Science Updates can now be found on our new blog, too!

by Mrs. Nilsen on March 26th, 2012

Hey Science parents!  As mentioned in the first blog post below, it's spring break, and I've been wanting to create a way for you to be able to search back through updates I send home to make information easier to find.  I will be starting to put the weekly news updates I send home as an email on this blog as well.  I’m new to blogs, but I’m sure some of our students can help me (or you) out as we get used to the layout and format.  Let’s each do our part to keep up mutual, collaborative communication.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Also, I'm putting these into categories.  You should be able to seach for science or homeroom news depending on which you would like to view.  Happy day!

Updates before the creation of this blog:

March 21 - additional resources and a semi brief update

Good afternoon parents,

I know that I sent home some additional resources in the Science newsletter a while ago, but another teacher forwarded me this website as a resource for students who what to learn more about the topics we covered (or didn’t cover) this week with our Endocrine System and Sex-ed talks.  Feel free to preview this site and if you find it useful and or appropriate, you could show your son or daughter.  There’s information for “teens” and “parents” as well that gets increasingly more detailed depending on where your student’s knowledge and maturity level.

I know with the boy/girl split today, we girls didn’t have time to really cover what happens to boys at this stage of life, so some of the girls still have questions about that.  I meant to cover a bit of it, but they had so many other questions that were about their own bodies that we stayed there.

Thus far this week I’ve been really impressed with students’ maturity and openness with each other and the topics discussed.  The 8s have had the vast majority of the sex-ed content, the 7s have had a little, and the 6s just a taste with mostly covering the Endocrine and hormone system in general.  As with mentioned in the newsletter I sent home, contraceptives and other more mature topics were ONLY discussed with 8th graders and even then with the idea that, “Students Today Are NOT Ready for Sex.”  We connected it to the study of the brain and how their frontal cortex is not finished developing until their early 20s, that life-long decisions, or decisions that have life-long consequences shouldn’t be made until they are ready and that frontal cortex is fully formed.

We even dispelled the myth today that most high school students are having sex.  The resource I have from the Oregon state department of education say that only about 30% of high schoolers are having sex for the first time before age 17.  This really surprised our students!  We’ve talked about why we thought otherwise, the messages in the media, movies, songs, and social pressures.  It’s been a fascinating discussion that I truly hope continues on at home.

Each day I’ve encouraged students to talk with their parents about our topics at school.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that has NOT happened, but know that I have been strongly encouraging it for future discussion and questions they have.  If parents are not comfortable (or if the student is uncomfortable talking to parents) they may always speak to a counselor, which I also encouraged them to do.

It’s really been a great experience working with students this week.  I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to watch students grow and mature even through discussion “uncomfortable” topics.  They were wonderful.

Emily Nilsen

3/12 - 3/16 Science Weekly News

Good afternoon parents!

It’s Friday already again.  It’ happens so quickly.  Especially when there’s a snow day to throw off our week.  I hope your student enjoyed their day off.  The snow was beautiful!

March 12 – March 16
We were quite busy this week as well.  Starting this week, our students dove into the expectations and guidelines of our 1st annual MRA Science Fair!  I spent all week (and will still spend a few more days in the future) covering and teaching about the expectations of this big independent project coming up.  Throughout the grades here at MRA, all students do “independent projects.”  It’s something the Littles, Middles, and Juniors are growing up with.  When they reach the Seniors, it will be part of their understanding of MRA culture.  For some of our Seniors, this may be their first experience with an independent project, so we will all have to work together in supporting them in this endeavor.  I specifically designed the project to also set the 6 and 7s up for success with their 8th grade project for next year, providing the building blocks and a sample structure for a project such as this.

The Science Fair itself will be on May 2nd.  As an Arts and Sciences focused school, I’m really excited to be a part in making this event a reality for us.  But be prepared, it may not look exactly like your “typical science fair.”

Students are allowed to choose between two options for their project.  Each project will have four elements (1. Logbook – we started working on it THIS WEEK; 2. Research Paper; 3. Exhibit; and 4. Presentation) that your student can tell you more about in great detail as we spent all our time this week together learning about the different parts and what they will look like.  We worked on it a little at a time so it wouldn’t be overwhelming to students.  I will also be giving students the rubrics for which each of the 4 parts will be graded so that they know all expectations long before the final project is due.  Each student is working on a proposal this weekend to turn into me on Monday.  If you would like to see more information, feel free to log onto engrade as I am attaching all of the papers/assignments/expectations I’ve given out to the correlating assignments on there.  There are also extra copies of everything available to all students on the “science shelf” in my room.

