Middle School Science

Check out what's happening in Pathfinder science!

December 17, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Hour of Code

Last week the 5th through 8th graders participated in a global learning event called The Hour of Code, a one-hour online tutorial in computer science. Even President Obama got in on the fun and wrote his first line of code. He is quoted telling kids “Don’t just play on your phone, program it.” Our students programed interactive Holiday Cards offered by Scratch, a type of software. Here is the link to follow if you would like to get in on the fun!

Scratch Tutorial for interactive holiday card

or try this link  Code tutorials

It is estimated that in 5 years there will be 1 million computer- programming job vacancies yet most schools are not offering computer science in their curriculum. The tutorials offered during The Hour of Code allowed students to write code to animate actions of cartoon characters on their computer screens. I was very excited at the level of engagement and success the students had with this activity. I plan to look for more computer science courses for my 5th and 6th grade technology classes that meet once a week! I also hope to learn ways to integrate computer science in my science classes. So much to learn – so little time!

 

Here Rileigh is showing off her awesome Christmas card that asks fun questions that you must answer correctly in order to get presents!

Here Rileigh is showing off her awesome Christmas card that asks fun questions that you must answer correctly in order to get presents!

 

Avery is trying to add sound to her card using code.

Mady is trying to add sound to her card using code.

 

 

December 16, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Baby Pantry Gifts and Thank You!

Thank you Pathfinder families! The Leelanau Baby Pantry was overwhelmed and deeply grateful for all of the wonderful donations our school community so generously collected. Children will be warmer and healthier with all of the winter gear, diapers, hats, gloves, toys and baby items we gave. Our 8th graders were able to volunteer and helped by bundling diapers, sorting hangers, cleaning toys, hanging up clothes and moving heavier items for the working volunteers. Lessons were learned and hugs given all around! 

Bundling diapers

Marlee and Katia bundling diapers.

 

Lillian hanging up clothes. She was very familiar with the sizes :)

Lillian hanging up clothes. She was very familiar with the sizes :)

 

Gabe sorting books - his favorite past time@

Gabe sorting books – his favorite past time@

Alex hanging PJ's on hangers.

Alex hanging PJ’s on hangers.

 

Alex, Noah and Dakota cleaning toys

Alex, Noah and Dakota cleaning toys

 

 

December 2, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Baby Pantry Gifts for the Holidays

Holiday collections for the Leelanau Baby Pantry:
November 24, 2014 – December 13th, 2014

This holiday season we are asking for school wide donations for the Leelanau Baby Pantry. Their greatest need is for winter gear for sizes T2-T4.  This includes:

·         boots,

·         mittens,

·         coats,

·         jackets,

·         snow pants,

·         snowmobile type (one piece) snowsuits,

·         hats for both boys and girls.

Additionally, diapers and baby hygienic products are also needed. They do accept gently used and laundered items. If you wish to wrap items they ask that you label what is in your package with the item name and size. We will be collecting through Friday, December 13th. There will be a box in the main office and one in the library for collected items. On Monday, December 15th our 8th graders will deliver the donations. Please visit their website for more information. http://www.leelanauchristianneighbors.org/baby-pantry

Any questions please feel free to contact Shane – middle school science. sharrison@thepathfinderschool.org

Thank you for your generosity!

 

November 26, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Grateful For Science Knowledge

I love science and I love art. Looking at the blog posts of my students it is obvious that they too are happy to create flowers, dragons, skeletons, insect drawings as they pursue understanding. I am grateful that I am able to teach in a place that values and trusts the independence and intelligence of its educators. I am grateful that I can teach through asking questions and applying science knowledge in artful and creative ways. I am grateful daily for my student’s insights and all that they teach me by how they look at things. I was reminded today of Richard Feynmen and his thoughts on the artist and the scientist in his writing Ode to a Flower

Ode to a Flower

“I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe…

I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 12, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Check out our student blogs!

