gator science

active adventures in lower school science

Careful Observations Using a Mealworm

2nd Graders love the meal worm project.  Students spend over a month observing the changes of a mealworm from larva, pupa, to adult.  Students like to build obstacle courses to watch the mealworms crawl on different materials and respond to the environment. Looking at a mealworm is a natural way to bring up the discussion of how to classify animals.  Is it an insect, worm, or centipede? Many students become attached to their mealworm like a pet and are always surprised when it turns into a darkling beetle.


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Journey North Symbolic Monarch Migration

2nd graders are participating in the Journey North Symbolic Migration.  In both Spanish and science class students learned about the yearly monarch migration to the  mountains of Mexico.  Students created their own class butterfly and smaller individual butterflies and sent them to a school in Mexico.  Students in Mexico will house the butterflies in their classroom during the winter and return the butterflies to school’s across North America in the spring.  It’s an exciting project that integrates what they are learning in both Spanish and science.

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Our Second Grade Class was outside and found a toad hopping around the campus. What a great way to end the year with the second grade class.  It’s starting to feel like summer around here!

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2nd Grade Gears

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2nd Grade have been learning about gears and simple machines using the Lego WeDo kits in our maker space.  Student built a gator and spinning top and observed the different gears we put in the design.  We used a gear train that included a crown gear and learned how to program the gator to move its mouth and the spinner to spin at different speeds.

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Harvesting Classroom Cherry Tomatoes for the Dining Hall

Students have been caring for different garden vegetables in the classroom aquaponics system.  The Tilapia fish at the bottom of the system help supply nutrients to lettuce, basil, cherry tomatoes, and eggplants.  We harvested the cherry tomatoes today and served them in the lower school dining hall salad bar.

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Second Grade Symbolic Monarch Migration

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Second Grade students at the Shipley School have combined work in science and Spanish to send a butterfly their class made to a class in Mexico.  These paper butterflies are following the same route as the real monarch butterflies that winter in the mountains of Mexico.  All the butterfly packages will return to Canada and the United States as the Monarchs travel north in the spring.  What a great way to start the year!

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2nd Graders Take the Marble Challenge

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The second grade started the year with a design challenge.  Given limited materials such as paper, tape, paperclips, and straws the students needed to build a marble ramp that landed a marble into a square.  One of the benefits of the challenge was to see examples of great teamwork.  When faced with a potential conflict in the group of different ideas, one of the students exclaimed with confidence, “Why don’t we combine all our ideas in the design!”  Now that’s good problem solving.

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Introducing the Shipley Lower School Makerspace


The Lower School has created a new Maker Space this year which connects to science room  We have the following stations in the room – the Build-it corner, robotics and electronics, craft corner, take-it-apart and tinker, and the recycling station.  5th Graders will use the room every “I” day for their innovation projects.  Thanks to Brooke Donovan and Debra Finger for helping to set up the room.  Thanks for colleagues Chris Fornaro, Bethany Silva, Wendy Eiteljorg who have inspired me to create this innovative space.  We have been inspired by teachers and students around the country who have been making and building in the classroom.  Can’t wait to see what kids can create!

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Maker Space: Paper Circuit using an LED

2nd Graders were excited to make their own paper circuit using an LED light.  Some of the designs included monsters, animals, smiley faces, and favorite sports teams.  I was impressed with how the second graders took on the challenge of making a circuit.  One of the girls in the class gave a quick lesson to her peers on how to fold the copper tape at the corner and make a pocket to store the battery. Another student found a way to clip the battery in the circuit and then store the battery with a large metal clip.  They can’t wait to take the next paper circuit challenge.  I’m looking forward to seeing their future creations.

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Designing Some Dough

3rd Graders worked for a number of weeks to make the perfect recipe for high quality Play Dough.  Students had to make their own recipe to improve a low quality playdough we tested in the lab.   In the process, students needed to learn from their mistakes and problem solve.  Some of the third graders had some great comments about the engineering process.

There is a 99.99% chance you will not get it right the first time.

Its important to measure the right way

Don’t use too much water and add more flour

You usually don’t get it right the first time

If you mess up, it doesn’t matter.  You need patience.

You need to add some things and take away some things

Keep trying even if you fail horribly

Three important things I learned are patience, thinking, and staying calm

We learned that scientists, engineers, and all people can learn from mistakes and failure to be successful and find solutions to a problem

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