Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are one of Dr. Merritt’s Grade 6 or Grade 7 science students, the questions listed below–as well as their answers–should help you better understand not only how he designs and runs his middle science science courses, but also a little bit more about him.

  • If you have a question you’d like to see asked–and answered–on this FAQ page, try submitting one through the ‘Comment/Reply’ feature at the bottom of the page.

How does Dr. Merritt calculate my OVERALL SCIENCE GRADE at the end of each semester?

Answer: Dr. Merritt uses a ‘weighted’ grading system in which the following assignment types are counted differently towards your semester grade.

30% = Flavour School Reports (Grade 6) OR weeLABs™ (Grade 7)
20% = Formal Investigations
10% = Lab/Field Notebook
10% = Tests
10% = Quizzes
10% = Homework
5% = Classwork
5% = Checks & Care
0% = Classroom Science Binder

If you’d like to know more about each of the assignment types listed above, click HERE.


What GRADING SYSTEM does Dr. Merritt use?

Answer: Because we’re at The American School in Switzerland, you won’t be surprised to learn that Dr. Merritt’s middle school science courses must follow the American grading system (which Dr. Merritt actually doesn’t like all that much). All percentages presented in the grading scale below are rounded to the nearest whole number.

A+ = TASIS does not use this letter grade.
A = 100-93%
A- = 92-90%
B+ = 89-88%
B = 87-83%
B- = 82-80%
C+ = 79-78%
C = 77-73%
C- = 72-70%
D+ = 69-68%
D = 67-63%
D- = 62-60%
F = 59% and below

TASIS publishes this same grading scale, and much more information that may be useful to both TASIS MS students and parents, in the TASIS MS Student Handbook, which you can access through the TASIS website.


Does Dr. Merritt expect me to bring certain SCHOOL SUPPLIES to science class every day?

Answer: Yes, absolutely, and on some days he even checks at the beginning of the lesson to make sure you have them with you. You can see all of the required items HERE.


Does Dr. Merritt accept LATE (UNTIMELY) assignments?

Answer: It depends.


Does Dr. Merritt offer opportunities for EXTRA CREDIT?

Answer: Nope, sorry (but if you are interested in doing more science outside of school, Dr. M would be happy to provide opportunities for you to do so and act as your partner, advisor, and/or guide).


Does this class follow a single TEXTBOOK?

Answer: No, it does not. More importantly, you will not be asked to carry a heavy textbook to and from school each night in your school bag or backpack. Dr. Merritt will sometimes ask you to make use of a science textbook (or textbooks), but that book (or those books) will always be kept at school or put into a digital form for you to access on an e-device from home. If you ever wish to take an actual science textbook home for your own personal use, you are more than welcome to do so. All you have to do is ask and Dr. Merritt will sign one out to you, sort of like a library.


What’s so special about MONDAYS?

Answer: Mondays are days that Dr. Merritt sets aside for special types of scientific training for all of his middle school science students. For Grade 6 students, Mondays are about attending “Flavour School.” For Grade 7 students, Mondays are about something called “weeLABs™.” In both cases, Dr. Merritt asks students to elaborate the definition a carefully selected object–usually something edible–by using a variety of scientific elaboration strategies. The final written report resulting from this in-class activity, is always due seven days later (also a Monday).


What is Dr. Merritt a doctor OF?

Answer: Dr. Merritt is not a medical doctor. Although he is trained in CPR and First Aid, he isn’t qualified do brain, heart, liver, knee, or any other kind of surgery on you. Surgical doctors–and other types of medical doctors–are often called “M.D.s,” which stands for doctor of medicine or medical doctor. Dr. Merritt is a “Ph.D.,” which is a doctor of philosophy. His general area of expertise isn’t the human body, it’s science education.


Is Dr. Merritt a REAL SCIENTIST?

Answer: One way to define real (or professional) scientists is as those who typically tend to make their living mainly from doing scientific research. While it’s true that many real scientists also engage in other science-related activities such as teaching and outreach (or extension), but also managing, mentoring, and inventing, most real scientists spend much of their working day(s) engaged in research. Nowadays, Dr. Merritt makes his living primarily from teaching rather than engaging in scientific research. Although he has done scientific research in the past–you can see some of scientific research projects he’s worked on here, as well as some of the scientific articles he helped write here–scientific research has never been his primary means of making a living. When Dr. Merritt does research nowadays, he’s mostly doing educational rather than scientific research.


Are there really TWO Dr. Merritts at TASIS?

Answer: Luckily for you, there are! There is Dr. Brett Merritt, the middle school science teacher (and author of this website), and there is Dr. Kelly Merritt, who is not only a middle school EAL teacher, but also a co-teacher/co-developer of some of the MS science classes (and yes, they are husband and wife).


Is Dr. Merritt a MEAN science teacher?

Answer: There are at least two ways to interpret (and answer!) this question…

First, if you are asking if Dr. Merritt is an ‘average’ science teacher in a mathematical sense, then he would probably say he thinks he’s slightly above average. He’s been working with middle school science students for quite a number of years, so although he’s made lots of mistakes (and will likely make many more!) he feels as though he has learned from many of his biggest, most serious teaching mistakes.

Second, if you are asking if Dr. Merritt is an unkind, spiteful, and/or unfair science teacher, then of course he would say, “NO, NEVER!” When asked, he has described himself as, “Strict, but friendly,” “Demanding, but caring,” “Rigorous, but forgiving,” and “Meticulous, but silly.” Some students even say they think he’s slightly “funny.” In the end, however, you must decide these things for yourself.


How OLD is Dr. Merritt?

Answer: Really old (seriously). He was born in 1970, so you do the math, but know this: He really appreciates it if you tell him that he looks much younger than he really is!


Where is Dr. Merritt FROM?

Answer: He was born in the USA, in the State of Washington, which is to the north of California and Oregon, on the border of Canada [think: Seattle]. Although he lived in San Francisco when he was young (that’s where both of his parents and his younger brother were born), his family moved to the State of Michigan just before he turned 5-years-old. He definitely considers himself a “Michigander” on account of the fact that most of his formative youth and adult years were spent living and/or working there. Dr. Merritt has now made his home in Lugano, Switzerland for 12 years (1998-2000, 2009-2019). You can find out even more about Dr. Merritt HERE.


How/why did Dr. Merritt BECOME A SCIENCE TEACHER?

Answer: That’s a really good question with a very long, and interesting, answer. Instead of answering it here, Dr. Merritt suggests you invite him to eat lunch with you at school, at which time he promises to tell you this tall tale. Until then, however, if you want to you can discover a little bit more about Dr. Merritt’s professional journey HERE.


Did Dr. Merritt make this ENTIRE WEBSITE himself?

Answer: Indeed, he did. He started working on it in 2011 and he’s been developing and revising it every year since. As of July 2019, it had received over 91,000 hits during its lifetime and is now (rather surprisingly) the first website returned on Google if/when you search for the phrase “science sediment.” If you’re at all curious about the name of the website, you can find out more HERE.

 

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