespeare.