Program Update: Science

6th Grade Science

With so much snow up in the mountains, it's exciting to be building our own snowshoes! "Water sprouts" are branches on an apple tree that need to be pruned off each year, and they make ideal frames for our snowshoes. Last week 6th graders finished all the frames last week and began assembling the 78 bindings we'll need for everyone's snowshoes. Some of the work is done in an assembly line fashion where a student may spend the class period tracing decking or drilling holes with the drill press. Careful attention to detail means everyone's snowshoes are successful. On other days, students work on their very own pair of snowshoes lacing the decking or attaching the binding to the frame. We couldn't do this work without the parent volunteers, who have been a tremendous help! One remarked, "I thought I would have to do a lot more hand-holding, but they were much more independent than I expected."

Remember to mark your calendars for Saturday, Jan. 21, from 9-noon for our (optional) family snowshoe building party at school, where the 6th graders will be in charge, and their parents/guardians get to be the sous chef. Do you want to know more about why snowshoes keep you from sinking in the snow? Here's a short video we'll watch in class later this week.

7th Grade

In 7th Grade, we are continuing our environmental science unit. The students observed a lake trout population graph from the Great Lakes and are trying to collect evidence to explain why the population dropped drastically in the 1960s. They will look at four main factors that might change populations; food, other organisms, reproduction, and environment. They gathered data from the food web of the great lakes to determine that the lack of food cannot explain why the trout population dropped. We are now examining other organisms in the environment and how an invasive species might have affected the trout population. The culminating project will be our first argumentative essay to practice how scientists must be able to communicate with other scientists about their research. 

8th Grade:  

The relatively small range of temperatures on Earth means that we have water in all three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Although 71% of our planet is covered by water, a mere 0.5% is available for drinking. The ocean stores excess Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, which has helped to mitigate some of the effects of Climate Change, but the cost is rising acidification of the oceans and the impacts on sea life. The 8th graders are currently exploring why some parts of the ocean are warming faster than others and will design and build a desalination system in the coming weeks. Salt water conducts electricity much better than fresh water, so they'll use an electric current to test whether their system has removed the salt or not.