Middle School Science

Check out what's happening in Pathfinder science!

August 6, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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The End of 2013-2014 School Year at Pathfinder

In school May brought the Pathfinder talent showcase, which proved to be spectacular. The musicians, dancers, a tae kwon do performance and singers brought down the house especially the whole school performance of Let it go!

Eighth grade graduation was incredible in all ways with our students performing and stating what their Pathfinder education has meant to them. They are now walking into the light of high school and will be missed more than words can say! (Sorry Kacie – don’t know where you went – must mean you are going to stay:))

 

 

August 5, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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End of School Field Trip Fun!

The end of the school year 2013-2014 came fast and furious. Great things happened both in and out of the classroom. Outside of the classroom the 5th and 6th graders went on the Inland Seas Schoolship on a foggy day in May. They learned about the importance of stewardship regarding our Great Lakes and the watershed in which they live. The middle school traveled to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario Canada. While there they saw A Midsummer’s Night Dream and watched Don Quixote fight a windmill in Man of La Mancha as he dreamed the impossible dream. Other highlights of this trip were a visit to the costume warehouse where the students learned about the archives and were allowed to dress up in costumes worn in some of the past plays. A workshop on stage combat was a big hit as was all the fabulous food we experienced along the way. I have decided that pictures speak louder than my printed word so I am including some of the best. Enjoy!

April 24, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Everyday is Earth Day at Pathfinder

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

                                                Aldo Leopold – A Sand County Almanac

I wrote this quote on the board on Earth Day. What struck me was that every grade was able to connect the content being studied that day to the Earth. One of the middle school through lines is:

What does it mean to be a good steward?

 Our 7th graders have been studying local and global water issues. They created some presentations using the software PowToons. Please take a moment to learn what we, as a society, are up against.

What’s In Our Water? by Noah

“Plastic Pollution in our Waters” by Lillian

“No Fracking” by Gabe

“Asian Carp” by Alex

“Africa’s Water Problems” by Marlee

“West Virginia Oil Spill” by Dakota

April 21, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Outdoor Education – fire building

One of the first activities we did for our outdoor education MIAD was fire building. Each team was given a space on the beach and three matches to start their fire. Preparation included thoughts on safety and what makes a good fire. All groups were successful and were happy with the activity as the spring has remained unusually cool and the fire warmed us all nicely.

Fire dancer

Fire dancer

Down to our last match!

Down to our last match!

Noah and Tom building their base.

Noah and Tom building their base.

 

 

March 29, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Crazy Spring in the Hoop House

Last year we returned from spring break to a hoop house full of greens that had over wintered and were ready to eat. This year we had to shovel snow just to get in the door! Upon entering , we found only one of 5 boxes had survived the severe, record breaking cold of this memorable winter. The 6th and 7th graders cleaned out the dead plants and then planted a full box of arugula, 3 boxes of mixed greens and a few rows of peas. One student, a sixth grader who hasn’t had our plant unit, exclaimed that the pea seeds looked just like the peas we eat! I always marvel at how important hands on learning  is in order to make those connections! The sunshine is warming the house daily but we are still having extreme (-7F) cold mornings. It will be interesting to see what we find when we return from spring break.

We had to shovel the doorway just to get in!

We had to shovel the doorway just to get in!

Our seventh graders - I wonder what Alex is thinking with that smile?

Our seventh graders – I wonder what Alex is thinking with that smile?

Olivia and Anna planting arugula

Olivia and Anna planting arugula

Nick is watering the pea seeds

Nick is watering the pea seeds

Check out the video below!

Hoopin it up in the hoop house!

 

March 17, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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The 7th Graders Make Ice Cream With Their Kindergarten Buddies!

The 7th graders invited their kindergarten buddies to our classroom to make ice cream!  After mixing milk, sugar, and vanilla extract in a small plastic bag and placing it in a larger zip lock bag the concoction was tossed back and forth while surrounded by a snow salt mixture. The groups took the temperature of the snow before adding salt and found it was 2 degrees after the salt was added the temperature dropped to -13! This was cold enough to lower the freezing point of the milk mixture. Sprinkles topped the ice cream and brought many smiles.

 

 

 

March 16, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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What Can We Blow UP?

In 6th grade we are studying the characteristics of elements, compounds, and mixtures. I have a lab I call “Potions” where the students are able to explore how different substances react, dissolve and behave when mixed together. Inevitably they start to ask what we can mix that will blow up. My chemistry background is not very advanced but luckily Mr. Hansen has a degree in chemistry and worked in the field for years. The students asked him to come in and “blow something up”. After rifling through the lab cabinets he found some potassium permanganate and glycerin. The result was a chemical reaction, which produced a spectacular fire!

Thank you Mr. Hansen!

March 4, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Does the mass of bubble gum increase or decrease over time chewed?

The 6th graders recently performed the traditional Bubble gum experiment. The question they were challenged to answer was “ Will the mass of Bubbalicious bubble gum increase or decrease over time chewed?” It is always evenly divided over those who predict increase due to spit or decrease due to flavor loss. The students collaborate in groups as to how they will find out the answer to the question, what data they will need to collect and record and who can chew gum (unfortunately those with braces are automatically out). Because we have also studied how to find the volume of irregular objects the students use graduated cylinders and place the chewed gum in them and noting water displacement to find the volume. Density is then calculated. Overall this is a disgusting FUN experiment where big concepts are learned and remembered for life! For those inquiring minds the answer is the mass of the gum decreases by 70% as the SUGAR dissolves. This is enough to make anyone’s teeth ache!

Cassidy and Emlin finding the volume of chewed gum - yuk!

Cassidy and Emlin finding the volume of chewed gum – yuk!

Anna and NIck recording data for the chewed gum.

Anna and NIck recording data for the chewed gum.

Lauren writing down qualitative and quantitive data as the others observe the gum.

Lauren is writing down qualitative and quantitive data as the others observe the gum.

 

 

 

March 4, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Science Expo Fun

Our annual Science Expo was a great success! The 6th grade wax museum students came alive as they recited their scientific autobiographies. The 7th graders were on hand to explain the projects they did following our experimental design model. And once again the 8th graders gave multiple rides on their school made hovercrafts. Many alumni, happy to come back to Pathfinder for science fun, staffed the family science table, complete with goop, wacky submarines, hoop airplanes and balancing sticks. This is always a special night that leaves me marveling at my students and their creative brains.

Cassidy portraying Jane Goodall with her awesome hand painted poster!

Cassidy portraying Jane Goodall with her awesome hand painted poster!

Macy as Temple Grandin explaining her inventions for animals.

Macy as Temple Grandin explaining her humane inventions for animals.

Emma really dressed the part to explain the life of the Father of Printing..

Emma really dressed the part to explain the life of the Father of Printing..

 

Loads of goop, hoop gliders, balancing sticks and penny boats were made, with the help of alumni, all in the name of science!

Loads of goop, hoop gliders, balancing sticks and penny boats were made, with the help of alumni, all in the name of science!