Guest Teacher and SF Update

by Mrs. Nilsen on February 9th, 2013

Weekly Science News 2/4 - 2/8

With the random day off of school this past Monday due to the water issue, this week flew by!  Each class learned and practiced a new note taking strategy on Tuesday with texts for their current topics.  Wednesday was spent with our "Science Fair Check-in" (please see the update below!)

Thursday we had a extreme pleasure of hosting a guest speaker for the 6th graders studying the solar system.  The guest speaker is a dear friend of mine, Mr. Anderson, and he shared his Orrery - a super fancy, super cool model of the solar system - with us.  I felt it was such a wonderful experience that all three classes should have the privilege to see the presentation (even though that mean pausing our current studies in 7th and 8th grade.)  Let me put it this way...our students LOVED it!!  

Mr. Anderson is one of a few (maybe 6) people in the whole United States who is qualified to realign/fix compasses on the ships that sail the ocean.  Even though we have amazing digital technology like GPS and so much more, ships need to be equipped with other working navigation systems in case of loss of power.  Early in his life, Mr. Anderson began studying the stars.  His interests lead him to become an amateur astronomer alongside his specialized career working on navigational systems of ships.  His models are the result of lots of years of study, passion, and curiosity surrounding the world outside our Earth.  It was amazing to have him visit with our students!  

Here's what some of our students had to say in their thank you letters about the visit, what they learned, and why they think it's important:
. . . . . . 

"One thingthat I learned is that in Australia, when it is winter it's summer here." - Kayla C.

"I am really facinated by space because there is so many things to discover.  You coming here gave me an opportunity to learn. . . I know that one day I will get that model from England." - Hunter W.

"One of the other things that surprised me was that you could see about two thousand stars with your naked eye." - Dominic L.
"Thank you for coming to my school.  Your solar system was the best one I've ever seen." - Kimberly F.

"My favorite model was the eclipse model.  I've never seen a real eclipse so it was cool to see how it happens.  I was amazed that you made the models; I would never have the patience.  When I got home I looked at orrerys online." - Cassidy B.

"That you for that epic model of the solar system.  The eclipse was awesome!" - Isaac W.

"There is one last one that also stands out to me, that Mercury is hard to see from the Earth.  You have to be at the right place at the right time.  This was very amazing to me because that would be so hard to get to the right place at the right time.  I wonder how they figured that out?" - Mattie M.
"I never knew that all the planets could all line up together.  I thought that was so fascinating.  But only for a little bit because Mercury rotates so fast.  I also never knew that there are 11 planets!" - Evan R.

"My birthday is on June 21st (the Summer Solstice) and I enjoyed learning that on my birthday it's 24 hrs. of sunlight at the North Pole and 24 hrs. of darkness at the South Pole.." - Linden F.

"I even learned a lot of things.  I learned that Saturn has about 30-40 moons and that scientists keep on discovering more moos around Jupiter.  I didn't even know there were two more dwarf planets called Ceres and Eris."  - Litzy R.
"I learned that the earth is tilted at a twenty-three point five degree angle.  I also learned that from the earth the sun and the moon look the same size, that's why solar eclipses happen." - Nathan P.

"I found lots of interest in how the scientist have found 2 more planets.  I find it cool because we did not know about it at first, then we found it. . .The last think I found lots of interest in is that the moon by Uranus is over it.  I think that is very unique compared to the other planets in our solar system." - Hunter E.

"I was amazed at how much you know about the solar system.  You teaching us really furthered my knowledge of the solar system." - Jonathan A.
"I like learning the other two dwarf planets - Ceres and Eris.  I also thought it was cool that you got into the solar system in the third grade.  That was the year I got into the solar system, but I didn't have the solar system above my desk.  I didn't  think about the "line" around the earth separating day and night." - Preston H.

"A few things that I didn't know know before were...that when it is summer, Earth isn't really closer to the sun.  Also that the nearest star is 26,806,230,720,00 miles away, and finally that your Orrery took about 100 hours to build.  (You must be really patient.)  I hope that someday I will be as driven to something as you were to the solar system." - Kaitlyn B.

"It was nice to see something different.  I mean, usually it's a movie or something, but this time it was a model.  I never thought about how small we are compared to everything else.  It's interesting knowing how HUGE everything else is." - Nathan B.

"I am literally blown out of my mind by how many miles it is to the nearest star!" - Jarrett

"Those things were freaking flamazing (amazing with a MRA twist)!  Especially the one that showed when we would have a solar eclipse." - Ben N.

"I've always had an interest in space, and planets, and I've always enjoyed learning new things.  I thought that the seasons were caused by the Earth being closer to the sun and I didn't know that the Earth is closest to the sun during our winter.  I definitely didn't know that the closest star was over 4 light-years away.  I was surprised by that." - Ian N.

Science Fair Update

Every Wednesday from here until the Science Fair is going to be a check-in day.

This past Wednesday (2/6) students needed to have one more source (for a total of two sources) and a paragraph evaluating each of them.

Students also needed to have the following pages of notes in their Logbook:
6th - 1 more page for a total of 4 pages
7th - 2 more pages for a total of 8 pages
8th - 3 more pages for a total of 12 pages

"Notes" can be in any format in their Logbook (listing, concept webs, venn diagrams, illustrated outlines, etc).  If a student is doing the experimental project, it can be steps that they are taking, records, measurements, or any other "notes" that are in line with their project.


This coming Wednesday (2/13) students need to have one more source (for a total of five sources) and a paragraph evaluating each of them.

Students will also need to have the following pages of notes in their Logbook:
6th - 1 more page for a total of 5 pages
7th - 2 more pages for a total of 10 pages
8th - 3 more pages for a total of 15 pages

Next week is the LAST WEEK that this pattern will continue, as other due dates are coming up (see below.)  During class on Wednesdays, students need to have all of their Science Fair materials with them in class.  They have the class as an independent work period (and must be working the entire time) while I take time to meet with each and every student about how their project is going.  It takes time, but it's important that I know how their project is progressing and how I can help them if they are struggling.  As each project is different, that individual meeting time is greatly beneficial.  It also gives students a little class time in which to work on their projects.  Students can plan ahead as the expectations will be the same for the next few weeks.  

Important Due Dates:

Rough Draft of Research Paper (6/7/8) - Due Feb. 20th
Final Draft of Research Paper (6/7/8) - Due Feb. 27th
Rough Draft of Speech (6/7/8) - Due Mar. 6th
Final Draft of Speech (6/7/8) - Due Mar. 13th
Exhibit (8) - Due Mar. 13th
Exhibit (6/7) - Due Mar. 19th
Logbook (6/7/8) - Due Mar. 20th

Science Fair - March 20th from 9 - 11 am in Gym

*Note: There are rubrics for each of these assignments above that go into great detail of how to do them and how to do them well.  Students have copies of them, but extra copies can also be found on Engrade under these assignments.  

If you have more questions or are confused about expectations for the Science Fair, please see my past post (Science we come!) as it goes into great detail about the different parts of the project.  

It's going to be an awesome fair!  Still a ways away, and I'm already giddy!  Keep up the good work students!  I appreciate how seriously you are taking this task.  It is a sign of your growing up and taking responsibility for your own learning.  I'm proud of you already for trying your best.  


Monday February 11th

Tuesday February 12th
  • Subway Lunch orders due no later than 3:00 p.m. (later orders will not be accepted) – Please pay separate from your pizza order and only 1 week at a time.
  • Homework Club 3-4 PM
Wednesday February 13th
  • Pizza orders and money due no later than 1:30 p.m. (late orders will not be accepted) Please pay separate from your subway order.
  • 3:15 AM Booster Meeting in the Teacher Lounge!
  • Early Release-1:00 PM
Thursday February 14th
  • Valentines Day!
  • 3:30 PM Auction Meeting
Friday February 15th
  • Pizza Lunch
  • Dress Down Friday
  • Homework Club 3-4 PM
  • Senior Dance 6:00 to 8:00 PM in the MRA Gym (I'll be there!!  :)  )

Future Dates:
February 21st  - 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. MRA Open House for new families
February 22nd - All School Dance 7:00 to 9:00 PM
March 4th 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. - MRA Open House for new families
March 15th - Deadline for new applications
March 20th - Science Fair and end of 2nd Trimester
March 21st - Spring Break begins
April 9th - Public Lottery

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