This August, the second grade teaching team, Richard Musser, Melissa Boni and Erika Dorje, went to the NCEE Maker Camp at Pack Forest near Eatonville, Washington. We spent two days learning about Engineering with kids from local expert, Conn McQuinn. We are excited to bring new ideas to our second grade weekly Makerspace. We learned just how versatile and valuable of a material cardboard can be! For example, we will teach students to use cardboard to make inserts, tabs, flanges, L-braces, punchouts, hinges, gussets and more. We learned about lots of tools and strategies for helping children work safely with cardboard. We also learned strategies for harnessing the super-strength of rolled and folded paper. Perhaps most importantly of all, the team learned how neurobiology, emotional well-being, and making/building are closely connected. Engineering gives kids opportunities to build confidence, persistence and resilience. After two eventful days at Pack Forest we came back inspired and ready to share our new learning with students!
For our Introduction to Environmental Science class, our 6th graders focus on the hydrosphere. They learn about watersheds, human impacts on water quality, and they explore contemporary issues involving water pollution. At the end of this single-quarter class, the kids create projects that explore the question: "How an I, as a middle-school student, help people understand, protect, or improve water systems locally, nationally, or worldwide?"
Click here to see the projects.
Despite the unseasonably cool temperatures, our 8th graders had a great time at NatureBridge. The tops of Pyramid Mountain and Storm King were dusted with snow, but the area along the shores of Crescent Lake remained pretty dry. In groups of 10, led by very capable NatureBridge educators, Hazel Wolf kids hiked to Marymere Falls, Barnes Creek, and along Lake Crescent. They learned about the tools scientists use to evaluate watershed health. This led to students investigating turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, macro-invertebrates, and water velocity in several areas. A highlight of the week was a field trip to the Elwha river, where students saw the former site of the Glines Canyon Dam. This dam, along with the Elwha Dam further downriver, was demolished in 2012-14 to give salmon access to their spawning grounds upriver. After seeing the areas returned to their original state near the dams, the kids walked out onto the acres of new land at the mouth of the Elwha, created by the newly-released sediment. While there, groups learned about how salmon return to their spawning streams using a ‘scent,’ created ephemeral artworks based on the work of Andy Goldsworthy, and even had the luck to observe a family of river otters eating their freshly caught fish. The rain magically held off during all our outdoor experiences, and the kids wrapped up with a heartwarming ceremony around a campfire on our final night.
Read on to see pics from our trip....
How Hazel Wolf Architecture Deals with Rainwater
Welcome to our blog people of this world! We are Sabrina Myers and Katryn Weller we are students of Hazel Wolf K-8 and we are hear to tell you more about the architecture of our school. During our project we have asked questions about the school and we have answers about our questions. Our questions were answered by the lead architect Brian Love he sent us a slide show with lots of diagrams and captions all about the rain gardens and the living plant wall. One diagram shows how the living get watered. In our Courtyard we have this ramp that is made of (Blank) and is (Pervious or Impervious). We have many rain gardens. At the top of the ramp there are rain gardens that have plants that don't need as much water. So then the water soaks through the soil and goes through pipes the lead down to the bottom of the ramp which then waters the rain gardens down there. In those rain gardens the plants need more water and so the water the other plants didn’t use these plants will. Here we have the slides that have information on about the living plant wall and rain gardens and other architecture.
By Chistine Benita, E-STEM co-coordinator and SPS district science curriculum specialist.
Our E-STEM program began as one with an environment and sustainability focus. We spent the first three years building our community and defining our foundation. The staff decided the best approach in fostering our program was to build integrated units around Earth's systems or the Ecospheres. Each elementary grade level and middle school Language Arts teacher chose a system that best supported an aspect of their science instruction and then integrated other content areas such as literacy and social studies.
But we didn't stop there, we continued to ask ourselves what our students needed to know before graduating our program. We added field studies and more time outside observing how our campus changed throughout the school year. We wanted to attend to academic behaviors and thus adopted the Habits of Mind as a way to identify how learners behave. We also attended to our staff, building a program takes focused effort and time to reflect. Such conversations remain superficial when trying to schedule them before or after school. We developed Released Days, bringing in substitutes for a day so that grade levels could work together for a dedicated amount of time to develop their integrated units and decide on field studies that supported their work.
And we didn't stop here either. STEM education became the national call to address the shortage of students entering the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Even more so, students graduating without the soft skills of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. We had the experience of integrating content with academic behaviors, adding the STEM components of engineering and technology further added rigor to our program. Again, we invested in our staff for this next level in our evolution. Teachers were given tablets and ways to use them. We hosted professional development in the engineering design practice where teachers learned the power of failure and perseverance--skills we model to our students.
This all occurred within our first seven years building our program, along with the stress of defining our physical space. We opened our doors at a time when Northeast Seattle schools were over capacity. It quickly became evident our building was needed to address the abundance of middle school students. But what to do with us? Dissolving our program was not an option, it was a vibrant program adding cohorts of students every year. We had to leave the Jane Addams building and with it, our inspirational name. One of the Habits of Mind is thinking flexibly, and the staff did so as we packed up our classrooms for a two-year interim site while a new building was being constructed.
We applied what we learned about integration, student engagement, flexible grouping, the advantageous uses of technology and outdoor education to the design of our new space, Hazel Wolf K-8 E-STEM school. We are enjoying this next level of defining our program, having a space that supports the learning that drives students to ask questions about their world and how they can make it a better place for future generations.
It's amazing what you notice when you look closely enough. Fibrous roots might have little macro-invertebrates clinging to the dense tangle. A fallen leaf might divulge evidence of a hungry caterpillar. There are more shades of green in a square meter of bushes than exist in your entire wardrobe.
With "Finding Urban Nature" (F.U.N.) our third graders discover the world of our schoolyard habitat. F.U.N. is a partnership with the Seattle Audubon Society. During the 5 weeks of the project, our 3rd graders spend time outside to learn about the living and non-living things in our urban school environment. We started off with a general examination and classification of different elements. In one task, they needed to find 5 different pieces of evidence of a living animal. In another, they collected stones with different textures. Taken all together, it was a fantastic way of learning how to focus on a specific category, slow down, and open our senses.
Other lessons in the F.U.N. project focus on plants and root systems, spiders, and birds.
Three Hazel Wolf 6th graders turn a basic poster project into a multi-faceted anti-pollution campaign.
When I asked the kids in my Intro to Environmental Science class to critique several public service posters and then create their own, I didn't expect the launch of a new public relations firm. But Sofia G., Samantha G., and Pacifica D. took the task on as a challenge. As we learned about the problem of nonpoint source pollution in urban watersheds, they believed that the battle wasn't lost. They knew that 6th graders in Seattle, Washington weren't powerless in the face of this problem. They got excited about the chance to teach kids around our school and people in our community that all of us can either contribute to the problem, or we can take a lot of steps towards defeating it.
Finally, they found out that I could provide them with a website building program. I set them up with an account, and they created their first website: www.knowwheretheygo.weebly.com
Please take a moment to look at the pics here, check out their site, and tell them here what you think. I should point out that this was a very short assignment. They had 2 days in class to work on it, and they took time at home to research, create more items, and craft their website.
Fantastic work, girls! You have the power to change the world.
For these investigations from our trip to the Mount Rainier Institute, each group discussed possible topics, identified investigative questions, established their methods, and carried out their investigations. They prepared these presentations to be shown at a science symposium on our last day. Please feel free to comment below. If you have questions, we'll have the kids answer.
Click below to enlarge the images of this groups data charts.
We are a Kindergarten to 8th grade public school in Seattle, Washington.