MS Blazer Buzz 24 March

This week's highlight: Sundials

The eighth graders are learning first hand what it takes to leave their mark on the Woodlawn campus. After studying some of the cultures and societies of Mesoamerica in Spanish class, it became apparent how important a knowledge of the seasons, the path of the sun, and the occurrence of other celestial events was to the people of Mesoamerica. A command of this information allowed these societies to develop advanced agriculture practices and track the passage of time.

Drawing inspiration from Spanish class, the eighth graders took their newfound knowledge into the Science lab to study the movement of objects across the sky and determine our place in the solar system, milky way, and larger universe. All of this knowledge allowed the students to design their own Mesoamerican inspired monuments that aligned with a unique celestial event. Student designs included a monument that shone light onto a reflecting pool during the spring equinox, a pyramid with a window aligned with the rise of Venus (which occurs every eight years), an obelisk that casts no shadow during the summer solstice, and a series of towers that on one special day cast a shadow of an eagle with a snake in its talons onto the ground, among many other unique and creative designs.

These hypothetical designs were not sufficient enough to satiate the students need to build things so the planning and construction of a campus sundial began. The eighth graders have been measuring, digging, collecting, and waiting patiently for sunshine to make the necessary preparations to leave their lasting mark on our campus. Sometime in the near future a stroll behind the Van Buren Art Room will yield a view of our very own student-designed Woodlawn School Sundial!

Contributed by Chris Van Amburgh

MS Blazer Buzz 17 March

This week's highlight: Selfies!

Selfie, selfie, selfie...are we paying too much attention to "ourselfies" these days? It is hard not to when social media allows us to constantly post pictures and videos of ourselves on Facebook, Instragram, and YouTube. With this emphasis on outward appearances, the pressure to take the perfect picture becomes more and more competitive and stressful. No one knows this more than our seventh graders. A recent life skills class exposed the reality of pictures shown in magazines, on billboards, and on the Internet are often digitally enhanced. With the right technology, droopy eyes can be lifted, puffy cheeks can be thinned out, dull smiles can be whitened, and crooked noses can be straightened. Young people are then left feeling like they have to live up to unrealistic expectations, which in turn can lead to low self-esteem and poor self-image. Students admitted being overly critical of themselves as they focused too much on their outward appearance and their imperfections. Yet they slowly began to realize that their classmates see their beauty both on the inside and outside. By taking a selfie in class and developing the pictures to display at a recent portfolio viewing, the seventh graders and parents were given an opportunity to comment on real beauty and not what was digitally enhanced. The comments ranged from "genuine smile" to "real person" to "just plain beautiful."  This exercise shifted the focus from being "selfish" to be "selfless."  And if the selfie lesson didn't make people happy, a lesson on the beauty of self-expression did. With the help of tenth grader, Arianna Hoshino, the seventh grade students created their own "Happy" video inspired by Pharrel Williams!

Contributed by Debbie Lolla

MS Blazer Buzz 10 March

This week's highlight:Spanish Master Works

The sixth graders delved deeply into the Renaissance time period over the winter trimester, focusing on master works in Spanish class. Students spent many weeks studying Spain's Golden Age, developing an understanding as to why Cervantes' Don Quixote de La Mancha is considered a masterpiece in the world of literature. Students fell in love with the characters Quixote and Sancho, and also tackled more profound topics such as how important one's reality is in society. In addition to learning about the Golden Age, students discovered the incredible, architectural masterpieces of Antoní Gaudí and the skillful futbol footwork by Team Barça. The sixth graders also spent time doing independent exploration of Spanish cuisine. The group's enlightening adventure culminated with a viewing of John Lithgow's performance of Don Quixote!

Contributed by Laine Amortegui

MS Blazer Buzz 3 March

This week's highlight: 7th Grade Math - Barbie Bungee

Seventh grade students recently investigated linear equations by having Barbies bungee from the second story of the Klein Hall shed! Barbie Bungee is the most exciting and anticipated math project during the seventh grade year at Woodlawn. Groups of four students create their own Barbie Bungee companies, complete with company names, goals, slogans, and even a logo! This year, the companies were Thrill, Bucket List Barbie, Edge, Free Falling, Leap of Faith, Lifeline, Drop, and Pulse. Students conducted test jumps and recorded data, then graphed this data to help them make predictions. Each company had to predict how many bungee cords (rubber bands) Barbie would need to give her the most thrilling ride from the second story window of the Klein Hall shed without killing her! Jump day was very exciting this year, with the winners only being declared after a photo finish! To see the action, check out the Barbie Bungee video on YouTube.

Contributed by Julie Reulbach

MS Blazer Buzz 24 Feb

This week's highlight: Dr. King And The Movement

"Now I realize that there are those all over who are telling us that we must slow up. … But we cannot afford to slow up. We have a moral obligation to press on. We have our self-respect to maintain. But even more we can't afford to slow up because of our love for America and our love for the democratic way of life. … We must keep moving. We must keep going." — 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
 Excerpt from "The Montgomery Story," an address to the 47th Annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Convention, San Francisco, June 27, 1956.

During life skills and service learning classes throughout the month of January, students in second through seventh grades were asked to consider the legacy of Dr. King’s dream of a just and equal society for all. The students explored ways in which they could keep the movement going, while also learning about Cesar Chavez, Malala Yousafzai, and Nelson Mandela and these individual's dedication to social justice. The students reflected on how they benefit in their own lives because of the work of these social activists and determined what they can do personally to encourage this work moving forward. The students represented their commitment to social justice on footprints. The “We Must Keep Moving” exhibition is currently on display in the Lodge.

Contributed by Kim Lysne