MS Blazer Buzz 25 Nov
This week's highlight: Rube Goldberg
Earlier this trimester the eighth graders worked outside with several wheelbarrows, ramps, levers, and pulleys in an attempt to move some rather heavy objects. This involved some basic understanding of simple machines as well as the students' mechanical advantage. Recently, the eighth graders have taken that understanding to the next level with the construction of several Rube Goldberg machines. Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor most notably known for his cartoon depictions of complex gadgets that perform simple tasks. He inspired the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, which challenges participants to create a complex machine to perform a simple task. This year, participants were charged with creating a machine to zip a zipper.
Prior to beginning the large construction of their Rube Goldberg contraptions, the students spent time mastering some common elements. Each student created his or her own device with one or two components that, when put in line with their classmates' device, would move a wooden ball from one end of the classroom to the other. After some important trial and error and valuable learning experiences, the student were prepared to tackle this years task of zipping a zipper. Working in groups of four and within a pre-constructed 4'x4'x4' frame, the eighth graders spent two weeks designing, building, and tinkering with their devices. Following completion, the class toured each machine, watched it run, and selected a winner from the class. The student-selected Rube Goldberg contraption represented Woodlawn School on November 16 at a regional contest in Charlotte at the McColl Center for Visual Arts. Members of the class presented the device and received feedback from a panel of judges that included Joseph Herscher, the world renowned kinetic artist in residence. On a previous field trip to Charlotte, the eighth graders got a chance to watch Mr. Herscher work and ask him questions about his design and construction of a piece he was working on called "The Dresser." The middle school exhibition was a great opportunity to showcase the amazing work of our students and allow them to describe their design process. The project as a whole definitely emphasized the importance of trial and error!
MS Blazer Buzz 18 Nov
This week's highlight: Vital Veggies
Woodlawn’s sixth grade students have been vitally involved this fall in the Vital Veggies project. Students began the project back in September during science class, preparing the Woodlawn garden vegetable beds by removing the weeds and summer plants and then amending the soil with composted manure. The sixth graders planted fall cold-hardy vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, and carrots and various fall greens that included collards, chard, and beets. During September and October, student cared for the vegetables by watering, weeding, and observing the growth of the plants — from week to week the progress was often stunning! Students recorded growth data, harvested their vegetables, cooked delicious dishes for their families, and also learned quite a few facts about vegetables. Students learned that it is possible to eat the green tops off the beets as well as the root. They learned not to ignore Grandma when she says, "eat your veggies," because fresh vegetables are full of important vitamins and minerals that help fight off the flu and colds. In fitness class, students tracked what they ate for a period of time and learned about healthy eating habits. Click here for recipes and other garden news!
MS Blazer Buzz 11 Nov
This week's highlight: What is Beauty?
"What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful." - Sappho
What is beauty? That is the question the seventh grade life skills students have asked themselves, their teachers, and other Woodlawn students. A sunset, the first snowfall, family, honesty, nature, love, forgiveness, a smile — beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. The seventh graders found out that beauty means something different to each person, and yet they all agreed that real beauty comes from within. Jack H. reflected, “Everyone in this world has some form of beauty in them; sometimes you just have to look a little deeper in order to see it.” That is never more apparent than in the book the seventh graders are currently reading called Wonder
R.J. Palacio. The main character, August, was born with a severe facial deformity. On the outside, he looks very different from his middle school peers, yet on the inside, he has the same feelings, thoughts, hopes, and dreams. From August, the students are learning the importance of accepting someone for who he is and celebrating each person's individuality.
MS Blazer Buzz 4 Nov
This week's highlight: Eighth graders learn about 18th century Charlotte
The eighth grade students traveled on the CATS city bus to Charlotte for a science, art and history field experience. While at the McColl Center for Visual Arts in uptown, the students met with environmental artist, Jason McDonald. McDonald shared his concerns about the way humans interact with our environment. He spoke about the need to think of Earth as a building material and, therefore, be conscientious of recycling its nutrients. The students were also able to interact with the artist-in-residence, Joseph Hersher, a kinetic performance artist. Hersher's largest machine to date, The Dresser, is a Rube Goldberg-inspired contraption that will be viewable through a live performance on November 9. The students will be applying their knowledge of physics from Mr. Van Amburgh's science class in the creation of their own Rube Goldberg contraption. The end result of the contraption is that it be able to zip a zipper, and the student projects will be presented at Mccoll on November 16. Following the visit at the McColl, the class refueled at a local pizzeria, before heading out on a historic walking tour of Charlotte to address eighth grade's essential question, “How did we get here?” The students now have a better sense of life in Charlotte during the 18th century.
MS Blazer Buzz 28 Oct
This week's highlight: Touring the Davidson College Animal Laboratory
The sixth grade class learned about and got up close and personal with some interesting critters on its field trip to the Davidson Public Library and Davidson College’s Animal Laboratory. A scavenger hunt at the library allowed students to locate some of the many wonderful resources the library has to offer. While the internet offers abundant information, it is important that students are aware of the wealth of information available in books. Woodlawn's commitment to sustainability also came through during the library visit. Students were reminded that they are being environmentally friendly when borrowing a book instead of purchasing each time their favorite author releases a new work. Students concluded their visit by writing the name of their favorite book on the library’s sidewalk.
Animal advocacy is the service focus for sixth grade. While touring Davidson College’s Animal Laboratory, students learned how animals are being used for research and teaching purposes. Students were shown how the animals are treated humanely at all times and given gentle care. The animals even get treats and have play toys. Procedures used in the laboratory, as well as federal laws regulating treatment of animals, were carefully explained and the curious students were able to ask many questions. The sixth graders learned that scientists have acquired vast amounts of knowledge working with these animals, and they are making a difference in medical advancements.