Pathfinder School Science

Look what is happening in science!

August 14, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

Middle School Supply List


Here is the supply list for 2019. I hope you are enjoying these last days of summer and are looking forward to a great school year! Now – go jump in a great lake!!!

Grades 5th – 8th Classroom Supply List | 2019-2020

Here is the middle school supply list:

    • Sharpened pencils – ready to go!
    • A planner for homework assignments
    • A three-ringed binder or a system that works for you to keep organized
    • Notebook paper
    • Colored pencils 
    • 2 packages of 3X5 index cards 
    • A box of Kleenex to be shared in classrooms throughout the year
    • Dry erase markers
  • Washable/microwavable plate, cup and eating utensils for lunch (This is in keeping with our Green school status)
    • Athletic shoes for PE that will stay in the locker
    • Composition notebook for FRENCH
  • 6-8 only: for MUSIC – The ukulele made in art last year, or one that will stay at school and be stored in the music room  (5th-grade students will be making one in art this year)
  • A working brain and a sense of humor

We are looking forward to a great year full of deep understanding, laughter, and growth. Please feel free to call on any middle school staff member if you have any questions.

Enjoy these last days of summer and we will see you on Thursday, August 29th for our Back to School Night and again on Wednesday, September 4th for Opening Day!


Shane –

Duncan –

Mrs. Pittinos –

Shannon –

Coach Belanger –

Mrs. Ludwig – 

Gwen – 

Ivy –


May 12, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

Mackinac Island Here We Come!

May 13, 2019

Dear Families,

Here are some last minute details regarding our Mackinac Island trip.

We will be eating lunch at a park near Petoskey on Wednesday. Please be sure your student has a non-microwaveable, completely disposable lunch packed.

At this time of year the island is generally about 10 degrees cooler. As I type this email it is 43 degrees on Mackinac and 51 degrees here. We will be outside much of the time including evenings. Please be sure your student packs warm clothes and rain gear. It looks like rain Wednesday morning but then sun. Remember this is Michigan:)

Please be sure your student’s luggage is tagged with his or her name and Pathfinder School. A dray will be meeting us on the dock and loading our luggage. We will meet up with it later when we check-in. The hotel will have put it all together in the lobby and therefore needs know what luggage belongs to our group.

We have talked about bringing spending money for souvenirs. The idea of wants versus needs, such as one pound of fudge versus 10, has come up. While some spending money is obviously appropriate we ask that it not be excessive. The students will have some free time to shop and walk around.

If your student takes medication, prescription or otherwise, please put it in Shane’s mailbox by Tuesday, May 14th. Please include dosages and directions on package. If your student is allergic to horses and takes allergy medicine please be sure to send it along. We are taking a horse drawn carriage tour when we first arrive on the island.

This year we will not be biking as a group. There is, however, an hour available Friday morning for those students who wish to ride. The cost is $10.00 and if your student wants to do this he or she must bring a bike helmet.

As I mentioned before, the Mackinac Island trip has always been a non-electronic event. We do not allow cell phones, Ipods, tablet etc. This has always, initially, caused some consternation with the students. However, it has been our experience that the students become much more engaged with their surroundings, friends and the magic that is Mackinac. All of the teachers will have smartphones available to take pictures, text highlights to school and for parents to check in IF NEED BE. I will create a Google folder to be shared with all students and parents for pictures. These are the same rules we have at school. In the selfie obsessed world we live in today, this may be the last time for some of these students to truly unplug!

There are still outstanding balances due along with the $30.00 in a labeled envelope and the behavior contract. The front office is keeping track of all this and has been sending out reminders. Please get this in ASAP.

If you have any questions please feel free to call me.

Cell 231-883-8426 – Shane

       231-883-1095 – Duncan

       231-631-3576 – Shannon


Packing List And Behavior contract




February 21, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

Science Expo and Joyful Learning

Dear Families,

I thought I should update you on the plan for the Science Expo as I had a parent think it was this evening. I am so happy I postponed this fun event to March 14th at 6:00. I am including a link for each class with the new dates and details as to what is due when.

5th Grade Invention Convention  Click Here

6th Grade Wax Museum Click Here

7th Grade Science Project Click Here

8th Grade will be displaying research on some common science misconceptions Click Here for assignment. Additionally, they will be making hovercrafts to entertain the masses.

