Program Update: Science with Kristin and Virgil

6th Grade: There’s a new hum in the air as the sixth graders have started building their snowshoes. Last week they worked together to bend all of the apple branches into frames and assemble the tie plates, angle gussets, and fabric pieces into serviceable bindings. Students who attended the Snowshoe Party on Saturday morning cut out their decking, laced it to their frames and even attached their bindings. They are looking very much like snowshoes! In preparation for the trips to Snoqualmie Pass later this month, students will learn how to prevent frostbite and hypothermia, what to look for in a landscape to determine if a location is safe from avalanches, and how to build an emergency shelter in the snow.

7th Grade: The seventh graders just finished an ecosystem unit focused on organisms’ needs for survival and what happens when those needs are unmet. They investigated a specific population change: the decrease in the trout population in the Great Lakes from 1930 to 1990. They also examined an invasive species in the Great Lakes, the sea lamprey, and its effect over the last 30 years.  Throughout their investigation, students learned what structures different organisms have to eat and reproduce, the possible relationships between organisms (e.g., competition, predator/prey, producer/consumer), and what abiotic factors affect ecosystems. These pieces help students develop an evidence-based scientific essay about why the trout population decreased so dramatically.

8th Grade: The eighth grade wrapped up a unit on earthquakes just before the break. Given the seismic profile of the Pacific Northwest, students were curious, engaged and had lots of questions.  For families who might want to create/update a home emergency kit, here is a link to a list of supplies. In the new year, we’re exploring water and have just begun learning about ocean currents and are tackling the question of “Why is the Gulf of Maine warming 3x faster than other ocean water?” Students are looking at data about ocean currents, rainfall and watersheds, air temperatures and more to put together a possible explanation. They will use this specific data to support their claims: an important part of the scientific process.