Pathfinder School Science

Look what is happening in science!

February 7, 2019
by Shane Boland Harrison

So Much Learning!

Our Multi – Age unit on Garage and Waste was amazing but with all the snow days I am wondering if we will ever be able to showcase all of the learning that happened. I will attempt to do a recap of what happened in science and on our field trips. I am hoping your student shared what was going on during their multi-age days but knowing adolescence I’m not so sure:)

These were the Multi – Aged groups:

      Water Issues                  Waste Issues               Plastic Issues


David B







Dylan B


David L

















The students in the Plastic Issues (← click here to see the assignment)class followed this website for directions and learning. They were able to choose the students they wanted to work with based on common topics and interest.

Lexi, Maddie, Evie and Aidan

Plastic in the Oceans  – Google Slide but didn’t have time to finish 🙁

Willow, Andre, Caroline and Lars

Great Lakes Plastic Pollution 


The students in the Waste Issues (← click here to see the assignment) class followed this website for directions and learning. They were able to choose the students they wanted to work with based on common topics and interest.

Lizzie and Sophie investigated Food Waste and created this infographic


Gus, Audrey and Lucy worked on Fashion Waste and began this infographic. Unfortunately, they ran out of time:(


David, Josie, Lauren and Hayden –  Created this website (click below) in addition to a video. All students did research and collaborated.

 Zero Waste

The students in the Water Pollution Issues (← click here to see the assignment) class followed this website for directions and learning. They were able to choose the students they wanted to work with based on common topics and interest.

These are some of what they produced. Since I am home I can not access the posters created but can include the information used. Please know that not all students were able to finish due to Snow days:(

Anna, Michael and Oliver

Pharmaceuticals in Our Water – this link includes the information from the poster.

Alisha and David Best

Beach Closings – this is a Google Slide

Dylann and Harper

Algae Blooms – poster – didn’t have time to finish:(

Noah and Dylan B

Algae Blooms Google Slide didn’t have time to finish 🙁

We were fortunate to visit American Waste where we learned what happens to our recyclables. At Oryana Coop we learned about bulk buying and zero waste and what the Coop does for our community. At Bay Area Recycling for Charities we learned about E-Waste and the fact that they recycle 500 mattresses a week!!!

In class we made beeswax wraps to use for lunches we bring to school.

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing these 2 short weeks were for me as a teacher. There is no way to quantify the learning – social, emotional, and content wise that went on during this learning adventure! For me to watch new friendships form and for students to see how others process information was inspiring. Additionally, the emotional outrage and fear the students began to feel about our precious planet Earth and the peril it is in, due to human’s careless regard for how we dispose of trash was evident. And what we learned about the persistence of plastic was terrifying!



October 24, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

Multiplication Fun!

When I inherited my room, twenty-some years ago, there were several items that I had no idea of their purpose. One was a horse’s stirrup hanging from a beam. I invited the old teacher in (Dick Parks) and asked what he had used it for. He told me he would invite students to recite their multiplication facts while hanging. The kids begged to do it and the tradition continues! The third and fourth graders came in today during 6th-grade science. With everyone cheering each other on the willing kids recited their multiplication fact families. Mr. Tim jumped in and wowed us by doing his 12’s!

Even the 6th grade jumped in! Kinesthetic teaching rules!

October 18, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison
1 Comment

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 7, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

These Last Weeks

The fourth graders have begun studying animals beginning with Invertebrates. Starting with sponges, the simplest invertebrate, they conducted a lab to see how absorbent natural or real sponges are compared to man-made sponges. Students predicted that the natural sponges would work better because the man-made sponges were “just copying” 🙂 More than just finding an answer, students in this lab are learning how to measure, record data, collaborate with a partner and ask questions. In the next week, we will be making a worm box, conducting slug races and studying some lovely parasites.

In fifth grade, after studying Plant adaptations, we have begun a leaf collection. I remember doing this in middle school and loved it. We are running all over campus looking at trees, keying them out and wondering what makes them successful. This is an in-class project but students do have a vocabulary assignment due this week. Tree Vocabulary

For sixth grade, news check out their owl reports on the previous post!

The seventh and eighth graders are just finishing a huge project on insects which included a collection of 25 insects. You can see what they were challenged to do by viewing this website.
Be sure to check out their social media posts where they became a bug on their blogs located on the side panel.

This week the 8th graders will head to Pigeon River country to listen for Elk!

There are great things happening in Science at Pathfinder. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

September 18, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

A New Beginning

Dear Families,

It has been wonderful getting to know your children, some new to me some just older and more mature:). I have put together a short video of some photos that show the beginning of our school year. I can’t believe all that we have done in such a short time, and all that I have learned and wondered about by the questions your children have asked me!

