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WeeklyEagle
 

April 5, 2018 | Vol. 2 No. 20    

Celebrating Great Humans!

Middle School Students Win STEAM Competition!

 

Two Sparhawk Middle School teams, mentored by Diane Hichborn, won the Sportslab Design Challenge by EdGE at TERC. The winning teams are; the Octoshoe by Team Converse (Jonah '23, Anna '23, Olivia '23, Richard '23), and the Aktibo Freerun by Team Adidas (Maddie '23, Nora '23, Anika '23, Natalya '23). Each winning team member will receive a pair of custom designed Nike SportsLab sneakers and all team members will receive a special edition SportsLab design journal.

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The SportsLab Challenge tasked design teams with uncovering and connecting their STEAM and 21st Century Skills to create and propose a shoe design for the sport of Parkour. Sparhawk Middle School students delved deeply into the design challenge, interviewing industry experts, participating in labs, exploring the online SportsLab resources and watching subject-related videos. All four Sparhawk design groups then designed their shoes, and submitted their final designs to be critiqued by judges from Nike, SportsLab and parkour athletes.

 

An explanation of the design process by Diane Hichborn

This school year I chose to take my students on a project base learning adventure that would stretch their limits taking them outside their comfort zone. They worked hard and accomplished tasks that were both new to them and different then their core classroom experiences. One day three students were pretending to do parkour type stunts at recess and asked if we could do this type of thing for an enrichment class. Coincidentally, I received an email later that week about this Sportslab challenge where students would design parkour sneakers. I discussed it with the students and decided to have them take the challenge.


Learning about how parkour athletes exert force on their feet and the components of their footwear was a topic unfamiliar to many of us. Students were going to put their math, science, technology, engineering, and artistic skills together on a project of which they initially had limited knowledge. After three months of various task specific labs, interviews, designing and drawing outsoles, midsoles, and upper parts of sneakers, and watching subject-based automated videos, students gained a fairly good understanding of sneaker designs. Once their final designs were submitted, our students were able to view and critique all the other entries. After the crowdsource funding process, students realized how well their designs were comparatively and how neatly organized their presentations were. Judges from Nike and Sportslab, as well as parkour athletes took about a month to review each design.

 
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National Honor Society Inductees

 

Congratulations to Maia Esty '19, and Isabel Melton '19 for their achievements and induction into the National Honor Society on Friday.  To qualify for NHS, you must show scholarship through achieving an exceptional GPA as well as a proven history of service, leadership and character.  These young ladies have gone above and beyond to showcase these qualities.  Congratulations Maia and Isabel!

Practicing & Honing the Skills to be Successful 

Project-based Learning (PBL) at Sparhawk High School

An In-Depth Look At Skills, Application & Process 

By Yvonne Domings, Upper School Director

 

As a progressive school, Sparhawk has long put high value on teaching students to do more than memorize information. Sparhawk teachers spend countless hours designing and developing interesting curricula that help students learn how to think critically and creatively.

 

Project-based Learning (PBL) is a great example of a progressive approach where teachers present students with a complex and authentic question, problem or challenge and structure tasks and activities in a way that allows them to gain deep knowledge and skills.

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PBL, when done well, is supported by research that indicates:

  • Improved academic outcomes across age groups, ability and achievement levels (Boaler 2001)(Halvorsen, Duke et al, 2012).
  • Improved ability to transfer skills and understandings to new contexts (Barron & Darling Hammond, 1998).
  • Improved student engagement in learning (Barron & Darling Hammond, 1998)(Holm, 2011).
  • Improved collaborative and problem-solving skills (Barron & Darling Hammond, 1998)(Ackermann, n.d.).
  • PBL supports identity development when students work on teams that require both independent and collaborative work (Langer-Osuna, 2015)(Langer-Osuna, 2011).

Although PBL is used in our Upper and Middle School classes in various ways, we dedicate Friday afternoons to PBLs that focus squarely on helping our students develop the skills of.... Read More.

