Sure, you need to be smart and know some science and technology. But to succeed in landing on the moon, sending humans to Mars and back, or just about any goal, it takes a lot of curiosity, collaboration, communication, and the relentless pursuit of a dream. At least, that’s the message Clayton Turner conveyed to Allendale Columbia students from his 28 years of experience at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, where he is Deputy Director.
“I have a strong belief that our future is right here in these classrooms.”
A Rochester native, Turner visited Allendale Columbia as part of a trip to meet with the President’s Roundtable at RIT, of which he’s a member. He never imagined he’d work for NASA at the time when he was a young boy and the first human walked on the moon. After attending McQuaid Jesuit High School, Monroe Community College, and enlisting in the Army, he still wasn’t sure. But he kept searching for the “passion in his heart” that ultimately landed him at his dream job at NASA, where he gets to help fulfill their mission to “Reach New Heights” and “Reveal the Unknown” to “Benefit All Mankind”. Now, he’s sharing that passion with others. He was connected to AC through Leslie Wilson, parent of 10th grader Myles Wilson and RIT’s Director of Alumni Relations.
He began the visit by ideas from the Middle School FIRST LEGO League Robotics class, coached by Teresa Parsons, on how to clean up and avoid space debris, which is the theme for this year’s robotics competition. “Remember, anything you shoot up into space to collect debris needs a big rocket to get it there, so that’s just going to add to the problem,” Turner said, challenging students to think about other methods, such as using equipment in orbit already or engineering items to degrade after their usefulness.
“Hands-on projects like robotics keep students enthusiastic about learning,” he asserted, having visited many schools across the country. We need to keep that curiosity flowing” if we’re to address the problems in the world today, he said. “And Robotics teams are actually a great exercise in teamwork and problem-solving” in addition to coding and technology. “After judging many competitions, I found that you can quickly see the groups that are working as a team and the groups that have one smart person directing everyone else.” “
He then met with an enthusiastic group of fourth graders, who have been engaged in a multi-disciplinary project-based learning unit on space exploration since the beginning of the school year, led by Lower School STEM Lead Teacher Donna Chaback. They peppered him with questions, which he delightfully addressed, often with a question of his own to stimulate their thinking.
When asked if AC is succeeding on its core value to foster curiosity and creativity, he said, “I shared the questions that the 4th grade sent me with my colleagues back at Langley to show them how impressive they are. They were astounded when I told them ‘these are 4th graders!’, and they weren’t asking me about if aliens exist or any of that stuff, they were asking me about the Keiper system, black holes, trajectories for getting something to the moon from the earth. Things they’ve obviously heard in class and they are curious about and want to learn more.”
He concluded his visit by talking to Upper School students in physics and 3D modeling classes. “No one can really be successful working alone any more. All of the work we do today involves interacting with teams of people from all over the world,” Turner told them. He related how his first job entailed working on a business-card-sized circuit board to aim lasers, but it was just a tiny part of a bus-sized satellite that so many other people worked on.
When asked by one student on what they needed to do to pursue a career at NASA, Turner noted that getting a college degree is only the starting point for a job at organizations like NASA. “That shows you can learn and know how to do some work,” he said. “Just as important is seeing evidence of teamwork, collaboration, and people skills.”
“When you think about sending people to Mars, you have a small group of people that will be in a space only this big,” he said, indicating a space about 12 feet square, “for eight months to get there, and another eight months getting back. We need scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, but we also need psychologists, people who have studied human behavior, to address these types of challenges. We also need accountants, lawyers, and people from all professions” in order to fulfill a quest like putting humans on Mars by the late 2030s.
Maya Crosby, Director of the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation who coordinated the visit, was especially pleased with that message. “One of the things we strive for in the Invent Center is to help broaden the appeal of STEM. We aim to help students understand that STEM is more than just hard technology, that these other fields are important to the success of technology-focused businesses.”
NASA certainly explores some immense challenges. He said, “One thing I hope they take from this is the difference between hard and impossible, and sometimes replace one for the other, and that they get to know what’s just hard and requires work.”
