Design Thinking and Innovating Solutions in 1st Grade S.T.E.M. Class

Posted on March 18th, 2015 by ssorrentino

Our 1st Grade S.T.E.M. students at Allendale Columbia School have begun their unit on Physical Mechanisms. In this real world context, our young students build structures incorporating gears and pulley systems, learn how to solve for mechanical challenges, identify driver and follower gears, and develop teamwork and critical thinking skills. Students first learn the correct terminology of all the mechanical parts as well as how each part functions.


Throughout this hands-on unit of study, students investigate the effects of friction, energy, force, and speed along with developing design thinking skills including working with constraints and real world, “unexpected function change requests” for innovating solutions (viable prototypes) to the problems posed.

In addition to developing skills in collaboration and problem-solving, our students also experience project management, documentation, data collection, and reporting out results – just like real engineers.  More than learning ABOUT engineering, our young students are learning to BE engineers!

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Posted in: First Grade, Highlights, Lower School

Middle School Animal Behavior Club Visitor

Posted on October 25th, 2014 by bguzzetta

Ms. Rebecca Lohnes, the Animal Behavior and Training Manager at Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester, visited the Middle School Animal Behavior Club on October 20th.

The members of the club, which is led by seventh grade students Evelyn Van Arsdale and Riley Leibeck and supervised by Middle School math and science teacher Beth Guzzetta, have been exploring different animal behaviors and training techniques for various animals. The classroom pet degus have been great animals to learn about and experiment with, but the students were ready to move on to larger animals. They decided to reach out to Ms. Lohnes who willingly volunteered to come in and share her vast knowledge with the students.

Prior to working at Lollypop Farm, Ms. Lohnes received her bachelor’s degree at Yale University before earning her master’s degree at Cornell University.

Lema, Ms. Lohnes’ seven year old English Setter, was a perfect example of a highly trained canine. She performed many “tricks” that the students requested while Ms. Lohnes taught the students about animal behavior and training. The club members eagerly listened to Ms. Lohnes and practiced their commands with Lema and were excited to bring their knowledge home so they could train their own dogs. The students had many good questions and were curious about applying this knowledge to other animals, so Ms. Lohnes volunteered to come back and conduct a lesson on training cats, which the club is looking forward to in the near future.

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