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.

Friday, June 21, 2019

NCEA STREAM 3.0 Conference

Mrs. Rivera and I were chosen to speak at the NCEA STREAM 3.0 Conference on the topic that we love - Classrooms Without Walls.  The audience was very receptive to what we had to say, and people agreed that Classrooms Without Walls is very valuable to students.  We are proud to have pioneered this program in our school. We're already planning great educational experiences for our students for next year!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


May 14 was the STREAM Fair.  The middle school students thought of a problem to solve and designed a way to try to solve it.  They built and tested their ideas, making revisions if they could.  Some projects worked as the student engineers had hoped; others did not.  If the project did not work, the students identified something that they think went wrong and how they would address it on a future attempt.  Those who visited the STREAM Fair were impressed by the projects and by the students' eloquence in explaining them.

 Jared, Dahria, Kylie and Kayla designed a prosthesis that could be used with a touch screen.  They tested different materials to see which would work.
 Tim, Michael, Paul and Thomas used the laws of physics to determine how to maximize the distance and velocity of a trebuchet.
 Polina, Reina, and Katelin designed a system to minimize roadway flooding by absorbing rainwater.
 Michael, Lucas, Thomas and Lucas designed a way to keep litter and debris out of water that drains into storm sewers.
Philip, Robby, Robert and Kai worked to find the most efficient way to separate salt from water. 
 Emily, Shalyse, Leyla and Mahek created a water wheel to generate clean energy. They think that their design will work if they can increase the energy in the flowing water.  They could not get enough in the classroom, but they believe that their design has applications in the real world.
Timothy and Ashton designed a way to make folding clothes easier and more efficient.
 Kaylin, Lea, Jordyn and Jhailyn tested different liquids to see which caused flower plants to grow most rapidly.
 Eryk, Jeffrey, Matthew, Nathaniel and Adrian tested shooting a basketball while wearing different types of gloves.  They were surprised by their results.
 Emily, Isabel and Rayelle designed a mini greenhouse with a watering system.  They kept their plants alive and growing during Easter break, while we were away from school!
 Ean, Leah, Brady and William are solving the problem of roadside litter by creating a trough to catch the garbage thrown out of cars.  Their prototype was made on our 3D printer.
 Jake, Jeremiah and Josh developed an earthquake-proof building.
 Brooke, Ava, Ava and Kiara explored whether the energy in citrus fruit can easily be converted to electric energy and used to charge a cell phone.
 Maya, Victoria and Victoria designed and built a storm sewer that can filter out debris that washes down, keeping our oceans cleaner.
 Cassidy, Lilly and Mallory created a website to help chefs cook their pasta to a perfect al dente texture.
 Raymond, Michael, Josh and Michael devised a way to purify water in an emergency.
 Juliana, Misha, Kristen and Julia tested students to find out if certain activities like dancing, praying, yoga, or positive messages helped them to perform better on tests.
 Dominic, Jonathan, Arianna and Savannah investigated the effect of trash can placement on litter.
AJ, Akshaya and Gracie used a potato to create a circuit and light a bulb.

The STREAM Fair was a great success. Our middle school students have learned to try new ideas without fearing that they will not work.  They learn from mistakes, and communicate what hey have done with clarity and confidence.  STREAM projects impart important life skills as well as science and engineering concepts.