Category: Science

Science Update / Saturday Morning Solar System Fun

Dear Parents,

Here’s what’s going on in class:

(1). We are continuing to study the layers of the earth. Students completed a hands-on activity this week using eggs as a model for the layers of the earth. Their main goal was to determine whether or not an egg would be a reasonable model of the layers of the earth. That assignment will be due on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

(2). Next week, we will be looking at how the earth’s tectonic plates work. Specifically, students are responsible for learning about three different types of boundaries: Convergent, divergent and transform. Those boundaries are always interesting to kids because they result in natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes.

(3). If you are looking for something fun to do with your kid this weekend, think about getting up early tomorrow — like 5:30 AM — and go out to find the moon again. This weekend, Venus and Saturn will be on one side of the crescent moon and Jupiter will be on the other. It’s kind of cool to think that you can see three planets in one early morning view. Here’s an article where you can learn more.

(4). And if you want to talk to your kids about another neat science happening, talk to them about SpaceX — which is launching an unmanned crew capsule tomorrow morning. This is a test run for later manned flights. That’s important because since the retirement of the Space Shuttles, the United States hasn’t had a vehicle that can take people into space. SpaceX is looking to fill that void — and if this test flight goes well, they will be launching their first people into space in July. Here’s an article where you can learn more.

(Oh — and for you Sci Fi junkies, the dummy they are launching on this weekend’s rocket is named Ripley — after the lead character in Aliens! How’s that for random fun?)

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter

Who Wants to Chaperone a Field Trip?!

Dear Moms and Dads,

On Tuesday May 7, 2019 we are going on a field trip to Bond Park for a day of fun outside! The main activity on the field trip will be a scavenger hunt where students will be looking for things from our science curriculum out in the park. The trip will last from about 9:30 AM until about 1:00 PM.

In order to pull this off, we are going to need a BUNCH of parent volunteers.

The biggest need is for volunteers to help chaperone individual groups who will be participating in a scavenger hunt. Normally, we shoot for 30-35 groups so that we can keep things small — which means we could REALLY use your help if you are willing to come and play outside on an early spring day!

We will also need parent volunteers who are willing to cook and serve a hot dog lunch for students.

If you are interested in chaperoning, please fill out this form by Wednesday March 6th.

Let me know if you have any questions,
Bill Ferriter

Hard Boiled Eggs Needed for Science Lab

Dear Parents,

I’d like to do a mini-lab on layers of the earth in class next week — but I need your help: To pull the lab off, I need 8 dozen hard boiled eggs by Wednesday of next week.

If this is something that you think you can help with, here’s a link to a Signup Genius where you can volunteer to send in a dozen eggs.

Thanks in advance for your help with this! Your kids like working with their hands.

Looking forward,
Bill Ferriter

Here’s What’s Happening in Science

Dear Parents,

Here’s a couple of quick updates about what’s been happening in science:

We are continuing to work our way through our energy unit. Specifically, we finished discussing the way that light works and moved into a quick study of how sound works. Students have learned about the similarities and differences between sound and light, have learned about amplitude and frequency, and have learned how density changes the speed of sound.

Next, we will move into a quick study of wave parts. It’s probably the hardest part of our unit because it is full of all kinds of picky vocabulary words. That should take us about three or four class periods — at which point, our energy unit will be over.

From there, we move into a study of the Lithosphere — looking at Earth’s layers and the rock cycle and the reasons for earthquakes.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter

Sound Quiz Tuesday

Dear Parents,

Just a heads up: There will be a short (15 question) quiz on sound and parts of the ear on Tuesday of next week.

The best way to study will be to use the notesheet titled "Notes – Sound Waves and Parts of the Ear" found in Google Classroom. The questions on the test will be taken largely from that document.

Students can also use the "Sound" and "Parts of the Ear" Quizlets posted in Google Classroom to study vocabulary.

If your child struggled on last week’s Light Quiz, I would recommend that you squeeze them to study for this test. A high grade will help to balance that low score out.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter

Heads Up: Disappointing Quiz Scores

Dear Parents,

I just wanted to give you a heads up: We took a quiz on light and parts of the eye in class today that should have been really easy, but lots of kids ended up with grades I’m sure you won’t be happy with.

