Solidifying Science Using Simulations

What would happen in the universe if the sun was more massive?  Why does a balloon stick to a wall?  How do you know that gravitational, electric and magnetic force fields exist?  These are just a few of the questions the 8th graders were able to explore and answer in science using PhET Interactive Simulations created by University of Colorado Boulder.

Students explored six major topics related to forces and interactions using the simulations in three ways.  First, students individually played and manipulated the simulations to explore and answer guided practice questions and solve various scenarios.  Next, students collaborated to explain and describe their understanding to each other in small groups.  Then in their small groups, students presented their answers to teacher-selected questions from the activities to the whole class giving students an opportunity to reflect on their learning.

Utilizing simulations in science is an effective learning tool for students for multiple reasons.  First, simulations give students access to investigate real-world phenomena in the classroom that would otherwise be inaccessible, such as the role of gravity in the universe.  Second, they foster fun, active, engagement experiences for all students.  Third, students can individualize their learning by having the ability to run and rerun simulations to assist in mastering the learning of key scientific concepts.  Fourth, students are able to see the interconnections amongst scientific concepts, such as in this unit—gravitational, electric and magnetic forces and force fields.  Fifth, the simulations provide natural collaboration opportunities for students to share with each other their learning experiences and practice scientific conversation just like scientists.  Overall, science simulations offer our 8th graders an awesome opportunity for scientific inquiry.

By: Mrs. Kruse, NBCT, 8th grade science

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6th Grade Outdoor Education – 2018

We live in a society where technology has become a part of our daily routine. Computers, cell phones, IPads, and the like have changed our means of communication in a number of ways; connecting with others both near and far, but also disconnecting us from others at the same time.
During Outdoor Education in the Palomar Mountains, the sixth graders were able to unplug from the daily distractions of technology and focus on communicating not only with each other, but with their Heavenly Father as well. This year we focused on how we connect, or better yet, UNITE with others in worship, while studying God’s Word and while serving those around us.
Classes the students took: Mammology, Aquatics, Initiatives, Ornithology, Low Ropes, Fire Building, and Astronomy.
Take a look at some of the sixth graders favorite memories from the week!
Myleigh Taylor – “The food and bird watching. Bird watching was epic because we got to see birds we usually don’t see in Orange.”
Lilli Barnhouse – “My enjoyment was horseback riding because it was the first time I’ve done it. Also, my favorite learning expereince was the fire class because it required teamwork and communication to build a perfect fire.”
Amanda Matthews – “My favorite part was horseback riding was because I got a really amazing horse who was really fast. Team building was my favorite learning experience because we learned better ways to communicate.”
Evan Magpali, Conner Garrett, Hunter Westrum – “Bird watching was the best! Bird watching was relaxing and something we had never done before. Aquatics was also cool because we got to study the water and got to test the water and its oxygen levels.”
Lucas Sharar – “Ziplining because you are in the air and get to see all of God’s creation. I felt like I was flying like an eagle.”
Zach Schutt – “I enjoyed fire class because I just didn’t know you needed so many things to make a fire and that there were so many ingredients.”
Grace Granger – “Free time was great to get our energy out before dinner time and after classes. I enjoyed the fire class and low ropes because the low ropes we had to work as a team and I enjoy that. The fire we learned a lot and even got to roast marshmallows!”
Robert Goodman – “Archery was a blast because it is a fun sport and requires skill. I learned about the different types of birds in ornithology and that was cool because I got to see all of the different types of birds on Palomar Mountain.”

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5th Grade Engineers!

Problem solving and team work are foundational skills for 21st Century learners. To strengthen these skills the 5th graders worked through two STEM projects during the first quarter of the school year.

For their first project the 5th graders worked in teams to design and build a bridge out of popsicle sticks. The goal was to build a bridge that could hold 10 pounds while spanning a thirteen-inch gap. The students had to communicate their ideas, listen to other students’ ideas, and work together to build a bridge.  This year’s strongest bridge held 60lbs!

Another STEM project the 5th graders completed was to design the ideal bubble wand for their three-year-old cousin.  After testing store bought bubble wands they brainstormed idea’s and then used the Tinkercad program to create their design.  After completing the design process the bubble wands were 3D printed.  After printing, the wands were tested and compared to store-bought wands.

Students are blessed here at St. Johns to have the resources to develop the skills they need to be successful.

By: Mr. Duport, 5th grade

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Learning on Catalina Island!

