It’s been a busy week here at the middle school! The highlight was Monday when we spent the day up at Mt. Rainier with Dr. Claire Todd, a glaciologist and professor at Pacific Lutheran University. We met Dr. Todd up at Paradise and hiked up to a spot where we had a beautiful view of the Nisqually Glacier on the mountain. There we talked about how glaciers grow in the winter and shrink in the summer, made a bunch of observations about how and where they pick up rocks as they move, learned a bunch of new vocabulary, and noted the difference between peaks that had been shaped by glaciers like the mountain and the peaks 180 degrees from the mountain that haven’t and are therefore still very jagged. After eating lunch at the visitor’s center, we drove down to an access point where we could hike down to the Nisqually River. Here we found evidence that the glaciers on Mt. Rainier were once much, much larger and noted the effects of river flooding on the landscape. It was an amazing day, and really this is exactly why your kids are at Seabury. This would not be possible at other schools! In the coming weeks, we’ll meet with Dr. Todd again at PLU and hear her lecture about how the Washington landscape has been shaped by glaciers.
One of the things that we’re pretty proud of at the middle school is that we use the resources in our community as supplements to our program. This not only allows our students to form a greater connection to their community (something that’s important for middle schoolers), but also broadens the resources that are available to them.
We use the Tacoma Public Library a lot throughout the year for research, students’ personal reading, and extension activities in Social Studies and Science. This week, we were lucky enough to get a tour of the library from the Teen Librarian at the Tacoma Public Library. Ms. Holloway showed the middle schoolers how to work the library’s catalog system and narrow their search to find what they need, went over the myriad of resources available online, and gave us a tour of the Northwest Room and some of the unique features of the library. For example, did you know that they have a time capsule of human hair that will (hopefully) be opened in the year 3000? That way, civilization in the year 3000 will have a genetic record of us.
This week, we were also able to go to the Lower School campus to use their newly created Makers’ Space! This is an area filled with odds and ends that students can tinker with and put together. Makers’ spaces encourage engineering, creativity, and spacial awareness. We had students create miniature zip-lines, futuristic looking vehicles, and some beautifully decorated flower pots. Middle schoolers are also allowed to use basic tools, and it turns out we have some stealth woodworkers in the group!
We’re incredibly lucky that Dr. Claire Todd, a glaciologist from the Geosciences department at PLU, has agreed to work with us over the course of this semester. We’ll be heading up to Mt. Rainier in a couple weeks to talk to her about glacier basics– how they form, how they move, etc. This will be the first in a series of talks with her about glaciers and how they’ve shaped the Washington landscape. Super excited about this. More info soon!
As a part of our PNW Earth Sciences unit this semester, we’ve also been tracking the world’s daily earthquakes over 4.7 and marking them on a map. We’re using this website: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/ The hope is that after doing this for a month or so, we’ll be able to see the Ring of Fire and other major fault systems. On a normal day, there are usually around a dozen 4.7 or greater earthquakes to map. But because of the 8.3 earthquake in Chile and all its aftershocks, yesterday there were over 50 to map!
This was our first full week for the school year, and it was a busy one! We started Math groups. Mr. G is taking Algebra and Geometry students, and Caitlin is taking everyone else. Caitlin made a nifty comic book-style expectations sheet for Math this year:
Today was also the first lesson from Ms. Head, our new Art teacher. The subject was how photography changed Art and the world, and today’s lesson was on realist art before photography. Cool stuff!
And we’re back from camp! What a trip! When we first arrived on Wednesday, students learned about all of the energy that goes into growing, producing, shipping, and cooking their food and why it’s important not to waste food. This continued throughout the trip, with students trying to get “zero ort (scraps of food)” at each meal. The middle schoolers met that challenge head on, and we had several cabins that had zero food waste during the week!
One of the primary reasons we go to camp at the beginning of the school year is so we can build a healthy community between students and teachers, and so students can work on problem solving together. Because of this, we had students complete many team-building activities together, where they worked on communication, grit, and cooperation. It was so interesting seeing their different solutions to the challenges they were given!
