Graphing Motion

8th graders put their science lesson into practice today by trying to mimic the motion shown on a distance-time graph. They had to recognize when to move, when to stand still, and when to change their speed.

Our first S.O.L.E.

This week, the 6th and 7th graders were able to take part in a SOLE. SOLE stands for “self-organized learning environment”. During a SOLE, groups of students are given an open-ended question, and pretty much set loose. They are given 60 minutes to research the topic, come up with an answer, and develop a basic presentation. To encourage full group participation, each group is only allowed to use one piece of technology.

6th grade Social Studies SOLE question this week was: “Is Globalization a Good Thing?”

First Flex Day!!

6th grade kicked off the year in a “stemmy” way by completing a mini design challenge. The challenge was to build the tallest tower. The constraints were mainly material-based. Each group was given 100 3×5 note cards. They could bend, cut, or tear the note cards however they wanted, but they could not glue or tape the cards together. I was very impressed with their teamwork! Our tallest tower reached a towering 149.5 cm tall (that’s almost 5 feet!!)

Kicking off 2018-2019!

Welcome back! We had an excellent day getting back into the routine of desks, lockers, and 20 minute lunches! Please continue to check back weekly for fun updates, pictures, and descriptions of things we’re doing in class.

Also – PARENTS!! Please double check that you are signed up for our text alerts for this school year! This is the best way to ensure that you are kept in the know about schedule changes, dress down days, etc. To sign up, text the message “@sjsparen” to the number “81010”.

Listed below is our 6th grade Specials schedule for your reference:

Day 1: MUSIC

Day 2: GYM*

Day 3: ART




*please remember that our gym uniforms are NEW this year! You can purchase them through Schoolbelles.

Enjoy Your Summer!!

We made it through another year! Enjoy your summer, sleep in (but not too late), and eat lots of ice cream! In an effort to keep your STEM brains sharp during the next few months, I’m sharing some of my favorite science-y YouTube channels over in my Resources tab. These channels explain everyday science in fun, easy-to-understand ways. I hope you’ll sprinkle some of these in with your daily YouTube-ing, you’ll be surprised at what you learn!!

See you in August!!

Words from an expert

This Wednesday, the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students were able to get some information on energy conservation and renewable energy from subject-matter-expert Steve Marshall. Mr. Marshall is an engineer at The Brewer-Garrett Company, and he prepared a very informative presentation for our students in order to help them complete their portion of the whole school’s Carbon Footprint PBL.

How far away?!

As an introduction to our unit on space, the 8th grade did an activity to give them an idea of just how big our Solar System is. We learned that scientists measure distances in space using astronomical units (AU), with 1 AU being the average distance from Earth to the Sun. In this activity, the students measured out a length of string, and positioned themselves along the string at the approximate location of each planet, with a scale of 1AU = 10cm. They were surprised at how close together the inner planets seemed, and that the outer planets could be so far away!

Alex is representing the Sun. Jessica, as Mercury, is at 3.9cm from the Sun, Angelina is 7.2cm away as Venus, and Nevaeh is an even 10cm away as Earth. At 15.2 cm from the Sun, Megan is representing Mars. Julius is a full 52cm away as the planet Jupiter, Beth is 95.4cm away as Saturn, and Genevieve is representing Uranus, which is 191.8cm away. At 300cm (3 whole meters!) Ian is Neptune, and Ryan is holding the place of dwarf planet Pluto at nearly 4 meters from the Sun!

Can you spot the butterflies?

While learning about various ways that organisms have adapted to their environments, the 7th graders studied, among other things, camouflage and mimicry. To put these ideas into practice, they were given a white paper butterfly and told to camouflage the butterfly so that it would blend in with a certain area of the science classroom. I was very impressed with the results! Can you spot all 8?

Onion DNA

8th grade got to do an exciting extension activity during our most recent Flex Day – extract the DNA from the cells of an onion! Using only common household ingredients, the students and I prepared a mixture of chopped onions, water, meat tenderizer, and dish soap. We blended and strained the mixture, and divided it into test tubes. The students carefully poured some rubbing alcohol into the test tube, allowing the extracted DNA to separate from the mixture. This activity brings to life some of the concepts 8th grade is learning during our heredity and genetics unit!

Resilience – an Engineering Habit of Mind

Recently, the students learned about resilience, and the importance of being resilient when trying to solve a problem. To help the students practice this skill, we took some time on Flex day to solve a riddle. The students worked for over an hour, independently at first and then in groups, on this riddle before finally solving it. And boy, were they proud when they did!

Read on if you’re interested in testing your resilience and solving it yourself!!

Four people need to cross a bridge in the middle of the night to escape an oncoming horde of hungry mutant zombies. The old, rickety bridge can only hold a maximum of two people at any time, and you only have one flashlight so you must travel together (or alone). The flashlight can only travel with a person, so every time it crosses the bridge it must be carried back. You cannot cross in the dark. It takes you 1 minute to walk across the bridge, the Lab Assistant can cross in 2 minutes, the Janitor can cross in 5 minutes, and the Old Professor takes a full 10 minutes to cross. If two people cross together, they can only go as fast as the slower person. You must account for the time it takes to cross the bridge AND the time it takes to bring the flashlight back. The zombies will reach the bridge in 17 minutes. How can everyone cross the bridge in 17 minutes or less?

Need a hint? Ask a 6th grader!!