Wow! Our 7th graders had an amazing opportunity to venture beyond the four walls of the classroom and dive into God’s Creation as they attended outdoor education at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) at Toyon Bay on Catalina island. Snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and hands-on labs provided opportunities to explore, ask questions, and discover new information about the ocean, the island, and the plants and animals that live there.

Our very first snorkel on Monday was just the beginning of a fantastic week! The water was warm and extremely clear. Most students got to snorkel with leopard sharks, round rays, shovel-nose guitar fish, and many other fish. Other activities throughout the week included using oceanography equipment, identifying different types of plankton from the bay on digital microscopes, learning about sharks and petting them in a touch tank, observing and touching invertebrates to learn about their structure and behaviors, using inquiry strategies to explore algae in a water table and predict how scientists classify the algae, and even dissecting a squid! We also went on a night snorkel and saw tons of horn sharks, lobsters, and a huge octopus swimming along the sandy bottom of the bay!

In addition to all of the learning that took place, our 7th graders bonded and united together through activities like a whole group kayak and a rock climbing party at night. Each morning the dorm groups completed a devotion together and on the last night, the students led a worship service on the beach to praise God for his Creation and to thank Him for our opportunity to explore, learn, and enjoy time together! It truly was a week of hands-on learning and fun!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:7-10

5th Grade One-to-One iPads

This year our fifth graders are utilizing one-to-one iPads as aids to improve their education.  They can access their homework and textbooks anywhere through Google classroom.  So far this year, students have been able to collaborate on projects using the google suite, including slide presentations, and this week, paper slide videos.  They are having fun with many Math, Grammar, and States and Capitals review games. They are adding to their writing portfolios this year using SeeSaw.

Students will use iPads this year to write and research their state reports. They will also be learning more about Digital citizenship.  They are excited to grow and learn in new ways.

By: Mrs. Mary Schirrmacher, 5th grade

Real Learning with Virtual Reality

During one of the scenes of the Disney movie “Big Hero 6,” there is a part where the main character Hiro, is controlling his computer and programming Baymax, by just clicking images that are hanging in the air in front of his face.  In today’s world, we are beginning to see this same type of technology being developed, which we call virtual reality. Virtual reality is a simulation created by a computer of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a real or physical way by a person using equipment such as ipads.  Here at St. John’s, our 2nd graders have been using virtual learning to complete research on the Solar System.

In 2nd grade, we began our Solar System research by utilizing a Merge Cube and a Solar System app.  The students would hold up the Merge Cube in front of the Ipads’ cameras and the cubes would transform into the Solar System.  The students were given the task of going on a scavenger hunt to discover cool facts about the Solar System. With the cubes, the 2nd graders moved the Solar System around, and clicked on the planets displayed on the Ipad, to find out a variety of answers to the questions asked during the hunt.  After exploring all the planets, each student was assigned one planet to study. They again used a virtual reality app that allowed them to see the solar system appear in the classroom. Students found their planet by moving the ipad around in a circle, touching the planet on the ipad, and then finding out facts about it.  At the end of the project, the 2nd graders will take a picture of themselves holding their planets in their hands, using the virtual reality app.

All in all, virtual reality is no longer just found in the movies, but not can be an important tool to help students learn and explore the world and universe around them.

By: Mrs. Sarah Grack, Technology Teacher

SJLS Band at Angels Stadium!

“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…”. (Click to listen!)

St. John’s Advanced Band had the honor and opportunity to perform our National Anthem at the Angels’ game on Saturday, September 15th.  Our small but mighty band of 8 joined with about 600 middle and high school students from around Orange County to play our nation’s song.

Before the game, they rehearsed with conductor John Carnahan from Cal State-Long Beach.  They quickly found out that it could be challenging staying together with 600 students stretched out the length of a football field.  They couldn’t rely on their ears to tell them if they were playing together.  Rather, they had to watch the conductor very closely.

After rehearsal, they walked onto the warning track at the stadium and performed in right field.  What an honor!  Later they watched the game with all the St. Johns families who came to support them!  It was a fun evening to sit in the St. Johns section of the ball park, where we knew many of the people nearby.  The band students continued to have fun by dancing together to see if they could get on the Jumbotron.  Their efforts were rewarded when they were showcased on the Jumbotron for all to see!  The evening ended with a fireworks show and a Nick Jonas concert.

Music is said to bring people together.  This is certainly true for St. John’s band.  They were brought together to honor our nation with the 600 students performing, a university band conductor, the 42,000 people at the game who heard them play, and the St. Johns families who came to support them!

By: Mrs. Krista Elliott, Music Teacher

 

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