 
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We Learn From Reflecting On Experience

Building PBL Into Lower School Enrichments

By Cynthia Bolin, Lower School Councelor

 

Project Based Learning (PBL) is alive and well here at the Lower Campus and a great place to see an example of it is the enrichments. Enrichments are six-week-long courses that provide learning experiences outside the regular curriculum. This curriculum allows students to sample from a variety of topics, skills, and experiences they might not otherwise discover. I will take you through my process, using the elements of PBL, as I develop the curriculum for the next enrichment I will teach.

 

First some background is needed. Several weeks ago, I visited the Peabody Essex Museum and there was this incredible piece by artist Pedro Reyes called "Disarm Mechanized II, 2012-2014." It is made up of several Dr. Seussian-like musical instruments made up entirely of the broken down parts of weapons, played via compressed air. The music it created was.....   Read More.

 
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Explore, Engage & Experience

Our Hands & Minds-on Enrichment Curriculum

By Catherine Kulik, Lower School Art Teacher & Assistant Director

 

Imagine a kitchen full of chefs, chopping vegetables, preparing fresh ingredients, stirring up delectable winter warming soups and crafting up scrumptious baked goods from scratch.  

 

How about heading to Amesbury City Hall, with an appeal for a Builder's Permit after designing an addition to an on-campus building. Of course the plans were drawn up in advance and all aspects of functionality and aesthetic were considered. 

  

Now engage your sense of logic, observation and problem-solving in a crime scene investigation, examining evidence in a make-shift "crime lab." Does this sound like a College Course Catalogue, an Adult Continuing Ed Program or perhaps even a sample of Cable Television Programming? Actually, it is a glimpse into the Lower School Enrichment Program. 

What is learning without practical application? Where do we fit all of the extra good stuff that goes beyond the cornerstone curricular genres of study but is still valuable, real-life learning? Enrichments are five to six week specialized classes that engage students in grades 1-7 in beyond-the-classroom activities. Teachers and students have the opportunities to explore pockets full of educational gems. The best part is that students get to choose their course of interest. 

  

From website design, costuming, landscaping, cooperative games, architectural studies, hiking, creative movement, or bookmaking, to name a few options, there is never a dull moment on a Thursday afternoon at the Sparhawk Lower School. There isn't a "farm-raised"* kid who isn't handy with kitchen utensils, garden tools and the aspects of choice. This is part and parcel of growing up Sparhawk and more specifically, engaging in Enrichments over the years. From cooking, sampling and graphing blueberry muffin recipes, to designing building additions, to gardening and cleaning up the grounds, we've got a wide variety of life skills, learning opportunities and creative outlets covered. We've even ventured off campus to batting cages, ice-rinks and Nursing homes. In Enrichments, we enjoy the fruits of our labor.  We tackle real world, or real environment-based issues and interests and resources and turn them into fun learning opportunties for our and with our students, rounding out the weekly academic rigor with exploration and experience. There isn't a Sparhawk student who doesn't love Enrichments! 

 

*The Sparhawk Lower Campus is fondly referred to as the Farm Campus for multiple reasons most notably being the original house on the property, known as the Farm House, the 1793 structure on this once functioning Amesbury farm property, now serves as the main elementary school building. It is also at this campus that students are raised so to speak, because of their age and the village of care it takes along the way. Students who grow-up and attend school on this campus are referred to as Farm-schoolers.

 

If Google Can Do It, So Can We

Giving Students Ownership Over Their Learning 

By Eric Getz, Middle School Teacher

 

Last week, I mentioned our Social Emotional Learning classes and the fun we have with that. This week, I'd like to talk about Genius Hour which takes up the second block of our day. In this class, students work independently—and at their own pace—to pursue a project that they designed based on their interests and passions.

 

The idea for Genius Hour was inspired by Google's '20% Time' that encouraged their employees to use 20% of their time to pursue ideas of their own choosing. This brainchild gave birth to Gmail, Google Transit, and Google News.