I am still thinking about a project for 4th grade but it will be done at school:)

There will also be the usual  family science table full of hands on projects for all to do.  Hopefully the table will be managed by some wonderful alums:). Feel free to invite your friends and neighbors as it really is a great science night.

Science Classroom News

4th grade was sad to have to stop studying animals when we returned to school. Energy transformation has, however, captured our imagination. We have done a few labs and are now looking at Forces that affect the motion in our lives.

In class, 5th grade is studying cells. We are making a 20ft X 20ft cell out of plastic. Your student is making an organelle they have researched to place in the cell. Some students did this on a snow day others are making them here at school in Art and Science class. Thank you Ms. Ivy! They are so excited and thoroughly engaged in the process:).

The 6th graders have started studying Matter. We did an experiment involving Density. The students were challenged to get a film canister to sink, float and achieve neutral buoyancy. The next experiment involved predicting whether the mass of Bubbalicious Bubble Gum increases or decreases as it is chewed. This involves chewing the gum then weighing it and finding the volume using water displacement. It is SO GROSS! Ask your student what happens to the gum. Both of these experiments require the students to make predictions, gather evidence and graph and interpret data.


7th and 8th grade is studying the Brain. They are currently researching the effect certain street drugs have on the brain. They will be sharing their findings with each other and will post them on their blog when finished for you to see. You can see the assignment here.

We were fortunate to have the Elmwood Township fire department come in and give a presentation on ice safety. It was AWESOME! The students learned how to get out of the ice if they fall through, to always go with someone and tell your parents where you are going, have spikes or nails to get out of the ice hole if you do fall in, leave the windows open if you go out on the ice in a vehicle, that clear ice is stronger that white ice and so much more!

Thank you Elmwood!

Finally here are just a few shots from the amazing Trashion Fashion Show!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment. Also, be sure to check out your student’s blog and others!



February 7, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

So Much Learning!

Our Multi – Age unit on Garage and Waste was amazing but with all the snow days I am wondering if we will ever be able to showcase all of the learning that happened. I will attempt to do a recap of what happened in science and on our field trips. I am hoping your student shared what was going on during their multi-age days but knowing adolescence I’m not so sure:)

These were the Multi – Aged groups:

      Water Issues                  Waste Issues               Plastic Issues


David B







Dylan B


David L

















The students in the Plastic Issues (← click here to see the assignment)class followed this website for directions and learning. They were able to choose the students they wanted to work with based on common topics and interest.

Lexi, Maddie, Evie and Aidan

Plastic in the Oceans  – Google Slide but didn’t have time to finish 🙁

Willow, Andre, Caroline and Lars

Great Lakes Plastic Pollution 


The students in the Waste Issues (← click here to see the assignment) class followed this website for directions and learning. They were able to choose the students they wanted to work with based on common topics and interest.

Lizzie and Sophie investigated Food Waste and created this infographic


Gus, Audrey and Lucy worked on Fashion Waste and began this infographic. Unfortunately, they ran out of time:(


David, Josie, Lauren and Hayden –  Created this website (click below) in addition to a video. All students did research and collaborated.

 Zero Waste

The students in the Water Pollution Issues (← click here to see the assignment) class followed this website for directions and learning. They were able to choose the students they wanted to work with based on common topics and interest.

These are some of what they produced. Since I am home I can not access the posters created but can include the information used. Please know that not all students were able to finish due to Snow days:(

Anna, Michael and Oliver

Pharmaceuticals in Our Water – this link includes the information from the poster.

Alisha and David Best

Beach Closings – this is a Google Slide

Dylann and Harper

Algae Blooms – poster – didn’t have time to finish:(

Noah and Dylan B

Algae Blooms Google Slide didn’t have time to finish 🙁

We were fortunate to visit American Waste where we learned what happens to our recyclables. At Oryana Coop we learned about bulk buying and zero waste and what the Coop does for our community. At Bay Area Recycling for Charities we learned about E-Waste and the fact that they recycle 500 mattresses a week!!!

In class we made beeswax wraps to use for lunches we bring to school.

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing these 2 short weeks were for me as a teacher. There is no way to quantify the learning – social, emotional, and content wise that went on during this learning adventure! For me to watch new friendships form and for students to see how others process information was inspiring. Additionally, the emotional outrage and fear the students began to feel about our precious planet Earth and the peril it is in, due to human’s careless regard for how we dispose of trash was evident. And what we learned about the persistence of plastic was terrifying!



October 24, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

Multiplication Fun!

