Midland students in science classroom                        
The Science Department develops fluency in the bodies of knowledge associated with each scientific discipline and in the process of scientific inquiry using objective questioning. Our courses are linked by a strong connection to our incredible land resource..

Our overarching goals and outcomes for students are:

  • Conscientious observation of the natural world and phenomena underneath, around, and above us
  • Curiosity about how things are related – physically, evolutionarily, and through cause-and-effect relationships
  • The ability to locate ourselves geographically and to understand how our immediate landscape transitions to other landscapes
  • Curiosity about the quality of the resources upon which our lives depend – water, energy, minerals, soil, food, and ecosystems
  • A discerning eye towards data, propaganda, and news about resources, which will allow our students to be informed citizens and voters


While our science courses train our students to be better observers, fluent in the landscapes surrounding Midland School, our ultimate goal is in the transference of this skill. Our hands-on, place-based science training at Midland is not mainly to know Midland, but to develop the practice of paying attention wherever one is and to appreciate how science helps explain the world around us.

Utilizing the natural world as a classroom, the science program supports Midland’s mission of self-reliance, responsibility to community and environment, and love of the outdoors.

Essential Skills:

Through classroom, laboratory, and inquiry-based teaching strategies that culminate in scientific and technical writing and speaking, we develop the following skills:

Objective questioning:

  • Objective questioning is at the core of the scientific method: observation, generating questions, gathering data, analyzing and interpreting data, assessing possible explanations, and drawing conclusions. We develop this powerful skill set for exploring cause-and-effect relationships.

Mastery of the task underlying the technology:

  • Supporting Midland’s mission of self-reliance, we believe that technology is no substitute for mastery of a task. For example, before using a GPS unit that effortlessly generates a number in mapping exercises, we work towards thorough understanding of contour lines and topography to locate one’s position, and an appreciation for why this is important.

Application of science to global issues and solutions:

  • Our experiential projects – for example, the annual installation of solar arrays – apply science to global issues and compel students towards solution-minded problem solving. 

Living Midland's Mission

Utilizing the natural world as a classroom, the science program supports Midland’s mission of self-reliance, responsibility to community and environment, and love of the outdoors. 

Midland student using microscope


Midland students testing water

5100 Figueroa Mountain Road/PO Box 8, Los Olivos, CA 93441 | ph: 805-688-5114 |

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