It sure has been a crazy start to the maple sugaring year! The weather was up and down, but never up or down long enough to get the sap moving, so we put off tapping but the students were getting antsy. They finally convinced Mrs. Guzzetta to tap one tree to monitor the week before February break.
Needless to say, we barely collected any sap that week, but the weather forecast for break was drastically different and we knew that we were in for a good week so we tapped a few more. Once the vacation week began, the weather got balmy, and the sap started flowing fast and furious. Two eighth grade club leaders came in one day to help tap more trees for a total of about thirty taps. A third club leader, a veteran of three years, was a big help as he came in twice, once with his cousins, to collect the sap that was flowing.
Even with their help, Mrs. Guzzetta was kept busy collecting once or twice a day in order to stay on top of the flow as it appeared that the season was going to be short. By the end of the week we had about 80 gallons in storage and another 15 or so lost to accidental spills or ants.
When the students came back from break, their collecting started back up on a more regular basis. A couple of students were able to help out during their Citizen Science project time as their project pertained to our maple sugaring project, and others stopped in to collect when they could. One of Mrs. Guzzetta’s sixth grade advisees organized the other advisees and collected during advocacy. During this time, the students had their first encounter with a sugar hungry chipmunk who was found patiently sitting in a bucket of sap waiting for the students to rescue him.
Mike Wheeler, whose son is a leader in the maple sugaring club, coordinated with Mrs. Guzzetta and happily volunteered his time, resources, and knowledge to work with some of the club members to build a sugar shack. He oversaw the club members as they sawed, drilled, hammered, and constructed their very first sugar shack that they will reconstruct each year during the sugaring season. This is a huge upgrade from their pop up shelter with no walls that provided minimal protection from the elements. More on this exciting project coming soon.
Posted in: Highlights, Kid Kudos, Middle School
This March, Allendale Columbia became a certified GLOBE* school. This is an international science and education program that provides access to participate in science experiments and projects to better understand the the global environment. Sixth grade students in Mrs. Parsons’s science class collected soil samples and measured the moisture content for NASA this spring. NASA launched its SMAP satellite in January 2015 to measure soil moisture to improve weather and climate prediction models, as well as better understand processes linking water, carbon, and energy cycles. The students’ data is used to calibrate and validate the measurements being taken from space.
* The acronym GLOBE stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment. GLOBE is jointly sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of State.
Posted in: Middle School, Sixth Grade
In a culminating event, young Allendale Columbia School students “stretched their wings” with programming drone aerial navigation as part of an Elementary S.T.E.M. PBL Unit. Project-Based Learning (PBL) entails a collaborative learning experience as students work in teams on long-term, multidisciplinary projects that are structured around real-world, relevant, and probing questions. Collaboratively facilitated by their S.T.E.M. and homeroom teachers, fourth and fifth grade students at Allendale Columbia School have been participating in this joint PBL Unit since the beginning of the school year.
This was an amazing teaching and learning experience for everyone, and we invite you to peruse the steps along our PBL journey as portrayed in the images below…
Posted in: Fifth Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School
seventh annual “Through the Student Lens” exhibition. Fourteen area high schools are participating in the show, having submitted a portfolio of ten photographs each. Alena Ragan, Brandon Medina, Caroline Mealey, Misha Zain, Laurie King, Caleb du Plessis, Alivia Martin, Zitong Jin, Alyssa Broberg, and Phelan Conheady’s prints will be displayed in the gallery through April 17th.
Posted in: Highlights, Kid Kudos
For a following Project-Based Learning (PBL) unit of study, student teams of four began extensive research to identify a specific global problem to solve as active participants in the 2016 DuPont Challenge.
Revisiting their learning about wind power, one team of students discovered how dangerous wind turbines are for wildlife since it is estimated that wind turbines are responsible for the deaths of 500,000 birds and bats each year. As a result of their findings, the students identified their PBL driving question:
Is it possible to harness the wind without hurting wildlife?
Next, students brainstormed some initial ideas on how to solve for this real world issue:
After brainstorming some possible solutions, students researched the feasibility and implications of the specific ideas they came up with. However, the team soon found out…
Instead of giving up on solving for this real world problem, the team of students persevered and researched other innovative ideas. Eventually the team stumbled upon an isolated image of a bladeless wind turbine which piqued their interest. With no references available on this intriguing image, the students dug deeper to uncover more information on the device, its creator, how it functions, etc. until finally identifying Vortex Bladeless, located in Madrid, as the start-up company behind this innovative technology.
Through further investigation, the students were also able to track down the direct contact information for one of the Co-CEOs of the company, David Suriol. The team eagerly emailed David and shared their strong interest in learning more about the Vortex Bladeless System. David responded almost immediately – and a new and exciting global partnership was formed!
With so many questions to ask, an initial Skype session was soon scheduled. Prior to the Skype meeting, the team prepared their specific list of questions for learning more about how the Vortex Bladeless System works, how the idea first developed, etc. Throughout the exciting Skype session, the team learned a lot about the system, how it efficiently functions while also being safe for wildlife, and how it is currently in final testing stages inside of actual wind tunnels.
Video covering product conception and development:
In addition, the students also learned that a company goal is to break into the U.S. marketplace. Learning about this particular company goal, the team voiced their strong interest in bringing this innovative technology to the Allendale Columbia School campus. In order to take the first step toward achieving this goal, the team scheduled a time to present their idea to the school’s Buildings and Grounds Committee. In preparation for this meeting, the students created a new presentation specifically for the committee, and on February 26th, the students pitched their idea on why AC should consider the installation of the Vortex Bladeless System on the school campus. The presentation was enthusiastically received by the committee, who requested that the students take the next step by scheduling and actually leading a second Skype session with David and the entire Buildings and Grounds Committee for the purpose of further investigating the students’ exciting proposal.
The students worked on developing a specific set of questions that were submitted to Co-CEO David Suriol prior to the next Skype session. Questions included requests for information on product specifications, shipping, installation, maintenance, and so on. The global Skype meeting, held on March 18th, was very informative and engaging for everyone involved. Plans are now in place to continue this real world, collaborative partnership with the Madrid-based company offering to provide a first generation, one-hundred watt Bladeless Vortex Wind Turbine to be installed on the AC school campus.
Working alongside the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the student team will be involved in all phases of installation, maintenance, data acquisition, and reporting back to Co-CEO David Suriol of Vortex Bladeless. Further development and implementation of this technology will continue to evolve throughout this exciting global partnership!
For the DuPont Challenge, students work in teams of four to choose a specific global problem to solve for. The team topics chosen this year include:
(1) developing the best way to plant milkweed for yielding optimal results in an attempt to help the drastically dwindling population of monarch butterflies;
(2) devising alternative ways to grow food with the shrinking availability of land coupled with an increasing global population;
(3) innovating a way to make wind turbines safer for wildlife (since it is estimated that wind turbines are responsible for the death of 500,000 birds and bats each year); and,
(4) investigating the feasibility of Allendale Columbia School going solar to reduce its carbon footprint.
Visit our LS STEM Spotlight to view all the 4th grade DuPont Challenge final project submissions in their entirety – you will be impressed with the collaborative, real world learning our young S.T.E.M. students continue to enthusiastically demonstrate!
Last of all, let’s wish all our student teams the best of luck with their DuPont Challenge 2016 project submissions!
Posted in: Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School
On December 6th, two teams of AC Middle School students competed at the Finger Lakes region FIRST LEGO League Championships, held in the Goergen Field House at the University of Rochester.
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade