Middle School Science

Look what's happening in Pathfinder science!

September 1, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Welcome Back – First Day Plan

Welcome back fellow scientists! I am really looking forward to an exciting year of asking questions, exploring new ideas and experiencing hands-on science. I thought I would let you know what we will be doing on Wednesday your first day back! We will begin at 8:15. All 5th – 8th graders should report to the North Portable (Duncan and Shannon’s classroom) at 8:15. We will have a chance to meet and greet each other, hear from Coach Belanger about sports, and Ms. Tobin about the music program. The Bell Ringing ceremony will begin at 9:00am. After this you will return to the portable to get your locker assignments, schedules, and do some team building activities. At 11:15 we will go to the Memorial Garden to help set up for the picnic. School is OVER at 11:30. You are then the responsibility of your parents. Remember no one is allowed at the Beach without adult supervision.

I am super pumped about this year and can’t wait to see all of your wonderful faces!!! Please contact me sharrison@thepathfinderschool.org or text / call 231-883-8426 with any questions.

 

 

February 12, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
2 Comments

February Science

8th Grade gets a Valentine’s Gift!

Today we were fortunate to have Dr. Mike Howe arrive, by chance, in our classroom. He was touring the school as a perspective parent looking at Pathfinder for his son. The best part was he just happened to be a cardiologist and we just happened to be dissecting a pig’s heart and lungs! Dr. Howe gleefully jumped right in and explained the workings of the heart to the 8th grade. He discussed and dissected the valves, explored the 4 chambers and talked about heart disease and it’s causes. He asked great, challenging questions of the students and they asked many of their own. It was truly awesome and such a great gift to have a passionate professional stop by at the perfect time!

Dr. Mike Howe explaining the anatomy of the heart.

Dr. Mike Howe explaining the anatomy of the heart.

His favorite valve is the aortic valve :)

His favorite valve is the aortic valve 🙂

6th grade Explores Changes of State

The 6th graders are studying matter and how adding (endothermic) energy or taking away (exothermic) energy changes the state of matter. In the name of science we had to make No Bake cookies and a smoke bomb. By visualizing how the molecules move, the concepts of solid to liquid, boiling, melting, condensing, and sublimation were all better understood by these delicious and fun activities.

No Bakes!

No Bakes!

Smoke bomb cooking

Smoke bomb cooking

Smokin!

Smokin!

7th Grade Probiotic Science

The 7th grade made yogurt while studying bacteria. They invited their 5th grade buddies to help. Each group came up with a way to prove the bacteria in the yogurt uses the lactose in milk to form lactic acid and thus yogurt. With the milk yogurt as the control the different groups tried soymilk, almond milk, and heavy cream. Another group chose to add lemon juice because they felt it would stop the bacteria from reproducing. All creations were tried and some considered downright gross! Be sure to read about this experiment more on the individual 7th grade blogs.

Checking the temperature.

rChecking the temperature.

3D Printer First Project

Mr. Matt is planning on taking the 3rd and 4th graders ice fishing with poles they are making. He needed a reel and was going to try to put together something with ball jar lids and thread bobbins. Instead we had the 6th graders come up with a design on TinkerCad a 3D soft ware program. It worked! Check out the pictures.

IMG_6143

IMG_6156 (1)

 

Now all they need is for the weather to warm up from 10 degrees F!

Please be sure to check out the student blogs for their thoughts and musings about SCIENCE!

 

 

 

January 15, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
1 Comment

January News

8th Grade

The 8th graders are continuing to study the human body. Right before holiday break they were challenged to create a rap describing a piece of food as it travels through the digestive system. While they are sometimes hard to understand in the following videos, they truly had a deep understanding of the digestive system by the time they finished. During their exam I could hear them referring back to the rap as they illustrated and then wrote about the journey of a piece of food.

We have now moved on to the Nervous and Endocrine systems. Check out the 8th grade blogs to learn about why we stuck pins in each other and fought with a door jam! Additionally, each student has chosen a street drug to research and will be reporting their findings to the class. As these students move on to high school this information will be more relevant and important to know.

7th Grade

The 7th graders are studying bacteria and viruses. The first activity I did was to have a Virus Party. Before class, I put plain water in 10 test tubes and a dilute base solution in one. Each student chose a test tube not knowing which was the “vector”. With a pipette and test tube in hand the students mingled at the “party” while I played music. When I turned off the music they exchanged the fluid in the test tube with one other person. I repeated this four times and they exchanged with three other people . I then went around and added phenolphthalein, an indicator solution used  to detect a base.

Virus Party!

Virus Party!

 

What followed was a  honest discussion about how easily infectious diseases  are spread including sexually transmitted diseases. Please read the 7th grader’s blogs to see what they learned from this activity.

 

6th Grade

The 6th graders are studying matter. We started with the concepts of mass, volume and density. This last week they performed a truly gross, yet fun experiment. The students were placed in groups of two and one volunteered to be the “chewer”. The question posed was “Will the mass of bubblegum increase or decrease over time while being chewed?” Most students predicted that it would increase. What do you think? Read the 6th graders blog’s to find the answer!

Volume displacement of chewed gum.

Volume displacement of chewed gum.

AND JUST IN!!!!!

Our 3D printer has arrived and is all set up. Time to put our thinking caps on and design some cool stuff! Special thanks to RJG, Inc. a local  manufacturing company along with the TBAISD career tech center and Drea Weiner for all of their support!

Check out the great things happening in the Grand Traverse area with 3 D printers in the classroom. 3D Printing PLC News

If you haven’t set up your student’s Tinkercad account please do so!

October 27, 2015
by Shane Boland Harrison
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The 8th Grade Girls

Each year the 8th grade class is responsible for the care of the Peace Garden. Today, being the last mild day in the foreseeable future, found us raking leaves and planting tulip bulbs. In the spring these tulips will hopefully bring joy and relief from a long winter. We also watered the greens we planted in the hoop house. These will continue to grow through November then go dormant until February when we will be able to use them in the salad bar. After our labor we took a hike to the lake to see the colors. I took this picture of our all girl class. We will be missing Jolie when she moves after Thanksgiving to Arizona. We are so fortunate to have such strong young women as role models for the younger students. They rock!

The 8th grade class

The 8th grade class

October 26, 2015
by Shane Boland Harrison
3 Comments

It May be Gross but they are Learning!

In the last few years I have acquired or found dead animals. There have been two pig’s heads, a big salmon, a headless rabbit and this year a chicken. We hang these bodies in a tree down near the beach. Some students are disturbed by this but most are fascinated. Last year, students found a headless rabbit and we learned that some owls decapitate their prey and feast only on the brain! The bodies then go through the process of decomposition. Flies land and lay eggs that hatch into maggots, which feed on the body. Insects can be seen crawling all over and the smell of bacteria off gassing is evident. This is the natural nutrient cycle. It is difficult for students to understand how all of the elements found in them have been here since the beginning of time and are merely recycled. When we went to hang the chicken I had one student ask “What happened to the rabbit?” Such a great question to start a great conversation!

The chicken pictured here was donated by Mr. Matt who is growing meat chickens and had one die. This is a good science experiment from which many students will learn a lot about decomposition and the nature of nutrient recycling. And besides it is Halloween!

Chicken decomposition!

Chicken decomposition!

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!

 

 

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