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

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

Discovery, Collaboration, and Community in the 2018 May Term

Posted on June 1st, 2018 by Allendale Columbia 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
  • Nicaragua
  • 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
  • Ableism
  • 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.

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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

First Graders Seek to Save Amazon Rainforest

Posted on May 4th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Annie King and Stephanie Williford

As part of a Project Based Learning (PBL) unit focusing on the Amazon Rainforest, Allendale Columbia’s first graders continued their research on the rich biodiversity of this amazing natural resource. We have been studying the rainforest and its creatures all year long and have discovered many troubling facts about the 28,000 species that live there.

This information gave us the idea to begin our campaign to raise $1,200 so that we can adopt 30 acres of land in the Amazon Rainforest — the same size as our Allendale campus! Allendale Columbia’s 1st grade Rainforest Rescuers launched their own GoFundMe page with the hopes of raising $1,200 for the Amazon Aid Foundation. After just 4 hours, they had raised $555, and they have already surpassed their goal! This group’s love and passion for the Amazon Rainforest is truly making an impact on our world.

Our 1st graders are truly experts about many of the animals in this area. We Skyped with Sarah DuPont, the president of Amazon Aid Foundation. The first graders worked hard to come up with thoughtful questions for Sarah, and she was impressed with their commitment to saving the Amazon Rainforest. Sarah was also able to teach us much about the challenges facing the Amazon Rainforest and the crucial work her organization is doing.

In math, we continued working on measurement this week by practicing drawing lines and crafting bookmarks to spread the word about the plight of the Amazon Rainforest. The bookmarks will be going on sale soon so stay tuned!

Next Thursday, May 10th, the first graders will be performing a puppet show they wrote based on the book The Great Kapok Tree by Lynn Cherry, and they will be singing a song they wrote based on nursery rhyme titled The Rainforest Grows All Around.
Kristin Cocquyt

Ann King

After pursing her passion for teaching, Ann became a long-term substitute at Allendale Columbia before beginning to teach first grade full-time at AC. Prior to beginning her teaching career, Ann was in the financial industry as an Assistant Vice President, Financial Analyst, and Corporate Trainer at two different regional banks. Ann earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from Penn State College and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Roberts Wesleyan College.
Kristin Cocquyt

Stephanie Williford

Stephanie joined Allendale Columbia in the fall of 2012. She holds an associate's degree with a concentration in Psychology, a bachelor's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Inclusive Education, as well as Quad-Inclusive Teacher Certification for grades 1-9. Prior to coming to AC, Stephanie served as a kindergarten teacher at Children's Creative Learning Center and supervised the Child Care and Preschool Summer Fun Camp at Pittsford Recreation Center.
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Posted in: Entrepreneurship, First Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Lower School, Uncategorized

AC Senior’s Medical Neural Network Research Wins Regional and State Science Fair Awards

Posted on March 23rd, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Rui “Tony” Zhou 

I participated in the Terra Rochester-Finger Lakes Regional Science & Engineering Fair last Sunday and the New York State Science and Engineering Fair at New York Hall of Science last Monday. It was an extremely rewarding experience not just because I won many awards.

My project involves creating a Deep Convolutional Neural Network that detects and analyzes lung nodules in CT scans, that is, using the lasted Artificial Intelligence techniques for Computer-Aided Diagnosis. I started this project last summer, at a lab in Tsinghua University, the top-ranked university in China. Then I continued with this project though AC’s Science Writing and Research Class. Currently, I’m still adjusting and optimizing the neural network structure in an effort to create a system that can better assist doctors and radiologists. The fundamental motivation for me in doing this research lies in its hope to fight against regionalized healthcare because this is a system that is applicable to most CT scanners throughout the world. We hope to bring more accurate diagnosis, and, thus, reduce the misdiagnosis rates while increase the earliness of lung cancer diagnosis.

Despite the excitement of doing two science fairs in 48 hours, it was an eye-opening experience to meet and talk with other young researchers, and I was kindled by their passions and how they are striving to improve the world we live in though their own efforts.

 

Kristin Cocquyt

Rui Zhou

Rui, or Tony, as he is known around school, is a senior from Jiangsu, China, who has enjoyed the numerous STEM opportunities at AC. While he's waiting for his college decisions, he's sure he will be majoring in computer science next year.
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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Student Scientists Explore Caves (Not Quite Live)

Posted on March 16th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Teresa Parsons

Did you know that 175 minerals are found in limestone caves? Did you know a troglobite in an animal that spends its entire life in a cave? Most troglobites lack pigmentation and have small or no eyes at all! These are just some of the things Mrs. Guzzetta’s 7th grade life science and my 6th grade earth science class learned together by participating in CavesLIVE.

CavesLIVE is a distance learning program made possible through many partnerships, including the National Forest Service, the USDA, and the National Parks Service. Students watched a 40 minute video allowing them to virtually visit different caves and learn from many different types of scientists the importance of caves. After, students were able to submit questions to a panel of scientists.

On Wednesday, March 14th, a panel of scientists presented a live webinar from Luray Caverns in Virginia to answer student questions. Some 6th grade students were able to join me during lunch, hoping to hear their questions answered. Risa Carlson, an archaeologist, answered Owen Palomaki’s question “What is the coolest part of a cave you explored?” with this response: 

“Many years ago I was called into a cave because two beautiful stone tools had been found on the floor of the cave passage. When I paused to set my light down on a ledge, I saw small pieces of charcoal right where I was going to put MY light. I realized that people long before me had chosethe same spot to rest their light while they explored the cave. I radiocarbon dated the charcoal and it was 3,300 years old!”

Students learned how important caves are in providing fresh drinking water, and that astrobiologists use cave environments to help understand how humans might one day visit Mars.

Kristin Cocquyt

Teresa Parsons

Teresa joined the Allendale Columbia team as a Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) teacher after spending 15 years in the engineering industry. She was a product engineer, then she transitioned into marketing and business development. As a business development manager, she created and provided product training, and it was in that role that she discovered her passion for teaching. Teresa earned a Master of Science Degree in Education from Nazareth College, and also holds two bachelor's degrees in Interdisciplinary Engineering/Management from Clarkson University and in Physics from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.
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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade

AC Team Gets 3rd in Regional Science Bowl

Posted on March 8th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

AC Middle School Science Bowl team.

The U.S. Department of Energy held its Western New York Regional Science Bowl Competition on March 3rd at St. Christopher’s School in Buffalo, New York. Allendale Columbia sent a team of Middle School students to participate for the 13th year in a row in this past-faced and intense academic competition. The National Science Bowl (NSB) is a science and math competition using a quiz bowl format with buzzers. The competition has been organized and sponsored by the United States Department of Energy since its inception in 1991.

(more…)

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, MS Birches, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, The Birches

Kindergarteners Present MLK, Oceans at Performance and Art Show

Posted on January 25th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School
Kindergarten students put on a small Ocean Performance and Art Show on Thursday, Januaary 25th. In the Curtis Performance Center, the children sang some ocean songs they were taught in music class with Lynn Grossman. They also sang a few songs inspired by their study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that they were taught by their Kindergarten teachers Amy Mealey and Barbie King, including a recitation of a portion of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the song “We Shall Overcome” with sign language (see the video below). Then the children took their parents on an ocean scavenger hunt to find all their wonderful ocean creature art projects from their Ocean Adventure Project Based Learning unit.
Kindergarten MLK/Oceans Collage
Additional photos and videos are available in this Google Photos Album.
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Posted in: Kindergarten, Lower School, LS Birches, The Birches