Middle School Science

Check out what's happening in Pathfinder science!

May 10, 2015
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Pathfinder April 2015

I have been a bit out of commission due to a fractured knee. I want to thank all of my students and colleagues for their kindness and patience as I work to negotiate my way around on crutches.

I am embedding a video of pictures from April using PhotoPeach. I apologize to the mobile users who may not be able to view it.

Enjoy!

Pathfinder April 2015 on PhotoPeach  

April 21, 2015
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Newton’s 2nd Law as Demonstrated by an Ordinary Citizen:)

After a minor disaster, where the videos Marlee and Lillian had compiled were accidentally deleted, the girls spent time after school to complete their assignment. Their creative, extra effort produced this excellent video on Newton’s 2nd Law. A special thanks goes out to their parents who helped make it happen and willingly participated in the process. Great job girls!

 

 

March 15, 2015
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Human Body Organ Defense :)

150 Send me adrift. via Compfight

Our 8th grade students just finished up a huge unit on the human body. We explored, in-depth, each system, noting not only what organs are involved but the diseases associated within each system. As part of their final exam the students were tasked to defend their position as an organ in the human body. This is a copy of the assignment and two examples of the letters submitted. My students ROCK! I have deleted the author’s names as requested….

You are an organ working for the Human Body Corporation. You have just learned that upper management (the brain and central nervous system) is looking to make some cuts and is considering eliminating your position. Write a letter to the CEO (brain) defending your job. Be sure to discuss your position within the system and why the company can’t do without you. This essay should be well thought out. Consider everything we have learned since October. How does our body maintain homeostasis? This essay should be no fewer than 250 words.

 

Dear G.O.A.D.,

I have heard, through the proteins, that you and your colleagues are currently evaluating each department and their daily functions’ effect on this company in an effort to eliminate excess energy drainage. I, director of skin function and productionary efforts, have written the following statement to inform you of my department’s preponderance towards any others’ function.

The skin makes up about ten percent of an average adult human’s body weight, and with good cause. It maintains an averaged area of about twenty square feet and ranges from half of a millimeter to more than four millimeters thick! Not only does skin maintain a consistent appearance for partnering corporations to recognize but it is a crucial element in the maintaining of homeostasis. My department is made up of three layers which each serve a unique, essential function, and come together to make up a shield. This is against threatening bacteria, infections, and possibly invading substances or elements. We are here for more than keeping in body heat and vital organs, although this is our broadly spread description. We work to defend the wealthy borders of the body against hungry bacteria, infections, and even other corporations! If our forces are not able to hold up guard, we always arrive at a compromised site to barricade and repair any damage to the furthest of our abilities. Our exterior deputy force, often referred to as the epidermis, is responsible for exposing our home-grown hairs to the outer environment. This includes raising these hairs in an effort to warm the body, evaporate the underlying forces’ perspiration, or sensing any possible threats when they are near(as well as any threatening temperatures). The skin houses nerve endings for your sub-specialized company founders and holds in and protects every other department so that they can complete their duties. We continuously look out for changing conditions on the outside that might affect production on the inside and are constantly bumped, bruised, scratched, and scraped(issues we are left with repairing ourselves). If you, upstairs, have experienced the pain of an absent minded laceration or barely brazed splinter, I challenge you to maintain quality corporate production while completely exposed to unfamiliar conditions such are wind, sun, or even simple air conditioning or a home hearth. We stand here, not to ask for praise or even higher acknowledgment, but for respect and consideration. We have been distributed, replaced, disgraced, and ripped apart. We wish, now, only to remain as we are, day by day, for the years to come.

Sincerely and with hopeful dignity,

Lillian W.

Director of Function and Productionary Efforts Department of Security and Kick-a(butt)s, directed towards Inferior systems’ Neglect. Otherwise known,  S.K.I.N

Another example:

Kidney’s Job

 I am the Kidneys, and am a very important part of the excretory system. Even though you only need one of me, two can be very helpful and most normal. I filter 180 liters of blood per day, and I remove waste from the bloodstream. When I am done I filter out of the body as urine. I have over a million nephrons in one of me. Nephrons have a filter unit called glomerulus, which blood passes through and waste comes out. I also put in three chemicals to help out the body. Erythropoietin maximizes the speed of red blood cell production. Calcitriol keeps bones strong with a Vitamin D like chemical. Also Renin that helps with blood pressure control.

Even though things can also go wrong with me like Kidneys Stones which block the waste from entering the ureter. Diabetic Kidneys which nephrons get damaged because of continued sugar in your blood. Or Kidney Cancer that forms in the lining of the kidney tubes. That does not mean I am not as important as the heart or lungs. Completely eliminating me would shut down a person’s body because of infection in the blood. It’s ok to only get rid of one of me, many people live on only one kidney. Some people even donate one of their kidneys to people who need them and don’t have a working one. But if you only have one kidney and that one starts to fail then you might need someone to donate theirs for you. Also, there are dialysis machines which do the job that a kidney would.

by Noah S.

February 2, 2015
by Shane Boland Harrison
0 comments

Another Week of Deep Learning in Pathfinder Science!

In 6th grade we are learning about how scientists classify matter. We performed the amazing Bubblelcious Bubble Gum experiment where students predict whether the mass of chewing gum will increase or decrease over time chewed. The students mass the gum over set periods of time while chewing it. It is a disgusting experiment but the student’s never forget! They also realize just how much sugar is added to the gum and how quickly it dissolves.

Measuring the mass of chewed gum!

Measuring the mass of chewed gum!

Volume of the gum

Volume of the gum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The concepts of density and buoyancy were also explored in an activity called “Dunkin for Density” The students are challenged to get a film canister to sink, one to float and one to hang in the middle of an aquarium. Building on the formula Density = mass/volume the students calculate the density after finding the mass and volume of film canisters with various amounts of pennies enclosed in them. In order to achieve neutral buoyancy, density has to equal 1. Some students realize they need to make the mass equal to the volume and approach the problem-using math versus trial and error.

So Close!

So Close!

     

Checking volume

Checking volume

 

Hopeful this will be the one!

Hopeful this will be the one!

 

Seventh graders are studying bacteria and viruses. In order to appreciate the good bacteria in our lives we made yogurt. The students were challenged to come up with an experiment that proves the bacteria in the yogurt use the lactose in the milk. Students brought in soymilk, lactose free milk, grape juice and goat milk. You can read about their experiments and the results on their blogs, which are attached to this blog.

Yogurt experiment

Yogurt experiment

Scalding the milk

Scalding the milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checking the recipe

Checking the recipe

It tastes marvelous!

It tastes marvelous!

 

Grape juice yogurt!

Grape juice yogurt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight graders finished up their unit on the nervous system. During this unit I have each student research a street drug to find out how it affects the brain. I then invite a fellow teacher to come in and talk about his brother’s death from a heroin overdose at the age of 20. It is very powerful as he describes his brother and everything he has missed in his life. Many tears are shed and the students come away with a very real example of the devastation drugs can do to a family.

 

 

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