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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PE = Fun-filled Learning!

I have the privilege of teaching Health and Physical Education to elementary aged students at St. John’s.  St. John’s elementary students started the year off by learning how to effectively work together as a team and show empathy towards one another. Here is a look at what we’ve been learning so far this year:

Physical Education  

Kindergarten – Grade 1–Large Locomotor Skills and Following Directions

This is accomplished by incorporating fun games where the students usually have no idea that they are working on a goal; they are just having fun!  For example, students learned how to “drive” and learned the rules of the road playing “Hula Hoop Road Show.”  This game allows students to “drive” their cars (hula hoops) throughout the gym safely while learning how to listen for cues such as Red Light (stop), Green Light (go), bumpy road (skip), or slippery mud (side-slide).

Grades 2-5–Teamwork

Students play games where teamwork is essential.  For example, a favorite game of the students is called “Cross the River.”  Each game they play is “gamified” in that there are levels, like in video games.  As the teams finish a level, they get to level up to the next, more challenging level.  In “Cross the River” students must work together and strategize on how to safely get their team across a “toxic river” using only a limited amount of supplies.  It is so fun to see how creative and unique each student is during this time of strategizing.

In addition, grade 5 has been learning the importance of setting goals and how to stay fit. They learned how to find their resting heart rate, the FITT principle, and all about the heart.  Students were even able to see the heart using an augmented reality app during PE.

Health

Grades 2-4

Students have been learning empathy, what it is and how to show it. They are also learning about their bodies and the importance of taking care of them.

Looking forward to the rest of the school year with these amazing students!

By: Mrs. Miller, Physical Education Teacher

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Fredgrade2

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!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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