Allendale Columbia School was recently ranked as one of Newsweek’s Top 5,000 STEM High Schools in America. More than 30,000 high schools in the country were analyzed over a three-year period to determine the rankings. Newsweek, with its long history of reporting on scientific breakthroughs, technological revolutions and societal challenges, partnered with STEM.or to rank America’s Best STEM High Schools.
Recent AC STEM Activities
NASA Thanks AC Sixth Grade Citizen Scientists for Their Research
AC sixth graders just completed a month-long citizen science project through NASA’s GLOBE Program, recording more than 330 cloud observations. On December 17th, the class virtually met with NASA Education Specialist Marile Colon Robles who thanked the students for their work and reiterated the importance their cloud data plays in NASA’s on-going studies. Read more
“Girls Who Code” Club Represent AC at Rochester Maker Faire
This past November, Allendale Columbia School was a sponsor at the Rochester Maker Faire, where our “Girls Who Code” club taught visitors how to make brush bots and paper circuits. Read more
AC Robotics Teams Compete at Local FIRST Robotics Competitions
Four AC robotics teams recently competed in local FIRST robotics competitions. Representing the lower school in the FIRST Lego Robotics City Shaper challenge, were the “Wolf Pack” and the “Lightning Boltz”, led by AC faculty member Donna Chaback. Teresa Parsons, with the help of AC parent John Palomaki, led our middle school team, the “AC Aces”, while the upper school team, “Team 11779”, led by Phil Schwartz and Maya Crosby, competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge. Read more
Second Graders Learn About Cities by Meeting with a City Planner and Building Their Own!
Second graders met with Manager of Special Projects for the City of Rochester, Erik Frisch to discuss different transportation systems and learn more about the City of Rochester as they planned and created their own city, Birchville. Read more
AC-RIT Collaboration Continues to Thrive and Enrich Learning Opportunities for Students
Students in Math 7, Math 8, Algebra I, and Honors Algebra II continue to participate in a series of classes with RIT. Most recently, students conducted a color absorption experiment using RIT’s light equipment, and they have also recently learned about cryptography and the use ciphers to create and crack codes. Read more
Middle school students at AC made bowls in ceramics class for their annual Empty Bowls event. Their silent auction and raffle brought in more than $1,300 that they donated to the Willow Center, a Rochester-based organization that provides support to survivors of domestic violence and their families. The event is held annually as part of an international grassroots project that aims to address food insecurity, creating and auctioning bowls personalized by artists and art organizations on a community level. The service event is entirely organized, run, and curated by the students of the middle school ceramics class.
AC sixth graders just completed a month-long citizen science project through NASA’s GLOBE Program, recording more than 330 cloud observations. On December 17th, the class virtually met with NASA Education Specialist Marile Colon Robles who thanked the students for their work and reiterated the importance their cloud data plays in NASA’s on-going studies.
The data students collected throughout the fall helps scientists better understand satellite data. Students received emails from NASA comparing their data to the satellite data when observations were made within fifteen minutes of a satellite flyover. NASA contacted our school at the start of the challenge when they realized students were not able to receive feedback. Rob Doran, Director of IT, quickly fixed that, and students gained an early understanding that their observations were valued.
Participating in this challenge took a static note from a textbook, “scientists classify clouds by their altitude and shape”, and brought it to life, allowing students to think critically about what that really means. The NASA Globe Cloud Team received over 45,000 observations, from over 17,000 locations in 93 countries on every continent. As a token of appreciation for our students’ hard work, the class got to virtually meet a member of the GLOBE Cloud Team on Tuesday, December 17th to share what we have both learned and answer any outstanding questions.
A special shout-out to three students who spent a considerable time outside of class making additional cloud observations. Anna Esquivias led the 6th grade class with 52 observations! Ella Douglas (22) and Meredith Jones-Cole (20 ) also came in before school and during breaks to help increase the total data Allendale Columbia contributed to this project. A great job done by all!
