Sunday, May 22, 2016

Middle School History Projects "Hand Students (creative) Reins"

As part of a “Social Activism” project, seventh graders have been studying the impact of activists on society during the early 1800s, and each student selected a group of three activists who championed a particular cause or used a particular form of activism. Helen chose the topic of gender equality / women’s rights. The three activists in this group were Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, and Emma Watson – two from the early 1800s and one from the present. We wanted our students to make the connection: social activism is still a huge part of our democracy. 

Students needed to research their topics and their activists, then use their own interpretations / beliefs and their research to do two things: write a three-page research paper and create a stand-alone presentation in digital form. The presentations will be archived. Helen’s paper looked at the women’s rights movement as it appeared in the worlds of three activists, but for her presentation she focused on Watson. 

Using non-fiction film making techniques Helen’s project shows what students can do "if we hand them the reins to their own learning," reports Emily Rubinfield, history department chair. Guidelines are set and a goal is established. From that point the kids’ ideas and creativity come pouring out under their own volcanic power. One of the best traits of our classes is that the kids cheer each other on; her class loved Helen’s originality and hard work. To see Helen's video click here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Kids teaching Kids: Noodle Robots

You are never to young to study robotics. This pool noodle robot is a simple take on the “vibrobot”, a robot that is controlled by a single vibrating motor. The materials? A piece of pool noodle and the motor from a battery-powered toothbrush! The outcome? A self-built vibrobot!
Our Kindergarten students are participants GA’s Young Engineers initiative. Together with their upper school KTK buddies, they build fun projects that foster knowledge and skills related to science, technology, and engineering. We aim to instill a “do-it-yourself” attitude in our youngest students so they feel empowered to explore, tinker and try to make things themselves.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

MS Career Day Offers Students A Lens Into Entrepreneurship and Business

Middle School students had the opportunity to hear Sam Lehr, Matt Paul, and William Capers - alums, friends and parents of GA - share their hard won wisdom about what it means to be an entrepreneur in today's global economy and how to build a successful business. Students were eager to hear about connecting their passion to work, establishing priorities  and finding balance in start-up culture.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lower School Teachers Visit The Workshop School in West Philadelphia

Lower School faculty Jess Killo (Art) and Amanda Mitchell (Early Childhood Education Director) spent a recent morning in Philadelphia at The Workshop School, a non-magnet alternative high school in West Philadelphia that emphasizes project based learning and maker culture.  From energy efficient car design to hand made wooden chairs as a cap stone project for maths curriculum, The Workshop School is at the forefront of evolving school curriculum for the 21st Century. Their students recently won the national Spirit of Innovation Award for their clean energy car.

Monday, May 9, 2016

US Engineering Students Win Big At Sea Perch Competition

GA US engineering students with the help of physics teacher Diane Goldstein and GA's Mike Kelly, took 2nd place at The Greater Philadelphia Sea Perch Challenge at Temple University from a field of 25 teams in the "Vehicle Performance" Category, which is a competition that includes and obstacle course and a "crane mission - electromagnet - challenge". This regional win qualified GA for the national competition.

Diane Goldstein, US teacher of physics and engineering notes "I first entered GA as part of my first robotics minimester 3 years ago. We entered last year as part of the Engineering (H) class, and now this year as part of a mini-mester and engineering class. This is a relatively inexpensive competition that looks seemingly simple, but is actually very sophisticated. This year's Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) had to maneuver an long underwater obstacle course as well as use an electromagnet to pick up metal debris and place in a basket. We built our own working electromagnet from some YouTube instructions, and I had the obstacle course built by students in the first minimester.  The competition was the last major project introduced in the Engineering class, and this build introduced the kids to soldering and electrical components, as well as learning how to waterproof motors underwater. Finally, each group had to keep an Engineer's Notebook as well as put together a PowerPoint or Poster presentation.

The craft that we entered posted the best times in the obstacle course in the GA pool. We then retrofitted that craft with the electromagnet and practiced that portion in the pool as well.
All of the "missions" are put together to reflect the needs of the Navy - one of the major sponsors of the competition. Each year the second challenge changes significantly to keep it fresh.
So, of our class of 16 students, Tyler Andra and Tyler Hook represented us on the pool deck. Tyler Andra was the driver and Tyler Hook was the tether man. In some way, all of the class definitely contributed to the final project.

I was thrilled to see the team win the prestigious second place trophy for Vehicle Performance. In truth, we do tons of hand-on work and enter several competitions throughout the year in this class, and it is really fun to simply win sometimes! So many times, after a competition, I am thinking how we can do it better next year, and trying to figure out what went wrong - so a good result just feels great!"

Sunday, May 8, 2016

AP Physics BC Use the Beard Center for Problem Solving

Upper School AP Physics C students (calculus-based University Physics), use the BCI to work collaboratively on problems in an area called electrodynamics--the relationships between time-varying electric and magnetic fields.  "This material represents the culmination of the work that we've done this year---it is very abstract and very mathematical.  It's been especially hard on the students since, with most of them being seniors and with final exams starting, they are being pulled in all different directions at once, so they get to this really difficult material at a time when they are really stretched thin and stressed out." reports Vic Montemeyor, GA's new physics teacher,  "But they've been doing a great job dealing with the balancing act---they're an awesome group of students...!"