Got Water?

The brain is the most amazing and complex organ in the human body. This three-pound mass contains billions of neurons and controls everything we humans do, both while awake and asleep.

Ms. Boyesen’s friend, Teena Woeber, came to talk with the class about Brain Gym® and why it’s important. Teena is an Educational Kinesiologist who’s back in college to make her way to medical school. Teena has incredible knowledge about the brain and tremendous heart to share. To prepare for her visit, the class made some pretty cool “brain hats.” (Thanks, Teena, for the cool link!)

Teena brought in three “energy balls” to prove a point about the importance of water for our bodies. She invited a group of students to show that energy, in the form of electric currents, run through us. Standing in a small circle, the group held hands with two people touching the energy ball between them. When they touched the ball, it lit up and made a little buzzing sound. Then one let go, breaking the electric current being conducted by humans, the ball went quiet and dark. MAC students were incredulous at the sight and sound and enjoyed several demonstrations.

To prove the point about water being crucial for healthy brain function, Teena added a jar of water to the human circuit. With the energy ball connecting two people, two other people next to each other put their fingers in the jar. The water immediately conducted the energy and the ball lit up and started buzzing! So in addition to exercise, sleep, and nutritious food, be sure to drink enough water so the messages in your body can be conducted at optimal speed! And if MAC students are stuck on a homework problem, they now know to try “hook ups,” “brain buttons,” taking a sip of water, and maybe even some cross crawls (ask your child!).

Thank you so much Teena for your enlightening lesson and the great reminders!

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The National Day on Writing: A Celebration of Community

In the MAC class we see ourselves as a learning community…and a community of writers.  And for the past couple of years we have celebrated the National Day on Writing by writing with our older MAC class friends at Ada Harris. We continued this tradition this year by inviting the older MAC class to come down to Cardiff School to write with us.

As the 80+ students headed into the auditorium, they each had a part of an animal picture to match to find their cross-age partner(s).  After spending a few minutes getting to know one another, partners were ready to begin a collaborative writing activity.

Believing that writers write best from abundance, last week students in both our classes drafted some poetry.  Our students had studied some poetry mentor texts from some of our favorite poets including Kristine O’Connell George and Valerie Worth and then, considering things they care about and know about, set off to write some poetry.  Once drafted, they separated their poems into individual lines and then cut the lines apart to store in a baggie. The other class used a similar process and came to our event with lines of poetry in a baggie as well.

Using this protocol, each student partnership then set off to create a single collaborative poem that incorporated ideas and lines from each partner.

ndow protocol

Once students crafted their poems, we all headed out beyond the school gates to make the poems public by chalking them on the new sidewalk…a chalk-a-bration!

Enjoy some images of our National Day on Writing chalk-a-bration in action!

 

Thinking Like Scientists

We wanted to start the year off by focusing on “thinking like scientists,” so Mrs. C (our science teacher) had kids experience oobleck and its wonderful, surprising qualities. Is it a liquid or solid? Working in table teams, students explored this substance, which sometimes had liquid properties (flowing in the hand) and other times solid (balling up into little solid bits).

In addition to making guesses as to what it was, teams also came up with words and descriptions for what they thought this mystery substance was.

oobleck_rubbery

If you want to experience oobleck at home, here’s a resource:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/oobleck-bring-science-home/

As we delved into the scientific method of inquiry, we were simultaneously studying about the brain. The brain’s is able to form new pathways when we learn new things, which is why challenging ourselves makes us smarter! This is called neuroplasticity.

http://easyscienceforkids.com/all-about-your-amazing-brain/

Combining measurement and reaction times, pairs of students were challenged to give each other the “ruler test.” You hold your hand out. Your partner holds a meter stick between your fingers, with the end just at the top of your fingers. Your partner releases the meter stick and you grasp it as quickly as possible, noting how many centimeters your reaction time measured.

Scientists are careful observers and take notes to record their findings. In order for the data to be interpretable by the global community, findings are recorded using the metric system (centimeters/meters, milliliters/liters…).

Scientists around the world are well-aware that things don’t always go according to plan…

Teaching the metric system to young children isn’t easy, since most kids here in the US have not had exposure to it, let alone experience with it. So, in more measuring fun, we moved on to volume…

Our young scientists gathered experience with milliliters (1,000/liter) using syringes and graduated cylinders. Mrs. C. taught us about the meniscus, the curve in the upper surface of a liquid, which makes it challenging to measure the volume correctly. The lowest part of a concave meniscus is where scientists measure the water level. Mrs. C. encouraged students to get eye-level with the graduated cylinder in order to read the water level correctly.

We will continue to think as scientists throughout the year; measuring carefully, observing closely, recording accurately, and learning a great deal along the way!