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Saturday, March 14, 2015

STEM-TASTIC!

Rainforest "growing" for PS-Kinder Habitat Study
Things have been truly STEM-TASTIC in Think Tank recently. Each class is delving deeper into exciting topics ranging from habitats to electricity, ecosystems to environmental engineering! In an effort to update all on what's happening, I'll provide a little synopsis of each grade level with a few pictures.

Before you continue though...
                                                  APRIL 28, 2015 from 6:00-7:45pm
                                                                 Maury Elementary
                                                           1250 Constitution Ave NE
                                                              Washington, DC 20002
The 4th Annual Think Tank and STEM Expo is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever! ( You can even buy Expo Swag ahead of time to support our program funding! Take a look HERE!) Stay tuned for more details in the coming week and get excited by perusing pictures from last year's event. If you are interested in volunteering at the event or representing as an exhibitor, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at vanessa.ford@dc.gov .

Kinders explore "pushing" with air and straws
 PreSchool-Kindergarten: Our youngest students are building their very own rainforest in my classroom! Preschool and PK are focusing on the parts of the rainforest and the the animals and plants that call the Rainforest home, while our Kindergartens are extending that learning to looking at the way humans are impacting this important habitat. Stop by the Think Tank room to see our rainforest grow!

 1st Grade:  These young scientists have just finished learning all about light-- what it goes through, what blocks it, how it moves and what it's used for. They have built inventions that change light and collaborated to solve problems using only a flashlight and mirrors! They are on to study sound next... a study where being LOUD is encouraged! They will love it! 1st grade will also continue their partnership with The Anacostia Watershed Society as part of their Junior Rice Rangers program.






2nd Grade: Ms. Bomba and I collaborated to create a study around solids and liquids that was meant to end in beautiful ice sculptures. As with many endeavors, they don't always work out as planned, so we learned lessons 
(like ensure a long cold snap before starting a unit) but we all, students included, reveled in the lessons we learned from failure! These students will help us figure out a better way to complete this unit next year and now we have moved on to looking how how solids and liquids interact with each other. Come see their experiments hanging outside Think Tank!


Measuring liquid for the experiment.
3rd Grade: Environmental Engineering is the focus as our 3rd graders take on saving "Greentown", a fictional town where the frogs and plants are dying. This is one of my favorite Engineering is Elementary units! They have been tasked with determining the cause, testing the pH of soil and water samples and making recommendations to the mayor for what needs to be done. They will then use this knowledge and apply it to real-life concerns around oil spills and other environmental disasters. 3rd grade students were also visited on Friday, February 7th by Rep. Paul Tonko ( D-NY) who, with his staff and members from the Boston Museum of Science, worked alongside our budding engineers to solve the problem You can see the write-up about their visit here http://eie.org/news/us-rep-tonko-engineers-better-future or http://legacy.mos.org/nctl/news_article.php?r=6220 . 3rd graders also just started their wonderful partnership with The Anacostia Watershed Society for their Rice Rangers program. Students have planted native rice in their classrooms, will grow it over the next month and then transplant the plants into the wetlands surrounding the Anacostia!


4th Grade: Electricity and other forms of energy are the big focus right now! These students are exploring circuits, switches and energy transfer in a hands-on way! They are combining their knowledge of other forms of energy ( kenetic, sound and light) with electricity and will be creating inventions that use and transfer more than one kind at a time! Stay tuned!
Completing a performance assessment- fix the broken circuit!

5th Grade:  In a collaboration with Mr. Ludes, students have explored the three main interconnected domains of ecosystems ( decomposers, consumers and producers) and are looking at what is needed to keep balance within them. They will apply this to an environmental engineering challenge and then shortly after, switch their focus to chemical and physical changes. Our eldest students are now only $1200 away from reaching their total goal of going to Space Camp!! They have worked so hard on this project. Thank you for all your support! If you know of anyone interested in providing support, they can still do so by going to www.mauryelementary.com/spacecamp  
On a final note, two days ago I had the honor of talking on a small panel with the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at The National Science Teachers Association 2015 National Conference. Thank you to NSTA and The US Department of Education for the invitation. It was wonderful to share my passion for STEM with the Secretary and the many teachers who attended the session. I shared just how important it is that we, as a country, make STEM education a priority at ALL levels for ALL students! 


 Until Next Time,
Mrs. Ford

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