Is Your Child Starting From Behind? Why Others Look to AC for Early STEM Education

Posted on October 26th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

A delegation of educators from Belarus, seeking ways to boost innovation and economic development and cultivate a competitive workforce, visited Allendale Columbia School because of its reputation as the best school to visit for its “bottom-up” approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), which formally begins in Kindergarten. (more…)

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

School Scientists Document Campus Invaders

Posted on October 26th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

By Beth Guzzetta

Invaders seem to be taking over large parts of Allendale Columbia’s campus, but seventh grade science students are on the case!

My 7th graders have been learning about a problem that affects not only AC’s campus, but many parts of the world: invasive species. Today, the students worked with our special guest, Hilary Mosher from Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (FL PRISM), to take multiple 10-meter transects of various parts of our campus and document the invasive species that have taken hold there.

Invasive flora and fauna infiltrate our native species, and because they have essentially “escaped” their original habitats, they have no local, natural predators to keep them in check. Each student has explored a few of these invaders in depth, learning about their characteristics, their degree of pervasiveness in the region, and ways to manage their presence. Invasive species impact our economy, disrupt the food web, and endanger the local native species.

On AC’s campus, students identified Buckthorn, Privet, Garlic Mustard, Multiflora Rose, Purple Loosestrife, Periwinkle, and Mugwort as particularly prevalent in their transects along the borders of grassy areas and in the shallow woods. They are busy uploading their findings to iNaturalist under our class project so scientists can verify our findings. Once that is complete, the students will upload their findings to the NY iMapInvasives project for documentation and tracking.

During the next month, students will determine which invasive species (“invasives”) have the potential to cause the most damage and which can be managed by the school. Then they will assemble a plan of action and present their plans to the AC Leadership Team for further action. It’s all part of being a scientist, as we say, not just studying science.

While we were doing our fieldwork, Travis Godkin’s 9th grade biology class presented their studies of invasive species. Invasives are a pervasive theme!

Kristin Cocquyt

Elizabeth Guzzetta

Beth, 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.
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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Upper School

NASA Langley’s Deputy Director Encourages AC Students to Stay Curious

Posted on October 19th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

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.

Clayton Turner, Deputy Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center, met with a Middle School Robotics class.

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.” “

AC 4th graders have been participating in a project based learning unit on space exploration. They impressed NASA’s Clayton Turner and his colleagues with their questions!

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.”

NASA’s Clayton Turner explained that communication, collaboration, and people skills are just as important as engineering and mathematics, and that NASA also needs psychologists, attorneys, accounts, and people from all professions in their quest to land humans on Mars.

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.”

WHAM-13 covered Mr. Turner’s visit to AC. Click the image to see their video and recap.

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.”

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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

New AC Mission Statement

Posted on October 19th, 2018 by cnickels

Last year, as AC began the regularly scheduled re-accreditation process through New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), it became evident that our mission was no longer representative of the impactful work we do everyday and why we exist as a school. Since AC’s last mission statement was launched, our programming and curriculum has expanded and evolved to meet a new set of needs in our ever-changing world. While we continue to take pride in our academic preparation for college, we also focus on helping students develop the skills and experiences needed to make a positive and lasting impact in a technology-driven, global society.

Signage on campus celebrates the new AC mission

“The mission guides us internally as we evolve and change to meet the needs of the students and families who walk through our doors,” said long-time AC faculty member Tony Tepedino and re-accreditation co-leader. “If [the mission] doesn’t align, then we are not able to provide a clear and unified vision and program for the families who place their trust in us as an institution.”

“We haven’t lost the original mission of the school,” said Head of School Mick Gee.

“In fact, it is because of our dedication to a student-centered education and AC’s core values that we have continued to adapt and evolve as an institution to meet the changing needs of the world and the way we prepare our students for life outside these walls. The lessons our students learn here at AC extend beyond the walls of our classrooms, and it is our responsibility to prepare them for the world they will inherit.

