Middle School Science

Check out what's happening in Pathfinder science!

May 25, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison

Inland Seas Schoolship

Today the 5th and 6th grade scientists enjoyed a morning on the Inland Seas Schoolship in Suttons Bay. The question asked before they set sail was “Is our great lake Michigan a healthy lake?”  After testing for water quality, types of plankton, benthic macro-invertebrates, micro-plastics and fish, the answer they deduced was “it’s a more complicated answer than just yes or no”. They observed that while invasive species have decreased the biodiversity of the lake the water quality of the lake is healthy. They also learned how to raise the sails and sing some great shanties. A special thanks to our chaperones Pathfinder Alums Caitlin and Seamus Harrison:).


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May 22, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
1 Comment

Mackinac Island Awesome!

I hope you everyone has had time to recover from our wonderful trip. My Fitbit recorded 26,520 steps totaling 11.7 miles on Thursday alone! With the packed schedule we had not one complaint from anyone was heard, everyone was having so much fun. I have done this trip for several years and I have to say this one was the best. While the excellent weather did help I have to say our students were polite, kind to each other, generous and listened well. The magic of Mackinac was everywhere!

Mackinac 2016 on PhotoPeach

May 5, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison

Romance on the Reef

As part of their unit on Oceans the 7th grade created a Coral Reef. They each chose an animal to research and make, along with some different kinds of coral. They also learned about the status of coral reefs globally and how and why they are dying and losing biodiversity. One part of the assignment was to write a blog post portraying their animal looking for a “date” on a dating website called Romance on the Reef. Be sure to check out the 7th grade blog posts to read about their special adaptations and qualities:). I guarantee you will laugh and be impressed by all that they learned! Their blogs are attached to this main page.

Romance on the Reef on PhotoPeach


March 26, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison

Gutter Derby Success

Gutter Derby SUCCESS!

Despite many, many breakdowns of the 3D printer, our students were able pull it together and participate fully in the Gutter Derby Race, hosted by the TBAISD. We had 8 teams, made up of 5th through 7th graders. Because of the breakdown of the printer we had to outsource many of our designs to other working printers in the community. Some of our students didn’t get their car back to assemble and test until the day of the event! My students were very grateful for everyone’s help!

Learning to problem solve, collaborate and accept that this is the best you can do for this moment, are strong life skills. I am so very proud of these amazing students – there are no words!




February 24, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison

Science Expo February 25


Pathfinder GYM

The excitement is building for the annual Science Expo this Thursday, February 25, from 6:007:30. The 6th graders will entertain you with their wax museum of scientists, the 7th graders will show you their awesome science projects using our experimental design and the 8th graders will provide hovercraft rides for all! 4th & 5th graders will also have presentations that should not be missed. We will again have a science table full of take home projects that will prove to be fun and educational for all ages and MORE!

If you would like to invite your friends along that would like to see what your student is up to at our awesome school please feel free to bring them!

It truly will be a night of family fun with lots and lots of laughter!


February 12, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison

February Science

8th Grade gets a Valentine’s Gift!

Today we were fortunate to have Dr. Mike Howe arrive, by chance, in our classroom. He was touring the school as a perspective parent looking at Pathfinder for his son. The best part was he just happened to be a cardiologist and we just happened to be dissecting a pig’s heart and lungs! Dr. Howe gleefully jumped right in and explained the workings of the heart to the 8th grade. He discussed and dissected the valves, explored the 4 chambers and talked about heart disease and it’s causes. He asked great, challenging questions of the students and they asked many of their own. It was truly awesome and such a great gift to have a passionate professional stop by at the perfect time!

Dr. Mike Howe explaining the anatomy of the heart.

Dr. Mike Howe explaining the anatomy of the heart.

His favorite valve is the aortic valve :)

His favorite valve is the aortic valve :)

6th grade Explores Changes of State

The 6th graders are studying matter and how adding (endothermic) energy or taking away (exothermic) energy changes the state of matter. In the name of science we had to make No Bake cookies and a smoke bomb. By visualizing how the molecules move, the concepts of solid to liquid, boiling, melting, condensing, and sublimation were all better understood by these delicious and fun activities.

No Bakes!

No Bakes!

Smoke bomb cooking

Smoke bomb cooking



7th Grade Probiotic Science

The 7th grade made yogurt while studying bacteria. They invited their 5th grade buddies to help. Each group came up with a way to prove the bacteria in the yogurt uses the lactose in milk to form lactic acid and thus yogurt. With the milk yogurt as the control the different groups tried soymilk, almond milk, and heavy cream. Another group chose to add lemon juice because they felt it would stop the bacteria from reproducing. All creations were tried and some considered downright gross! Be sure to read about this experiment more on the individual 7th grade blogs.

Checking the temperature.

rChecking the temperature.

3D Printer First Project

Mr. Matt is planning on taking the 3rd and 4th graders ice fishing with poles they are making. He needed a reel and was going to try to put together something with ball jar lids and thread bobbins. Instead we had the 6th graders come up with a design on TinkerCad a 3D soft ware program. It worked! Check out the pictures.


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Now all they need is for the weather to warm up from 10 degrees F!

Please be sure to check out the student blogs for their thoughts and musings about SCIENCE!




February 3, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison

High School Fair Tonight!

High School Fair – Wednesday, February 3
FREE – Open to All Interested Middle School Students丨 7-8:30丨Pathfinder GYM
Pathfinder invites all interested 8th grade students to join us for our annual high school fair. Schools from around the region as well as the state attend to present their programs to interested students. As a “School of Choice” region, we encourage all middle school students to come and explore their options.

Participating High schools: The Leelanau School,TC Central, TC West, TC Christian, Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools (St. Francis), Interlochen Academy of Arts, Leland High School, Leelanau St. Mary’s, Cranbrook (Bloomfield Hills, MI)

January 25, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison

HS 101

HS 101 & College Prep
Wednesday, January 277PM -8PM
We invite our middle school students to join recent graduates of Pathfinder who attend schools all over our region (TC West, TC Central, Interlochen, The Leelanau School, Cranbrook and more) to learn about the transition from Pathfinder to High School. Discover what you need to know from students who have been in your shoes. Parents are also invited to sit with Alumni parents to discuss the transition from a parent’s eyes.

We will also have a brief presentation from Michigan College Planning to prepare your child for what colleges want to see. All 6th-8th graders are encouraged to attend.



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