Middle School Science

Look what's happening in Pathfinder science!

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

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 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

December 2, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Think, Create, Design 3D Competion

Super proud of the 6 students from 5th, 6th and 7th grade that chose to participate in the Think, Create, Design 3D printer competition. They were up against the clock with my leaving for Ireland, and I have to give special thanks to Caroline for doing some of the videos. Many local schools were invited to compete. Out of 9 projects submitted – 6 – yes 6!!!!! were from Pathfinder! And they even extended the deadline. I think this speaks to the flexibility of our curriculum. Please check out the videos and vote with a like (really stupid way to run a competition!) on all the videos :)! And if you are missing a tape core for your tape dispenser see Rowan! He discovered he can make them for .27 cents versus ordering them online for $4.99.

Thanks to everyone who helped these students succeed!
Shane

September 30, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Elk Bugling with 8th Graders!

The 8th graders  will be traveling to Pigeon River State Forest this coming Thursday and Friday, October 6 and 7. We will leave after lunch on Thursday and return on Friday in time for Pizza lunch. The following is the suggested gear list and the students have been charged with creating a menu. This is an annual trip with no two the same but equally full of joy and laughter! Here is a video of what we saw and heard last year.

The supply list is as follows:

  • Sleeping bag (and pad if you have it)
  • Flashlight
  • Rain gear
  • Long underwear
  • Drinking cup that can hold hot liquids
  • WARM clothes / coats – it will be cold when we are out looking for elk
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Water bottle
  • Toiletries (there are no showers or running water so a toothbrush is really all that is needed)
  • Camera
  • Camp chair for sitting around the campfire if you have one.
  • Binoculars if you have them

Please call, write or text with questions!

September 12, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Blitz The Bear!

Dear Families,

This coming Friday, September 16th, the 6-8 graders will be traveling to Sleeping Bear Dunes to participate in a bioblitz sponsored by the Cerulean Center. Our students will become citizen scientists for the day, working side-by-side with scientists and naturalists to find and record as many plants, animals, insects and other organisms as possible! The data collected will help inventory the biodiversity in the Great Lakes Region.

YOUR STUDENT WILL NEED:

  • A signed permission slip which is located in your family mailbox. Please turn into the front desk after signing.
  • A disposable sack lunch and water bottle.
  • Cloths that can get wet. Students will take part in an aquatic excursion.
  • Sturdy footwear, sunscreen, hat and or sunglasses
  • Rain gear (if needed) – We’ll be active, rain or shine

Participants will be using the iNaturalist app to record observations. IF your student has a smartphone and IF you give permission for him or her to bring it for use, please download the app. It is not necessary for your student to have a phone to participate. They may also bring a digital camera if they have one.

If you, as a parent, would like to participate you are more than welcome! They are looking for as many volunteers as possible. Information on how to sign up is on the flyer attached to the permission slip you are to sign for your student. Go to the Cerulean Website for more information. I have park passes so you do not have to pay to participate. Unfortunately, there is limited space on the school bus so you will have to meet us out there if you choose to come. The itinerary is also in your mailbox.

This is a really exciting event and is just one of many BioBlitzes happening across the country, many in National Parks to help celebrate the centennial.

If you have any questions please feel free to call, text or email.

Thanks,

Shane

September 8, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Wonderful Summer Projects!

A collaborative science and LA/SS summer reading assignment for the Pathfinder 8th graders consisted of reading The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and creating a journal using the voice of the character of the boy in the story. The 7th graders were charged with reading The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono and making a project that reflected conservation and stewardship. Today the students came together and in groups discussed the common threads that ran through both books. Dynamic conversations were heard which included words such as: patience, perseverance, goals, sustainability, compassion, observations – all traits we hope to see in our students! It was a wonderful way to start the first full day of school thinking deeply, sharing and of course laughing!

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September 6, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Creative Writing Opportunity for Middle Schoolers

Dear Middle School Parents,

Here is an exciting opportunity being sponsored by the National Writers Series

Are you a middle school student with many great stories to tell but are not sure where to get started? Our own Duncan Moran will be teaching a long-fiction writing class this fall at Northwestern Michigan College.  Here are the details:

CREATING INTRIGUE: WRITING THE LONG STORY

Tuesdays from September 20 – December 6, 2016, 7-8:30 pm
Northwestern Michigan College, Scholars Hall, Room 205
Instructor: Duncan Moran
Cost: $299
Registration Code CRN 4279
Sponsored by the National Writers Series

For  middle school students with a passion for reading and writing, this course will provide the inspiration, structure and critical advice needed to write a piece of fiction at least fifty pages long. The class will examine characterization, the interplay between setting, plot, and character, dramatic plotting, and the craft of writing. The class is ideal for young people who love writing and don’t quite know how to give their stories the form necessary to make it work.

About the instructor: With a BA in Literature and History and an MFA in Creative Writing, Duncan Moran has been a writer-in-residence in the Leelanau County Public Schools, taught as an adjunct professor of English at NMC, and taught middle school at the Pathfinder School. With published poems, essays, and short stories, he has also been a recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs.

To Register:

Call (231) 995-1700 or Click here to register

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.

 

 

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