Monday, October 24, 2016

Seabury and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

One of the benefits of having scientists as parents is that they can expand our background knowledge with their professional insights. Recently Dr. Penny Rowe, researcher in the field of climate change visited our class to give us a presentation in the area of her expertise. She studies the effects of water vapor in our atmosphere and the positive feedback loop known as the Greenhouse Effect. Penny explained how sunlight travels through our atmosphere and is returned to space as infrared radiation (IR). We learned how changes to the atmosphere made by human activity, leads to a dangerous increase in water vapor and trapped heat. We are all grateful for such an informative and hands-on experience.

We have been learning about different aspects of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, so Dr. Rowe's information about IR was an excellent addition.

Students have also been working hard on a long term project on the EM spectrum, where each of them had to become an expert on one of the types of EM radiation (radio, microwaves, infrared, visual light, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays). The culmination of this work was presented on Friday. Some of the many unique ways students showed their knowledge were: a puppet show, experiments on plant life, informative models and diagrams, and some beautiful comics. We are so proud of all their hard work.

 This is a model of gamma radiation going through a magnetic field.

 This is a model of a gamma ray generator.
One student showed how plants can glow in UV light when they are feed tonic water or highlighter ink.

On Saturday many students attended the Tacoma Astronomical Society's Halloween Special. They participated in several experiments that debunked Astronomy myths. They balanced eggs, not on the Vernal Equinox and explored the Coriolis Effect on toilet bowl whirlpools. The show ended with a planetarium show of the current night sky, because sadly the actual night sky was hidden behind the "Washington Nebula". 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Friday Electives

Seabury Middle School students experienced their first electives this Friday. We brainstormed a list early this month and narrowed it down to several possibilities.

Mr. MacKenzie is running a lab in mini-computing. We have several DIY computers like the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi as well as MakeyMakey controllers. Three groups are designing their first circuits and then powering them with computer code they are creating and manipulating. Older students were paired with younger students. One pair used an out-of-the-book circuit to strobe a rainbow LED, then moved on to altering the code to change the strobe. What a great example of collaboration. Another pair worked on getting the Raspberry Pi running, but ran into compatibility issues. They sent off an email to the Lower School then switched to making a fruit powered piano with MakeyMakey controllers.

Meanwhile Mr. Cory ran an Asian calligraphy class in which students are learning a traditional style of writing with brush and ink. They are working on the basic strokes with emphasis on expressing emotion through calligraphy style.

Many students realized their impatience and eagerness showed in their work and self-corrected by slowing down and being more methodical.

Students also spent time making amazing artworks with Dr. Greenfield. One sixth grader expressed his inner Trekkie with a USS Enterprise NC-1701.