Saturday, October 10, 2015

Kids Teaching Kids Pre K

The Kids teaching Kids program provides for interesting leadership opportunities for students in the sciences and engineering. Upper school students work individually with pre-K and Kindergarten students to complete fun and educational science experiments.

Students last week, started by observing a diaper and commented on its ability to hold the water that was added. They discussed the idea of water absorption and dissected the diaper to determine what material is responsible for this special property.  Students removed the tiny white crystals inside the diaper and tested their ability to absorb by adding water.  They were able to see the rapid expansion of the crystals and were encouraged to feel them to note the change in texture.  

Students then looked at an application of these water absorbing crystals filling  a small round mold with the crystals and soaked them in water.  The crystals interlock as they expand, and they maintain the round shape to produce a bouncing ball.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bee Bot and Coding in the Lower School

"Coding is the language of computer science that enables our digital world to exist and can make our lives more efficient, creative, and connected.  As the coding initiative in the Lower School begins to take shape, we continue to find a balance between screen and unplugged activities. One tool in the unplugged teaching of computer science is the Bee-Bot.  Bee-Bot is a programmable robot that can be used for teaching sequencing, problem solving, estimation, and fun.  The students in 2F recently used Bee-Bot to complete algorithms to help guide Bee-Bot through mazes. In programing, an algorithm is a list of steps that you can follow to finish a task. It is also the basis for all computer programming. The second graders laid out Bee-Bot command cards in order to form their algorithms and then inputted the commands into Bee-Bot. Often, the commands were incorrect and the students had to “debug” their program, much to their joy! 

I was amazed to see the level of engagement from the students during the lesson. Each student was able to contribute and all were excited to try a new challenge. I have to applaud the second graders for their problem solving determination and creativity! Often, they were able to find multiple ways to work together and solve the mazes." Dan Stahl, Lower School Teacher

Saturday, September 19, 2015

GA at Greater Philadelphia Youth Entrepreneur Expo

GA Upper School students participated in the Greater Philadelphia Youth Entrepreneurship Expo in the spring competing with regional high school students for best new business ideas.  Both attended Ashoka Catapult earlier in the year and have since developed business models. H McDonnell '16 of Threaded (a clothing company that generates income for non-profits) and A Seidman '16 of Sensei (a sensor for wheelchairs) developed two of the most exciting and winning business ideas at the event.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

4th Grade Coding Project

Using specially designed Learning Carpets fourth grade students use the grid to understand and manipulate basic coding sequence.  Lower School teacher Sue McHugh created lines of code that students had to read and replicate by placing colored balls in the correct spots on gridded carpets.  One child was the “navigator” who read the code aloud to the “driver” who followed the code and placed the colored balls in the correct spots.  After they were finished, they could check their work against the answer key.  As a next step, students placed the balls on the carpet and wrote their own code to get the driver from ball to ball."  As a special challenge, McHugh showed the children that they could create barriers to block certain pathways and make their friends create alternate routes for arriving at the correct ball.  Amanda Mitchel, GA's new Early Childhood Education specialist reported, "I thought this was a fantastic example of engaged learning."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Design Thinking at the Heart of Middle School Summer Reading Day

Middle School students and faculty all participated in a design thinking project related to Counting By 7s, their summer reading book written by Holly Sloan.  Their goal was to have students reflect of who they are and what matters most to them and to share that with a cohort of their peers across grade levels.  Head Advisers, Dion Lehman, Kate Cassidy, and Bayard Templeton,  developed the program to be a great community building exercise.  "The entire school was involved in the same activity, and a major part of that activity was to get to know someone in a new and deeper way.  The activity required students to model many parts of our mission statement, from being confident in expression to being collaborative in action," reports Lehman, "Our hope is that as students and teachers get more comfortable with the defined Design Thinking process and the terminology, it will continue to be a tool our middle school teachers encourage students to use to approach solutions to questions and problems."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Summer Reading:Breaking in the Maker Space

Even while in the last phases of construction, upper school students were already taking advantage of the new maker space in the Beard Center For Innovation during summer reading day.