Fifth graders have been learning about the different states of matter — solid, liquid and gas. Ms. Jay read the book “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” by Dr. Seuss pausing at the creation of oobleck. She then told them that they were going to create their own oobleck from cornstarch and water. The students had a blast and learned that oobleck is a “non-Newtonian” substance similar to magma.
Recently, eighth grade students have explored ecosystems near and far. They have focused their studies on Yellowstone and Great Smoky Mountain National Parks. In addition to the science of ecosystems where they learned of species extinction and reintroduction, they have also been taking a look at the politics and leadership roles within our National Park system. Seen here, students held a mock public debate between “US wildlife officials” and concerned citizens.
Fifth grade students were recently given the challenge of building a tower to display a 3D printed plastic skull in their classroom. It had to be 24 inches tall and hold the skull for 30 seconds without collapsing. Students were given 10 straws and 50 index cards to do the project. By designing, testing, and redesigning, students built impressive display structures and thoroughly enjoyed the project.
Second graders at The Learning Center Charter School engineer, build, test, design and troubleshoot every day. Why? Because STEM education extends to every student at the school no matter the age.
Second grade teacher, Stephanie Hopper, engages her 7 and 8 year old students with STEM projects regularly. This fall she will have her students build pumpkin wagons, design scarecrows with specific construction standards that the students must meet, and engineer “turkey hideouts” to avoid the Thanksgiving table. The activities are seasonal but also fit squarely into the school’s STEM approach to education.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Our school takes it a step further by including entrepreneurship, arts and agriculture – E-STEAM.
Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director, says, “Cultivating an E-STEAM culture is the guiding philosophy for our school and within that we offer an amazing array of learning opportunities for our students – each and every student from kindergarten through eighth grade.”
The STEM activities that Hopper integrates into her everyday lessons are a prime example of that approach. “My students plan, design, engineer, test, and reconstruct each and every day. It’s just what we do.” Hopper adds that no student is too young to be introduced and challenged by this approach. “I’m always encouraging them to expand and improve upon a design. I ask how they can make it better, wider, taller, or hold more weight. The students always rise to the challenge too,” said Hopper.
On August 24, 2018, the entire middle school student body of The Learning Center Charter School traveled to Pacesetters Adventures for a day of experiential learning, team building and confidence boosting.
The Learning Center’s middle school students are divided into six multi-grade CREW groups. Each CREW meets several times a week throughout the school year and are designed to build relationships and a sense of community. CREW allows students to have a safe place with peers to share both triumphs and defeats. CREW encourages peer facilitation wherein students take active leadership roles and teachers serve as moderators rather than leaders of the groups.
Pacesetters Adventures is a 44 acre campus located along the Valley River in Andrews, NC. The facility has a 60 foot climbing tower as part of its Adventure Course as well as a giant swing, a 200 yard driving range, putting green, multipurpose building, as well as fishing, camping and assorted gear for use on any sort of adventure.
While student CREWS were at Pacesetters Adventures, they worked on games that required teamwork and good communication to complete. Simple items like 2×4 lumber, ropes and tarps made for excellent challenge builders and provided the students hours of fun.
Charter school teacher, Jess Stephens said, “Our CREW concept is based on the idea that we are all in the same boat. We work together like a crew of a ship.” She added, “The staff at Pacesetters Adventures not only provided a great adventure for our middle school students, but also the basis to work like the crews we set out to be.”
Check out the awesome sampling of electives offered to fifth through eighth grade students this semester!
ARTrageous: Drama students will be putting on The Learning Center’s 3rd Annual ARTrageous event this semester. This year we will be presenting drama and art focusing on the 50th anniversary of the NC Arts Program. The Drama will be centered on culture from North Carolina and writers from the state. The students will take our annual field trip to Young Harris College’s Children’s Theatre Production, play LOTS of games, laugh a great amount, and learn the basics of drama. This is not a prerequisite for the Spring Musical, anyone interested is welcome! Instructors: Ryan Bender, Judy Coleman
Aquaponics: The original system, in the pit, is up and running. The fish tank has about 350 fish of varying sizes; anywhere from 1” to 4” in length. If you’ve walked by the system lately, you will have seen the system is operating as it should and many plants are growing quite well.
At the end of last year we were ready to expand and move into a new area near the black shed. A number of interesting developments have occurred over the summer, and we now have the opportunity to expand even more. Therefore we will focus a majority of our efforts on designing and building a new system. In addition, we will continue to monitor and maintain the existing system. Instructor: Bill Coleman
Campus Creativity: This elective will have students working outdoors around campus to add creativity in different places. Projects include creating some simple outdoor science centers, helping in gardens, labeling plants/trees along the trails, and more. (Limit: 10 students) Instructor: Kathleen Shook
Furniture Flip: In the furniture flip elective, we will be taking old donated furniture pieces and creating new usable pieces to sell. As we create these new pieces, we will learn proper safety and use of power tools. Students in this elective will be required to have safety glasses as well as old clothes for painting. Since we will be using power tools, this group must be well behaved and self motivated. (Limit: 8 students) Instructor: Shelley Dockery
Muggle Quidditch: Quidditch is back this fall! Have you ever wanted to join the world of Harry Potter? Would you like to play 5 sports and one time? If so, then this elective is for you. The elective will involve rigorous physical activity while on a broom. Students in this elective must be able to follow directions and safety protocol. We will take enough kids to have 2 teams that will eventually compete against each other. Muggles are you ready for the fierce battle ahead? (Limit: 20 students) Cost: $1 Instructors: Jessie Adams and Cheryl Catuto
Tech Ed: The Tech Ed course will be covering a diverse range of tech-based and engineering-based activities including the following: Making/Building, Engineering Basics, Repurposing old tech, 3D Printing, Coding, Sensors, Robotics, and whatever other crazy things we can come up with. Class usually involves research skills and discovery-based learning. It has the potential of involving local businesses and other cool stuff too. (Limit: 10 students) Cost $10 Instructor: Franklin Shook
Performance Choral Ensemble: Join Ms. G and Ms. Monica for a fun and energetic Performance Choral Ensemble. You will receive voice training in your choral part, learn
simple choreography, and learn to use rhythmic instruments. You will learn a variety of songs from popular music to traditional show tunes. You will have input in choosing songs. You will perform at school and have community performance opportunities.Instructor: Nancy Gardner & Monica Matthews
Personal Conditioning: We will focus on strength and condition training, setting personal fitness goals, enhancing specific skills and techniques and feeling confident in your physical abilities. Students can customize their own physical fitness plan to achieve their individualized goals. The overall idea is to maximize your overall potential. (Limit: 10 students) Instructor: Sean Bain
Beginning Quilting: In this elective you will learn how to use a sewing machine, the required tools needed to create a quilt, learn a brief history and the art of quilting. You will also be able to piece a creation of your choice. Students are also able to bring their own sewing machine to this elective. (Limit: 4 students) Cost: $5 plus Materials for your individual project;, shopping list will be given when project is determined. Instructor: Cheryl Kirby
As a kickoff to the school year, Ms. Jess, Eighth Grade Social Studies teacher, had her students put together a North Carolina puzzle. Her only instructions were to get it put together. They had to figure out how 18 8th grade kids were going to achieve this goal successfully. They put 550 pieces together in 175 minutes!!!
However, though the teamwork lesson was learned quickly, they are now looking up why these images on the puzzle are relevant to North Carolina.