Turner also warned against anyone who dismisses an idea with, “That’s not the way we’ve always done it.” He encouraged students to prize diverse thinking, to consider multiple perspectives, in order to solve problems. “It’s the wide range of thinking, that diversity of thought, that’s what’s going to help take on the challenges we have.”
“What I find most enjoyable is that I get to look into our future and see all the challenges that these students are going to overcome for us, all the amazing things that they are going to do.”
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
by Aaron Shepard, Rachael Sanguinetti, and Seth Hopkins
Allendale Columbia’s seventh grade recently spent a week hiking, biking, and canoeing in the Canadian wilderness at Camp Pathfinder, a camp for boys owned and operated by AC alumnus Mike Sladden ’76. It’s located on Pathfinder Island on Source Lake in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. Students spent five days working together and learning a variety of outdoor skills, including fire building and shelter construction. They also explored the history of painter Tom Thomson, a prolific 20th-century Canadian artists who died in the park under mysterious circumstances and was one of the first voices to articulate a Canadian national identity. (more…)
Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade
by The TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool Team
Presenter Nominations are now open for TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool 2019. The event is on February 2nd, 2019, and the theme this year is “Human Simplexity.” The theme is the perfect platform to spread ideas and celebrate the human experience. It is wide open to interpretation and organizers are aiming to get many different types of speakers and performers.
Organizers are hoping to have a lot of student presenters this year so if you’re passionate about something and would like to share it with a lot of people, they would love to have you! Use the online Nomination Form to submit your own idea, or if you think of someone who would be a good presenter for the event, please nominate them.
For more information about the event, please see the website: tedxallendalecolumbiaschool.org.
TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool is an independently organized TEDxYouth event, held annually at the Allendale Columbia School in Rochester, NY. This year’s event will be held on February 2nd, 2019. A student organized event, TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool strives to promote idea-sharing through the AC community, the Rochester community, and the global community.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
By Beth Guzzetta
Fall has arrived and with it the scent of apple pies and pumpkin spice lattes. However, the apples and pumpkins that we are craving were not self-reliant during their early months of formation. No, not at all! In order to pollinate, they relied heavily on the numerous insects that started buzzing around actively in the spring. Allendale Columbia School students, too, began buzzing in activities to support the bees and, in the process, learn about life cycles, environmental impacts, and bees’ role in our food systems.
During that spring, flowers were blossoming, and you were probably thinking, “Go away you irritating bug; I want to enjoy the beautiful flowers.” But you probably were not thinking about the fact that those irritating insects were spreading pollen so the flowers can continue with their life cycle. Without those marvelous yet occasionally annoying creatures, we wouldn’t have as many delicious fresh fruits and vegetables at our AC lunches. The salivating scents of apple delicacies certainly would not have become as abundant or a tradition that we so look forward to as the leaves begin to change colors.
If you’re still reading and have not left to find a warm piece of apple pie yet, I’d like to tell you about an amazing project that I started at AC during The Buds and The Bees May Term class last spring due to the gracious donation and support of the Pinkowski family. For one and a half weeks, Middle and Upper School students joined together to create an apiary on campus for everyone to enjoy.
Students split into areas of interest during this time, working to develop the foundation of this project. They had much to accomplish in a short period of time, but their high motivation and interested was like a continuously fueled fire that kept them energized and engaged. Prior to the actual start of May Term, students had to prepare the hive by weatherproofing it with many layers of polyurethane and/or tung oil.
Once May Term began, students worked diligently with Gabe Costanzo to prepare the school garden by weeding a plot of land and choosing flowers that honeybees prefer. They visited Lucas Greenhouses to gather more information from the very friendly botanists and to pick out their chosen flowers that Lucas Greenhouses generously donated. They planted their flowers in the prepared plot.
Other students created a sturdy stand to hold the hive and keep it from tilting or falling over, especially during periods of high winds. They designed, sawed, drilled, and assembled the stand, and then leveled an area and set pavers for the stand to rest on. Other students needed to “seed” the bars and tack down the bars in the hive boxes so the honey bees would quickly start building honeycomb across them. Another group researched aspects of honey bees and honey, then wrote a book that even included some recipes that contain honey. Once the garden and hive were ready, we introduced our honeybees.