 

 

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Uncategorized, Upper School, US Birches

Donate Your Rock Band Instruments

Posted on October 5th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Rachael Sanguinetti

Are you past the rock star stage of your life, or upgrading your instruments? Allendale Columbia School seeks donations of the following instruments, in good working condition, for use by the new Middle School elective, “Rock Band”:

  • Electric guitars
  • Acoustic guitars
  • Bass guitars
  • Drum set
  • Keyboards

This new course allows students of all levels and abilities to learn modern band instruments and play in small ensembles. Any donations can be left at the Welcome Desk or brought to the music building. Please contact Rachael Sanguinetti at rsanguinetti@allendalecolumbia.org with questions. To receive a letter for tax deductibility for the donation, donors should also fill out this In-Kind Donation Form to accompany the donation or send it to the Development Office.

The Intro to Rock Band elective is for any Middle School students who has ever wanted to be a real-life rock star and explore playing popular music. The class begins with learning skills on guitar (both acoustic and electric), bass, drum set, vocals, and piano before forming small groups in class. Song selections for bands are chosen by the band members, and public performance is not required. Along the way, students explore many styles and decades of music including classics from long before you were born all the way through the bands that are popular today. Students will also be invited to compose and arrange their own songs with the help of band mates. Takeaways from this course include a basic understanding of multiple popular instruments, an understanding of the voice and how it’s used in popular music, a basic understanding of the recent history of popular music and how it has contributed to the music we hear today, and resources for further exploration and learning of popular music.

Kristin Cocquyt

Rachael Sanguinetti

Rachael is in her third year teaching music at AC. A recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music with majors in Music Education and Musical Arts with a minor in Psychology and an Arts Leadership Certificate, she's working toward a masters degree at Ithaca College. She brings experience teaching kindergarten-8th grade music in Rochester, 6th-8th grade general music and choir at Burger Middle School, and 2-3 year olds as part of the Eastman Community School Early Childhood Music Program.
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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade

AC is Abuzz in Activity

Posted on September 28th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia 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.

 

Kristin Cocquyt

Elizabeth Guzzetta

Beth, 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.
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade

Middle School Uses Advisory Day to Bond Around Year’s Themes

Posted on September 14th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

After a successful inaugural “Advisory Day” last year, Allendale Columbia continued using Friday of the first week of school for Middle School students to participate in a meaningful bonding experience with their advisors and fellow classmates. On September 7th, students engaged in various on-campus and off-campus experiences to begin their year-long work focusing on each of their class themes.

Jump to: 8th Grade   |   7th Grade   |   6th Grade

8th Grade: Leadership and Legacy

This year, the 8th grade spent their advisory retreat at Mount Hope Cemetery where they performed community service and learned about many legacies of the Mount Hope “residents” from guide Pat Corcoran. Ms. Corcoran was very impressed and grateful for the enthusiasm and energy the 8th graders put into clearing brush, digging up weeds, and “picking up” around several sections of the cemetery. Students also learned new things about Mount Hope’s famous residents, such as how many people visited Susan B. Anthony’s grave during the 2008 presidential election and the legacies left by Frederick Douglass’s wives. They also learned cool facts about many others buried at the cemetery, including Margaret Woodbury Strong, Hiram Sibley, and Emma Sibley Watson. This day helped set the stage for a year-long exploration of their own leadership within the Middle School and the legacy they want to leave behind as they move into the Upper School only a short ten months from now. At the end of 8th grade, a capstone project in their physics, history, and English will highlight all the work and progress these students have made over the course of the year. This retreat also served as a springboard for the students to think about their goals and look ahead to the 8th grade trip to Gettysburg and Washington DC.

7th Grade: Identity

The 7th grade partnered with Best Buddies and School of the Holy Childhood this school year. Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). On Friday, students were introduced to Best Buddies and spent the day at Charlotte Beach with a group of students from School of the Holy Childhood.

6th Grade: Independence

The theme of the 6th grade year in advisory is ”independence.” Sixth grade is a perfect time to introduce topics of independence as students transition from Lower School to Middle School. Students spent advisory day on campus focusing on community building as a class and within advisory groups. Advisory groups were tasked with creating, designing, and building their own “origin worlds”. Similar to writing a science-fiction story, students were asked to think about their own unusual powers and create a fictional world from which they came. These worlds included geography, traditions, language, and supernatural elements. Students then designed and created these worlds out of gingerbread. This task asked students to think about themselves both as individuals and as members of the Middle School community.  Self-advocacy, accountability, and individuality are key parts of this day and the 6th grade advisory program.

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade

Vegetable Garden Thrives Thanks to Students and Volunteers

Posted on September 14th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

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…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School