 

We use Genius hour to promote student-driven learning.  They have taken ownership over what they are learning, and our middle-schoolers just love it. They brainstorm ideas, develop plans of action, and work on their projects each Friday. A palpable buzz of determination and engagement courses through our classrooms; Maddie is building a robot. Richard, Jonah, Nolan, and Olivia are starting a band. Nora is designing climbing gear bags. Sam is designing and sewing American Girl doll clothes- just to name a few!

 

We are halfway through our Genius Hour time and the students will unveil their project in early June. We'll keep you updated on the times as we get closer. We can't wait for you to see what these young geniuses have to show you.

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You Don't Want To Miss This

STEAMROLLER PRINTMAKING

EVENT & CLASSES

 

Sparhawk School is proud to present the 2nd annual Steamroller Printmaking Event! Sparhawk students have created woodcuts and collagraphs that will be inked and printed under the weight of a 2,000 lb steamroller! Tons of family friendly art activities, raffles, food and more!

This year, we have created two community workshops where attendees can create a collagraph that will be inked and printed on the day of the event. Classes are $30 and includes all materials & print.


Steamroller Printmaking Main Event
Saturday May 19th, 11AM-3PM
Sparhawk Upper Campus- 4 Noel Street, Amesbury, MA 01913


Community Printmaking Workshops
April 26th + May 10th 5PM-7PM
Limited space!!
$30 (per collagraph, parents & children can create together)

 

Read More about Volume 2, Issue 20
 
WeeklyEagle
 

March 30, 2018 | Vol. 2 No. 19    

STEAMROLLER PRINTMAKING

EVENT & CLASSES

 

Sparhawk School is proud to present the 2nd annual Steamroller Printmaking Event! Sparhawk students have created woodcuts and collagraphs that will be inked and printed under the weight of a 2,000 lb steamroller! Tons of family friendly art activities, raffles, food and more!

This year, we have created two community workshops where attendees can create a collagraph that will be inked and printed on the day of the event. Classes are $30 and includes all materials & print.


Steamroller Printmaking Main Event
Saturday May 19th, 11AM-3PM
Sparhawk Upper Campus- 4 Noel Street, Amesbury, MA 01913


Community Printmaking Workshops
April 26th + May 10th 5PM-7PM
Limited space!!
$30 (per collagraph, parents & children can create together)

Middle & Upper School

Active Bodies = Awakened Minds

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"You Have To Come See This!"

 By Jen Silver, Director of Marketing 

 

This was the exclamation of Nate Velluto, Upper School Humanitites teacher, when he found me in the theater.  I followed him to his classroom, where students were excitedly animated and crowding tables filled with RISK boards.  He was currently teaching his class Lost to the Ages: Ancient Cultures. In this particular lesson the students were learning about Genghis Khan, the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.  

 

I was in complete awe, walking into the classroom- the enthusiasm emanating from the students was tangible.  Nate had designed a lesson, using RISK boards, where groups of students were carving up global power.  Exclamations of "France is mine!"  and "I claim Australia" echoed through the room.  They didn't know it yet, but the nations they chose through this experiential exercise would lead into them developing their own global empires on paper. 

Focusing on the three pillars of civilization: civics, religion and military, the students were tasked with creating their global empires using the nations they had claimed.  This might be a considerable challenge for students who chose countries on the polar opposite sides of the world.  Students were also given the flexability to choose the time period that their empire existed, which would significantly alter the outcome of their paper. 

 

I will forever remember that class period- it is a fabulous example of the type of experiential education available at Sparhawk Upper School.  Our teachers are experts at taking a lesson, turning it on its head and shaking the boring out of it. 

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Social & Emotional Learning

By Eric Getz, Middle School Teacher

 

I love teaching everyday, but especially on Fridays.  This is the one day where Diane and I get to blindfold our students, set up seemingly impossible tasks, and—literally--get them to jump through hoops. These activities are all part of a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) class that is designed to teach our middle schoolers the 'soft skills' that raise academic achievement and prepare them for the demands of the 21st century.

