AC Science Students Challenged with a Different Kind of Midterm

Posted on January 24th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Maya Crosby

It’s midterm week at Allendale Columbia School, but around here you will see a different kind of test. End-of-semester exams measure Upper School science students’ understanding of concepts through more authentic, challenge-based assessments.

As a part of his analytical chemistry final, sophomore Spencer Dworkin determines the type of chemical reaction occurring in the test tube.

In Analytical Chemistry, a required science course, students take part of their exam in the lab, discovering the identity of an unknown. They answer questions about each reaction, focusing on “why did this reaction occur” and “what does it mean?”. In Forensics, they take on a case-based challenge, trying to understand the nature of a crime using clues provided to them and the tools in the lab. Using this kind of assessment requires much more work on the part of faculty than a traditional multiple-choice exam. However, it’s worth the extra effort in terms of the quality of the learning that the students can demonstrate and the lasting understanding that a student takes with them after the course. (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

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.


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

2nd Grade S.T.E.M. Students Learn Engineering Design Process

Posted on September 23rd, 2014 by ssorrentino


Our 2nd grade S.T.E.M. students at Allendale Columbia School are learning all about the Engineering Design Process – well before their grade-level Engineering and Robotics unit of study. Second grade teacher, Jennifer Truong, approached us about teaming together with the grade-level teachers and students to implement homeroom Tinker Labs throughout the school year.

From the start, this exciting collaboration has been an enjoyable and engaging experience for students and teachers alike. Engineers use a methodology called the Engineering Design Process when receiving a request or challenge to innovate a solution or improve upon a product.

We first introduced our students to Design Planning, Proof of Concept, and Prototype Development in several ways. One context that proved very meaningful was viewing the video of Bill Gates’ Ice Bucket Challenge. In his video, Gates shares highlights of these important engineering processes to develop his own method for fulfilling this challenge.

We also demonstrated a robotics model that was re-engineered (for better problem-solving) by our summer Middle School S.T.E.M. students, providing a Proof of Concept for prototype development. Before unveiling the proof of concept model, our young students enthusiastically suggested their own ideas – providing very similar solutions! Early learning activities thus far have included: a paper airplane lab in which students test and then modify (re-engineer) original, standardized paper airplanes to fly further by testing/retesting, measuring, recording, and redesigning within specific constraints, etc. Students then moved on to repeating similar challenges, designing and testing their own gliders, twirlers, and stomp rockets.

Our young engineers are doing a great job building their 21st century skills!

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Posted in: Lower School, Second Grade

Building 21st Century Skills with LEGO EV3 Robotics

Posted on August 4th, 2014 by ssorrentino

Session 6 of our Summer Camp S.T.E.M. Program at Allendale Columbia School was composed of an enthusiastic class of highly engaged learners.

During this session students worked on building their 21st century skills in precise logical thinking, using data to inform their decisions, and developing analytical problem-solving skills while developing solutions within their respective teams of two. These essential skills are critical in all forms of problem-solving, not just robotics. 

Our summer campers demonstrated some of the best teamwork we have seen yet as they collaboratively applied their critical and creative thinking to solve the high-level challenges they were posed throughout their entire camp week!

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Posted in: Highlights

Young Elementary Engineers Collaborate in S.T.E.M. Camp

Posted on July 27th, 2014 by ssorrentino

After being provided whole-class mini-lessons as well as their own, individual robotics components to work with, a vast majority of our very young S.T.E.M. students chose to collaborate, in teams of two or more, to combine their robotic structures and computer programs!

We enthusiastically taught high-level programming concepts by the second day of camp and students specifically requested to be taught how to program multiple motors, sensors, gear trains, and pulley systems to work with the combined models the campers designed, built, and programmed together.

This was truly a S.T.E.M. educator’s dream – especially in light of the fact that many of the campers had just met for the first time during this week of camp at Allendale Columbia School. Way to go, future engineers in the making!

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Posted in: Highlights

Eight Middle School Students Competed at Local Engineering Competition on March 15th

Posted on March 19th, 2014 by cdixon

On March 15th, eight Allendale Columbia middle school students competed in the local TEAMS competition sponsored by the Monroe Professional Engineer Society at Monroe Community College. The TEAMS program is an annual STEM competition challenging middle and high school students to work collaboratively and apply their math and science knowledge in practical, creative ways to solve real everyday engineering challenges. Working in a team, students completed 40 multiple choice questions in 60-minutes, as well as completed short essays explaining their ideas of engineering solutions based on scenarios presented to them that day.

Based on the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges, this year’s competition theme is “Engineering Tomorrow’s Cities – Improving Urban Infrastructure.” These one-day competitions are taking place at over one hundred locations nationwide between February 10 and March 22, 2014. Involving more than 10,000 students, schools and groups compete vying for competition day, division, and state rankings and awards.IMG_0910[1]

AC’s middle school team: J.T. Coupal, James Bourtis, Danielle Fuller, Aditi Seshadri, Anjana Seshadri, Gio Marino, James Morrell, and Rotsirohawi Galban scored thirty-five out of forty  possible points, earning top honors at this year’s local competition. This score, along with their short answer responses will be sent on to the state level to be judged and considered for national recognition.

