1st Grade Explores Dyeing Fabrics

As part of an ongoing exploration of science in first grade, students experimented with dyeing different types of fibers with both artificial and natural dyes.

They dyed wool fiber and cotton string and were very surprised by some of the results. They hypothisized that the Kool-Aid dye would result in brighter colors than it actual did. They also thought that the purple cabbage would result in a similar purple dye when, in fact, it did not.

All of their findings were on display in the classroom at our annual School Maker Faire in March.

3rd Grade Solar System Art Installation Update

You might remember a few weeks ago reading about the third grade classes making a Solar System art installation in their classroom for display during our annual School Maker Faire.

The entire classroom was turned into the Solar System. QCodes were placed among different parts so that a visitor could scan the code and learn about that particular object found in our Solar System.

There were facts and visual representations of so many interesting things found in our Solar System. The hands on activities were also enjoyed by all who visited as well. Way to go students!

Third graders Gear Up for 5th Annual School Maker Faire

Third graders at The Learning Center Charter School read a book about Vincent Van Gogh early in the school year and immediately wanted to try their hand at replicating his famous art. 

Teacher Kathleen Shook tapped into the student interest and has allowed the class to continue their exploration of famous artists.

“After we spent time making Van Gogh replicas, we journeyed into independent studies of artists that interested us,” said Shook. 

The class has spent time looking at photography as art and as a way to tell stories. They have explored different art forms including pottery, metal work, graffiti, hieroglyphics, and ultimately took an interest in installations, or whole rooms that are transformed into art projects. In fact, the class decided to incorporate science into an art project by taking their studies of outer space and transforming their classroom into an art piece that shows off the Solar System. 

The final Solar System art installation will be unveiled at the 5th Annual School Maker Faire on March 12th from 3:30-6:30.

A School Maker Faire is 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.  Maker Faire exhibits can be from any discipline — from science to art to gardening to engineering to craft.

“We have begun planetary research that will lead us into art, and we hope to use QR codes to make the exhibit interactive and educational,” said Shook. 

The community is invited and encouraged to be part of the 5th Annual School Maker Faire set for March 12th from 3:30-6:30 on the campus of The Learning Center Charter School located at 945 Conaheeta Street in Murphy. Visit www.naturally grownkids.org to learn more or call 835-7240 to register to be a Maker at the event.

2nd Grade Science – Making Slime

Recently, students in second grade finished a unit in science learning all about the properties of matter. They made slime to see if they could use what they had learned to determine if slime is a solid or a liquid. Interestingly, they couldn’t decide whether it was a solid or liquid because it had certain properties of each.  

3rd Grade Science…and Snack

Third graders recently enjoyed DIY microwave popcorn grown in the TLC garden. An heirloom breed called pappys gems was grown and students microwaved it simply in a brown paper bag avoiding the chemicals often included in microwave popcorn. A science lesson with a snack was a hit for all!

The Learning Center awarded TVA STEM Education Grant

The TVA and local partner, Murphy Power Board, presented a $3,500 grant award to The Learning Center Charter School on February 4, 2020.

The Learning Center Charter School is excited to announce a recently awarded grant of $3,500 by the Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated for a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education project.

“Students will design and construct a putt-putt golf course on our campus,” said Jess Stephens, eighth grade social studies teacher at the school.  The design will center around North Carolina history and will include replicas of historical artifacts. 

“We’ll be using the grant for building supplies and hope to continue adding holes to the course every year,” said Stephens.

The grant award is a part of $600,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 142 schools across TVA’s service territory. The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.

“This is the second year we offered this program to the entire Valley and we saw a major increase in grant applications this year,” said Community Engagement Senior Program Manager Rachel Crickmar. “There is a demand in the Valley for workforce development through STEM education and I am proud of the way TVA and our retirees are responding to that demand by supporting teachers in the classroom.”

For additional information about the TVA STEM grants and see a full list of recipients visit https://www.tva.gov/Newsroom/Press-Releases/TVA-Partnership-Awards-600000-in-STEM-

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.”

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. 

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.