Friday, December 15, 2017

The City is Our Classroom AND the Classroom is Our City!!

We may have been heading into Winter Break, but Seabury Middle School students did not slow down one bit these last few weeks.

Our Classroom IS Our City!!

They first had the exciting opportunity to help guide and shape the development of Tacoma's downtown Theater District through an art project with Spaceworks. It started with a simple window installation for Spaceworks, in one of the windows of the old Woolworth's building downtown. Working as part of art class, students created a vision of Tacoma through cleverly designed cardboard buildings and other structures. But, it did not end there! Spaceworks approached the Seabury art teacher and asked for students to produce an even larger window display on Commerce street, which would be featured as part of First Night. Adding to the display meant that all of Seabury's students had the chance to be a part of creating the installation, adding to what the middle school already created. It was an awesome opportunity for our students to be part of creating an important art installation for our city. The display is part of the "Transform Plan" in which Tacoma is re-envisioning the Theater District and what it could become for our city.

Seabury Middle Schoolers spent one day with the students from the Lower School campus teaching them and guiding them as they created their own additions to the display. It was wonderful to see the older kids working with the young ones. Creativity was everywhere! The little ones came up with their ideas, and the big kids helped them cut and glue and otherwise put their vision into reality. Feel free to drop by Spaceworks at Commerce and 11th to check out the amazing project!

The City is our Classroom!!

Students from the Middle School also got the chance this week to visit the Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Tacoma. Just walking distance from our campus, the museum is one of multiple locations nationwide which house pretty much every important primary source document you could imagine. The Tacoma branch featured an exhibit on the atomic bomb, and students had the opportunity to view original documents detailing the dropping of the bomb, schematic drawings of the impact done by generals during the war, and even Einstein's famous letter of warning to President Roosevelt.

Other documents on display separate from the exhibit included a rough draft with notes of WWI's Treaty of Versaille and a page form the score of Puccini's Madame Butterfly. Various students made comments about how amazing it was to be surrounded by real history, which was especially relevant to our study of Modern War and Policy this school year.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Seabury Outbreak!

The middle school students have been working on a serious science challenge these last few weeks. Some of the students have been infected with a mysterious disease. They started with just tingling of the limbs or paresthesia. 10% of the infected students developed major depression and minor hallucinations.

Students then wrote theories in groups of what they thought was happening. Some surveyed those infected, while others did mapping and ran tests. They compiled the information and wrote hypotheses for the disease.

This week, Charles Leusner went over brain anatomy, radio waves and how MRI and CT scans work. After differential diagnosis using MRI images and the scientific method, Dr. Leusner gave his professional opinion that it could be Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis, variant Creutzfeldt Jakob's Disease, Lupus, Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, or Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis.  This was narrowed down by brain scans that he showed the students. Stay tuned for the diagnosis! 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hands On and Engaging

At Seabury MS we keep students engaged with hands on activities that are inherently engaging. Mathematics is more than just computation and equations, in our class we used pattern blocks to design cities thinking about efficiency of travel and effective use of space. We asked how do buildings of non-typical shapes affect city design. Some students spent much of their time building and improving designs, while others delved deep into the math of scale and ratios of streets to living space.

In science the students design their own experiments and decide what questions they want to answer. Below are pictures of students engaging in an AP Biology lesson on the evolution of enzymes. They make changes to the variables of an experiment to see how enzymes process poisonous hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, and how they evolved to fit a niche that is a particular organism or organ system.

We take the same concept of enzymes acting as a catalysis for a reaction, just to have fun making colorful elephant toothpaste. The oxygen from the reaction blows bubbles in soapy water.

Sometimes even during breaks our students develop their own hands on projects with materials that are always there for them. This ultimate tower is an example of a pet project that is allowed to thrive.