When I inherited my room, twenty-some years ago, there were several items that I had no idea of their purpose. One was a horse’s stirrup hanging from a beam. I invited the old teacher in (Dick Parks) and asked what he had used it for. He told me he would invite students to recite their multiplication facts while hanging. The kids begged to do it and the tradition continues! The third and fourth graders came in today during 6th-grade science. With everyone cheering each other on the willing kids recited their multiplication fact families. Mr. Tim jumped in and wowed us by doing his 12’s!

Even the 6th grade jumped in! Kinesthetic teaching rules!

October 18, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison
1 Comment

October Science News

The 8th graders went to Pigeon River country, near Gaylord, to view Elk in the wild. After cruising many dirt roads we were fortunate to see one elk, which was an accomplishment as we often don’t see any! We stayed in a cabin The Little Traverse Conservancy lets out to non-profit groups. The weather was not in our favor so the wood stove was welcomed as was the laughter, dancing, magic tricks, and card playing!

The 7&8 graders finished up their insect unit and are now studying the human body beginning with the Muscular and Skeletal Systems. They will learn 20 bones and 10 muscle groups by dressing up and labeling skeletons. By studying how ligaments connect bones to bones and tendons connect bones to muscle we will explore movement. They have a research paper due Monday, October 22.

In sixth grade, we have been studying Ecology and the interactions that occur in ecosystems. Symbiotic relationships; mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism have been explored. The students have researched owls and their place in the food chain, as well. After a detailed review, the students will be taking a test this Thursday, October 18th. Taking tests requires practice and that is half the reason I will be giving this to the students. I don’t want them to freak out but tests are in their high school future and beyond.

Enjoy the photos of 6th grade’s creative owl pellet sculptures they made after dissecting some owl puke!


Fifth graders are studying the beauty and significance of trees in our lives. On a cold and rainy morning, we watched a beautifully animated film by Frederic Back, 1987, The Man Who Planted Trees

“When I think that one man, one body, and one spirit was enough to turn a desert into the land of Canaan, I find after all that a man’s destiny can be truly wonderful. But when I consider the passionate determination, the unfailing generosity of spirit it took to achieve this end, I’m filled with admiration for this old, unlearned peasant, who was able to complete a task worthy of God.”

The students were enamored and highly recommend this film! We are continuing to work on our leaf collections.

Traveling the evolutionary timeline, fourth grade has progressed to studying more complex invertebrates. I brought in some lovely tapeworms and roundworms from our veterinary practice and we shared our snack while looking at them 😝


Using slugs we found while on an invertebrate walk, we held some races. It was fascinating to watch the slime trails and eyestalks on these cool animals. Additionally, we set up an experiment and predicted whether worm castings or regular garden soil will grow better beans. A worm box was set up for Ms. Ivy’s fish tank in the Art Room.


Thank you for all your support especially the B.E.A.R Day books our classroom received!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. It has been an amazing Fall! Shane

October 7, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

These Last Weeks

The fourth graders have begun studying animals beginning with Invertebrates. Starting with sponges, the simplest invertebrate, they conducted a lab to see how absorbent natural or real sponges are compared to man-made sponges. Students predicted that the natural sponges would work better because the man-made sponges were “just copying” 🙂 More than just finding an answer, students in this lab are learning how to measure, record data, collaborate with a partner and ask questions. In the next week, we will be making a worm box, conducting slug races and studying some lovely parasites.

In fifth grade, after studying Plant adaptations, we have begun a leaf collection. I remember doing this in middle school and loved it. We are running all over campus looking at trees, keying them out and wondering what makes them successful. This is an in-class project but students do have a vocabulary assignment due this week. Tree Vocabulary

For sixth grade, news check out their owl reports on the previous post!

The seventh and eighth graders are just finishing a huge project on insects which included a collection of 25 insects. You can see what they were challenged to do by viewing this website.
Be sure to check out their social media posts where they became a bug on their blogs located on the side panel.

This week the 8th graders will head to Pigeon River country to listen for Elk!

There are great things happening in Science at Pathfinder. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

September 18, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

A New Beginning

Dear Families,

It has been wonderful getting to know your children, some new to me some just older and more mature:). I have put together a short video of some photos that show the beginning of our school year. I can’t believe all that we have done in such a short time, and all that I have learned and wondered about by the questions your children have asked me!

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Please prove that you are not a robot.

Skip to toolbar