Pathfinder School Science

Look what is happening in science!

August 30, 2020
by Shane Boland Harrison

8/31/2020 Welcome to Science

Dear Families,

WOW, what a beginning. Some of you may not have been aware but last week I was on my annual family vacation. With school starting early I chose to come to school the first day but then spent time with my family. I have to say that it was great to see my students on Wednesday and it looked like everyone 6-8 had a “dam” good time at the beach and with the LOC staff. 

We are officially back to school and learning full time on Monday. I am in my classroom now gathering what I will need to teach outside, editing previous lessons that have always begun in the classroom, and stressing over what I will forget upstairs and how I will handle not being in my comfort zone. I realize this is a learning process for all of us teachers, administrators, and students and we all will have to adapt. 

All 6-8 graders have been assigned a Chromebook. This is the school’s property and your student may bring it home and use it as needed. We ask that they have it at school each day all charged and ready to go. IF your student has a laptop or tablet with a keyboard they are welcome to bring it and not use the one provided by the school. This is with the understanding that he or she is responsible for its care and that he or she will abide by the rules of the school and not text or use any social media that is loaded on the personal device while at school. 

The 7th and 8th graders will start the year studying insects. I have created a website that outlines the project and expectations in-depth. Insects are Awesome. I was also able to secure a donation from Northern Building Supply for plywood. This will enable your student to create their own personal chair. Look for a loud “All Hands on Deck” for parent volunteers. It will not be this week! 

The 6th graders will be working on experimental design this first week then will dive deep into our local ecology and then the global environment. Each student will be doing a project on an assigned owl. Stop the Uppity Resort. I will assign owls early this week or next.

The 6th grade (and new students in 7&8)  will be responsible for writing a blog due each Sunday night. I will go over this in detail in class and help to set them up. If you DO NOT want your student to have a public blog I can make it private. 

Finally, I would like to ask that you speak to your student about how we really are in school despite being outside and despite how warm it is and how it still feels like vacation. I am so happy to be back but the new mask protocols, the way we can and can not gather, how we travel on campus and so much more is stressful for all! I really want to stay together and not go back to ZOOM!!! The following are some Classroom Standards of Behavior that students created a few years ago. If you could please go over them with your student it would be appreciated.

As always please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns. 





Classroom Standards of Behavior


Learning is an activity that demands focus and attention.


Come to class always ready to participate fully in assignments. 


Bring all papers and pencils to class.




Use mature, deliberate voices with appropriate tone. 


Don’t doodle unless there is a drawing assignment or your doodles pertain to the lecture.


Listen attentively and be prepared to answer and participate.


Don’t eat in class unless given permission.


Practice note-taking and study skills.


Take ownership of your own learning.


Recognize that thinking critically takes focus and practice.


March 22, 2020
by Shane Boland Harrison

What is Working?

Dear Families,

It has been a surreal week, to say the least. Except for a quick chat with your students I have been working at our veterinary clinic trying to address people’s concerns while negotiating these tricky times. When I finally arrived home last night I opened my computer and found so many amazing, creative and well thought out projects I literally BURST into uncontrollable sobs as it hit me how much I miss my / your kids, classroom and community! The fear of the unknown and the grief for what is and isn’t happening finally hit home.


Looking forward, we have been asked to come up with a plan for online schooling in case the school closings go longer than April 5th. I was wondering if you could give me some feedback on how you felt about this last week’s work. Was it too much, too little, just right, too hard to negotiate or understand, too technical? Was the format okay and do you find Google Classroom easy to negotiate thus far? I am dedicated to making sure that your child can continue their education despite the wildness that we find ourselves in. Any tips or comments would be greatly appreciated.


I keep hoping we’ll all wake up and this last month could have been just a nightmare.


Thank you for your consideration,



January 31, 2020
by Shane Boland Harrison

Science Expo

Dear Families,

Our annual Science Expo will be held on February 27, at 6:00 pm. This is a fun night of science for all ages. Grades 5-8 will have presentations and I believe the lower elementary grades will as well. The following are the projects for the 5th through 8th grades. These are to be completed at home. PLEASE read these with your student so there are no surprises as the date draws closer. I want to alleviate as much stress as possible and have talked to the students about not waiting until the last minute to complete their project.

