Middle School Science

Look what's happening in Pathfinder science!

November 13, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Shoulder Surgery Blues….

Dear Families,

This Wednesday I am having shoulder surgery and will be gone until Tuesday, November 28th. Peter Galopin, our favorite sub, will be filling in during my absence. I have assigned projects for each class.  Please check in with your student to make sure they are using their time wisely and have all they need to complete the work. Each class has a vocabulary sheet for homework, due when I return. 

The sixth grade is studying biomes. They will be building a website advertising their region which will highlight two animals, two plants, and environmental issues.  They will also be building a diorama depicting their biome. I have supplied shoeboxes and a few supplies but they are excited and want to bring some things in from home which would be great!

You may view the website and assignment here  – Biome Assignment

The seventh grade is developing a presentation about a virus or bacteria of their choosing. They are to become the pathogen and either brag or whine about their life. It is kind of twisted but the students are really into it. They will also make a “Wanted Poster” describing the bacteria or virus they have chosen to be turned in preferably DEAD! 

You may view the website and assignment here – Bacteria / Virus Assignment

The eighth graders are taking a vacation through the digestive system writing postcards back from the organs they travel through. They also have a research paper due concerning a digestive or urinary disorder.

You may view the website and assignment here – Digestive Journey

I put together the following video of photos taken during science. I am truly blessed to work at such an amazing school with such incredible learners!

Thank you for your understanding and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I will be reduced to using my left hand so it may take me awhile!

Here is a video of a play the 6th grade did about the Trial of Freddie Fungus. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

October 10, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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The First Month of School

It is hard to believe a full month of school has passed but I guess time flies when you are having fun and learning!

The eighth graders just finished an in-depth look at insects and while a few are ready for a new subject most have developed a greater appreciation for these animals and how they affect humans in both positive and negative ways. We were fortunate to have Dr. Nate Walton, an entomologist from MSU Extension (and a friend), come in with his Hissing Cockroaches – personal pets.  He harnessed the cockroaches and had them pull a wagon of weights. We were then able to extrapolate how much a human would be able to pull if he were a cockroach based on weight. Nate at 150 pounds or 68 kg could pull over 2 tons!!! The students were absolutely engaged and many held these gentle creatures.

The seventh graders have been traveling campus working on a botanical scavenger hunt along with dissecting and drawing flowers. All of them are amazed at the delicate intricacies when viewed under a microscope. I began this unit with the question “How would you find a way to survive and reproduce if your feet were anchored in cement?” We have discovered how plants have coevolved with pollinators to help with reproduction, how plants can communicate with insects to help attack predators that are eating them and the adaptations they have developed to not dry up and to make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. They truly are amazing organisms!

The sixth graders began the year studying owls and their place in the ecosystem. We dissected owl pellets and created some awesome creatures from the bones found in the pellets. We wondered if owls only ate one kind of rodent or several based on our findings. We also discussed where the owl fit in a food chain. Additionally, we are learning about symbiotic relationships and have watched some pretty crazy videos on parasites. We will continue our Ecology unit by exploring our “home” campus and all it has to offer right out the door.

In 5th and 6th grade technology we are learning the ins and outs of using Google Slides by writing a “Choose your Own Adventure Story”. Ask your student about their story creation they are really excited about them!

It has been an exciting month! If you haven’t checked our your student’s blog please do so. You can click on it from this page. Please comment and share his or her site with relatives or friends. It is always fun for them to get a comment on their work.

Please enjoy the video I put together with some of the pictures from this first month!

Thanks and I am looking forward to this next month! Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Shane

September 10, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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2017 School Year Begins!

We had a great beginning and the two and a half days exhausted me as well as the students! The energy is so charged when we all come back together, happy to see each other and to be challenged. You will see from the gallery of pictures learning and fun has already begun.

The 8th graders will be starting out the year with an in-depth look at insects. There is a lot required for this assignment.  While much of it can be done in class time management, an executive function, will need to be put in place to complete what is assigned without stress:) You can view the assignment HERE.

The 7th graders will begin studying plants after they thwart an evil dictator who is intent on taking over the school. Collaborating with the 5th grade science students they will build a rocket launch pad and explore different variables to get their rockets launched.