It should have been easy because the questions on the quiz were either taken directly from a note sheet that is posted in Google Classroom OR were posted on the board during the quiz in a list of "Light Reminders."

For me, this fits a bit of an uncomfortable pattern for our students: They don’t always take the assignments that we do all that seriously. They are polite and well mannered and funny and kind — I REALLY like them — but they also don’t work all that hard on preparing for things like assignments or quizzes.

What is also a bit troubling in this case is that there were three different ways for students to earn extra credit on this quiz.

Students could have taken a picture of the words "UV protection" on a sunscreen bottle, they could have looked at the moon this morning and told me about what they saw, and they could have done a short (1-2 paragraph) report on the unique structures of eyes of different animals. Very few students took advantage of any of those opportunities.

So here’s my suggestion for how you can help: Check out your child’s grade in PowerSchools.

If it is low, ask them how much time they spent studying the notes that are posted in Google Classroom. Also, ask them if they took advantage of the extra credit opportunities available to them. My guess is the answers to those questions will be "not very much" and "no."

If that’s the case for your kid, this hiccup will make for a good conversation starter about the importance of both working hard and taking advantage of extra credit when it is offered.

The silver lining is that we are still really early in the quarter, so kids with low scores will have plenty of time to rebound from this.

For the time being, though, be prepared: Your child’s average might be a heck of a lot lower than they are used to.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter

Heads Up: Quiz Friday

Dear Parents,

Just a quick heads up: Students will have a short (10 question) quiz in Science on Friday about the three ways that heat transfers from one object to another.

This is not a new concept for kids. We’ve talked about it extensively in class.

Students will spend all day Thursday studying in class — so they may not need to study a ton at home.

The three best study tools are their notes, a Heat Transfer Quizizz and a Heat Transfer Quizlet. Those are all posted under the "Classwork" tab in Google Classroom.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter

Desperate Need of Tissues and Paper Towels!

Dear Parents,

Tis’ the season to be sneezy — and we are fresh out of tissues here on the Gnomes team!

We are also out of paper towels — which we use to clean desks and tables and counters.

If you have any of those items and home and are willing to send in a box or a roll, we’d be incredibly grateful.

Thanks for thinking of us,
Bill Ferriter

Science Update

Dear Parents,

First, thanks so much for all of your support during our busy week last week. We had almost 40 parents chaperone our field trip and another 60 who came to our Honors Assembly. It was a great turnout for both events — and it helped both events to be a success. We are grateful.

Second, here’s a few science updates:

Our Matter Unit is Finished: There will be a retest for our unit assessment on Tuesday, but we are moving on from that content.

Our Energy Unit is Starting: You can see the essential outcomes for this unit here. Students will be learning more about how light, sound and heat work. It’s an interesting unit to kids because we are surrounded by light, sound and heat all the time — but often, we don’t have a clear understanding of what they are or how they work.

Our First Area of Focus is Heat: During our energy unit, we will be starting with a study of how heat moves from one object to another. There are three ways this happens — through conduction, convection and radiation. This is the starting point for our Energy unit because we just finished talking about what happens to matter when it is heated at the end of our Matter unit.

Let me know if you have any questions,
Bill Ferriter

Low Matter Quiz Scores

Dear Parents,

As a quick heads up: I gave a 15 question matter quiz in class today that the students have known about for over a week.

There were LOTS of very low scores. That surprised me, given that students had every minute of last week’s classes to work on study guides and use practice tests.

When I asked to see study guides today, though, what I found was that most of the students with low scores hadn’t completed their study guides at all and hadn’t used the practice study games available in Google Classroom.

That explains the low scores — many students didn’t do much studying.

So here’s what’s next: If your child scored less than an 80, they can rework their score. Retests will be on Tuesday of next week.

In order to be eligible for a retest, students must:

(1). Complete their study guides — which are posted in Google Classroom.

(2). Take a practice test in Socrative at least one time — this will go live tomorrow afternoon.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter