Category: Science

Science Update

Dear Parents,

I apologize for not getting a science update posted in the last two weeks. I’ve been slammed with both our last field trip, our third quarter honors assembly and some planning that I am doing for next school year. It’s all kept me pretty busy.

Here’s what is happening in class:

Finishing Ecosystems Unit: We will finish our ecosystems unit in class this week. We spent the past two weeks looking at things like transpiration (the way that plants move water from their roots to their leaves), the cycles (water, carbon and nitrogen), and food chains/energy pyramids. We will not take a test for this unit simply because I am trying to get us through our last unit on Space in time for our end of grade exams. Cutting the test will save some time because I won’t need to give the students significant preparation time in class.

Beginning Space Unit: Our last unit of the year covers Space. You can see our essential outcomes here. We learn about things like the phases of the moon, the reason for our seasons, and the causes of the tides. We also look at the history of space exploration and we discuss what makes planets habitable/uninhabitable. The kids generally enjoy the space unit because they are amazed by the size of outer space.

Studying for EOGs: As I’ve mentioned to you before, studying for the science EOGs really is important. The sixth grade exam covers a bunch of random facts from the entire school year — which makes it more about remembering than anything. The best way to review those facts before the EOG is to use Brainpop. I will be giving your kids time to study in class for sure, but it is also important that they do some studying at home too. There is a Brainpop EOG review sheet posted in Google Classroom.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter

Oreos Needed for Science Activity

Dear Parents,

In the next week, we will begin studying Space. One of the topics that we study is phases of the moon. I have a fun activity to teach that to kids that involves Oreos.

Would you be willing to send in a pack or two that we can use?

If so, here’s a Signup Genius.

For what it is worth, the Oreos with WHITE filling work best — and Big Stuff actually work better than regular Oreos. I’ll take any Oreos, though.

I’d like to get a BUNCH of packs simply because it lets students work independently or in groups of two — so if you can help, I’d REALLY appreciate it.


Bill Ferriter

Here’s How Your Student can Prepare for the Science EOG

Dear Parents,

I’m not sure if you know this or not, but in sixth grade, students take an end of grade exam in all four of their core area subjects. While the Math and Reading exams are probably the most important for your students, the science exam is probably the most difficult.

Here’s why: The test includes 35 isolated, fact-driven, multiple choice questions that can come from any part of any unit that we have studied this year.

Given that we have studied hundreds of facts from five different units over the course of almost twelve full months, that makes studying for the EOG science exam REALLY important. Without studying — refreshing memories about content that we covered forever ago — students tend to feel overwhelmed by the questions that they see on the exam. That can leave them really discouraged about science in general and about their own performance as students.

We will do a bunch of reviewing for the exam in class — but there won’t be enough time to review everything that we studied this year.

You can help your child prepare, though, by requiring them to spend time at home over the next few weeks completing this Brainpop EOG Study Handout.

They have a copy of this in their Google Classrooms and I will introduce it to them in class today.

The handout lists every Brainpop video that is tied to the sixth grade curriculum. If your kids spend time watching a few videos each week between now and the end of the school year, they will have a great chance of doing well on the Science EOG exam. These videos do a great job covering the essential ideas for each concept in a short, approachable way.

Let me know if you have any questions — and please make studying for the Science EOGs a requirement in your household.

Be well,
Bill Ferriter

Science Update

Dear Parents,

Just a quick heads up about what we are doing in Science class:

(1). We have finished our Lithosphere unit: That covered the rock cycle, soil properties, earthquakes and plate tectonics. To save time, I decided not to give an end of unit test. That’s because our unit didn’t end until we started the fourth quarter. I thought it would be unfair to test your students on content from before trackout without giving them lots of extra prep time in class — and we just don’t have that prep time right now.

(2). We started our Ecosystems unit: You can see the essential objectives and vocabulary here. We started the unit by reviewing what ecosystems are and by learning about the differences between biotic and abiotic factors in the environment. We then moved into a study of the reproductive parts of plants and pollination. (Thanks so much to everyone who sent in bundles of flowers for us to work with.) We will move next into a study of tropisms — or the ways that plants respond to their environment.

(3). Are Plants Ingenious?: One of the central questions in our unit is "Are plants nature’s most ingenious creations?" Take some time to ask your students how they feel about that question. It has led to lots of interesting conversations in class.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter

Fresh Cut Flowers Needed for Lab on Thursday and Friday!

Starting on Thursday, we will be studying the parts of flowering plants. Doing so is ALWAYS more fun when we can actually look at flowering plants!

Would you be willing to pick up a bundle of cut flowers from the local grocery store or Trader Joe’s and send it in for us to study?

The types of flowers inside the bundle is not SUPER important — although Trader Joe’s has some Alstromeria for $4.00 a bundle right now that would be GREAT. I’d also love a bundle or two of Tulips — which are more expensive, but really cool to look at.

If you are willing to send in a bundle, I’d really appreciate it. Here is the Signup Genius.

If you could send the flowers in on Thursday or Friday of this week, it would be great!

Thank you,

Bill Ferriter

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