Shoof!  I told you there was a lot from this week.  Students are excited, though, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) approving a lot of projects next week so that students can begin working on them in greater depth and detail.  Good luck supporting your student with this BIG project.  It’s going to be great!

ODS:  I hope each of you had the time to read through Mr. Fanning’s email about Outdoor School.  Perhaps it offered some insight into some of the concerns you might have been having, or just helped you get as pumped as I am for this exciting event coming up in our students’ lives. 

Next Week: Our Study of the Endocrine System!  Students will be rotating by grade level for this week only (as fully explained in the Science newsletter I sent out at the beginning of February).  This will allow for very intentional differentiation and content distribution among the students.  It should make for some great topics to bring up with your students.

As always, if you have any questions/concerns/warm fuzzies/musings/etc, feel free to send them my way.  Have a great weekend!

Emily Nilsen

3/5 - 3/9 Science Weekly News

Good afternoon everyone!

As I mentioned in my earlier message, I’m starting just a quick blurb about what’s happening in Science class. (I’ll send another message for my homeroom.)  It is my hope that these news updates will help you be more informed and spur more mutual communication directly between us.  Let the exciting news commence!

March 3 – March 9
What a week!  We just finished up our intensive study of the nervous system.  After all of our studying, guest speakers, dissections, videos, and field trips, students used a rubric and put their own brains to work creating a test for fellow classmates.  The test was due on Wednesday but I had a 1/3 of our Seniors turn it in early!  If there’s a sure fire way to get a science teacher to do a happy dance, this must be it!  On Thursday students swapped tests for a fun celebration of our knowledge.  They even tried eating brain….you’ll have to ask how it was!  I thought it was delicious.

ODS: I’m starting to get really excited for Outdoor School!!  (If you never received the newsletter in which ODS is explained, please let me know.  I can get you another copy.)  I worked for NWRESD (North West Regional Educational School District) last spring as a field instructor and it was one of the best teaching experiences of my life.  My fellow staff members were professional, passionate people who loved what they were doing.  On site there will be 4 qualified field instructors who teach the students about the life sciences, 4 qualified staff members who are in charge of the social structure of the program, a site supervisor and a registered nurse.  These adults will work with the Senior Team teachers (Mrs. Nilsen, Mr. Oldham, Mr. Workentin, and Ms. Erickson) and the high school volunteers to facilitate a wonderful, educational, fun, outdoor learning experience.  Plus, there’s campfire - sitting around together singing a combination of silly and serious songs…need I say more?  I can’t wait!

Planner and Due dates: Permission slips for ODS are due back to MRA Wednesday, March 14th.  The date should be marked in your students planner.  I encourage all parents to check their student’s planner every night.  My science students write down their learning goal and homework daily. Checking their planner is a great way to see what homework is due, what we learned in class, and ideas for conversation starters with your pre-teenager.

Keep your eyes open for more fundraising for the Seniors coming up!  We’ll also be sending home more ODS forms and such over next week.  (what to pack/not pack, etc.)

May your world be filled with questions, wonder, and awe about the natural world around us.  Take care,
Emily Nilsen

Friday, March 9th

Dear Parents,

It has come to my attention that there are some miscommunications about some of the happenings with the Seniors.  As always, if you have concerns, questions, thoughts, ideas, comments, successes, challenges, etc. that involve your child, our school, and/or their learning, I implore you to engage in mutual communication with myself and the other Senior teachers directly.  I love talking with parents about their child.  Students are my life, my passion, my daily highs and lows.  As my husband fondly says, I “eat, sleep, and breathe teaching.” There’s no other place I’d rather be.

To aid in this mutual process of communication, I will be starting a weekly news blurb to be emailed/engraded home at the end of every week (printed copies can be sent home by request).  It won’t be anything fancy, just a short message to say what we’ve been focusing on during the week and any special announcements that need to be conveyed.

I look forward to continually improving our mutual communication with each other.  As always, it is a pleasure to work for and with you, our students, and our community.

Emily Nilsen

Posted in Science Updates    Tagged with Resources, Science fair, Outdoor school, Planners, Fundraising


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