Students also got to participate in traditional camp activities like archery, the ever popular Gaga Ball, boating, and arts and crafts. We also were able to go on a night walk with the Camp Colman counselors, where we learned about nocturnal night life, experienced echo-location, and watched a beautiful sunset over the Sound. We ended the week with a lesson on Pacific Northwest Geography, and a couple rounds of “Jedi Tag”. It was a great week!
We were sharing photos throughout the week on Instagram, so be sure to check out @seaburyschool to see more photos!
Also, look for more photos on the blog this week! (Your blogger was having some technical difficulties at press time)
It’s been a fantastic first week! We’ve been settling in to our temporary home at Urban Grace, while getting started with several Math activities and a couple engineering challenges. Students have had two PE and two French sessions as well.
The picture is of the engineering challenge we did the first day of school. Students were given 15 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, three large marshmallows and a length of string and asked to build the tallest structure they could. This got the students thinking creatively and also served as an ice breaker. There were several cool strategies, including building a kind of trestle using triangles like in the photo. Our winning height was 24.5″!
Next week we’ll be starting PE at the Y and Math groups before heading to Camp Colman for a few days for outdoor ed activities and high ropes courses!
Last Wednesday, we hosted our very first Capstone Symposium!
This year, eighth grade students worked hard on their Capstone projects. They picked a topic that they found interesting, wrote and researched papers on that topic, and then developed a long-term project. On Wednesday, they presented their hard work to friends, family, and the greater Seabury community. For their presentations, they were asked to reflect on what they had learned through the process.
Here are the Capstone projects that students did this year:
An avid artist, A.A. researched the importance of public art, and worked on designing and painting a mural at the end of Court C. She had to submit a design and artist’s statement into Spaceworks Tacoma, and was granted a space in which to paint her mural! Her final design was based on a woman who, while growing up, reflects on the way her city has changed.
B.S.’s project was based around learning graphic design, and creating an open-source website for the images he created. He is interested in graphic design, and learned about design elements, Photoshop, and web design during his Capstone project. You can check out his website here:
C.H. has been an athlete for his whole life, and so wanted to base his project on athletics. Because social change can also be seen in professional sports, he researched athletes who broke down social barriers in order to play professionally and who had an effect on the civil rights movement. He also learned the elements of Photoshop to create informational posters, which he put on a blog. You can see them here:
L.B. is interested in both geography and teaching, so he thought he would combine the two for his project. He worked with Seabury teachers to develop a geography curriculum, and then taught it to classes at our lower school Campus. During the process, he learned a lot about lesson pacing, classroom management, and curriculum development.
M.B. has been making jewelry since she was young, so she incorporated that passion into her Capstone project. She undertook a complex research project that looked at the history of marketing and fashion, and how they affect our society today. She then filmed and edited a video where she explains how to create a piece of jewelry. She submitted the video in a contest on instructables.com, and won! You can see it here:
A.W. researched solar power. He looked at how it works, the pros and cons of solar energy, and what makes it better than energy from fossil fuels. Likewise, he interviewed experts in the solar energy field and looked at how miniature solar power generators can help people who don’t have access to consistent power.
A.G. is an avid musician, singer, and songwriter. She wanted to use her talents to create an EP, so she researched the process, wrote two original songs, and, with the help of Mr. G, recorded them along with two covers. During the process, she learned a lot about songwriting, and the technical aspects of recording music.
Z.K. wants to be a doctor when she grows up. In order to get a good sense of what that entails, she interviewed several doctors on their experiences. She also researched important medical professionals throughout history including Virginia Apgar, and Ivan Pavlov. She wanted to also volunteer in a hospital but unfortunately, there were age restrictions. She’ll be continuing her project next year as well!
We are so proud of all of the hard work that the eighth graders did this year! Their Capstone projects required a lot of research, insight, and creativity, and they all did a fantastic job!
The students had a chance to work with artists from Tacoma Youth Theater the last few weeks. They performed improv and short scenes from famous plays. Everyone had a chance to participate in the many elements that make up the theatrical arts.