Sunday, September 14, 2014

Frank Lee Visits GA

Upper school students sat transfixed as Dr. Frank Lee, Professor of game Design, and Director of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio at Drexel University, described the Pong and Tetris games he designed to be played on sky scrapers in Philadelphia.  A Guinness Book of World Records holder for the largest Architectural Video Game Display, he is motivated to change the way gaming happens and how we think of the space of video play.  Concerned about the isolating nature of game play he wanted to develop a way for video games to be a collaborative, outdoor, community exercise.  After his lectures students had an opportunity to meet Dr. Lee for a Q and A session. When asked how he came to do this kind of work, Lee spoke eloquently about his renaissance education studying the humanities, psychology, and computer science and the fact that he simply followed his interests, as varied as they were, until they all seemed to converge in his gaming work. To read more about his presentation and his work click here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Tinkering Lab for the Lower School

When eager pre-k and kindergarten students begin the school year, they will have a new space for experiential learning, thanks to the vision and hard work of Lower School Head, Sue Szczepkowski, and teachers Betsy Duryea and Rose Mirabile. Outfitted with a kitchen, flexible studio space, workbenches and tools, GA's Tinkering Lab is designed to build a child's mechanical thinking skills, help them understand problem solving through the making and building of things, and inspire confidence along the way.  To hear more about the Tinkering Movement, watch this TED Talk by tinker-founder Gever Tulley.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

8th Grade Students Design Alternative Energy Sources

If you have strolled across the Academic Courtyard lately, you were likely to have come upon student engineered alternative energy experiments, a part of the 8th grade science curriculum. Students were asked to determine the most efficient alternative energy source for GA's campus. They researched, designed, and tested which source of energy they think makes the most sense (most choose wind/solar). Then they have the parameter of 5 hours maximum charging time using their alternative resource for drained rechargeable batteries. Those batteries are then transferred to a remote controlled car/tank whereby speed and acceleration is measured as (one) outcome for efficiency. Tim Duke, long term substitute science teacher reports, "Students have taken this project head on.  Many students have been especially interested because of the real world application this project has.  Americans are always looking for more effective ways to fulfill our ever growing energy needs without depleting the earth’s natural resources.  Students have acknowledged this ideal and have been extremely excited to investigate the efficiency of alternative energy sources.  Similarly, they have enjoyed investigating how electricity works, as well as the complex science which goes into generating and transporting enough electricity to power homes.  

He continued saying that students "had the opportunity to develop a unique collection device which used a renewable natural resource to generate electricity.  The project gives students an authentic and applicable way to go through the scientific process.  It enforces the need for a solid plan backed by extensive research before doing any sort of construction.  True scientists and engineers don’t just try anything. They recall other scientist’s work and back their own adjustments with science.  Students were expected do just this.  They conducted their own research and made the most effective design based on their research.   Not only did they have to design a structure which could capture their respective energy source, but they also had to design a plan which factored in GA’s location and access to renewable natural resources, like the sun and wind."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

5th Grade Students Use the Da Vinci Robot at Temple Medical School

The morning visit of GA 5th grade students to Temple University Medical School incorporated a lecture with Dr. Sloane Guy, followed by students working and “playing” in a robotics lab using the Da Vinci Robot to move objects around, and in laparoscopic lab where students moved plastic objects around a peg board.  Students were highly engaged, cheering one another on as they achieved success using the robotic equipment. 
Dr. Guy and his team shared much information that included the following:
·         The differences between traditional heart surgery and robotic surgery (invasiveness, recovery).
·         Different ways robotics have changed our lives and will continue to change our lives.
·         A Da Vinci Robot costs over $2 million
·         Physiology of what the heart does for the body, and what conditions may require heart surgery.
·         Some of us saw video clips of a robotic heart surgery; those not comfortable were encouraged to turn seats around and listen as Dr. Guy explained.
·         The FDA approved robotic surgery in 2002; it was initially used in the military and NASA to be able to treat patients remotely.
·         The academic and practical preparations required to become a doctor, surgeon, or nurse.
·         The single worst thing you can do for your body: smoking.
Lower School Head, Sue Szczepkowski reports  "It was such an exciting adventure for the students and teachers, and I am so grateful to Dr. Guy and to Temple University for literally stopping their surgery schedules, having additional robotic equipment transported to the site, and having their robotic and training professionals available to us for an entire morning.   In addition, I am deeply appreciative to Mrs. Guy for helping us to shape this opportunity. "


Sunday, June 1, 2014

GA Participates in Science on the Parkway

Middle School teacher and science department coordinator Rollie Wakeman along with the support of middle school students Olivia Negro and Talia Petras, and upper school students Robert Greenawalt, Emily Irwin, and Joe Peters, represented GA in Philadlephia's celebration of the science event Science on the Parkway.  Nearly 150 tents were set up along the central artery leading from the Art Museum to Center City manned by area schools and universities.  A festival for all ages, this Franklin Institute sponsored event showcased our regions rich work in the sciences.  Oliva Negro described the science activities that she and others hosted in GA's tent,  " We had 4 different activities- balancing 12 nails on 1 nail, how many drops of water can you get on one penny, how to get a paper clip to float on water, and we made a tin foil boat to see how many pennies it could carry before sinking." She was quick to add that she had a great time experiencing  the festival with her sister, GA alum, Natalie Negro '09 who was also on hand for the festivities.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

20Time in the Middle School

“My goals for this project are for students to take the research and development skills learned in academia, apply them to a personal passion, and use them to connect with an authentic, real-world audience and create something that positively benefits their community,” reports David Baroody, Middle School History and English teacher. The 20time Project  “is about student engagement, honoring student interests and voice, getting students to speak with authority on a topic for which they have a passion, and connecting the work we do in school with its impact on the greater world outside school.”  What exactly is 20time?  It is a construct borrowed from Google, Apple, and other creative corporate giants that extend 20% of a work week as unstructured creative time to employees meant to foster ideas and innovations that contribute to a more productive and successful work culture.  Increasingly 20time is being used in education to inspire and engage students.  

At GA, student projects cover a wide range of topics, including the creation of a healthy sports drink, a screenplay, a do-it-yourself crafting website, sports braces for athletes with orthodontia, and a coding curricular video game and/or research project on the “gamification” of education.  Students are using blogs to document their evolving ideas, have participated in pitch sessions and have been guided through an Impact Mapping Exercise, taken from the Design Thinking model of process planning.  They have also reached out to community mentors and experts to test their ideas, and are gathering feedback on how to grow their project.
To read more about 20time at GA, click here.
To read about "Why 20Time is Good for Schools" click here.