December 13, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
On November 11, 2016 my daughter Caitlin (Pathfinder alum) was married in Ireland! I was fortunate enough to attend not only the wedding but to explore her new homeland for two weeks.
A wedding rainbow
While gone I had two amazing subs, Gwen Davis and Shannon Mahoney, who helped ensure my students stayed on task with the projects I assigned.
In 6th grade we were studying biomes. Each student was assigned a particular biome and followed directions on a website I created. You can view the assignment here. Biome Assignment
When I returned the students presented the websites they created as travel journals to the class along with the dioramas they made. If you would like to see the results, check out the 6th grader’s biome websites on their blogs that are attached to our classroom blog. Here are some of their dioramas.
The 6th graders are now studying the ecosystem of our Great Lakes. They had some questions about how climate change is affecting the Great Lakes along with invasive species, pollution, water withdrawal and over fishing. We decided to call the Inland Seas and talk to a scientist. We wrote down our questions then Skyped with Jeanie Williams, lead scientist and education coordinator. She was awesome and we learned a lot!
In 7th grade the students took on the persona of a bacteria or virus. They were to brag or whine about their job of infecting humans. It is kind of a twisted assignment but the students really get into it! You can view their presentations on their blogs. This is the website that the students used as a rubric.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
An example of student work by Ellie Herman – The Life of Diphtheria
In addition to making yogurt the students learned about the evils of hand sanitizer and how the overuse of it and antibiotics are creating “super bugs” which are bacteria that are resistant to more common antibiotics. Using marshmallows and M&M’s the students imagined how all of the bacteria “candy” would be washed away using normal soap and a lengthy wash time. Toothpicks were then handed out to simulate hand sanitizer. The students could easily pick up the marshmallows but left the M&M’s behind. These M&M’s represented resistant bacteria left behind to reproduce. They also learned that hand sanitizers do not kill viruses so washing your hands thoroughly protects you more from the flu than hand sanitizers.
In 8th grade the students took a vacation traveling down a digestive track. They wrote a postcard describing what was happening at each organ stop along the way. They began their travels in a protein capsule and were surrounded with Thanksgiving dinner items. You can read the assignment here
My Digestive Journey
Mollie Baker chose to travel through Gwen’s Digestive Tract – check it out! Gwen’s Digestive System
Sonny Haworth chose to travel through Duncan’s Digestive Tract – check it out! Duncan’s Digestive Tract
The 8th graders also did a calorimeter experiment where they burned different food items to determine the amount of potential energy stored. The students were surprised to see how hot walnuts burned raising the temperature of water to boiling.
It has been a wonderful year and I feel so blessed to work in such a place with such amazing students and friends. I wish everyone a very joyous Holiday break and look forward to 2017!