Wednesday, January 22, 2020


The sixth grade science class has built an indoor composter in room 310. They are bringing compostable food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, dryer lint, paper bags, paper towel rolls, leaves, dead flowers, and lots of other green and brown materials from home.

After the first week, the students were amazed by how much these materials had broken down.  Very little was still recognizable!  Best of all, it smelled like soil, not rotten food.

We are testing the rate of breakdown of compostable materials, specifically plant-based utensils, bowls made from Bagasse, a by-product of sugar cane, and chip bags which claim to be compostable. Each week, we carefully remove the items, weigh and measure them, and record our findings. We then mix more green and brown matter into our composter, and record our observations about how the compost has changed. We are lucky that room 310 gets lots of sun, so the compost breaks down very rapidly.

Here is the best part! When we are finished making compost, we are going to use it as part of a school-wide Earth Day project! We are going to mix it with organic potting soil, and then we will repurpose milk containers from the cafeteria as plant pots.  We will plant container-size vegetables and herbs in the cartons, and distribute them to the clients of the Saint James Food Pantry, so they can grow fresh vegetables and herbs at their homes.

This project helps our environment, helps the hungry in our community, teaches us about recording and interpreting data, and provides amazing fertilizer. What could be better?

Monday, January 6, 2020

STREAM Innovation

Seventh grade has chosen a STREAM project to work on through the month of January.  They want to design an environmentally-friendly elevator that operates through water pressure rather than using electricity or fossil fuel.  Will they be able to do it? We'll have to wait and see.  It's still in the planning stages,  Keep watching to monitor their progress.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Semi-Permeable Membranes

Seventh grade is learning about cell structure, and how substances pass through membranes.  They used balloons to simulate cell membranes.  Each balloon contained a liquid, which the students had to try to identify.  Because a latex balloon is semi-permeable, some students  students were able to figure out what substance the balloons contained.  They extended this to infer why Mylar balloons retain helium better than latex balloons do. Our seventh grade students showed great scientific thinking.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Seventh Grade Skeletons

Seventh grade is learning about the human body systems.  In October, what could be better than learning about the skeletal system? The students assembled skeletons, using bones that were labeled by their correct scientific names.  After they finished, they personalized their skeletons. We have soldiers, Englishmen, ballerinas, and many others.

Check out our creativity! The seventh graders are so smart, it's scary!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Wands for Wildlife

As sixth graders, the current eighth grade became very interested in and passionate about our environment. This year, they are spearheading a service project to collect used mascara wands. Their collection of these wands will accomplish two environmental goals: it keeps plastics out of our landfills, and it helps sea animals that are harmed by oil spills.  The brushes will be sent to an organization that will distribute them to agencies working to clean up sea birds and mammals after environmental damage.  Mascara wands are perfect for these jobs because they are small, flexible, and gentle.

The students worked in teams to write grade-appropriate talks for each of the other classes, explaining what we will be doing and why it's important.  They then decorated collection boxes for each classroom.

 Each month, the class that collects the most wands will have our sea otter visit their room for the month.
We are hoping for lots of support from our school community as we help our environment and our marine life.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Sixth Grade Discoveries

Sixth grade science focuses on Earth and environmental science.  The sixth grade students were exploring rocks and minerals using microscopes that attach to their cell phones.  Some students made an amazing discovery while looking closely at a rock that contains fossilized seashells.
Inside a crevice on this large rock, the students discovered a tiny fossil of a snail shell.  To the naked eye, it is no bigger than a grain of sand.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Eighth Grade Dives Right In!

Welcome back to a new school year! There is so much to do, and eighth grade has already been working as scientists. Today they compared the structural integrity of different shapes.  First, they hypothesized as to whether a square or a triangle would have more structural integrity.  They then decided what they needed to construct their shapes, and built them.  Finally they tested them to see which one held its shape under pressure.  Those whose hypothesis was not correct were able to state the reasons for their unexpected results.  Next week, this concept will be applied to a building project.

 Raymond is measuring his materials to be sure the shapes are constructed properly.
 Jeffrey is preparing his materials,
 A perfect square
 Gracie's square matches her pencil pouch!
 Brooke builds while Kiara records the procedure.They doubled the walls of their shape to see if the extra reinforcement would change the results.  They concluded that it made the shapes stronger, but not any more structurally sound.
 Michael and Lucas are ready to test their shapes.
 The Avas are carefully attaching their segments.
 Kristen and Mahek are happy with their results.
Joshua displays what he has constructed.

The result was that the triangle had more structural integrity. The class discussed why this was so, and situations in which this would be important. They did a great job on the first full day of school.

And of course, we used PAPER straws for our experiment. We take care of our planet while we explore new ideas.