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

Rising AC Architects!

Posted on December 11th, 2013 by bguzzetta

“When would I ever use this math?” is a frequent question in some math classes, but not Mrs. Guzzetta’s Math 8 classroom. Her students have been very busy learning about and reinforcing the concepts of ratios, scales, percentages, trigonometric functions, Pythagorean Theorem, area and perimeter relationships, slope, statistics, and more during the first few months of school. Upon entering the class in September, students were put in the role of architects as they developed and planned a summer camp.

During the initial planning stages, students analyzed the landscape to design the best zoo enclosure for the space provided while taking into consideration cost, aesthetics, and functionality. This enabled them to develop a better understanding of the relationship between area and perimeter. Once this concept was better understood, students delved into the task of designing a cabin that could house ten campers and one counselor and included a bathroom. Careful analysis was displayed as students tried to win the bid from the camp directors. Last Friday, the budding architects presented their plans to a “board of directors” from the camp to determine which architecture firm would receive the bid. Students used their Google Docs to assist in their presentations, which also included scale models with two roof options and three-dimensional models made on their iPads using the game Minecraft. Lots of STREAM every day!

Math 8 students never wonder when they will be applying the math that they are learning. It is applied every day to various areas. With the closing of the architect unit, students have become secret agents and are learning about coding. Stay tuned to learn what fun math concepts have been incorporated into the coding unit. As Caesar would say, “pdwk lv dzhvrph!” Just ask a Math 8 student!

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School

An Asset to Allendale Columbia and the Region, Amy Bonner Oliveri is a Teacher of the Future.

Posted on November 10th, 2013 by kvella

Allendale Columbia School art teacher and Rochester Institute of Technology alumna, Amy Bonner Oliveri received the David M. Pynchon Chair in the Arts.  Awarded every five years to a member of the Allendale Columbia School art faculty, the David M. Pynchon Chair in the Arts  was established to recognize excellence in teaching, service to the School, commitment to students, respect of colleagues, performance or artistic standards, and scholarship.

In 1989 the Board of Trustees of Allendale Columbia School established the School’s fourth of our current six endowed faculty chairs, the David M. Pynchon Chair in the Arts.  In this way, the School honored a recently deceased headmaster whose commitment to quality in the profession of teaching, and leadership in supporting the disciplines of art, theater and music will be an enduring legacy.  Pam Vogel was honored with the initial appointment, and subsequent recipients who all still teach full time at AC, have been Lisa Barnes, appointed in 1994, Randy Northrup in 1999, Lori Wun in 2004, and Gabriel Costanzo in 2008.

According to Mick Gee, Head of School, “Amy is a young teacher who has already made an enormous impact on our school since arriving at AC four years ago.”

Amy’s formal qualifications include a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Illustration and a Master of Science for Teachers in Visual Arts Education, both from Rochester Institute of Technology. She also has valuable experience as a graphic designer and she is an avid blogger at: At the annual faculty dinner hosted by the Board of Trustees, Mick Gee celebrated her commitment to developing “minds that are curious and creative,” one of the four core values of Allendale Columbia.  “She draws on her expertise and experience to create courses and projects for her students that challenge and strengthen their ability to create and design. Most importantly, Amy puts students at the center of everything that she does at AC. Amy has boundless energy and enthusiasm for working with students in and out of class. She is committed to developing programs that serve their needs, often at the expense of her own. This is apparent in the quality of her students’ work, which fills the walls, halls, and monitors of the entire school.”

When asked what the award means to her, Amy added, “I was really surprised.  Having the opportunity to work with the individuals who have received this in the past is a privilege.  The fact that we are such a close-knit community allows us to work collaboratively.  Randy’s work on the Lower School play each year is inspirational. The concerts that the music department put on display hours of practice and developed talent.  I feel lucky to work with Lori everyday; I get to create a curriculum with her for our students that really reflects current art practices.”   Amy added that she likes to make connections for the students, “Right now I am working on a design thinking project with 3-D students.  It is a process that Stanford has developed.  We are having students use that model and develop a chair prototype made from cardboard. It is important to bring contemporary artwork and art makers together to make connections for our students. . . And, when one of my students took apart a miniature grand piano, it reminded me of an Instragram artist that I had shared with the class, so I showed her more about the artist.  Showing students contemporary artwork and making these kind of connections really helps them to understand that they are making real and authentic artwork.”

Mick Gee recently shared this reflection about Amy’s significant contributions to the AC community: “She is forward-thinking, knowledgeable about the great changes that are taking place in education, and very committed to the school’s vision. Amy consistently demonstrates her desire to improve her own teaching and our entire program through positive action. Amy has injected new enthusiasm and purpose into our professional development program. Additionally, her entrepreneurial spirit and design expertise have enabled AC to push ahead in the fields of art, design, social media, and mobile website design.  Amy Oliveri is truly a teacher of the future. AC is fortunate to have her here in the present. Please join me again in congratulating Amy.”

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Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School