First graders have been working on their fairy houses in The Outdoor Learning Center busily since school started this year. Kindergarten, First and Second grade students all have fairy houses. It’s becoming a fairy village!
This ongoing project affords rich educational opportunities for these young students.
Imaginative play, self-directed skill building, sharing spaces and cooperation, engineering and construction, are just some examples. Plus, Ms. Emily is always sure to include science as part of the exploration.
These fairy house may seem like all play . . . but much is being learned in the process!
E-STEAM is an acronym for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, art AND agriculture and math.
For many years, we have worked diligently to make our curriculum and campus a true E-STEAM environment. We teach students that the science, math, and technology skills that are essential for becoming 21st Century citizens are deeply integrated within the activities of entrepreneurship and agriculture, as well as language, music, and visual arts.
Our philosophy of education is built upon the idea that young learners need to be exposed to a broad array of rich learning experiences. As students move into high school and beyond, they will begin to specialize in more specific interests.
However, it will be the early broad-based education that assures the well-rounded, future-ready leaders and citizens who are the foundation of a healthy, productive, creative and sustainable Community of Learners.
An incredible team of educators brings this approach to our students on a daily basis, providing these young learners with the tools they need to succeed.
First grade students at The Learning Center Charter School have recently spent time exploring forces, motion and balance as part of their science curriculum. They have experimented with all the ways force can make objects speed up, slow down or change direction. They have even explored how some forces like magnetism and gravity can act over long distances.
Science teacher, Emily Willey, helped students learn these complex science concepts in a multitude of ways. She has assisted students to make balance butterflies to learn about cantilevered forces, manipulate scales to learn about balance, experiment with leverage by changing the position of weights and more. Willey commented, “Each day I walk into the classroom, students are eager to explain an experience they had of an object moving or not when they applied a force to it. It’s so gratifying to see the excitement over the fact that they know that if they push down on an object and it doesn’t move, that there must also be an upward force acting on it!”
Students finished the unit by making a fun mobile with three to four legs. Students balanced a wooden mobile with different amounts of modeling clay to make the mobile able to spin and balance on a bottle lid. Students were quick to further explore where they could balance their mobiles . . . from their noses to their toes!
“I’ve been a science teacher for many, many years and this is the most exciting project we’ve ever done because the students were in love with creating a toy that could be in motion,” said Willey.
Third graders have been busy learning about heat transfer, conductors and insulators. Here they are seen working through different stations to learn about these science concepts.
First graders recently learned that they would be building fairy houses in The Outdoor Learning Center as part of their science studies. After locating forest resources and ideal locations they created the beginnings of unique homes in the local trees.
Students will be working on this project for several weeks as they troubleshoot building techniques, learn how to use basic tools for secure construction, explore design principles – including incorporation of the golden ratio in their design, and try out some sustainable building techniques such as building out of clay or cob.
First graders have been learning about trees. Part of their studies has included leaf rubbings as a means to learn about tree identification. The fact that these students got to be in The Outdoor Learning Center and our own forest setting made the lesson even more meaningful!
Taking note of the unique colors each species turn in the fall was fun. Sassafras was a favorite because the tree has three different leaf types.
You might remember that these industrious students spent time in The Outdoor Learning Center last year building fairy houses. Science teacher, Ms. Emily, gets all of her students outside as much as possible because the forest is an extension of her classroom.
As students built these fairy house last year, they learned about the native flora and fauna found on our campus. They also learned about construction, design and trial and error!
They’ve recently been checking on their fairy houses and deciding on repair, reconstruction or expansion ideas.
Being a Maker is what E-STEAM learning at TLC! is all about. We want all of our students to engage in the kind of hands-on learning that inspires natural curiosity and develops the skill to create and innovate. Each year for Halloween, we host Maker events that challenge and inspire the Maker spirit in our classrooms. This year students could enter the Monster Maker contest, several categories of costume contests and a pumpkin carving contest.
While the challenges were not mandatory, teachers had the opportunity to use them as Project Based Learning opportunities in the classroom. Students could work on these challenges at home, in groups, as individuals, or with their families. We strongly encouraged all students and teachers to participate in these challenges, and be part of creating a handmade, hands-on experience for our Community of Learners!
Students stretched their creative skills to the MAX to make monsters out of used materials! Upcycling means taking things we usually send to the landfill and recycling them into wild, creative, and sometimes useful art. Anything you can find and repurpose was allowed in this contest!
The pumpkin carving contest was back this year too!
The costume contest categories included traditional, Maker Challenge Yearly Theme of the 1980’s, upcycled costumes, and group themed costumes.
Fun was had by all!
First graders have been taking advantage of the wonderful Autumn weather to take their science studies out into The Outdoor Learning Center.
Here they are seen observing motion and forces out in the woods and recording their findings in their journals.
Recently, students in seventh grade used what they have learned about genetics and biological inheritance to create fictional alien families. They used Punnett squares to create genotypes and correlating phenotypes for each alien. A Punnett square is a diagram that is used to predict an outcome of a particular cross or breeding experiment. The diagram is used by biologists to determine the probability of an offspring having a particular genotype.
Students tracked the passing of genetic traits with a pedigree and created back stories for their alien families.
They enjoyed applying science to a subject they were all very interested in learning about . . . aliens!