Friday, May 3, 2013

Hi all,

Here are a few highlights from this week:
  • In Art, students have finished building their clay puzzle boxes. Ask your student if the edges of his/her box are perpendicular.
  • In Music, Samual has returned from his European Tour, and continued his work teaching kids about the blues and helping them with their original composition.  Ask about the difference between The Band and Aretha Franklin.
  • We have begin work on this year's yearbook.  We will be using "working lunchtimes" to keep this project on schedule.
  • 7th graders have begun their third Milestone.  For this one, they'll be conducting an interview, summarizing and reflecting on this process, and presenting their findings to the group.  Ask who your young person will be interviewing, and what they hope to learn.

  • Nat's math class has been working furiously on both Euclidean and Fractal geometry.  Early in the week, we modeled fish populations using recursive functions, and found out about Strange Attractors.  Later, we introduced the complex plane and worked with geoboards to find patterns of squares and triangles.  Ask about the square root of negative one, about the Mandelbrot Set, and about how they reacted to finding squares on the geoboards.
  • We continued work on our Afghanistan unit as well, by looking at the stories of boys' and girls' experience in schools.  Ask about the differences in educational opportunities for boys and girls, and ask whether Dina was right in enrolling the boys in school even though it was against the wishes of the elders.
  • We practiced our visual and verbal Literacy this week by interpreting pictures and then re-interpreting text from pictures through a fun game, and then an analysis of some Afghanistan images.  Ask about how information can be (mis)interpreted through text and images.
  • In Tinkering this week, the seventh and eighth graders were major contributors to the improvement of the Funnelator Challenge. When asked to find the optimal launching method and site for the funnelator, which is a gigantic slingshot made from rubber exercise tubing and a plastic funnel that the 5th/6th graders made in Tinkering, the students took about ten minutes to find that the optimal launching site was on the posts of the Big Toy. The students then got into working groups and, using tupperware, plastic bags, and supplies around the Tinkering Studio, created an indestructible egg container into which an egg in a zip-lock snack bag was nestled. When the groups were all ready, their indestructible egg containers were launched in the Funnelator that the 5th/6th graders made in Tinkering. Tests done with a beanbag ball before launching showed that the funnelator was capable of hurling the ball nearly to the ice skating area of the field! Each group's container was loaded and launched, then the group checked to see if their egg survived. Ask your young tinkerer if their egg survive. What design and building strategies did the group use in the construction of their indestructible egg container? Did those work?
  • Cheryl joined us to introduce the 8th grade Graduation Speeches.  Each 8th grader will be paired with a mentor to craft a speech for graduation.  Can you believe it's just around the corner?  Ask what ideas your 8th grader has for their speech.
  • Our students' proposal to remediate the damage to Nason's Brook by building a berm at the back of the Kia parking lot was accepted today!  Sari took a small group over to meet with the owners, who asked them some tough questions about the project, but were convinced by the substance of the project, and the charm and intellect of our group.  They came back beaming from ear to ear: "WE GOT IT!"  We'll be working on this project as part of our Earth Week activities.  Major Kudos to Sari and to the kids for making this happen.  Ask how it felt to make a proposal to this authentic audience.
    • Spring NWEA Testing is scheduled for Monday 5/13 and Friday 5/17
    • Trip to the PMA with Kelly next Thursday, 5/9 10:30-12:30.  
    • MDI Trip is coming right up, May 22-24.  Stay tuned for the itinerary and packing list
    • Student Led Spring Conferences will take place between 5/20 and 6/5.  A sign up sheet will be sent out soon.
    • We will be going back to Camp Agawam during the school day on 5/15 to do some service work in return for their generosity in letting us use their space in September. I've heard a rumor that there may be ice cream on this trip.