Middle School Science

Look what's happening in Pathfinder science!

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!

May 10, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

Spring Trip Info

May 1, 2018

Dear Families,

Time to get ready for our middle school spring trip, May 16th -18th. This year we will be traveling to Grand Rapids, MI for two nights. The highlights of the trip will include:

May 16th

  • 8:30am – leave school (bagged lunch from home)
  • 11:30 arrive Meijer Garden – eat lunch

Tour Garden / Fitness Fun in the Sculpture Park workshop


  • 4:15 -5:15 Dinner at Celebration Mall
  •  5:30 – 6:15 IMAX 3D Movie.

         Dream Big Trailer   

  • 7:00 Check into Hotel

Holiday Inn downtown GR

        Possible evening walking tour

  •   10:00 pm – lights out

May 17th

         Tour museum. See Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids exhibit

          Ride the carousel

          Planetarium http://www.grpm.org/explore/planetarium/

          Escher’s Universe http://www.eschersuniverse.com/

May 18th

Wild Encounters Program

        Lunch at Zoo



The total cost of the trip is $260.00.

Please make a check out to The Pathfinder School for $100.00

Please put 3  – $20.00 bills in an envelope labeled with your child’s name.

Please sign the waiver form for the Airtime Park and return to office

Please go over the Behavior contract with your son or daughter,  sign and return to the office.

Thanks for your support! Please let me know if you have any questions.



January 6, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

Welcome to 2018

Happy 2018!

Science News and Projects

8th Grade

The 8th grade begins 2018 studying the Nervous and Endocrine systems. Have you ever heard yourself exclaim to your adolescent “What were you thinking?”  Well, chances are they weren’t! As I have explained to our students the frontal lobe of their brain which is the thinking center, or CEO of the brain, is the last to develop. This area of the brain controls decision making, problem-solving, judgment, and self-control. Research currently shows the brain may not be fully developed until age 25. Early adolescents often go out of their way to engage in irrational risky behaviors and thrills without weighing the negative consequences.  Additionally, because this part of the brain is not fully mature young people are much more likely to try drugs and alcohol during their teenage years.  So in addition to studying the anatomy of the brain, your student will be researching the effects of a certain drug of their choosing. This classroom-based project can be reviewed here Drug Research Assignment

Having family members with addictions and having known young people who have died of heroin overdoses I cannot stress enough that keeping an open dialogue with your student is crucial.

7th Grade

Seventh-grade students will be studying genetics. In addition to Mendel’s peas and the study of heredity, the students will look at ethical issues surrounding new genetic technologies. In teams, the students will choose a topic and prepare a debate. To learn about the topics and plan click here Genetics Debate

6th Grade

Sixth grade begins the year studying chemistry. Chemistry helps us to understand the world. How matter interacts helps explain why leaves turn color, how baked goods are made and may give you a better understanding of why products work or don’t! This is a picture of my notes depicting all the demos, projects and experiments we do for this unit. It is a lot of prep for me but the students love the hands-on learning!



Science Expo February 22, 2018, from 6:00 – 7:30 pm

The sixth and seventh graders have been given the assignment for the upcoming Science Expo.

Sixth Grade Rubric click here

Seventh Grade Rubric click here

Finally, I am including two articles regarding Social Media and Teen Anxiety – Harvard and a blog I stumbled upon about having conversations about Smartphone Use. 

I would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts, prayers, patience and above all HELP during my shoulder surgery recovery. Every meal made, door opened and shoe tied was appreciated. My sling is off and I continue to heal!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


November 13, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison

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

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.


September 10, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison

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
1 Comment

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

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!


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