The 7th and 8th graders have been actively blogging about our Pathfinder science class and other school activities. Please be sure to check out what is happening in their classes by clicking on the link to their blogs located along the right side of this front page. Be sure to leave a comment and let them know what you think! Thanks

November 12, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Putting the Hoop House to Bed

Today, with the first snowfall upon us, the 7th grade helped put the hoop house to bed. During our fall gardening class we planted mixed salad greens, arugula and some Swiss chard. The seedlings are tiny now but come February, when the light begins to change and the sun to shine, they will start to photosynthesize and grow. Last year we had two out of four boxes survive the bitter cold temperatures. We are hopeful that we have a milder winter and a better crop for our salad bar this next spring season. The hoop house is always a sweet space to go in the winter, as it is always warmer inside especially when the sun shines.  

8th Grade Human Body and the Rabbit

October 21, 2014 by Shane Boland Harrison | 0 comments

8th grade

The eighth graders have begun an intensive unit on the human body. The first systems to be studied are the muscular, skeletal and integumentary. In order to learn our muscles and bones we have begun to dress up skeletons. The students will be expected to identify 20 bones, 10 muscles and explain the functions of different tissues along with tendons and ligaments. This week’s lab found them dissecting chicken to get a hands-on experience. Please read their blogs about what they learned. These student blogs are located on the side of the front page of this blog.

You may have heard about the headless rabbit our class hung from a tree. We found the rabbit without a head along a trail and decided to hang it up and watch it decay. We witnessed lots of fly activity initially then discovered the soft body tissue had sloughed off in the heavy rain. Maggots were found decomposing the body on the ground. This lead to many discussions by all grades on campus such as, forensic science, why is smells, what killed the rabbit, and recycling of nutrients to mention just a few.

Cutting away the chicken's epithelial tissue.

Cutting away the chicken’s epithelial tissue.

Looking for the tendons.

Looking for the tendons.

Examining the muscle tissure

Examining the muscle tissue

Only at The Pathfinder School could science be this up close and personal with nature!

We see a lot of fly activity

We see a lot of fly activity

Maggots decomposing the flesh on the ground

Maggots decomposing the flesh on the ground

Only the skeleton remained after the strong rain.

Only the skeleton remained after the strong rain.

Not impressed with the smell but loved the maggots!

Not impressed with the smell but loved the maggots!

 

October 7, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

6th Grade Loves Worms

The sixth graders set up two jars layered with leaves, sand, dirt and gravel. Studying decomposers, they added worms to one jar and left the other empty to serve as a control. Our Kindergarten friends happened to wander by while on a leaf hunt and added some of their special colored leaves to the top. We were happy to show our worms to the Kindergarten and they were equally fascinated by how worms move. 

Worm Curiousity

Worm Curiosity

Collecting the substrate
Collecting the substrate

 

Kindergarten Friends

Kindergarten Friends

Worm tickles

Worm tickles

Layering the Jars

Layering the Jars

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

A Visit from an Entomologist

We were fortunate to have entomologist Nate Walton visit our classroom to help conduct a few experiments with the 8th graders. With Nate’s guidance the students set outside red and blue bowls filled with water. The students discovered after a few days that the red bowls held fewer pollinators, especially bees, who don’t see the color red as explained by Nate. The student’s then conclude that birds or other insects, which see different waves on the electromagnetic spectrum, must pollinate red flowers.  

Nate discussing insects with the 8th graders

Nate discussing insects with the 8th graders

We placed the traps outside

We placed the traps outside

 

Insects that were attracted to blue were more numerous.

Insects that were attracted to blue were more numerous.

Being an entomologist, Nate’s pets include insects he is studying. Here is Gabe inspecting a Bess Beatle.

Gabe and the Bess Beatle

The other experiment Nate brought was to see which lines termites follow on a piece of paper. After drawing many colored lines with different kinds of pens, the students noticed a pattern. The termites followed the lines created only by the RED Bic pens. Nate informed us that the ink contains a chemical that mimics the pheromone termites leave along the trail in order to be able to smell their way back to the nest.

Check out the video!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2014
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Fall Experience Pictures

We were blessed with the best weather this year at Leelanau Outdoor Center for our annual Fall Experience!