Second Graders Learn About Cities by Meeting with a City Planner and Building Their Own!

Posted on December 10th, 2019 by acsrochester
Learning about cities
As part of our project-based learning in Lower School, our second graders are learning about cities and what goes into designing and building one. Project-based learning is dependent upon the collaboration of several teachers and in-depth planning. Throughout this unit, the classroom teacher, Annie King, sought the expertise of our STEM teacher, Donna Chaback and our art teacher, Shari Ellmaker. They worked on concepts of engineering and the arts as they designed blueprints of their ideal city and then worked in teams to decide where certain businesses, landforms, and organizations should be located. Once they had a plan to propose, they presented their ideas to a mock city planning board comprised of Head of School, Mr. Gee, Head of Lower School Mrs. Feiss, Head of Middle School Mrs. Duver, Director of the AC Invent Center Ms. Crosby, and Director of Food Service Mrs. Reynolds.

 

Meeting with a Rochester City Planner to learn about transportation systems
After receiving feedback from the mock city planning board, the students were ready to design their own 3-D city. Public transportation was an issue the mock planning board raised, so the second grade students began their research in this area and quickly became experts learning about a variety of traditional and cutting edge transportation systems. They were captivated to learn about Elon Musk’s Hyperloop train as well as Sea Bubbles which are being tested in Paris, France. They also met 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.

 

“What about a homeless shelter?” turns into donating to RAIHN
Next, students wrote and sent emails to members of the AC community asking what is needed to make a community great. One response they got was about a homeless shelter and how shelters are an integral part of a community. Once the students learned this, a deep and meaningful class discussion took place, resulting in their decision to include a homeless shelter in Birchville. This conversation also moved them to want to take immediate action to help those affected by homelessness in the Rochester community, so they decided to sell the crock-pot applesauce they’d been making in their classroom each week. The sale generated $140 which the students then donated to RAIHN, a non-profit that assists homeless families to achieve sustainable independence by supporting them with shelter, food, personalized case management and a network of caring volunteers.

 

Community Art
The students decided early on that they wanted art to be a part of Birchville, so they took a field trip around Rochester viewing a variety of sculptures to help determine what they wanted in their own city.  Then, Art Teacher Mrs. Ellmaker helped them design a collaborative sculpture (called “Colorful Life”) which is located in the center of Birchville.
The formal “ribbon-cutting” of Birchville was held on Monday, December 9th. Click here to view the Spectrum News coverage of this event.
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Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Lower School, LS Birches, Second Grade, The Birches

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

3rd Graders Share Positive Messages Through Art, Music, Folk Tales

Posted on January 19th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Arielle Gillman 

Allendale Columbia’s third grade students just completed a Project Based Learning (PBL) unit based on the Driving Question: How can we create original art, music, and folk tales that share positive central messages with our community? They demonstrated their learning to their parents on Thursday night, January 18th, before the Winter Concert.

Why Giraffes Have Long NecksStudents started out choosing an animal from an African habitat and researching its characteristics. They read and analyzed folk tales, and from there, they imagined what kinds of stories their animal might participate in that would convey positive messages like kindness, compassion, helping others, gratitude, and so on. Each student then storyboarded ideas, wrote and rewrote drafts, and finally produced a book, a mask inspired by their main character, and a music motif performed on percussion instruments to share their messages.

Two of those stories, Elena’s Why Giraffe Have Long Necks and Eryn’s How the Parrot Got Its Intelligence were read and performed during the concert. During the performance, students either acted out original, student-choreographed movements, or played in the percussion section to make these Folktales come to life!  (more…)

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Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, LS Birches, Second Grade, The Birches, Third Grade