STEM…Saving Fred!

Saving Fred… our first STEM activity of the year!

Last Friday, 2nd graders were given their first STEM challenge.  Before we began our activity, we discussed what the acronym STEM stood for…. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.   I was impressed at the number of students who already knew what all four letters stood for and represented.  What they didn’t know is that the T can have a second meaning… Teamwork!!!

After dividing up into small teams, each group was given one gummy life saver, one clear cup, four paper clips, and one very cute gummy worm named Fred!  After hearing about Fred’s tragic boat accident, where the life saver was trapped under the capsized boat, the 2nd graders worked as a team to get Fred safely back into his life saver.

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Each group worked in their own way to first retrieve the life saver and then to work Fred safely back into his flotation device.  There were many failed attempts, but each group continued to work at it, talking to each other, testing new ideas and strategies.  In the end, Fred was rescued by every group at least once.

What I found most impressive, however, is that when the group completed the initial task, we added additional challenges.  Instead of complaining or giving up, each group embraced the new challenge, adjusted their strategies, and once again, worked as a team to save Fred!

With the addition of the new STEM lab, I look forward to having so many more opportunities to give our kids the chance to apply those science and math skills, to try out new forms of technology, and especially to work as a TEAM!!

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Physical Education and Health

In the world of Elementary Physical Education at St. John’s, students just completed Track and Field Day.  Grades K – 4 spent several weeks learning and practicing the various events that take place on Track and Field Day.  Students get to test their running ability, jumping skills, and practice teamwork in relay races. It is such a joy to watch the students on the actual day; they are having fun while exercising and learning how to compete in a friendly and safe environment.

5th graders have had an exciting year preparing themselves as they make their way on to middle school.  In 5th grade PE, students are tested on units of study from the past three years (e.g. disc golf, basketball, and volleyball).  Additionally, they are tested on new units as well (e.g. hockey, the F.I.T.T. principle, and finding target heart rate).

Making healthy choices and exhibiting good sportsmanship play a big role in physical education.  In addition to PE, students in grades 2-4 had had Health Class for 8 weeks over the course of the school year this year. The overall focus of the class was how to be good stewards of the body that God gave us tied into the National Standards for Health.  This year we really focused on the importance of good nutrition for your body.  Recently, students had the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables and then rated the foods on a scale of 1-5.  Most of the students were excited to try vegetables such as raw mushrooms, sweet potato, micro greens, kiwi, red peppers, and mini cucumbers.

It has been an exciting year with each grade level.  The students are such blessing to me.  It is so exciting to work with individual students in each class and to watch them grow physically and emotionally throughout the school year.  I pray God’s continued blessings on you and your family and hope you have a safe, healthy and active summer.

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Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere!

This week, in our edition of Science Spin, we learned all about bubbles. We read that there’s a secret to making great bubbles! Our newspaper said it was a secret, and that we shouldn’t tell. We all agreed, however, that such good news needs to be shared. So hear it is!

When you make your bubble solution, add some corn syrup to your dish soap and water mixture. We found out that it helps make the skin of the bubble stronger, so they last longer. We watched two videos that also helped us learn more about bubbles. Then, you guessed it, we got to go out and make some super bubbly bubbles. Everyone had a great time. If you watch our videos, you can see each of our four table groups in action, and find out some of what we learned.

By: Mrs. Cook, 1st grade

Electives can plan plant seeds for future careers!

St. John’s serves kindergarten through eighth grade students. Once students leave their fifth grade year they enter middle school and are asked to make choices in the types of electives they would like to explore. Most electives are one semester. The array of choices gives students exposure to what they are able to take in high school.

The elective choices at St. John’s range from different strands of art, technology and exploration of robotic classes. Currently, St. John’s is exploring online electives in partnership with Orange Lutheran and Crean High schools. This semester we have an online YouTube 101 course. Some of the other elective choices include band, digital citizenship, choir, video yearbook, computer science, VEX robotics, journalism, photography, public speaking student leadership, health and safety science Olympics, art and there is a teacher aide elective.

For students to be chosen to be a teacher aide they must get two recommendations from teachers. Once chosen the student can decide if they would like to be an aide for one of the three classes in the first through fifth grades, a library aide, athletic aide or an aide in the technology lab.

As a middle school teacher of ten years it was my desire to offer a teacher aide elective to our students. When I was in middle school I had the opportunity to be a teacher aide for the physical education teacher and this is what planted the idea that being a teacher is a career I would like to pursue. Student Sarah Hertfelder stated that “being a teacher aide in the first grade was really fun because I can  help individual students.” This semester Sarah is aiding for a fourth grade teacher and is now considering a teaching career. Student Andrea Basadre asserted that being a teacher aide allowed her to understand the “behind the scenes of teaching.” Eighth grade student Embry Fleischman was already considering a teacher career but wanted to experience first hand what it would be like.

By Mrs. Bender, Middle School Teacher

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5th Grade Riley’s Farm Field Trip

Our fifth graders were able to take part in a wonderful field trip to Riley’s Farm.  It is an overnight adventure where the students are Revolutionary War soldiers.  They get to reenact battles and eat food that a colonial soldier would eat.  They participated in training drills and writing with quill and ink.  They were able to actively see some of the things that the colonists may have encountered regarding the Stamp Act and other intolerable acts that took place under British rule. The fifth graders enjoyed a rousing speech given by Patrick Henry.  The students were excited to participate in this unique hands-on learning experience.

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Peer Editing with High School Students

The 5th graders have been working hard on their state reports. They are currently working on writing a research report on the history of their chosen state. This is a big project! The students spent many hours conducting their research and writing about what they had learned.  

To improve their writing each 5th grader was virtually paired with a student from Orange Lutheran High School. The fifth graders sent their rough drafts to the high school students using Google Docs, which allowed the high school seniors to read and comment on the 5th grader’s work.  The high school students went above and beyond to help the 5th graders improve their writing. They offered helpful tips and some even wrote notes to their 5th grader partner to encourage them in continuing to grow as a writer.

The high school students also emphasized the importance of being able to express yourself through writing. The 5th graders were so excited to read the feedback they received from their high school partner! I have never seen students so excited about revising and editing a research report! The 5th graders worked hard to improve their writing by taking the advice offered to them by their partner. This was a memorable experience for our 5th graders and a great opportunity to learn from an older student.

By: Mrs. Keelie Knego, 5th grade

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Classroom Eruptions

If you had wandered into any of the second grade rooms last Friday afternoon, you may have witnessed some messy fingers, some spilled glitter, and the overwhelming stench of vinegar.  In the midst of the mess and chaos were many smiles and bright eyes as the students created and erupted their own volcanoes!

For the last week, we have spent some time studying these massive land forms and learning about how they are created and what it takes for one to erupt.  They were even able to experiment with different levels of gas pressure and lava thickness to predict how each of these factors would affect an eruption.  The creation of their own “working” volcano was the icing on the cake to a great week of explosions!

By: Mrs. Morner, 2nd grade

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