Students also celebrated International Education Week November 18th-22nd. The week was dedicated to celebrating the benefits of international education and exchanges worldwide. It is a joint initiative of the US Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a globally interconnected world and encourage the development of global leaders. AC celebrated the week by conducting a Kahoot! cultural trivia contest in the middle school and upper school. There was also a middle and upper school international photo contest. Our Lower School students participated by bringing in photos of their international or domestic travels. Photos are displayed on the Global Engagement bulletin boards in each division.
In December, a month known for holiday celebrations and excitement leading up to a well-earned break, AC student musicians did their part to spread joy with performances in two Winter Concerts, caroling at the Genesee Valley Club, performances at the AC Holiday Book Fair at Barnes & Noble and, of course, to complete the circuit, the Holiday Breakfast.
Mark your calendars for upcoming concerts and musicals!
Director of the NASA Langley Research Center, Clayton Turner, returned to campus to discuss the important role our 6th grade students play in on-going scientific studies and research. As a GLOBE school, AC students serve as citizen scientists reporting daily cloud observations to help researchers improve the interpretation of satellite readings, provide ground-based data on contrails, and help better calculate the rate of heat exchange in the atmosphere.
Mr. Turner encouraged students to follow their passions, ask questions, and do research THEIR way. “There are many ways to learn and many pathways to success. These different approaches are often how we make new discoveries. Find what YOU are passionate about and the way that fits YOU!”
AC Faculty Member Beth Guzzetta Recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science TeachingPosted on October 16th, 2019 by Amelia Fitzsimmons
AC faculty member, Beth Guzzetta, was presented with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) in October 2019. The PAEMST Award is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to K-12 teachers. Beth was one of four teachers selected from New York State to receive this honor. Nominations and awards were facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation, and a panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state and national levels.
“It is an extreme honor to receive the prestigious Presidential Award. I am grateful to those who have inspired me to pursue my passion for bringing creativity to the classroom. Receiving this award refuels my drive to instill the joy of learning within my students so they realize the impact they have on the local and global community, and continue their pursuit of knowledge. With this award comes the responsibility to share my experience with other educators so that they, too, may be inspired.”
Beth Guzzetta has been an educator for over 25 years, spending the last 19 years teaching at Allendale Columbia School. She currently teaches seventh-grade Life Science and sixth and eighth-grade mathematics. She also taught at DeSales High School in Geneva, NY and schools in Massachusetts and Florida.
Beth’s love for science helps her develop innovative projects on campus. She runs a maple sugaring project, a honeybee apiary, and a trout project. After school and in the summer, she runs science camps to excite and engage younger scientists.
Global connections and scientific research are areas that she enjoys sharing with her students through domestic and international trips. These experiences have brought her and her students to Madagascar for biodiversity and archaeology research, the Florida Keys for marine biology research, and Camp Pathfinder in Canada and the Adirondack Mountains for outdoor education.
Beth’s leadership among educators has led her to conduct annual presentations at the National Science Teachers Association National Conference since 2012 and presentations at the Science Teachers Association of NY. She is also a National Geographic Certified Educator.
Beth has a B.A. in mathematics from St. John Fisher College and a M.Ed. from Curry College. She is certified in secondary mathematics and elementary education.
A crucial part of any successful middle school experience is a positive transition from Lower School. Beginning anything new can be anxiety provoking for newbie middle school students, and unfortunately, a positive mind-set is challenging for our budding middle school students. They often are consumed with questions and fears around homework, bathroom locations, lockers, new teachers, and new expectations before the year even begins. Without a thoughtful and supportive transition experience, these fears will extend beyond the “honeymoon” period of middle school.
For students at Allendale Columbia, our focus has always been around 3 key points when it comes to welcoming and supporting our new 6th graders:
- Help our students develop a realistic and pragmatic expectation of what middle school will be like
- Provide a positive and successful first impression of their peers, schedule, school community, and teachers to support their role as decision makers and community builders
- Ensure a successful introduction to the middle school experience from day one, through meaningful and targeted coursework to support their unique perspective
The schedule and program of the entire 6th grade year is built around the concept of this transition, as we believe it extends far beyond the first few weeks of school.