 

SEL classes develop self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Through hands-on, activity-based experiences students learn to work cooperatively, value themselves and others, and efficiently and effectively communicate and solve problems on the fly.

 

These classes are not traditional and that's a good thing. So far we have had races while blindfolded, volleyed a beach ball to explore the principle of Kaizen (a Japanese concept of continual improvement), and fit an entire class into a single hoop in a game called Star Wars.

 

The time flashes by. Our students are so immersed in the activities that they are not even aware that there is learning going on. For them it is a hubbub of activity. For us, we see them actively supporting one another, showing resilience, and eagerly embracing every challenge placed before them. Even better, they are taking what they've experienced here into their everyday classes. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays they are better lab partners, more thoughtful contributors, and more daring thinkers.

 

Thats why I always say, you just can't beat Fridays.

 
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Community & Connection

By Lee Ford & Dana Nuenighoff

 

Sparhawk's Outdoor Education program combines leadership, team-building and kinesthetic learning opportunities for LEAP students. This year 8th graders have been responsible for creating trails and clearing brush on the wooded part of Sparhawk's 16 acre campus. Recently efforts have been focused on clearing a path to the Merrimack River and building a community fire pit.

 

These experiences, together, are helping to build community.  Students are working together, hands-on, to bring a focused project to fruition.  They are connecting with one another in a way significantly different than classroom learning.  It has been our experience, that when the students know someone else is relying on them, they want to rise to the challenge.

 

February and March have been relatively mild, and the snow-fall has allowed us to try a new skill: snow-shoeing! Interacting with their environment, we have seen that weather and physical challenges change student behavior, giving us an opportunity to explore these expressions together.  The middle school students have joined the eighth graders for the spring semester.  We are excited to see how this will shift the dynamic of the group, perhaps encouraging the LEAP students to take a mentorship role to their younger peers and honing their leadership skills.

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Becoming The Lesson

By Jen Silver, Director of Marketing

 

Middle school is truly the time when students are finding their individual voices, developing a sense of being and building their self esteem.  They are also at a crucial and pivotal place in both their academic and in their social and emotional development.  Let's be honest, their bodies and brains are going absolutely bonkers and it's our job to help them reign it all in, all while keeping their love and excitement for learning.

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How do you do that, right?  We have found that teaching our middle school students experientially is our best tool in the vast teacher toolbox.  We want our students to be themselves, and we want to hear their unique perspectives on the thematic subjects that they are studying.  We have found traditional education methods only get students part of the way there.  

 

Experiential education:

  • Keeps the excitement in learning!  Who wants to be bored and have someone talk AT you all day?
  • Allows students the movement that their active bodies require- It is counter intuitive to expect a growing body to sit in one place for eight hours a day (As an adult it would be torture, am I right?).
  • Builds critical and creative thinking skills necessary for 21st century minds- Who are you as a student and how do you approach this problem.
  • Helps students identify HOW they learn best - In many cases our students have at least eight more years of education ahead of them, they need to know who they are as a student so they can be successful!  
  • Allows students to fail (often more than once!), rebuild, gain knowledge and find a solution- Life lesson, you are going to fail, if you don't fail, you don't know what to fix.
  • Teaches students to work co-operatively and independently to problem solve- Building both skills sets will serve a student long past their educational career.
  • Creates moments where students must advocate for both themselves and their classmates- This one is HUGE!  

So what does an experiential lesson look like for a middle school student?  Glad you asked.  Here's some examples of our students becoming the thematic lesson. 

