Pathfinder School Science

Look what is happening in science!

January 5, 2020
by Shane Boland Harrison
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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.

February 21, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison
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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!

Thanks,

Shane

October 18, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison
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October Science News

The 8th graders went to Pigeon River country, near Gaylord, to view Elk in the wild. After cruising many dirt roads we were fortunate to see one elk, which was an accomplishment as we often don’t see any! We stayed in a cabin The Little Traverse Conservancy lets out to non-profit groups. The weather was not in our favor so the wood stove was welcomed as was the laughter, dancing, magic tricks, and card playing!

The 7&8 graders finished up their insect unit and are now studying the human body beginning with the Muscular and Skeletal Systems. They will learn 20 bones and 10 muscle groups by dressing up and labeling skeletons. By studying how ligaments connect bones to bones and tendons connect bones to muscle we will explore movement. They have a research paper due Monday, October 22.

In sixth grade, we have been studying Ecology and the interactions that occur in ecosystems. Symbiotic relationships; mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism have been explored. The students have researched owls and their place in the food chain, as well. After a detailed review, the students will be taking a test this Thursday, October 18th. Taking tests requires practice and that is half the reason I will be giving this to the students. I don’t want them to freak out but tests are in their high school future and beyond.

Enjoy the photos of 6th grade’s creative owl pellet sculptures they made after dissecting some owl puke!

 

Fifth graders are studying the beauty and significance of trees in our lives. On a cold and rainy morning, we watched a beautifully animated film by Frederic Back, 1987, The Man Who Planted Trees

“When I think that one man, one body, and one spirit was enough to turn a desert into the land of Canaan, I find after all that a man’s destiny can be truly wonderful. But when I consider the passionate determination, the unfailing generosity of spirit it took to achieve this end, I’m filled with admiration for this old, unlearned peasant, who was able to complete a task worthy of God.”

The students were enamored and highly recommend this film! We are continuing to work on our leaf collections.

Traveling the evolutionary timeline, fourth grade has progressed to studying more complex invertebrates. I brought in some lovely tapeworms and roundworms from our veterinary practice and we shared our snack while looking at them 😝

 

Using slugs we found while on an invertebrate walk, we held some races. It was fascinating to watch the slime trails and eyestalks on these cool animals. Additionally, we set up an experiment and predicted whether worm castings or regular garden soil will grow better beans. A worm box was set up for Ms. Ivy’s fish tank in the Art Room.

 

Thank you for all your support especially the B.E.A.R Day books our classroom received!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. It has been an amazing Fall! Shane

October 10, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Big Week in and out of the Classroom!

So much happens every week both inside and outside our classroom. This last week began with the passing of my beloved dog and Pathfinder mascot – Roz. For years Roz accompanied me to school once or twice a week. She was a dog that read emotions and always seemed to seek out the student that needed a dog head in their lap. It was a hard goodbye for me but the love and hugs I receive continue to help me through the empty grief I feel with her loss. Thank you to all for your support – we truly are a family at Pathfinder.

The sixth graders finished up the dissection of their owl pellets and thought hard about the complexity of food chains and how they connect in the ecology of Pathfinder. Each student created a Google slide presentation about an owl the resides in North America. Symbiotic relationships among species that  include – mutualism (where both species benefit), commensalism (where one species benefits and the other isn’t harmed), and parasitism (where one species benefits and the other is harmed), were discussed. In a thoughtful discussion the students wondered if the relationships could change over time. This idea of relationships evolving, from the students blew me away, and lo and behold relationships have been known to change! The next few weeks will find us looking for more connections on campus as we embrace the fall weather.

The seventh grade continued to explore our dependance on plants and how they enable us to harness or eat (as one student put it) sunshine. Students have been getting up close and personal with mosses, ferns and seeds by using dissecting microscopes to explore and then draw the adaptations these plants have acquired to evolve and survive. To engage students I asked them to imagine being an organism stuck in cement, unable to move. What would they need to do to ensure their survival and the ability to reproduce and survive?

In keeping with our plant unit we also harvested the basil from the school garden and made pesto. Pickles and applesauce were also canned with the 5th graders help.

The eighth graders finished up their insect project and I feel they have a new respect for these animals that truly rule the world! This is huge project that demands students manage their time wisely. Most students seem to think 3 weeks is a long time to finish all the projects assigned, but I often find students panicking trying to find an insect in a dusty corner in order to finish their collection!

Outside of class Pathfinder  held a huge cross country race inviting teams from all over the Grand Traverse Region. To say it rained would be an understatement but smiles prevailed and everyone had a great time. The 8th grade class traveled to Pigeon River State Forest to hear Elk bugle on Thursday. This is an annual overnight trip with lots of laughter and deep conversations!!!

This next week will find us enjoying the beautiful fall colors and weather outside as much as possible! Please be sure to check out the student blogs connected to this blog. Also, enjoy the pictures, but know they barely capture the excitement that goes along with learning.

 

 

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.

 

 

May 28, 2016
by Shane Boland Harrison
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Water Testing at DeYoung Conservancy Property

IMG_7790The 5th and 7th graders took a quick trip to the Leelanau Conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area. While there we sampled a creek on the property for macro-invertebrates, measured temperature, and discussed stream health while looking at habitat. The students were astounded by both incomplete and complete metamorphosis while looking at different nymph and larval stages of the macro-invertebrates they found. These are the best types of field trips as we end the year and dreams of summer are in our heads. Over and over again we teachers heard “Awesome – this is so cool!” “Wow – that is totally gross” “There are more kinds of worms other than earthworms?” It was a great trip!

 

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