AC Aces Robotics Team Featured as 13WHAM Bright Spot

Posted on January 24th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

13WHAM logo

Bright Spot: AC Aces

Channel 13 WHAM featured the AC Aces robotics team on their Bright Spot on January 23rd. The Aces placed second in the Excelsior District Finals, earned the Finalist Team Alliance Trophy, and was a finalist for the Promote Video Award.

(You can read more about the AC Aces in the blog post AC Aces Make Finals at Excelsior Championships by team member Matt Duver ’20.)

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Posted in: AC in the News, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Invent, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches

Tech Tip Tuesday: What song is that?

Posted on June 2nd, 2015 by klapa

Tech Tip Tuesday IconIt’s Tech Tip Tuesday! How often are you sitting somewhere and you hear a song, but you have no idea what it is and who sings it? For this week’s post, Tony Tepedino, AC’s Director of Curricular Technology, provides tips for how to identify the name and artist of songs you may hear while you’re out and about.

iOS 8 users can just ask Siri “What song is that?” and will get an answer pretty quickly. Sometimes Siri will even make a joke about not singing. There are quite a few apps that can do exactly the same thing. Shazam was the first and is still the most popular. It is also the app that powers Siri’s ability to recognize audio. SoundHound is another app that we would recommend. So, enjoy your music, but don’t sit wondering what you are listening to, find out! To read more about music/audio recognition apps click here.

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Posted in: Highlights

Maker Class Updates and the Recycling Project

Posted on April 7th, 2015 by Tony Tepedino

So far in Maker Class, AC Middle School students have been working on collaboration skills, completed a few creative design challenges, and started to design and re-purpose desks to be used by classes in the new Middle School space (aka the Scrum Room). I have been asking each student in class to reflect on their experiences and here a few thoughts they have shared with me…

“Working in groups was very difficult because everyone had different opinions on everything.”

“I feel like this class is a new experience for me. I liked taking apart the tables because I’ve never taken furniture apart before.”

“What surprised me is how many talents other people have and how good they are in a group.”

“Sketching ideas before starting was new for me because every time I would work on a project, I would start without sketching an idea of what I would want it to look like. I liked doing this because if you sketch an idea, you already know how to start the project.”

Next students will be working in small groups to create something using primarily recycled materials. This project will be displayed during the Earth Day celebration on April 22nd and possibly during Evening of the Arts, so the project needs to be completed by no later than April 21st.

Maker Class is a new elective for middle school students. During this class students will explore, through the use of hardware and software tools, how to make, design and fabricate. Students will use 21st Century skills in order to create, communicate, collaborate and think critically through all phases of the “maker” process.

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

Tech Tip Tuesday: What is a Google Doc?

Posted on April 7th, 2015 by klapa

Tech Tip Tuesday IconIf you have a Gmail account, you also have access to Google Apps. Google Apps are an amazing suite of web based productivity tools (think of having a version of Microsoft Office that you can get into using any device that can access the internet!).

Part of the suite, Google Docs is a word processing application very similar to Microsoft Word. There are some differences, the main one being that Google Docs automatically stores and saves everything in a place called Google Drive, a cloud/web based storage (check back for more info on this in a future post!). The real advantage of using Google Docs is that if your computer hard drive stopped working tomorrow, none of your files are actually stored on your hard drive. You’d be able to get access to your files simply by logging into your Gmail account on any internet ready device.

An expert in Curricular Technology, AC teacher Tony Tepedino is frequently asked questions about technology, digital footprints, and the internet.  If you have any questions about this or any of our tech tips, please contact Tony at

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Posted in: Highlights, Middle School

Tech Tip Tuesday: Secure Passwords

Posted on March 17th, 2015 by klapa

Tech Tip Tuesday IconIt’s Tech Tip Tuesday! For this week’s tip, we’d like to provide some helpful resources for creating passwords that will help you keep your online information secure.

Creating safe and secure passwords to use in online spaces is a huge concern for everyone. Your information is only as secure as the password that keeps it safe! Using an easy password for simplicity or because you will forget it is just a terrible excuse for not creating something Password Imagesecure. A good place to start is to avoid anything on this list, The 25 Most Popular Passwords of 2014, from Gizmodo. Creating a password that has a combination of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, punctuation, and numbers is the most effective way to protect yourself. Avoid using your name, initials, phone numbers, birthdate, home address, and pretty much anything else that is publicly searchable about you. Hackers are wise to all of the more common tricks that people have used. The article Four Methods to Create a Secure Password You’ll Actually Remember by Lifehacker does a good job of giving some simple tips for password creation and some things to avoid. Just remember, the information you put in online spaces is always going to be susceptible to being hacked, but you can protect yourself!