We purchased our bees from Wolf Creek Farms in Tennessee because they have very healthy and docile honeybees that are a mix of Russian, Italian, and Carniolin genetics and have never been treated with chemicals. Michael VanEdwards, a local beekeeper who is educating me as I teach my students about beekeeping, picked up our six pounds of bees and drove them to AC so that they arrived healthy, happy, and hungry. With his help, the students introduced the thousands of bees to their new home. Needless to say, they stuck around due to the yummy homemade nectar that included amino acids and essential oil that we fed them in the first few days, making honeycomb right from the start.
Through the summer and fall, Michael, AC students, and I have been checking on the hive and all of its activity, especially for mites and beetles that can be devastating to honeybee colonies. Luckily the hive is healthy and happy! Naturally, the bees swarmed a bit late and stole some of the honey, so the students began a feeding schedule in September to boost the bees’ honey production so they are able to maintain their colony through the cold winter months that are quickly arriving. Students have been actively learning about their colony and honey bees in general and visiting the hive daily in full beekeeper regalia. They have also been monitoring our swarm in the hope that they too survive the winter and possible come back to a second hive that we plan on installing in the spring.
In the fall and winter, the Middle School students will continue their honeybee research in Seventh Grade Science and Sixth and Eighth Grade Math. They will install BroodMinder bluetooth connected monitors that will allow them to monitor the hive weight and temperature so they can measure their hive’s health and share their data with other beekeepers. Data analysis on our hive, as well as the data entered by other beekeepers nationwide, will help them stay connected and engaged with the dynamics of their honeybee activity. They will also team up with Lower School students to teach them about the honeybees, possibly collaborating cross-divisionally to write the first AC Honeybee book.
Through their involvement this project, students are connecting more with nature and beginning to notice and wonder about other types of beneficial insects that abound in nature. They are paying closer attention to other environmental phenomena, such as weather patterns, plant life cycles, chemicals such as pesticides and their impact on honey bees and other pollinators, food sources, and so much more. Through this increased awareness and engagement, they are being transformed and inspired to make positive sustainable life changes. They are inspiring others to do the same by acting as nature’s stewards.
So if you see a group of large walking marshmallows on campus, stop and say hello and ask them about the sweet work that they are doing. I am sure that they would be happy to engage with you and educate you about their flying community members that live across the creek.
Elizabeth GuzzettaBeth, AC's Lucius and Marie Gordon Chair in Science and NY State Finalist for the 2016-17 Presidential Awards for Excellence In Science Teaching, has taught mathematics, science, and computer courses at the middle school, high school, and college levels in addition to private tutoring for 29 years. She has also coached Varsity boys and girls soccer and Modified softball and basketball. Beth has coached Odyssey of the Minds, helping one team receive second in the world, and enjoys bringing students on domestic and international academic and cultural experiences. She holds a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from St. John Fisher College as well as a master's degree in Education from Curry College, and brings experience from an international exchange program in Wales.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade
by Gabe Costanzo
Near the end of the last school year, in the second session of May Term, I had the privilege of working with five ambitious Upper School students who took on the task of renovating Allendale Columbia School’s vegetable garden. Danielle Fuller ’18, Kenny Mogauro ’18, Toshi Shizuuchi ’20, Aaron Kalvitis ’19, and Roxy Reisch ’20 met me in the Band Room, my home base, on the first day of May Term, and we had a discussion about the factors that contributed to their participation in this particular May Term course, “Grow Your Own Food.” (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Every year at the end of the spring semester, Middle and Upper School students at Allendale Columbia complete their usual curriculum and begin May Term. May Term exists to provide educational opportunities outside of the normal structures of the school year to support intellectual discovery, encourage collaboration, and foster community involvement.
Here are some May Term highlights so far this year:
- Students learned about honey bees, built a beehive, planted flora that bees love, and installed a starter colony of bees at the school garden in the “Buds and Bees” course led by Mrs. Guzzetta and Mr. Costanzo. Students will continue to monitor the hive and harvest honey in the fall.
