This week is the last week for the eighth graders to finalize their building prototype designs. The thinking and learning I am witnessing has been incredible. These students have really spent a lot of time designing and testing, redesigning and retesting in order to create the best design they can. Next week they will take their prototypes to UWM for final testing and feedback from a group of professors. They will video their simulations so make sure to ask about it!!
Seventh graders have been immersed in exploring cells using a microscope. Their study of the importance of cells began with them viewing paramecium, euglena, amoeba, onion skin and elodea. This stimulated loads of questions which they categorized and used to develop the driving question for this unit–Why are cells important to life? Their next step is to begin to explore cell structure and function. Ask them what they are learning.
The seventh graders have been studying energy. They have analyzed the potential, gravitational, kinetic and elastic energy of a variety of situations–falling objects, pendulums, roller coasters, bouncing balls and rolling cans. This week they examined how chemical reactions create chemical energy. Ask them what happened when they added aluminum to a copper chloride solution.
This week the eighth graders embarked upon a new challenge. They are part of a team of engineers working for Building Better Buildings, Incorporated in Seattle, Washington. They have been challenged to design and construct a prototype of a building that will withstand an earthquake. In one month, they will present their designs to a group of professors at UWM where they will test them on a shake table and receive feedback. The top designs will be recognized. Yesterday, students conducted some initial research to determine what makes a building capable of withstanding the powerful energy created by an earthquake. Ask them what they’ve learned! Ask them about their initial ideas!
The eighth graders started a new unit this week with the driving question-How is the Earth changing? They began their thinking by asking questions based upon three phenomena–images of Earth’s surface and damage from earthquakes, a video of earthquakes and analysis of volcano and earthquake locations on Earth. Yesterday, they began categorizing these questions in order to develop some big, overarching questions to help guide their learning. There was lots of excited chatter as students shared ideas and background knowledge, analyzed maps and developed a focus for this unit. Ask them about the questions they have!
As part of their study of energy transformation, the seventh graders were challenged, this week, to design a spool racer that would travel the farthest and the fastest. They will have the opportunity to develop multiple iterations of their racer design. Today, they conducted their first race. Find out how it went!
Last Friday in ETC, the 7th and 8th graders had the opportunity to meet with business owners from the community. In small groups, students met with one business owner to hear about their journey developing and running a business. Students were then able to share their ideas for Entrepreneur Fair to get valuable feedback from the business owner. Ask you child what kind of business they would like to start!
Last week the 7th graders were challenged to design a set of experiments to figure out how speed and mass affects kinetic energy. The tricky part about designing these experiments was to figure out how they were going to measure kinetic energy. With a little persistence and collaboration each group figured out a way to do just that. Ask them how they measured the kinetic energy and what they learned through their investigations!
Last week, the 8th graders finished their second genetics case study. This case study focused on two mutant traits exhibited by fruit flies–curly wings and yellow body. Students analyzed data collected on three different fruit fly families with the goal of identifying the inheritance pattern the mutant traits follow. I was so impressed with the deep thinking I witnessed in class. Students used pedigrees, Punnett squares and all they have learned about genetics to figure out the inheritance pattern. I heard a lot of “I got it…oh, no…that’s not it…let’s try….” They synthesized their thinking into a written scientific argument answering the scientific question. It was an amazing demonstration of the analytical skills they have developed at MJDS. I’m so proud of what these kids have accomplished!
The 7th and 8th graders are embarking upon a new journey in ETC. Second quarter starts a new venture called Entrepreneur Fair during which students will have the opportunity to start their own business. Students will develop business plans, products or services and marketing materials. All of their hard work will be displayed in June at an Entrepreneur Fair at MJDS. Last week, students started thinking like entrepreneurs by attempting to solve real-world business problems. They used this experience and some work looking at the kinds of qualities an entrepreneur possess to begin to brainstorm some ideas. Next week they will meet with business owners from our community to collaborate with them and learn more about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Ask them about their initial ideas!