The 5th graders will be inventing something that solves a problem or makes their life easier. Click here for information.

The 6th graders will be performing in the Wax Museum. They are to become a scientist and autobiographically describe the person’s discoveries. Click here for information.

The 7th graders will be researching and presenting an experiment using our experimental design. Click here for information.

In addition to making hovercrafts in class, the 8th graders will be researching common Science Misconceptions. Click here for information.

I have passed out a hard copy of these instructions (5th – 7th) and they have also been posted on Google Classroom. If your student hasn’t been struck down by the many illnesses traveling around campus today and this weekend may be the perfect time to begin brainstorming all the possibilities!

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with me.

Thank you for all of your support!


January 5, 2020
by Shane Boland Harrison

Renaissance Continues!

Dear Families,

I hope you had a wonderful, fun-filled holiday full of laughter, love, and great food! As we come back together I would like to remind our students that we will be finishing up our multi-age unit on the Renaissance. When they come to school tomorrow they are to go to their “virtual” grade.

As I sit in my classroom, preparing for the week, I can’t help but feel grateful for all that happens in this crazy classroom. The students have embraced the Renaissance projects and have worked collaboratively with those outside their normal class or peer group. I can’t wait for you to see their creations at our culminating event soon to be announced:) For now please enjoy the photos.

December 18, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

The Renaissance

During the Renaissance, great advances occurred in geography, astronomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, manufacturing, and engineering. Over the last few days, students have begun to settle into their new “grades” and are learning how others think and do. It is wonderful to watch the older students mentor the younger! I have created a website for this unit. You may have to ask your student which grade they are in, what they are creating and with whom they are working.

Enjoy your holidays!


Click here for the Renaissance website

August 14, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

Middle School Supply List


Here is the supply list for 2019. I hope you are enjoying these last days of summer and are looking forward to a great school year! Now – go jump in a great lake!!!

Grades 5th – 8th Classroom Supply List | 2019-2020

Here is the middle school supply list:

    • Sharpened pencils – ready to go!
    • A planner for homework assignments
    • A three-ringed binder or a system that works for you to keep organized
    • Notebook paper
    • Colored pencils 
    • 2 packages of 3X5 index cards 
    • A box of Kleenex to be shared in classrooms throughout the year
    • Dry erase markers
  • Washable/microwavable plate, cup and eating utensils for lunch (This is in keeping with our Green school status)
    • Athletic shoes for PE that will stay in the locker
    • Composition notebook for FRENCH
  • 6-8 only: for MUSIC – The ukulele made in art last year, or one that will stay at school and be stored in the music room  (5th-grade students will be making one in art this year)
  • A working brain and a sense of humor

We are looking forward to a great year full of deep understanding, laughter, and growth. Please feel free to call on any middle school staff member if you have any questions.

Enjoy these last days of summer and we will see you on Thursday, August 29th for our Back to School Night and again on Wednesday, September 4th for Opening Day!


Shane –

Duncan –

Mrs. Pittinos –

Shannon –

Coach Belanger –

Mrs. Ludwig – 

Gwen – 

Ivy –


May 12, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

Mackinac Island Here We Come!

May 13, 2019

Dear Families,

Here are some last minute details regarding our Mackinac Island trip.

We will be eating lunch at a park near Petoskey on Wednesday. Please be sure your student has a non-microwaveable, completely disposable lunch packed.

At this time of year the island is generally about 10 degrees cooler. As I type this email it is 43 degrees on Mackinac and 51 degrees here. We will be outside much of the time including evenings. Please be sure your student packs warm clothes and rain gear. It looks like rain Wednesday morning but then sun. Remember this is Michigan:)

Please be sure your student’s luggage is tagged with his or her name and Pathfinder School. A dray will be meeting us on the dock and loading our luggage. We will meet up with it later when we check-in. The hotel will have put it all together in the lobby and therefore needs know what luggage belongs to our group.