Here are some programmatic pieces specific to the AC 6th grade experience:
Research shows that Middle School students benefit from specific and targeted opportunities to learn about self-advocacy. The days of study halls in which students sit passively awaiting the end of the period are over, and we are pushing to create opportunities for students and teachers to actively engage together to help students better understand both themselves as learners and the content they are learning about.
Given this, Allendale Columbia has created a year-long block of time called “Advocacy” for our 6th grade students. It is targeted time during the school day when students have access to teachers and advisors for help. Managed by our Upper and Middle School Learning Advocate, Seth Hopkins, 6th grade students have advocacy anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes at the end of each day with their teachers. This includes opportunities to access our shared Middle School and Upper School writing lab, as well as connect with teachers from whom they need help. Middle School students are supported to be actively engaged in managing their time and will work in their advisories to build the organizational and advocacy skills to help them manage this time effectively.
The theme of the 6th grade year in advisory is ”independence.” Middle School is a perfect time to introduce topics of independence as students transition from Lower School to Middle School. Advisory is more than just a time during the day where a 6th grader meets with a group of fellow 6th graders and an advisor. At AC, advisory is a mindset. It’s a group where a student can take risks questioning things, expressing themselves, and pushing back on things at are confusing or troubling. Self-advocacy, accountability, and individuality are key parts of the 6th grade advisory program, and faculty advisors support these themes among a small cohort of students.
Advisory also aims to provide all 6th grade students with an adult advocate who thinks about them holistically. An advisor serves as both their “home base” teacher helping them navigate the logistics of Middle School, as well as an academic and personal advisor who actively teaches self-advocacy, executive functioning, and communication skills. Advisors are also a 411 service for parents. Parents can call their child’s advisor for anything, and often an advisor is a great first phone call or email if parents have questions or concerns regarding anything school related.
What Middle School Values
Taught by our Upper and Middle School learning advocate, Seth Hopkins, this course is taken by every 6th grader in the fall semester. What Middle School Values asks 6th graders to explore Allendale Columbia’s Core Values as they work to understand and individualize the Middle School context. During the time in the class, each student will increase their understanding of themselves as an individual learner and identify and tailor learning strategies that promote their own success. Here, 6th graders explore the importance of resilience and curiosity as they leverage their individual and collective creativity in solving Middle School problems at the individual and community level. Building on the sense of community, they participate in activities and conversations that deepen the robust connections they have already made with their classmates, as well as begin to build these relationships with new classmates just starting out at AC. Through selected readings from Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and using George Doran’s S.M.A.R.T criteria, 6th graders gain a sense of ownership and power throughout their transition, easing their anxiety.
One of the goals of our 6th grade program is to develop students who are digitally literate and able to navigate within digital environments using various devices, while also evaluating, managing, and communicating information efficiently and ethically. In this course, students engage in a variety of projects, both collaborative and individual, which are designed to promote growth in the areas known as the 5 Cs: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Citizenship and Personal Growth. In a safe environment, 6th graders become adept Chromebook users as they experience the powerful possibilities of the digital world while learning the ethics and responsibilities necessary to find success in any discipline. This course, taken in the fall of their 6th grade year, helps to build a solid foundation of digital confidence, while honing in on clear expectations around technology usage and ethical decision making.
Although not a programmatic piece, one of the most important times of the day can be one of the most stressful. For new 6th graders, knowing where to sit, what to talk about, and the culture of sitting down for a meal can cause great anxiety. Fortunately, AC lunches are more about community and sharing than just a quick break of eating before the next class.
As a middle school, students are assigned seats with a faculty member at every table, which rotates throughout the year. It’s not uncommon to hear lunch room banter from table to table about their favorite movies, yesterday’s sports events, music, and even themed table trivia contests. With the spirit of inclusion, 6th grade students feel part of the community from the very first day, and lunch becomes a time to relax, eat, and celebrate a morning of hard work.
Tina DuverAt Allendale Columbia, Tina serves as the Head of Middle School. She has taught Science and Leadership at AC for over 20 years. She also served as Assistant Head of the Middle School and Dean of Students. Tina earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She brings her natural curiosity, energy, and excitement to education. Tina is also a die-hard Red Sox fan.