- A panel of judges from the AC Kitchen and maintenance evaluated student culinary creations in a Master Chef-type competition, with students presenting the science behind the creation of those food items in the “Science of Cooking” course led by Ms. Crosby and senior Gio Martino.
- In “Human Impacts on the Environment”, AC students worked with students from the World of Inquiry School 58 at a Water Quality Summit in Rochester to understand the Genesee River ecosystem, which was featured on WROC and WXXI. Mrs. Lisi and Mr. Godkin led this session.
- In “Life Underwater”, students explored the flora and fauna in Corbett’s Glen with Mrs. Guzzetta.
- Students visited the Women’s Rights Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls as part of “Nevertheless, She Persisted” (above) with Mr. Neeley
Other topics included:
- Positive Psychology
- The Great Outdoors
- Console Wars: The History of Video Gaming
- Be Here Now: Mindfulness as a Practice
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What would Susan and Frederick Think? The Legacy of Rochester’s Agitators
- Muse: Making a Magazine
- Bilingual Theatre
- Building, flying and using drones for media production
- Music with Kids
- Confidence & Courage: Dare to Show Up, Be Seen, & Be Brave
- Wheelin’ Through Rochester’s History
- Stigma and Mental Health: Issues and Interventions
- Ornithology Science and Art
- Exhibition Night Planning
- Grow Your Own Food
- Social Impact Filmmaking
- Day Trading and Cryptocurrency Lab
- Making Community Service a Way of Life
- 2019 College Workshop
- The AC Genome Project
- Innocence and Guilt: Learning about the Law
We’ll have additional updates as May Term progresses. Everyone is also welcome to participate in an interactive May Term Exhibition Night where students will discuss their projects on Thursday, May 7th from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
by Jennifer Truong, Lynn Grossman, and AC Second Graders
In studying parts of speech, second grade students at Allendale Columbia School imagined a fictional town where nouns, verbs, and adjectives come to life. We combined our love of music and singing with our “Noun Town” creation to write a song and make a music video. Throughout this project, we were reading and writing and learning about music form, beats, rhythm, song writing, rhyming words, syllables, story boarding, common nouns, proper nouns, verbs, adjectives, population, 3-digit numbers, symmetry, ROYGBIV (the colors of the rainbow), teamwork, creativity, green screen effects, editing, parodies, and more! We even got to experience what it’s like to be a recording musician!
You can watch the Facebook Live video of the premiere from May 29th here:
Do you want to know more about the making of “Noun Town”? View the slides and photos here:
Jennifer TruongJenn, awarded with AC's Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education, has been teaching for almost 15 years and is entering her seventh year at Allendale Columbia. She has attended and facilitated several professional development courses to improve her pedagogy and influence the pedagogy of colleagues, understand how a young childâ€™s brain learns best, and implement best practices in diverse classroom settings in the Rochester area, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Jennifer holds a bachelorâ€™s degree in Elementary Education and a masterâ€™s degree in Reading, both from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.
Lynn GrossmanLynn Grossman specializes in elementary general and instrumental music education. She studied bassoon performance and music education at the Eastman School of Music where she earned both her bachelorâ€™s degree and masterâ€™s degree, and she taught K-2 music in the East Irondequoit School District for eight years. Lynn is the President of the New York Chapter of the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (NY-GIML), which provides professional learning opportunities to music educators. She has co-presented her work in the US and the UK and is co-author of a chapter in Envisioning Music Teacher Education (Rowman and Littlefield). She enjoys professional collaboration and research in music education and enjoys teaching music to ACâ€™s Pre-Primary and Lower School students!
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Lower School, Second Grade
by Tina Duver
Adolescence is a time where teenagers can struggle with the navigation through the rough waters of social interactions, academics, independence, and self-doubt. Here at Allendale Columbia, we are a responsive community who constantly engages our students in dialogue around topics of community and inclusivity. That dialogue in middle school has led to our participation in the KIND Schools Challenge.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Highlights, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, The Birches, US Birches