  • Studying Newtons three laws of motion: Students paired themselves off and wrote, created and starred in video skits that showcase each of the 3 laws.  
  • Learning about Maya culture: Students practiced adding and subtracting with sticks and rocks in the base 20 scale using the Mayan system of math.  Students also created Maya glyphs representing their names with traditional Maya shape structures.
  • Aztec art: Students created masks by plastering each others faces, building up the surface of the mask with clay forms and then adding the final decorative layer of found and forraged indigenous materials.
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Elementary School

Kinesthetic Learning & Outdoor Education

Involve Me and I Learn

By Paula Renda, Elementary Teacher

What do we mean by "hands-on learning"? Learning which involves the body's senses is an event that sets the stage for the student to digest the information through their physical experience. I have always known, from a very early age, perhaps first grade, that learning must involve the body's movement.  In first grade, I was selected as the monarch that evolved from the chrysalis and flew miles away. In second grade, I was part of a duo connecting with a friend to form a square and in third grade, I became the earth's moon revolving around my planet as we both moved around the sun.  Why, after all these years, do I remember so vividly these experiences?  Think back!  Our bodies were connected to the learning, we interacted socially with our peers, we laughed, and we were involved, engaged in purposeful movement.  Our bodies remember!  This is the evidence for why tactile kinesthetic learning works.  As Benjamin Franklin so wisely said, "Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." 

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I suppose, and you have heard it said before, teachers teach how they learn. I was the child who fell out of the chair time and time again, the one who took many bathroom breaks and who got into trouble regularly UNTIL… the lesson involved action-a tactile kinesthetic methodology. This approach can be utilized in all disciplines. In social studies, this can look like dressing in costumes and acting out historic scenes, creating a memorable experience over just reading about history. In science, we engage in hands-on experiments, which then inform our paper and pencil data collection, or we observe nature's patterns through sketching. Literature comes alive when we engage in "Reader's Theatre", students taking on the persona of the characters in the story. Imagine a piece of persuasive writing where first a student must present to peers reasoning as to why they should buy toys from his company before engaging in putting it on paper. Math of course readily lends itself to the use of concrete "manipulatives". At a very young age, we learn to count, not only by rote, but also by matching acorn caps to numerals leading to a true understanding of quantity, which then sets the stage for more abstract thinking. The more real-life the activity, the more valuable the lesson.

A transitional connection from the concrete to the abstract can be observed when students engage with a whiteboard, whereby each student has control of their own.  While using the whiteboard, students take notes, organize information, try out algorithms, sketch a certain aspect of the lesson, all the while participating 100 percent, fully engaged and involved.  The whiteboard is forgiving and easily erased and altered. It sets the stage for success for the student who is hesitant, allowing them to take the risk.  And for the student who seeks the challenge, the teacher can easily present one on their individual whiteboard.

 

The energy of elementary age children is active and it is our goal to find ways to engage our children in their learning in a way that matches their needs for movement. We are fortunate to have flexibility in our curriculum, which allows teachers to be creative and develop learning experiences that match the needs and interests of the students, which inevitably will change year to year. Thank goodness for small classes!

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The Lower School Outdoor Experience

By Suzanne Atkins

 

The Sanderlings (first and second graders) have just returned from a literacy morning at Salisbury Beach, the second of a three part "Poetry in the Seasons" exploration.  Their first visit was in the fall on a beautiful sunny day where students sat against the dunes writing about what they saw, felt, heard, experienced. This week, although the children were at first concerned that we had missed the official winter mark, there was still snow on the beach, the wind was bitter cold and best of all, the surf was extremely turbulent suggesting all sorts of juicy adjectives for their writing! We are so fortunate at Sparhawk to have access to vehicles that can hold a whole class to pop over to the beach, Maudslay State Park or any of the many other northshore natural resources. All this is in addition to experiencing the many acres of school property both at the lower and the upper campuses.  

 

Nature is one of our many teachers and we take this seriously. In this day and age when too many children do not spend time outdoors and often too much time on screens, the limitless possibilities of the outdoors invites us to be in the moment, to experience our senses, our whimsy, our creativity, our critical thinking and our bodies. Learning from and in nature is holistic and it can look like many things crossing over to all disciplines. We observe, we make notes, we predict, we research, we experiment. We explore the elements when we build with snow, tap a tree or dig in the earth. Our engineering skills come quickly to life as we figure how to divert water to create streams and then how to carry water or mud to change the course of the action. Sticks and stones, mud and water, this is pure learning and engagement with nature. By spending ample time in different outdoor environments, we support children in fortifying their natural love of play and exploration, and we also foster land stewards of the present and future, imperative for our world.

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At the lower campus, children in PreK have a special relationship with our silver maple, "Treesa".  She is hugged and observed and drawn through the seasons, we genuinely care about her. Third graders in particular are deeply invested in their self created fort culture, our village of shelters made with sticks and scrap wood.  Each fort has a name, constitutional expectations, currency and trading capabilities; civics are learned and practiced here all generated by children's own interest and desire. Fifth graders lead the way in our theme of the year, "This Blue Planet" by learning about bodies of water from puddles to oceans and everything between, to our focus toward the end of the year which will be ecology and conservation.  The opportunities for humanities, literature, math and science and engineering are endless and woven into all of our work.

 

And let us not forget recess!  At the lower campus, children are fortunate to go outside four times a day; we begin our day with fresh air, exercise and socialization...what could be better for preparing ourselves for a day of learning and fun?  As educators, we recognize the deep importance that recess plays in supporting children in learning throughout the day. It supports healthy bodies, creative minds and lots of important social learning equalling deep impact to the whole child.

 

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Read More about Volume 2, Issue 19
 
WeeklyEagle
 

March 22, 2018 | Vol. 2 No. 18      

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Maple Sugar Weekend

Visit, Support, Volunteer

 

Sparhawk School has been invited by Chris Hicks, Sparhawk Dad and Maple Sugaring Master, to host a fundraiser during Maple Sugar Weekend. Students sell maple dogs, and homemade goodies over the weekend at his family farm, The Sugarhouse at Morningstar Farm located at 30 Crane Crossing Rd in Plaistow, NH. Come on out and support this amazing family, and Sparhawk School at the same time!

 

What Happens During Maple Sugar Weekend?
Volunteers and visitors can expect a demonstration of the centuries-old craft of maple sugaring, free samples and so much more. Morningstar Farm has a gift shop to purchase your favorite maple goodies, including fudge and maple bacon donuts! Best of all, we are supporting a Sparhawk Family, that does so much for our school and children.

Experiential Science | Teaching 21st Century Skills

STEM is an interdisciplinary and applied approach to curriculum.  It ingrates the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math together.  Students are then challenged to apply their learning in real-life scenarios.  As an experiential and progressive school, applied learning is just what we do.  To us it's really about getting deep into the subjects that we are studying, first hand, up close and personal.  We become the lessons.  We want students to immerse themselves in the experience, and by doing so they will have greater retention of information than if they simply read about the process in a book.  An experience connects all of your senses- it has smells and gives you a feeling, you witness, observe and connect information.

 

"[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world..."

— President Barack Obama, March 23, 2015

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Step-up Day STEM Challenge 

By Diane Hichborn, Middle School Teacher

 

In honor of this years Winter Olympic games, 4th and 5th grade students joined the middle school for a STEM challenge. They worked in teams using the Scientific/ Engineering Process to design a "path" that would transport a ping pong ball up a 12" long "chair-lift" and release the "athlete" onto the top of an 18" long slope, on which they will clear two gates, then land onto an "ice rink" that is at least 10"x5". The design must have the athlete cross the finish line at the end of the rink. In this challenge, students explored, simple machine principles, angles, and engineering design skills.  As the Olympic theme played, students demonstrated their designs to the other teams discussing what worked best and what they could improve upon if put to the challenge again.

 

The 4th-8th grade explored architectural technology using Google 3D Sketch Up. Each week they are put to a new challenge; cafe type shop, skyscraper, and houses of specific architectural styles. Students are learning to use the various tools to construct desired sizes, shapes and styles in creating buildings that meet their needs. It is amazing to see their creative minds at work.

 

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The Middle School STEM Experience

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Hands-on Science | Activating Minds

By Diane Hichborn, Middle School Teacher

 

Middle school students are exploring the science of waves this semester. They discover how energy is transferred through vibrations, or waves, through a variety of mediums. Using ropes students could alter the properties of waves, such as the frequency, wavelength, and amplitude. From this information, calculations were made to find the speed. Using wooden skewers, clay, and duct tape, we constructed a wave machine that modeled the transfer of energy from one end to the other, and back. Earlier this school year, the LEAP students change the computer lab into a giant camera obscura, and the middle schoolers will now be able to see how images are formed by a small beam of light passing through glass lenses.

 

As part of learning how to prepare for tests, our middle schoolers grouped together and took charge of a specific lesson , dissecting it into key concepts, big questions, and vocabulary. They then prepared white board presentations that they 'taught' to their classmates. Next we will be moving onto sound waves, and completing a "whisper wall" made from parabolic dishes.

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On Step up day, 7th and 8th graders joined the 9th graders in a large group lab making Elephant toothpaste. Students followed the scientific method, making educated guesses, mixing specific chemicals, and recording observations and results. It was a great way to have a variety of age levels collaborating in a scientific environment.

LEAP students are discovering the science of chemistry this semester. We are just finishing up the Chapter on What is Matter. This involves the law of conservation of mass, measuring mass, and the properties of mass. Students learned how to calculate the densities and volumes of regular and irregular objects using graduated cylinders. Conducting labs with marshmallows that show endo and exothermic reactions, as well as physical and chemical changes are all part of our chemistry findings. Students hypothesized what would happen to moistened steel wool left in a glass beaker sealed off with an inflated balloon. Hmmmm....? Well, as the oxygen was absorbed , the balloon was sucked into the beaker and oxidized with the iron in the steel wool to form rust. Many more discoveries to come this semester.

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Upper School Science | Current Semester Focus

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In Biology, the students are studying cellular respiration. Since they cannot see the steps with their own eyes, they created posters to demonstrate how energy is created in cells. 

  1. Biology | Thriving Life

By Dana Nuenighoff, High School Science Teacher

 

Unlike many other sciences in which experiments show tangible results, many parts of biology are invisible to the naked eye. However, it is all vital for life to thrive. The main purpose of this course if for the students to become adapt in observations. Over the course of the year, they spent fifteen minutes a week outside, collecting data in their nature journals. As the year progresses, they mark the changes happening in the nature and formulate a research project on what interests them.

 

In class, while talking about concepts that are impossible to watch, they work with hands-on experiments to simulate the actions. During cellular respiration, they created diagrams of the cycles, acting out the process. They are also making kombucha to study the affects of fermentation.

 

Marine Biology | Our Local Environment

By Dana Nuenighoff, High School Science Teacher

 

Marine Biology is a course that covers many of the same standards, benchmarks, and essential learnings as Biology, only with a focus on the marine world. Thankfully, Sparhawk is perfectly located to explore the Marine environment firsthand. Students have the opportunity to tackle the concepts of the complexities of the world ocean such as the geology of the ocean floor, currents, tides, and the biomass that inhabits it.

 

In addition to  the ocean, students explore tributaries such as the Merrimack River, a perfect example of brackish water which houses a unique ecosystem in and of itself.  They collect specimens of these environments to study in the lab. Like real marine biologists, the students are challenged with identifying these species and noticing the adaptations that aid the organism in surviving their environment.  Marine Biology students explore how factors in each marine ecosystem such as pressure, currents and tidal forces directly influence the adaptations of marine organisms.  

 

Living on the seacoast, Marine Biology offers our students a unique experience to study their own backyard and for them to gain an appreciation of their marine neighbors.

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Marine Biology students made their own plankton tows to collect plankton from the Merrimack River. They're finishing up a unit on marine autotrophs.

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Physics | Energy Transformation

By, Jennifer Esty, Upper School Teacher- Math, Science, Engineering & Robotics

 

Physics can seem like so many equations because we are trying to describe the world around us with math.  Sometimes though, we need to bring the concepts alive and see what is happening.


The conservation of energy concept is not hard, "energy cannot be created or destroyed, it only changes form" is easy enough.  But what does it mean to change form?  Our physics class decided to use potential and kinetic energy so we had an energy transformation that was easy to see.


As a teacher I have witnessed complex concepts come alive when students are using their hands to create and describe the process of using the concept.  With that in mind, we began creating Galileo tracks (aka rollercoasters) where we could create and see a ball move gaining speed from the height it is placed.

 

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Of course, there were still equations to work out

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When we started to shape our tracks we began to integrate the learning

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For some, it was the first time using shop tools

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Finally, we presented our tracks, our calculations and found this kinetic and potential energy concept was indeed very fun

 

Physical Science - Understanding Universal Laws

By Dana Nuenighoff, High School Science Teacher

 

Introduction to Physical Science is a hands-on comprehensive course. While the students are introduced to the basics of chemistry and physics, they learn how to run labs and generate lab reports. They become familiar with the equipment and the safety aspects of the lab. These experiments make the concepts found in textbooks relevant in a fun and innovative way.  Throughout this course students are exploring, hands-on, the various physical science concepts and laws that govern the universe.  They gain an understanding of scientific process and principles, atom structure, matter and more.

 

The final great test of learning for our IPS students is to be able to use their stores of knowledge to evaluate an unknown substance.  The must take a vial of sludge and separate out all of the components, identifying each substance. They are showing their understanding of characteristic properties such as density and solubility, and providing evidence to support their claims.

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Botany Alive!

By Suzanne Atkins, Lower School Director

 

I am looking out the window and the sky is bleak... it is the first full day of spring and several inches of snow are predicted in the coming hours.  At the lower campus however, we are full of hope and green promise! You may remember back in February when the weather was unseasonably warm? For some of us, that spurned visions of lush gardens and opportunities for students to get their hands in the dirt and experience gardening.  At the time, I emailed all of the lower school teachers to see if there was anyone else dreaming of growing things once the weather permits. I was not alone! In fact, action was already in place. Thanks to the generosity of community members, we are fortunate to house two growing towers which allow us to grow lush greens hydroponically.  If you enter either Woodsview or the Farm House, you will immediately notice the modern tower with kale, chard and lettuce spilling over the edges! It makes me feel good everytime I enter either of the buildings; in reality, I always feel good when I enter a Sparhawk building because I witness happy engaged children but I digress...I am both an educator and a gardener!

 

In addition, we have two light shelves for starting seeds indoors.  This is a great way to experience from seed forward and to truly understand the reality of the need for light and water.  Students learned this the hard way when they got too much light and not enough water and the little seedlings shriveled. Not to be deterred, we will try again and hopefully plant our seedlings in our vegetable garden outside the Farm House come outdoor planting time.   Woodsview also has a raised garden bed which we would like to re-build, so stay on the look out for parent volunteering opportunities. My last thought to share is that the Lower School would like to invite families to adopt either a small garden bed, a window box or a planter if you would like to participate in the upkeep and beautifying of our grounds.  Please stay tuned once the ground thaws!

 

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Upper School Back to Roots PBL students prepare a Juice Plus tower garden for class

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They are creating an aquaponic environment 

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Fish added to the garden will create nitrogen and fertilize the plants.

SCHOOL CALENDARS

ELEMENTARY

March 23 5-8PM:

Lower & Middle School Family Dance

 


March 24 & 25: Maple Sugar Weekend

 

April 3-6: Parent-Teacher Conferences

MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL

March 24 & 25: Maple Sugar Weekend

 

March 27 : Parent Conferences

 


April 9-13: Spirit Week

 

April 11-14: Carriagetown Robotics District Championships

 

Read More about Volume 2, Issue 18