The 6th graders began to think like scientists by coming up with a question involving alka-seltzer, water and a film canister. Their questions revolved around varying the amount of water to put in the canister and whether the temperature of the water would affect the rate of blast off. Ask your student what he or she predicted and what actually happened. It was great to listen to them talking through their thoughts and questions. A favorite phrase I love to hear is “I wonder what would happen if…”

In middle school science all students maintain a science blog. Only the 8th graders had a post due this week but a few 7th graders chose to share their first week thoughts. You can read your student’s blog by clicking on it from this page. Be sure to check out other student blogs and comment often – it really is encouraging for them to know they have an audience. Share their blog site with friends and relatives, as well. The requirements for the blog can be found HERE

All homework will be posted on Edmodo. Ask your student the parent code located on his or her page if you would like to keep up with what is being assigned in his or her classes.

Next week we will be traveling to Leelanau Outdoor Center – Sept. 20 – 22.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me anytime. I am looking forward to a great year full of deep understanding and kindness!

 

 

April 21, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Crazy Fridays with Lots of Learning

The library building on Friday mornings is nothing but controlled chaos! We have in-depth classes for middle school. One set of students is working on individual projects (9). These include creating Dungeon and Dragons stories to sell online, making an international food website complete with recipes, a border collie training guide, crafts to decorate your room, rocket construction, programing a robot, and cooking. The other set of middle school students (12) is working with a parent volunteer to create the school yearbook. The third and fourth grade has library and after picking out books they either read or play cognitive games which promote critical thinking(18). The first grade is in the Birchview room doing drama(14). Fifth grade is in the science room (9). This is a total of 62 students in our small library building actively learning, collaborating and having fun Pathfinder style!

 

April 17, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Our First Week Back

“If you have a garden and a library you have all you need.”

This week found the 6th and 4th graders replanting the hoop house with salad greens. They read directions for planting depth and spacing and labeled the rows. Maturity for the greens is 30 – 45 days so hopefully we will be able to harvest some for salad bar and to share at Grandparent’s Day. The other picture is of Kiley helping the Kindergarteners pick out books from our wonderful library.

 Mr. Hansen came into sixth grade to “blow things up” as the students put it. As a trained chemist he was able to demonstrate a chemical reaction discussing the reactants and the products and their search for stability:)

The 7th graders are continuing to build their coral reef and finished the boulders. Next is making the coral and then the ocean bubble. Most have written their Romance on the Reef blogs – be sure to check them out!

The 8th graders are working on their rollercoasters. Their vocabulary is increasing daily without their even knowing it!

 

 

 

 

Next week is Terra Nova testing and more SCIENCE!

 

April 10, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Here We Go!

Spring is here along with the last quarter of the 2017 school year. It is hard to believe we will be saying goodbye to our extraordinary 8th grade in just 8 weeks. These last moments always are filled with chaotic madness, sweet laughter and occasional grumpiness. With the warming Earth distractions can be numerous and learning to embrace the joy in living and learning at Pathfinder daily, and in the moment, is key.

The eighth graders will be designing roller-coasters to study the physics of motion. You can view the lesson HERE. After this unit they will complete the traditional Science Final where they are given disposable cameras and charged with taking pictures all over campus that align with science concepts. These “finals” reappear at high school graduations and are always a hit. Making memories will be the focus these last weeks. Duncan and I will also be hosting a final evening to discuss with these students issues they will be facing in high school.

The seventh graders will be making a coral reef. This will require the creation of a reef animal at home. In class we will be paper macheing boulders and making coral. This is always a huge, fun project that takes more time than I ever can plan for. After this we will dive into fresh water and hopefully end the year studying waves. The students are currently working on group projects involving global water issues. These include the distance women and young girls need to walk for freshwater in developing countries, invasive species, gender benders and plastic pollution. Look for these projects to be posted on the 7th grade blogs. They are impressive!

The sixth grade will be finishing up chemistry and starting cells. We will be creating cell models using our campus and various items to represent organelles. What is always interesting is the discussions the students have about the function of organelles and how they should be represented. They don’t even realize how deep they are learning through analogies and having fun!

 

I created a video highlighting 3rd quarter and posted it on my BLOG . As always I have so much to say as we do so much I just constantly run out of time! Please look at your student’s blog and other blogs as well to find out just how much we are learning and please comment!

Happy spring and hang on!

Best,

Shane

April 9, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Busy 3rd Quarter!

We had a busy winter! I created this video of class highlights.  While the Science Expo and Gutter Derby were great successes, to share with the public, what went on everyday in our classroom was just as extraordinary. I am excited to see what spring brings:)

3rd Quarter 2017 on PhotoPeach

April 7, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Gutter Derby Video

Congratulations to all the students who participated in the Gutter Derby! You all did a fabulous job, embracing all aspects of STEAM!

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