May 10, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

Spring Trip Info

May 1, 2018

Dear Families,

Time to get ready for our middle school spring trip, May 16th -18th. This year we will be traveling to Grand Rapids, MI for two nights. The highlights of the trip will include:

May 16th

  • 8:30am – leave school (bagged lunch from home)
  • 11:30 arrive Meijer Garden – eat lunch

Tour Garden / Fitness Fun in the Sculpture Park workshop

  • 4:15 -5:15 Dinner at Celebration Mall
  •  5:30 – 6:15 IMAX 3D Movie.

         Dream Big Trailer   

  • 7:00 Check into Hotel

Holiday Inn downtown GR

        Possible evening walking tour

  •   10:00 pm – lights out

May 17th

         Tour museum. See Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids exhibit

          Ride the carousel


          Escher’s Universe

May 18th

Wild Encounters Program

        Lunch at Zoo



The total cost of the trip is $260.00.

Please make a check out to The Pathfinder School for $100.00

Please put 3  – $20.00 bills in an envelope labeled with your child’s name.

Please sign the waiver form for the Airtime Park and return to office

Please go over the Behavior contract with your son or daughter,  sign and return to the office.

Thanks for your support! Please let me know if you have any questions.



January 6, 2018
by Shane Boland Harrison

Welcome to 2018

Happy 2018!

Science News and Projects

8th Grade

The 8th grade begins 2018 studying the Nervous and Endocrine systems. Have you ever heard yourself exclaim to your adolescent “What were you thinking?”  Well, chances are they weren’t! As I have explained to our students the frontal lobe of their brain which is the thinking center, or CEO of the brain, is the last to develop. This area of the brain controls decision making, problem-solving, judgment, and self-control. Research currently shows the brain may not be fully developed until age 25. Early adolescents often go out of their way to engage in irrational risky behaviors and thrills without weighing the negative consequences.  Additionally, because this part of the brain is not fully mature young people are much more likely to try drugs and alcohol during their teenage years.  So in addition to studying the anatomy of the brain, your student will be researching the effects of a certain drug of their choosing. This classroom-based project can be reviewed here Drug Research Assignment

Having family members with addictions and having known young people who have died of heroin overdoses I cannot stress enough that keeping an open dialogue with your student is crucial.

7th Grade

Seventh-grade students will be studying genetics. In addition to Mendel’s peas and the study of heredity, the students will look at ethical issues surrounding new genetic technologies. In teams, the students will choose a topic and prepare a debate. To learn about the topics and plan click here Genetics Debate

6th Grade

Sixth grade begins the year studying chemistry. Chemistry helps us to understand the world. How matter interacts helps explain why leaves turn color, how baked goods are made and may give you a better understanding of why products work or don’t! This is a picture of my notes depicting all the demos, projects and experiments we do for this unit. It is a lot of prep for me but the students love the hands-on learning!



Science Expo February 22, 2018, from 6:00 – 7:30 pm

The sixth and seventh graders have been given the assignment for the upcoming Science Expo.

Sixth Grade Rubric click here

Seventh Grade Rubric click here

Finally, I am including two articles regarding Social Media and Teen Anxiety – Harvard and a blog I stumbled upon about having conversations about Smartphone Use. 

I would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts, prayers, patience and above all HELP during my shoulder surgery recovery. Every meal made, door opened and shoe tied was appreciated. My sling is off and I continue to heal!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


November 13, 2017
by Shane Boland Harrison

Shoulder Surgery Blues….

Dear Families,

This Wednesday I am having shoulder surgery and will be gone until Tuesday, November 28th. Peter Galopin, our favorite sub, will be filling in during my absence. I have assigned projects for each class.  Please check in with your student to make sure they are using their time wisely and have all they need to complete the work. Each class has a vocabulary sheet for homework, due when I return. 

The sixth grade is studying biomes. They will be building a website advertising their region which will highlight two animals, two plants, and environmental issues.  They will also be building a diorama depicting their biome. I have supplied shoeboxes and a few supplies but they are excited and want to bring some things in from home which would be great!

You may view the website and assignment here  – Biome Assignment

The seventh grade is developing a presentation about a virus or bacteria of their choosing. They are to become the pathogen and either brag or whine about their life. It is kind of twisted but the students are really into it. They will also make a “Wanted Poster” describing the bacteria or virus they have chosen to be turned in preferably DEAD! 

You may view the website and assignment here – Bacteria / Virus Assignment

The eighth graders are taking a vacation through the digestive system writing postcards back from the organs they travel through. They also have a research paper due concerning a digestive or urinary disorder.

You may view the website and assignment here – Digestive Journey

I put together the following video of photos taken during science. I am truly blessed to work at such an amazing school with such incredible learners!

Thank you for your understanding and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I will be reduced to using my left hand so it may take me awhile!

Here is a video of a play the 6th grade did about the Trial of Freddie Fungus. Enjoy!





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