1st Grade STEM — Coral Reef Dioramas

First grade students made coral reef dioramas as the culmination of their coral reef unit in Science where they learned about the unique ecosystem known as the “rainforest of the sea”.  Students had corals, amenome, urchins, fish, sharks, seashells and other items to create their own mini-worlds.

1st Grade STEM — Bears!

First grade teacher, Ms. Katie Beaver, and elementary science teacher, Ms. Emily collaborated on a huge ecosystem unit that covered deciduous forests, rainforests, and coral reefs.  In addition to covering an entire wall with trees to represent deciduous trees found in each season, students also were given a STEM activity where they created bear caves for the bears to hibernate in using nothing but marshmallows and toothpicks to engineer their designs.
Each student was given 10 marshmallows and 15 toothpicks. The students were instructed to use these materials to build a bear cave (shelter). The shelter needed to fit a paper bear that was about  4 inches wide and 3 inches tall.

Additionally, students delved further into their studies by designing and constructing underground burrows by connecting small paper bags to model beneath the ground shelters of animals in the deciduous forest.

1st Grade — All About Birds

First grade students recently spent time studying birds across the curriculum. Their bird STEM project incorporated reading, math, writing and a hands-on art project.

The students studied and gathered information about six different types of birds — Penguins, Eastern Blue Birds, Birds of Paradise, Hummingbirds, Golden  Finches, and Blue Jays. They learned how to draw and label diagrams with specific bird body parts/ field marks, create graphic organizers of bird facts, use bullets to organize and record data, write detailed sentences of bird facts, and use a ruler to measure the actual height of each bird.

To gather this information, the class read non-fiction books and read online articles about each of the six birds during Guided Reading.

The students also made suet feeders out of peanut butter, seeds, and dried corn.  Student especially liked gathering sticks from The Outdoor Learning Center to serve as a perch for birds at their feeders.

5th Grade Science — Catapults to Study Force and Motion

Fifth graders have recently learned about force and motion as part of their science studies. They have learned about trebuchets, catapults, and balistas.

The students were tasked with researching each of these launching devices and then designing their own.  They then build prototypes of their designs using popsicle sticks, straws, rubber bands, hot glue, tape, cardstock, and coffee stirrers.

Some realized their original designs would not give them the momentum needed to  effectively launch their items, so these students immediately started adjusting their original design. Ms. Jay commented that watching the students go through the problem solving process of trial and error (some as many as five times) and not giving up was fantastic.

2nd Grade — Field Work to GMREC

Second grade had an amazing day visiting the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center where they participated in a water conservation program.

Students engaged in interactive activities as part of the program. Activities included making a frog with moving parts to demonstrate the different stages of the frog life cycle.

They also participated in a water waste vs water conservation activity.

Students then participated in a water pollution activity and concluded the visit learning all about the stages of the water cycle.

Students walked away having learned about the importance water conservation.

School Maker Faire spotlights makers of all kinds, March 14

This Maker crafted her dress entirely from duct tape!

The Learning Center Charter School is celebrating making of all kinds at their 4th annual School Maker Faire on Thursday, March 14 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 – from Learning Center students to community members – will have booths featuring their own unique Maker project. There will be hands-on activities, demonstrations, and delicious homemade food.

Julie Johnson, organizer for the School Maker Faire, says, “Kids are inherently curious and creative. Given the space and opportunity to build and create, they will and you’ll be amazed at the things they make.”

Johnson 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 fourth 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 14th, from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Contact The Learning Center for more information and to enter YOUR Maker project at naturallygrownkids.org/school-maker-faire.

Students Go “Robotic”

Kindergarten through eighth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School are no strangers to technology. They regularly use everything from computers to 3D printers. However, students are especially excited to become more familiar with the school’s brand new Sphero Mini robots.

A Sphero Mini is an app-enabled device about the size of a ping pong ball. Students are able to use the Sphero Mini app to draw paths for the robot to follow, write their own JavaScript text programs, and use actions, controls, operators and more to give their robots commands.

Monica Matthews, an Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) licensed educator at the school, loved introducing the robots to her AIG students. They explored how to use drag and drop code to make each robot move in the direction they wanted.  The kindergarten through second grade aged students used the drive function and practiced controlling the robot to knock over mini bowling pins.

“Our Sphero Mini robots provide a toolset that has unlimited potential to weave hardware, software and community engagement together,” said Matthews. She added that while computer coding is a key 21st century skill, the robot and its app go beyond code by incorporating robotics and technology with collaborative STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art and math – activities.

“These robots are proving to be a whole lot of fun and a fantastic tool to nurture students’ imaginations,” said Matthews.  “I look forward to seeing all the creative ways teachers across campus use them in their classrooms.”