gator science

active adventures in lower school science

LowerSchool MakerSpace

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Lower School students  have been enjoying the makerspace after school.  Some projects include making a homemade speaker for an Iphone, a lighted zipline made of cardboard, a homemade flashlight, a magnetic fishing carnival game, and playing with the ollie.

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4th Grade Engineering


4th Graders have begun a rotation working with different kinds of electronics to prepare for their innovation days as fifth graders next year.  The are rotating groups over a 6 week period.  Some Students have been working on programming Lego Mindstorms.  Another group of students have been working on inventing with Little Bits.   The third group is learning about circuits and electricity using snap circuits.  There has been a lot of positive energy in our science classroom and maker space this past week.

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Making a Foam Gnome!

4th Graders have been exploring the differences between mixtures and compounds in science.  Students observed a chemical reaction when they added an acid poly A to a base poly B.  The product created was polyurethane foam.  When they mixed the two liquids they created a new compound after observing air bubbles, heat, a change in state, and a change in color.  Students loved decorating their foam gnomes in the maker space at the end of class.

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Students were busy in our Maker Space Club after school today at Shipley. We were able to do some tinkering by tearing apart some computer laptops, a VCR, cameras, a computer mouse, and an electric pencil sharpener. Students were amazed by the electronic circuitry and metal parts that made up the machinery. Some students saved materials to be reused and two of our students wanted to complete an art project with some of the parts of the computer.  Can’t wait till next week in our Maker Space!

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Solubility of Salt : Cold Water vs. Warm Water

4th Grade students found that warm water was able to fit more salt than cold water.  Students realized that when water is warmed the molecules move faster and spread apart. As a result of the the movement of molecules, more salt fits in the warmer water.

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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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The Shipley Fourth Grade students had an awesome time braving the elements at the Horsham Outdoor School last week. The Horsham Outdoor School promised an EPIC trip in the cold and rain and they certainly delivered. On the overnight, students worked  together to problem solve and work together on team challenges.  Students took outdoor classes like stream studies and visited the organic farm on the college settlement campus.  Students, faculty, and staff were not deterred by the cold and wet weather. On the last day in the pouring rain, over twenty students chose the outdoor fishing activity – even catching some fish!  One of the highlights of the trip was a spontaneous costume dance party in the dining hall.  The fourth grade students were great sports who mixed perseverance, hard work, and fun together to make a most memorable experience.

Here are some quotes from students about the trip:

I learned more people is better than just me.

Campfire skits were fun and wet.

What surprised me about the dorms was it looked small and uncomfortable, but then I actually fell asleep and it became comfortable.

I learned that hiking is very relaxing, even in the rain.

I ate a lot of pears that fell off of a tree.

What interested me about the challenges was that the challenges were hard at the beginning, when we had no strategy.  It was hard but when we had a good strategy it was much easier.

The wall looked impossible, but it was actually not that hard.

I learned that teamwork works the best.

I went to an organic farm. I learned that a lot of stuff that doesn’t look very edible actually is.

I had a very good bunkmate and we are friends now.

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4th Grade Ball Drop Challenge

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4th graders started the year with a Golf Ball Drop Challenge.  Students needed to make a structure out of 12 straws and masking tape to catch and trap the ball.  I was impressed with how well the teams worked together in finding a solution to the problem.

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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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Planting Curly Willows

The fourth grade class is have spent the year focusing on building a rain garden in our courtyard and improving the space. They were able to use design thinking to help guide them in making the best decisions through the process.  The curly willows planted in the courtyard improve the space and have the students excited about how this space can change positively over the next few years.  Curly Willows will be well suited to this damp and shady spot on the campus.

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