How can I make new matter out of old matter?

This is the question to which eighth graders are seeking answers.  This week students explored atoms, elements, compounds, and molecules as they relate to substances and mixtures.  Students had to dig deep to really understand the connections among all of these things to create a dichotomous key to help them understand the differences between substances and mixtures.  Ask them what they learned!


How can I design an experiment?

Seventh graders are developing to the skills necessary to design their own experiments.  Last week they asked lots of questions about the scientific process.  This week they practiced making detailed observations using microscopes.  They viewed dragonfly wings, honey bee legs, gourd stems, carrot roots, and duck feathers.  Ask them about what they saw!!

8th Grade Finalize Building Prototypes

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!!

7th Graders ask, “Why are cells important to life?”

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.

7th Graders Explore Chemical Energy

Students explore energy transformation in a candle/cup system.

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.


8th Graders…Building Better Buildings


Cross-bracing is important. Students research ways in which they can use cross-bracing in their design.

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!

Students will document their thinking and ideas daily in a journal.

A base isolation system is an important feature of the building. Students read about them and considered how they might design their own.

Students view past designs to get ideas for their own prototype.

8th Grade-How is the Earth changing?


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!


7th Graders Design Spool Racers


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!

7th and 8th Graders Meet with Business Owners in ETC

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!



7th Graders: How does speed and mass affect the amount of kinetic energy in an object?


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!