I saw some great things occur here this past week, many of which were STREAM related. Our Junior High students were deeply involved in the engineering principles of design and systems thinking. Students were placed into groups and were challenged to construct three-dimensional models and perform experiments examining variables that would affect the models’ movements. They were certainly challenged to explore, investigate and experiment to find design ideas that would improve performance. Their models focused on physical science concepts of force, motion, simple machines, leverage, mechanical advantage, work, energy, and efficiency. One group had to create a “Crank Man.” They connected a solar cell to a motor on the Crank Man, which then began a traceable flow of energy when a light would shine on the solar cell. The Crank Man would actually be working to make energy. Students then counted the number of rotations made by Crank Man using solar distance as a variable. Because water covers over 70% of the Earth and is a dense fluid, the movement of water is able to create great forces to move materials. We have seen this in the news lately with the many areas of our country experiencing flood-like conditions. A second group of students was challenged to create a hydroelectric generator and make predictions as variables were introduced. Another group of students created a windmill and had to evaluate whether blade shape and aerodynamics would affect the speed of the blades. Would larger blades catch more air and turn faster? Does the height of the blades affect the outcome? This was an excellent project for our students to examine some of the challenges of using renewable energy sources in our world.
Our 8th Grade students took a short trip to Impett Park on Friday to observe their model rockets take flight. They worked in teams to construct these rockets after studying Newton’s Laws of Motion: #1-Objects at rest remain at rest and objects in motion remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an unbalanced force, #2-Force equals mass times acceleration, and #3- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The kids had a “blast” and three groups were successfully able to catch their rockets once the recovery system was deployed and the rocket returned toward Earth.
Felton Thomas, Director of Library Services at Cleveland Public Library, visited several of our classrooms this week. He first spoke to the students about his childhood, having grown up in a tough area of Las Vegas. Because he loved to read and wanted to escape trouble, he hung out at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library frequently. He became a regular there. At the age of 13, he became a library page. Because of his work ethic and passion for the written word, the library paid for his undergraduate degree from the University of Las Vegas. He then went on to receive his Masters Degree from the University of Hawaii. In 2016, he was named Public Library Association President. It was a pleasure hosting him at St. Mark, and I especially enjoyed the message he delivered to our kids- READ EVERYDAY. Oh, the places reading can take us every single day!