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!

 

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.

 

 

 

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!

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.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Knitting MIAD

The knitting MIAD (Multiple Intelligence Arts Domain) has been stitching up a storm. With the help of Bobbie Stevens, an alumni parent and former employee, and music teacher Lynne Tobin the girls have learned how to knit, purl and pick up dropped stitches :). Our plan is to make a blanket for our school’s upcoming fundraiser. Each student is knitting a square.

Knitting Circle

Knitting Circle

Ms. Tobin and Lily conferring.

Ms. Tobin and Lily conferring.

Olivia proudly wearing the  headband she made in class!

Olivia proudly wearing the headband she made in class!

 

 

6th grade Valentines

Using photo – sensitive paper the 6th graders created Valentines for their sweethearts. The intended beloved included parents, a dog, a chicken and an A+ test. After choosing objects to place on the photo paper to block the UV rays from the sun they stopped the chemical reaction by dipping the paper in water. Then  using their physics vocabulary words they wrote poems to go along with the photos creations.

Sun exposure

Sun exposure

Poems to parents

A poem to a mom and a poem to a dog. Can you guess which is which?

To a special mom who anchors LOVE despite the weight!

To a special mom who anchors LOVE despite the weight!

 

 

 

 

8th grade – Understanding what makes a calorie a calorie!

During our unit on digestion the 8th graders literally burned calories. By lighting a peanut, piece of popcorn, and a potato chip on fire the students observed how much energy was stored in each food item. Homemade calorimeters were used. These cans were filled with water and the temperature change was noted before and after the burning of the food source along with the mass of the item. The students were amazed at how long the peanut burned. They realized that when we eat food, our bodies convert the stored energy, known as calories, to chemical energy, thereby allowing us to do work. After plugging our data into the formula we were able to compare how close we came to what the package said the calorie content was per serving. Some values were close while others not so much. Percent error was then calculated and questions asked.

Billy is checking how the temperature of the water is changing as the peanut burns.

Billy is checking how the temperature of the water is changing as the peanut burns.

Zach lighting a food item
Zach lighting a food item

 

Comparing notes

Comparing notes

An additional lesson was the proper way to strike a match. Many students had never done this before!

 

Catching UP!

The days fly by and before you know it winter is in full motion and the drifts, along with snow days, are piling up. Intense and wonderful learning, along with lots of laughter, happened at the end of 2013.

Hoop House Happenings…..

Greens for the salad bar were planted and some harvested before being covered for the winter. It will be a miracle if they survive these sub zero temperatures!

Greens for the salad bar were planted and some harvested before being covered for the winter. It will be a miracle if they survive these sub zero temperatures!

Last year the greens over wintered and were ready for harvest in March. Will be interesting if they will be viable this year.
Last year the greens over wintered and were ready for harvest in March. It will be interesting to see if they are be viable this spring.

The 6th Grade Hydro-engineers on Grand Traverse Bay.

The 6th grade on Grand Traverse Bay

The 6th grade on Grand Traverse Bay

While studying fresh water ecosystems the sixth graders followed the path a drop of water would travel if it landed at the top of the hill. We saw how it could pick up sediment from the sand placed at the top of the drive. From there we traveled to the parking lot where the students realized how water was channeled into the wetland surrounding the soccer field. Never had the students considered the intention engineers have to build into the design of a parking lot. After a discussion of the role the wetland has in absorbing the pollution found in parking lot run-off, we followed the drainage across the road to The Bay. The water was low and scummy next to the shore. Many different populations of species that make up the communities within the ecosystem found in this kind of habitat were discussed. Valuable invertebrates live in the slime along the shore. We saw a few ducks before it was time to head back to the classroom.

Snow Shoeing on campus

This year we went snow shoeing before the holidays to ensure we got in at least one trip.  Last year, before we knew it, we had 9 snow days and I felt we just couldn’t give up any more class time although learning does take place every time we go outside.

Snow shoeing 8th grade

Snow shoeing 8th grade.

snow shoe through the Hall of trees.

Snow shoe through the Hall of trees.

 

Gabe snow shoed up a tree!

Gabe snow shoed up a tree!

Hall of Trees a magical path!

Hall of Trees a magical path!

 7th Grade – genetics, viruses, bacteria and yogurt – Oh My

The seventh graders did a great job studying genetics. Punnett squares, dragons with babies, pedigrees, individual genetic research papers, and hands on licorice DNA helped to build understanding. With the individual research papers the students chose to study a topic of their interest. These included genetically modified food, should we bring back extinct species, should insurance companies have access to your genetic make up and the use of stem cells to replace malfunctioning organs or tissues were all addressed. Lively discussion followed each presentation. By applying what the students are learning in class to every day issues our science content becomes more applicable to the real world.

DNA with sweet gumdrops for the nucleotide bases and licorice for the ladder.

DNA with gumdrops for the nucleotide bases and licorice for the ladder.

 

dna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studying genetics has helped us understand how bacteria and viruses continue to evolve and outsmart us. This has been especially relevant during this flu season. But not all bacteria are bad and the students are now aware of the symbiotic relationship we have with bacteria. In fact there are more bacteria on and in a human than there are cells in the whole body. We could not live with out these single-celled organisms!

Using our experimental design to prove the bacteria in yogurt need the lactose in mild.

Using our experimental design to prove the bacteria in yogurt need the lactose in milk to ferment.

Making yogurt with rice milk

Trying to make yogurt with rice milk

Look who came to visit!

Look who came to visit!

Look who came to visit!

Barred Owl 2

Living and learning in the woods has many advantages but today was extra special when a Barred Owl made an appearance near the music portable. At first there was concern it may be sick but after I spoke to Jerry, veterinarian husband, he told me that they often are seen during the day.

After doing some research I learned that they are very vocal animals and often sing in duet or even in chorus. At close range the call is often described as sounding like, “Who-cooks-for-you?-Who-cooks-for-you’all?” . In late summer, family groups will call back and forth to each other. Perhaps this owl wanted to audition for Ms. Tobin and choose the music portable to hang out! What a treat.