We have talked about bringing spending money for souvenirs. The idea of wants versus needs, such as one pound of fudge versus 10, has come up. While some spending money is obviously appropriate we ask that it not be excessive. The students will have some free time to shop and walk around.

If your student takes medication, prescription or otherwise, please put it in Shane’s mailbox by Tuesday, May 14th. Please include dosages and directions on package. If your student is allergic to horses and takes allergy medicine please be sure to send it along. We are taking a horse drawn carriage tour when we first arrive on the island.

This year we will not be biking as a group. There is, however, an hour available Friday morning for those students who wish to ride. The cost is $10.00 and if your student wants to do this he or she must bring a bike helmet.

As I mentioned before, the Mackinac Island trip has always been a non-electronic event. We do not allow cell phones, Ipods, tablet etc. This has always, initially, caused some consternation with the students. However, it has been our experience that the students become much more engaged with their surroundings, friends and the magic that is Mackinac. All of the teachers will have smartphones available to take pictures, text highlights to school and for parents to check in IF NEED BE. I will create a Google folder to be shared with all students and parents for pictures. These are the same rules we have at school. In the selfie obsessed world we live in today, this may be the last time for some of these students to truly unplug!

There are still outstanding balances due along with the $30.00 in a labeled envelope and the behavior contract. The front office is keeping track of all this and has been sending out reminders. Please get this in ASAP.

If you have any questions please feel free to call me.

Cell 231-883-8426 – Shane

       231-883-1095 – Duncan

       231-631-3576 – Shannon


Packing List And Behavior contract




February 21, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

Science Expo and Joyful Learning

Dear Families,

I thought I should update you on the plan for the Science Expo as I had a parent think it was this evening. I am so happy I postponed this fun event to March 14th at 6:00. I am including a link for each class with the new dates and details as to what is due when.

5th Grade Invention Convention  Click Here

6th Grade Wax Museum Click Here

7th Grade Science Project Click Here

8th Grade will be displaying research on some common science misconceptions Click Here for assignment. Additionally, they will be making hovercrafts to entertain the masses.

I am still thinking about a project for 4th grade but it will be done at school:)

There will also be the usual  family science table full of hands on projects for all to do.  Hopefully the table will be managed by some wonderful alums:). Feel free to invite your friends and neighbors as it really is a great science night.

Science Classroom News

4th grade was sad to have to stop studying animals when we returned to school. Energy transformation has, however, captured our imagination. We have done a few labs and are now looking at Forces that affect the motion in our lives.

In class, 5th grade is studying cells. We are making a 20ft X 20ft cell out of plastic. Your student is making an organelle they have researched to place in the cell. Some students did this on a snow day others are making them here at school in Art and Science class. Thank you Ms. Ivy! They are so excited and thoroughly engaged in the process:).

The 6th graders have started studying Matter. We did an experiment involving Density. The students were challenged to get a film canister to sink, float and achieve neutral buoyancy. The next experiment involved predicting whether the mass of Bubbalicious Bubble Gum increases or decreases as it is chewed. This involves chewing the gum then weighing it and finding the volume using water displacement. It is SO GROSS! Ask your student what happens to the gum. Both of these experiments require the students to make predictions, gather evidence and graph and interpret data.


7th and 8th grade is studying the Brain. They are currently researching the effect certain street drugs have on the brain. They will be sharing their findings with each other and will post them on their blog when finished for you to see. You can see the assignment here.

We were fortunate to have the Elmwood Township fire department come in and give a presentation on ice safety. It was AWESOME! The students learned how to get out of the ice if they fall through, to always go with someone and tell your parents where you are going, have spikes or nails to get out of the ice hole if you do fall in, leave the windows open if you go out on the ice in a vehicle, that clear ice is stronger that white ice and so much more!

Thank you Elmwood!

Finally here are just a few shots from the amazing Trashion Fashion Show!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment. Also, be sure to check out your student’s blog and others!



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