Calling All Makers for Our 5th Annual SCHOOL MAKER FAIRE March 12th

Last year’s School Maker Faire featured over 75 makers from across the community at The Learning Center Charter School.

The Learning Center Charter School is celebrating making of all kinds at their 5th annual School Maker Faire on Thursday, March 12 from 3:30 – 6:30.

Maker Faire, an official brand and trademark for this worldwide phenomenon, is a celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s a place to show what you’ve made and to share what you’ve learned with others.  Schools host Maker Faires because they are a perfect combination of part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. School Maker Faire exhibitors, or “makers,” are primarily students—either as individuals, clubs, classes or groups. And Maker Faire exhibits can be from any discipline — from science to art to gardening to engineering to craft.

Makers within the community are invited to have booths featuring their own unique Maker projects.

Additionally, there will be hands-on activities, demonstrations, and delicious food available for purchase.  Students in 4th-8th grade will be selling spaghetti dinner tickets  to raise funds for their respective class trips.

Ryan Bender, organizer for the School Maker Faire, said “People in our community are inherently curious and creative. Given the space and opportunity to build and create, they do and we invite you to come out to witness the awesome things they make!”

Bender added that having makers from the community sharing and interacting with the young people make the event truly special.

The Learning Center is an official host of the fifth annual School Maker Faire open to the Murphy area and is looking for Makers to join the festivities. The event will be held at the school on Thursday, March 12th, from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Visit www.naturallygrownkids.org/school-maker-faire to learn more and sign up to be part of this event.

High Tech Electives

Every semester, we present a different choice of electives to our 5th-8th grade students. Offerings can vary wildly, but our focus in electives is always to give students a place to apply the skills they are learning during the academic day in a fun way. 

Offerings have included Aquaponics, Pottery, Art & Design, Web Design, Drama & Theater Arts, Knitting and Crochet, Hiking, Forest Management, Puppetry, Primative Skills, Coding, Chess, Cooking, Robotics, Choral Singing and many more.

This semester we offer Coding as an elective. Beginners started with Scratch and more advanced coders began using Microbit/JavaScript. Students started with learning the language then creating cat art. Afterwards they moved on to creating a dinosaur dance party. The advanced students worked on programming a robot to walk around in a certain pattern.  

Students Use Technology Daily

Students at The Learning Center Charter School are no stranger to the use of state-of-the-art technology as part of their every day learning experiences.   The school has 3D printers in several classrooms, Smart Boards in every classroom, computers and laser printers available to every student, and more.

The school has cultivated an E-STEAM environment where students learn using a variety of methods, tools, and techniques.   E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts & agriculture, and math.

Head of school, Ryan Bender, said, “We use technology as part of our inquiry-based learning approach and have found that students gain a deeper understanding of a subject by means of experimentation with it.”

Bender pointed to a science class as an example of technology enhancing student learning.  “By giving our students access to technology and tools, we allow our students to “do” science instead of just “learn” science.”

For example, third grade students studied conduction, friction and heat transfer on January 20, 2020.  They conducted an experiment using infrared thermometers.  Students experimented on how the properties of different objects affect friction when rubbing with a cloth. Temperature was taken with the infrared thermometers and measured at different times through the course of the experiment.  Conduction, convection and radiation were all concepts that student learned as a result.

Bender added, “Using technology not only helps young students learn the skills required to operate the newest devices and latest software, but also allows them to research and solve problems in a collaborative and cooperative manner with their peers.”

Gingerbread Collaboration Between 5th Grade & Kindergarten

Back in December, fifth grade students worked with Kindergarten students to design and construct gingerbread houses. The classes joined forces for this fun engineering project and the collaborative effort was enjoyed by all.

Collaborative learning has been shown to not only develop higher-level thinking skills in students, but boost their confidence and self-esteem as well.

Plus, collaborative learning has been shown to:

  1. Enhance problem solving skills
  2. Inspire critical thinking
  3. Improve social interactions
  4. Support diversity
  5. Aid in the development of self-management skills
  6. Improve and develop oral communication skills
  7. Foster the development of interpersonal relationships

Clearly the students were building gingerbread houses. . . and so much more!

5th Grade Muddy Sneakers Trip to Hanging Dog Campground

You might recall that our fifth graders spend the year doing field work with Muddy Sneakers.

The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude.  Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.

Students spent the day at Hanging Dog Campground learning about Energy and Heat Transfer.  Students learned about heat transfer, insulators, and conductors, by testing the temperature of a rock in its original setting, then taking the rock and trying some different methods to warm the rock up and then testing the temperature again. 

They also created a habitat out of only natural and native materials to see who could create the warmest environment.  They tested their habitats by inserting a heated bottle of water and checked the temperature before inserting the water and at about 10 minutes after inserting the water.  They also got to sample some pine needle tea as they learned about conduction, convection, and radiation. 

Student Run Business – Coffee Cart

Did you know that there is a student run coffee cart open on Friday mornings?  This coffee cart business is part of a combined functional math and social studies focus.

On Friday mornings, students use a Keurig to brew coffee and hot chocolate from 7:30 – 8:30 am in the Dining Commons. Each cup is $1.00.  The proceeds are used to sustain the business and hopefully fund a field trip at the end of the school year.

This business is giving students the opportunity to practice life skills such as social exchanges, taking orders, sequencing, taking money and making change.

Additionally, these young entrepreneurs are learning about collaboration across grades because there are two upper grades students who offer so much support with ensuring the coffee business goes smoothly!

This coffee business is teaching so much to these young students and is just another example of our school’s commitment to an E-STEAM culture.

2nd Grade E-STEAM STEM Gingerbread Houses

Before Christmas break, students in second grade participated in an E-STEAM/STEM project that had them sculpting with all sorts of confections in order to learn a variety of concepts and skills.

E-STEAM stands 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 science, math, and technology skills are essential for becoming 21st Century citizens and 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. 

The students had to design, build, troubleshoot and redesign their gingerbread houses over the course of several days. Students had fun working with each other and with the entire design/construction process. Their resulting houses added a festive touch to the classroom.

2nd Grade Cross Curricular Study of Thanksgiving

Second grade completed a cross curricular Thanksgiving lapbook project where students learned all about the history of Thanksgiving through reading, writing, research and collaboration. 


As part of the project, students were partnered up and given instruction on how to work collaboratively and how to have constructive conversations.

Next the students were taught how to conduct research on laptops and how to take notes.

Lastly, the children worked closely with their partners to complete their Thanksgiving lapbook projects and presented them to the class, taking questions from classmates and giving feedback.