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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11th Annual Junior Martin Luther Competition

October 30th, 2018 at 8:30AM in the St. John’s Historic Sanctuary

As a Lutheran church and school, we are proud of our Christian heritage and the Junior Martin Luther Competition was designed as a way for us to celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther.  It was his courage that laid the foundations of our faith today.  Every 6th grade student since 2008 has spent the month of October participating in a variety of classroom learning activities that exposed them to a deeper understanding of Martin Luther’s life, his relationship with God, the condition of the early church during his lifetime, and the good news of our Salvation that is found in the New Testament.

This year’s finalists included Chanel Kruse, Memphis Peoples, Chanel Soler, Robert Goodman, Lucas Sharar, Mattias Kremer, Chloe Miller, Sam Wright and Zach Schutt.  The Alternates for the competition consisted of Matthew Marks and Grace Granger. Their participation in class, quality responses to weekly reflection questions, results from the Reformation in Disguise scavenger hunt, knowledge and understanding of Luther’s Table Talk memoirs, memory test scores, and Luther’s Dates quiz results were just a portion of the criteria that earned them a spot in this year’s competition.  This competition consisted of several rounds of questions that pertain to the important dates in Martin Luther’s life, his favorite passages from Scripture, his Table Talks memoirs, his small catechism, and much more.

This was a single elimination event.  One incorrect answer removed a finalist from the competition.  All correct answers were confirmed with the statement, “this is most certainly true.”  After 35 minutes of intense competition, Chanel Kruse from Miss. homeroom won the competition!  After winning the competition, Chanel proceeded to nail the 95 theses on the Castle Church door.  Last year’s winner, Alexys Saley, presented her with a Martin Luther bobble head doll along with the Luther Cup Trophy that will be displayed in her homeroom for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year.  Her picture from this event will also be displayed in the Middle School hallway on the Junior Martin Luther Legends wall of fame.  Congratulations to Chanel!

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3rd Graders Vote

How would you vote?  Last week, the story in language arts was Vote! by Eileen Christelow.  The students read about how a town chooses a mayor.  Each class had many discussions and the teachers answered questions related to the process of voting, campaigning with signs and messages sent through the mail and on the television, especially since it coincides with the current midterm elections.

To apply the things we learned, the classes voted on “Proposition 2018 – Should St. John’s have school uniforms?”  After campaigning with signs and a debate, the students signed in, received their ballot and cast their vote. One class even had to do a recount since the counted number of votes did not match the number of students in class that day.

Overall, it was a fun way to have the students experience the process of an election.  Not surprisingly, the students voted no for Proposition 2018.

By: Miss Amy Neben, 3rd grade teacher

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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

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

Tide Pool Learning Fun!

The 5th grade students and teachers wrapped up their school year by exploring the tide pools at Little Corona Beach.  Before going to explore the tide pools the 5th graders studied what the tide pools are made of and the different types of animals that can be found in the tide pools.  After visiting the tide pools the students then created an animal that they thought would be perfectly adapted to live in the tide pools.

By: Mr. Kyle Duport, 5th grade

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