An expert in Curricular Technology, AC teacher Tony Tepedino is frequently asked questions about technology, digital footprints, and the internet.  If you have any questions about creating a good password or any of our tech tips, please contact Tony at

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Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School

Introducing Tech Tip Tuesday: How to Back Up Your Photos

Posted on February 10th, 2015 by klapa

Tech Tip Tuesday IconMost of us at AC spend a lot of time working with technology, and we want to bring some helpful tips, tricks, and shortcuts we use to you!  Today we’re introducing a new post series: Tech Tip Tuesday!  An expert in Curricular Technology, AC teacher Tony Tepedino is frequently asked questions about technology, digital footprints, and the internet. Check back every Tuesday for another Tech Tip!

Today’s Tech Tip: How to Back Up Your Photos

Eduora Welty said, “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”  This is of course true as long as you don’t lose your photos!

One of the most common questions I get from people is: “What is the best way to back up my photos?” There are quite a few options you can choose from, and not backing up your photos at all is not a good one! Digital photos are great, but if they’re only stored in one location, a hard drive failure can destroy years of irreplaceable images and wonderful memories. Here are some options for backing up your photos:

  1. An External Hard Drive – External drives have become very cost-effective. All you have to do is plug it into your computer and drag the photos to the hard drive. Many hard drives come with software that will do automated backups, so all you have to do is set it up and plug it in. If you are an Apple user, you have an amazing backup system already built into your operating system; it’s called Time Machine. After you set it up the first time, it makes incremental backups of your entire hard drive each time you plug your phone, notebook, or camera in.
  2. Cloud Storage – There are a ton of Cloud options to choose from: Dropbox,, Google Drive, Mozy, Carbonite…the list is extensive. The prices for all of these will vary, but each option is pretty reasonable. A few of them like Dropbox,, and Google Drive will offer a limited amount of free storage, and all of these options are accessible from any device or computer with internet access. The nice part about Cloud Storage is you don’t have to worry about hard drive failure. They are safe. This post on shares some good information about different options using Cloud Storage.
  3. Photo Sharing Services – This is my favorite option, and Flickr is my #1 choice. Flickr now gives all users 1 Terabyte (TB) of storage for free! The iOS app makes it even easier to upload images directly to Flickr. Photo sharing services give you options to upload pictures that can be public or private, and some sites even have basic editing features. There are several options when it comes to photo sharing and storage services. This post by The does a great job of breaking down the different providers in this category.

The bottom line, BACK UP your photos before it’s too late!

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

Game and Animation Programming in S.T.E.M. Class – Beginning in 1st Grade

Posted on January 15th, 2015 by ssorrentino

This year, our 1st grade S.T.E.M. students at Allendale Columbia School have been developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by programming floor robots to navigate a tournament field mat, complete with obstacles and constraints, and strategizing, testing, re-testing, and documenting their programming. Building on the success of this real world, S.T.E.M. learning experience, we decided to move on to teaching game and animation programming using the newly released iPad app: ScratchJr.

This new app encourages very young children to program their own interactive games and stories using graphical programming blocks. It is a collaborative effort between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lifelong Kindergarten Research Group, the Tufts University’s Developmental Technologies Team, and the technology startup, Playful Invention Company. ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language our 4th grade S.T.E.M. students have become quite proficient at.

Tufts University professor Marina Umaschi Bers has stated that, “As young children code with ScratchJr, they develop design and problem-solving skills that are foundational for later academic success, and by using math and language in a meaningful context, they develop early-childhood numeracy and literacy.”

Our young S.T.E.M. students are learning programming concepts for adding and changing backgrounds and characters, transmitting and receiving information from one character to another for triggering actions, creating and modifying characters in the paint editor to make their characters come to life, along with learning the differences between programming repeat and forever loops, and more!

Equally exciting, our 4th grade S.T.E.M. students who are experienced in Scratch programming (for older children), will be our “Visiting Guest Experts” for field-testing the 1st grade final programming projects!

As the program developers at MIT like to say, “Children don’t just learn to code, they code to learn!”



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Posted in: First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School

5th and 11th Graders Collaborate on Multidisciplinary S.T.R.E.A.M. Project

Posted on December 17th, 2014 by klapa

This week, our fifth graders completed their individual, design-oriented projects that they created with their eleventh grade partners. Fifth graders were allowed to choose any material and format to create a winter decoration or object. They began the process by brainstorming with their eleventh grade partners, drawing ideas and making lists.

Through the process, the students learned how electrical circuits worked by including batteries, conductive thread, and colored LEDs to allow their pieces to light up. The project required design, science, technology, engineering, and math skills.

A large group of AC educators were involved in helping the fifth graders realize their respective visions, including the Upper School S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) collaborative group leaders Lori Kimbrough Wun, Jeff Lawlis, Artie Cruz, Kelsey Lisi, and Brent Neeley. Also advising students were fifth grade teachers Randy Northrup and Stephanie DePaul-Pragel, Lower School S.T.E.M. teachers Donna Chabak and Sue Sorrentino, and art teachers Mallory Gregor and Amy Oliveri. Design tools that the students employed for their projects included design applications and 3D printing, a Cameo Silhouette printer, hand-constructed patterns and fabric, and sculpture.

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Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, Upper School