6th Grade STEM Project — Satellites

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Sixth graders recently completed a STEM project researching and designing satellites.  They learned about many different types of satellites such as communications, weather, extreme sports and discovery as well as learning about the basic components of each satellite.  Each student chose a type of satellite and designed and built their own model.  Students not only presented their satellite to their own class, but also to some very interested young scientists in second grade.

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January/February School Wide STEM Project – Music!

FebSTEM4The Learning Center’s school-wide STEM initiative just keeps getting better! The national initiative to engage students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to become successful in life is taken seriously at our school.  TLC! has applied for a rigorous state designation as a STEM school through the Department of Public Instruction and will receive an answer in June of this year.

FebSTEM1An example of exceptional STEM education took place the throughout January and February and culminated with an event on February 28, 2014.  Students in all grades had been exploring the STEM of music through Project Based Learning.  Students each made an instrument with recycled materials in multi-age peer groups.  Local community members offered workshops for students in history, math, science, technology and Appalachian studies all relating to music.  After the workshops the entire school formed an orchestra outside playing their handmade instruments.


Fourth Grade STEM Project – Electricity and Electrical Circuits

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Fourth graders have been learning about electricity and electrical circuits in science recently.  Students have experimented with electrical components and determined which circuits were correctly wired and which weren’t. Students looked at circuit schematics and hypothesized if they would cause a light bulb to burn.  With no experience creating circuits before, students worked in groups to create a real life circuit based on their diagrams.  Ms. Chris guided them through troubleshooting during the test and improve stages of the engineering process.  Many “This won’t work… we need help!” comments, turned into “Our wire may be loose; our battery may not be in correctly,” then into, “Look, it works!”   Groups created multiple series and parallel circuits.  Additionally, during experimentation and collaboration, a group of students devised a model to explain short circuitry to the rest of the class!

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Local Doctor Visits TLC! to Share Experience of Working in Africa

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Dr. Bob showing 6th graders common illnesses he encounters in S. Africa.
As part of our STEM program, TLC! is inviting speakers in STEM careers to expose children to the advancements and possibilities provided by a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math.   We were happy to invite a local doctor and STEM advocate, Dr. Solomon, to come talk with TLC! middle school students about his year working in South Africa.
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Dr. Bob shares his knowledge about another favorite scientific topic: astronomy.
Dr. Solomon has been working at a hospital in a village in South Africa for a year now.  His experiences have been quite humbling and fascinating.  Taking a holiday to visit home in the states before returning to work in Africa, he eagerly agreed to come talk to TLC!’s middle school science students.  First, “Dr. Bob” gave a short astronomy lesson to 6th graders as the day began.  He then talked to 6-8th graders about life and medicine for many people in his town in S. Africa.  Students learned about the common struggles of malnutrition and water-borne diseases many children their age and younger face.  Dr. Solomon spoke of working without water or power at times in his hospital.  He discussed the struggles of impoverished mothers having to leave many kids at home to walk to the clinic to try to get healthcare for a sick child.  He also discussed the common themes of laughter, interest, and hope that all children around the world shared, despite drastically different circumstances.
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8th grade sees the profound effects malnutrition can have on a child.

We are so thankful Dr. Bob shared some of his brief time back in the United States inspiring students of potential professions within the world of science and technology, but also reminding us of the many blessings we have here at home.
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Dr. Bob wanted to eat lunch with the students so they could ask questions. Here he is in deep discussion about dark energy and dark matter with a 6th grade student.

STEM in First Grade — Balance

2014-02-06 13.04.30First graders have been exploring how position and mass affect balance.  In order to learn this topic they had to design a simple mobile, following a few parameters, that must balance.  Other than a few basic guidelines, students were not given instructions to make their designs successful.  It was neat to watch them go from feeling they “couldn’t do it!” to begin suggesting ideas to one another: “hey maybe we can…”  Eventually, they figured out the finesse of balanced forces.   The most interesting part was watching students come up with multiple creative solutions outside of the “intended product,” challenging the teacher herself to consider multiple methods of troubleshooting.

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Snap-on Tools Helps TLC! Students Get to Work

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When people talk about education, the phrase, “tools for learning” can mean many different things. In February, The Learning Center! Charter School was given $4000 worth of actual tools that included cordless drills, cordless hot glue guns, infrared thermometers, hammers, safety goggles and more from Snap-on Tools. The gift was made possible by a grant, applied for by teacher Rachel Roberts. Roberts, science teacher for 6th through 8th grades, sought tools from Snap-on for use in the school’s STEM program.

STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is part of a nation-wide initiative to increase exposure and future opportunities in these subjects. The grant award will concentrate on the engineering aspect of the STEM curriculum.

The tools will be used for the February 28th school-wide STEM event where students will have the opportunity to engineer and build hand-made instruments. Plans for future projects will utilize the tools to design and build boats, planter boxes, and cars among other things.

Snap-on Tools is a global manufacturer of shop equipment products, automotive diagnostic tools, and repair information solutions. Snap-on’s Murphy plantmanufactures power tools for the vehicle repair industry and Sioux® brand power tools for industrial assembly. TheMurphy plant has the distinction of being named one of the top ten plants in North America by IndustryWeek magazine.

FOLT SCIENCE NIGHT to be Held at The Learning Center!


The Learning Center! will hold a Folt Science Night on March 6th at 6 pm, at 945 Conaheeta Street in Murphy. This is an official event of the 2014 North Carolina Science Festival.

Folt Science Night will feature hands-on activities focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Activities are designed to engage children and their families in science exploration. The event will highlight the impressive STEM program the school in implementing. This event is for TLC! students, their families, and anyone interested in learning more about the school or STEM. For more information, contact the school at 828-835-7240.

Folt Science Nights are an initiative of the North Carolina Science Festival and serve its mission to inspire future generations of scientists. Named in honor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Chancellor Carol Folt, Folt Science Nights are funded by a gift from an anonymous donor. The North Carolina Science Festival selected 110 elementary schools across the state to host Folt Science Nights and provided all materials.

“Folt Science Nights are a great part of our annual Festival, and thousands of schoolchildren across the state get to do hands-on science with their families and school communities,” said Jonathan Frederick, Festival director. “We are extremely grateful to our donor who has made these events possible on such a grand scale.”

The North Carolina Science Festival <www.ncsciencefestival.org> is a two-week statewide series of events showcasing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Festival highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of the STEM disciplines on North Carolina. It includes hands-on activities, science talks, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits, performances and other events, and engages a wide range of audiences while inspiring the next generation. It serves as a vehicle for encouraging students to pursue STEM careers and for businesses to invest in North Carolina. The 2014 Festival Champion is Time Warner Cable. 2014 Platinum sponsors include Biogen Idec Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and SAS. 2014 Gold Sponsors include Duke Energy, The News & Observer, Time Warner Cable News and UTC Aerospace Systems. The Festival is proudly produced by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.


6th Grade’s Aerial Mapping Lesson Revisited

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Sixth graders were excited to receive a large printed aerial map of our school created from many pictures they took with a camera attached to a balloon early in the school year.  Students are enjoying the final presentation that was created by special “photo knitting” software introduced to them by Western Carolina University Professor Adam Griffith.  Mr. Griffith was extremely generous to print TLC! this amazing aerial photo. Students were eager to identify themselves in the picture, as well as locate common objects around school.  Science truly taught them a different perspective! 2014-02-04 09.37.36