L’Shana Tova Middle School Families!
September flew by, culminating in our awesome trip to McKinney Roughs! Our trip was both educational AND fun! I, for one, valued the experience for the opportunity to get to know my students in a setting outside of school. The staff at McKinney Roughs noticed a transformation in the students over the course of the 4 days. By the end of the trip, they saw a group of students who displayed camaraderie, respect, and teamwork.
With introductory lessons introducing classroom norms, procedures, expectations and science skills behind us, the middle school students are all immersed in their respective science pathways. Here are some curricular highlights from September:
6th Grade Science
This month we launched our first big curricular unit: ASTRONOMY! Over the next few months, the students will explore a plethora of topics, including:Ã‚Â The Solar System and the Sun, Order of the Planets, Our Sun, Life Cycle of a Star, Size of Stars, Solar Eclipse, Lunar Eclipse, The Inner Planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, Craters, Tides, Phases of the Moon, Mars and Moons, Rocketry, Asteroid Belt, NEOs, The Torino Scale, The Outer Planets and Gas Giants, Jupiter / Moons, Saturn / Moons, Uranus / Moons, Neptune / Moons, Pluto’s Demotion, The Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud, Comets / Other, Beyond the Solar System, Types of Galaxies, Blackholes, Extrasolar Planets, The Big Bang, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, The Special Theory of Relativity, Hubble Space Telescope, Constellations,Spacetime and much more!
I know, right? Not to mention visits from our very own NASA astronaut Gregory Chamitoff!
We began with activities designed to wrap our brains around the shear scale and scope of our solar system.
The past two weeks we have focused on some basic physics of planetary forces; specifically gravity, orbits, mass, weight and acceleration. Next week we will dive into planet exploration. The students will design, defend, and build a habitat for a specific planet. Pictured here are students conducting experiments designed to build an understanding of Newton’s second law: Force = mass x acceleration. After completing the experiments, we predicted what would happen when the same experiment was conducted on the ISS, and then watched videos of the astronauts doing the same thing on the space station. Super cool!
Sixth Grade PLTW
This month in Project Lead the Way, the students began learning about the history of flight. Groups were tasked with Ã‚Â building and testing an aeronautical vehicle, researching its historical significance, and filming an infomercial to inform others about their assigned craft.
7th grade science
7th grade scientists are presently immersed in the unit: Living Systems. In this unit, the students are asking questions like “What are the characteristics of living things? What do all living things need to survive? How are they organized and classified? We spent a significant time exploring the unique properties of water that make it essential for life on Earth.
Presently, the class is working on the Year 2525 Alien taxonomy project.Ã‚Â
IN THE YEAR 2525: Humans have successfully polluted all bodies of water on Earth. As a result, almost all previously known species of plant, animal, and other life have become extinct. Through natural selection, genetic engineering, and selective breeding programs, a portion of the Earth has been successfully repopulated. There are 14 organisms that now exist on Earth.Ã‚Â As an Alien taxonomist, it is your responsibility to classify these existing organisms. Create a taxonomic scheme using only kingdom, phylum, genus, and species.Ã‚Â Using binomial nomenclature, create a LATIN Ã¢â‚¬Å“SOUNDINGÃ¢â‚¬Â name for each organism.Ã‚Â Prepare a dichotomous key for these organisms so that your fellow scientists can identify the organisms when they come to Earth.Ã‚Â Create a Food Web that includes all of your organisms. Ã‚Â
7th and 8th grade Design and Modeling
During the course of September and beginning of October, students in Design and Modeling continue to learn and practice how to create technical drawings (thumbnail, perspective, and isometric) and dimension those drawings using metric, customary, and caliper measurements. Presently, students are working on their last task in this unit, which asks the students to do a mechanical dissection of a simple puzzle toy and document the dissection with technical drawings. Once complete, students will work in teams to brainstorm modifications to the toy, so that it can be used by a child with cerebral palsy in an occupational therapy setting.
Pictured here are Daphna, Abby, and Ester engrossed in their technical drawings.
8th Grade Science
In an effort to pick up where they left off with Mr. Rosenblatt and move forward in our study of physical science, my goal when taking over last week was to review concepts of linear motion and assess the students understanding of these concepts. We conducted a “real world” investigation, titled “Catching the violators.” Setting up a speed trap on campus, the students calculated the speed and acceleration of cars on campus. Using their data, the students created position/time Ã‚Â and speed/time graphs to analyze the data and draw some conclusions. The results? Suffice it to say that all cars we clocked were speeding, but decelerated when the spotted the students hiding in the bushes!
Moving forward, we are delving deeper into forces. This week students are experimenting with friction, as well as looking more closely into Newton’s laws. Ã‚Â On the horizon, a trip to the skating rink, where students will explore Newtons laws and friction (or lack thereof!)
In this innovative program, the students are learning to take responsibility for their learning by developing projects that they have interest in, are passionate about, and in some way will positively impact others. This month, the students worked both individually and in teams to discover what their passions are and brainstorm ideas for their year-long investment. Presently, student are working on implementation guides, that will help them plan out, navigate, and achieve their goals.