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Learning Expedition to the South Florida Museum

Posted by on March 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Scientific Inquiry & The Pursuit of the Perfect Watermelon

Posted by on March 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Growing Arugula… Our Conclusions


 After we got back from winter break, the middle schoolers checked out our arugula plants. We noticed our arugula plants had grown more leaves and got much taller. 

Interestingly though, both the control group plant (no added feritlizer) and the experimental plants (varied amounts of added) fertilizer looked almost identical.

We think this might be because the seedlings pulled the nutrients from the surrounding  seed plug and never used the extra nutrients from the potting soil and we’re currently designing a follow-up project to test our new hypothesis on why all the oant groups had similar growth rates.  

By the way, after concluding our intial study,  we harvested our plants and had nearly ten pounds of arugula! Wow!













Posted by on January 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Soil Superheroes: Middle School Science Heads out to the Garden

In Earth Science class we’ve been learning about weathering, erosion, and soil formation. We discussed the composition of soils and why Florida’s topsoil makes growing fruits and veggies difficult (Florida soil is mostly sand which #1) isn’t porous so it doesn’t retain moisture; #2) the granules of the sand are so big it lets nutrients slip between them and wash away; #3) sand is really heavy which makes it difficult for roots to grow.

We started talking to Mr. Noune, our garden guru, about how soil type impacts seeds. He confirmed what we learned in class and explained how gardens use “potting mixes” to supplement Florida soil. He also shared that soil needs nutrients (like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in order to support plant growth.

Then, (yesterday) our class headed out to the garden to begin our investigation on optimum soils for plant growth. We picked arugula seedlings because they grow quickly and we wanted to finish our experiment before winter break. We each prepared two pots of seedlings: the first, our control, contained only potting soil (55% peat, 45% perilite/vermiculite). Our Second pot was a little different because every student made a hypothesis about how much fertilizer(13-5-11) would impact seedling growth and then we added that amount to our “test” pot. (It’s kinda like seeing whether or not taking a daily multi-vitamins works, except this is the plant version…)

Once we were outside, we planned out and prepped our materials and procedures so that we would be perfectly following the scientific method. We had to be REALLY detailed about every step of the process and then figure out what the controlled variables would be so that the two pots were exactly the same except for the addition of fertilizer in the “experimental” pot.

When the seedlings were potted and labeled, we completed our first observations. Be sure to check back later and see how the arugula is growing!

Posted by on December 5, 2012 at 10:37 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

“It Started with a Question” (to the tune of “Everybody Talks”)

Posted by on October 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Updates from the Land of Science

Reflecting on our “Teaching the Scientific Method” Projects:

  • While the primary goal of the project (as prepared by the students) was to “teach the steps of the scientific method in a way that was not confusing, boring, or lame,” a few tertiary goals were embedded within the project to establish a strong foundation of teamwork, collaboration, time-management and giving / receiving honest, specific, and respectful feedback.  Following the presentation and feedback portion of the project, each student completed a self-evaluation survey.  I’ve include some of their quotes below:

“Teaching the scientific method was harder than I thought!  I never realized how many details were needed!” – Hannah

“I think this project was exciting because we sang and danced instead of writing boring papers” – Erica (sixth grade)

“I learned that proper time management can make your life easy.” – Mo 

“What I learned about time management from working on this project is that even though two weeks seems like a long time it can fly by if your time isn’t well managed.  What worked for us was making daily goals to achieve and trying our best to complete them.” – Mackenzie

 “During this project I learned that I sometimes need to be more trusting and patient.  Before I blurt out my ideas, I need to wait and listen to or process someone else’s ideas.” – Ellie

“I learned that honest feedback, if taken, can completely change the way you thought about your project.  Also, you should always give honest feedback.”  – Amelia

“Giving feedback is really important.  It must be honest and thorough to actually help though.  I got some really stupid feedback and some really good feedback.  Good feedback is important because it lets you see your project from someone else’s perspective.” – Drew

“I learned that it’s the teamwork that matters, not just ‘finishing it [the project]’.” – Jared 

“I’ve learned that I personally have matured when working in groups.  I used to have to have everything my way and when it wasn’t I would take it personally.  Working on this project I realized how far I’ve come in learning to compromise.” – Zoe


  •  We are in the process of uploading Gabriella, Mackenzie, Fay, and Matthew’s video to the blog!  Keep checking back because it’s pretty awesome!


“What is Science?”  Scientific Inquiry and Lab Safety Test

  • Our first science test is officially history and I’m proud to announce that 15 students scored 90% or higher!
  • Congratulations to Kayla who earned a perfect test score of 101%!


Mapping Earth’s Surface:

  • Yesterday (10/3) we began our journey into topography investigating how landforms, relief, and elevation impacted the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Today, as we launch into our CYO Civilization project, students apply their new knowledge to carefully select and create an imaginary new society using actual geographic information.
Posted by on October 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Comments Off | Permalink

It’s Our Turn: “Teaching the Scientific Method” Projects

Our Middle School Science year has begun with an investigation of what science is, why it exists, and how we use it in our everyday lives. As we explored the “scientific method,” the students expressed two frustrations. First, that the steps were hard to remember, and second that all the videos and songs we listened to while learning about it were “boring” and “lame.”

Thus, a project was born. Our goal? “Developing an effective means to teach the Scientific Method to a group of students in a way that was not confusing or boring.”
Students discussed and weighed-in on every aspect of the project from how we should make groups, what should be the task sequence, and how we can best evaluate our final products. Then they got to brainstorming. So far, student ideas range from silent films, talk shows, music videos, videos games come to life, interactive powerpoints, and demonstrative experiments.

Enjoy these in-process glimpses and stay tuned for digital versions of their final products.

Posted by on September 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Scientific Method

For the past two weeks, in science, we have been learning about the scientific method.We started learning about the method, by filling in the blanks on science notes. This week we listened to the “SCIENTIFIC METHOD!!!” Mrs. Ferguson definitely enjoyed that song!!

Posted by on August 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Rock Candy Science

Science is so much fun! Just you ask me. In science class we are learning about solids, liquids, and gases. This week we’re making rock candy which is a type of crystalline solid. We started by creating a “super-saturated” solution of dissolved sugar and hot water. It starts as a low-viscosity liquid, but once you add more and more sugar, it hardens up and into a very viscous (thick) liquid.

Since the particles of a crystalline solid form in a regular repeating pattern, it’s time to wait for our sugar crystals to start growing. We’ll be conducting scientific observations and recording any changes or new crystal growth we see.

Posted by on October 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Red Claw Crabs!

They were very strange-looking on top of each other. They all so use their claws to make dances to mate. They use chemicals to help digest their food. They use energy to heal themselves after an injury from a predator or from a rival crab. They use their home a lot when they molt. They would pinch you if they are startled. They also hide when people crowd around them. If you take their home out they would be petrified and scared. They also go up on the bridge to breath fresh air. They also are scavengers that look for scraps from other crabs or what ever they could fine. They also live in brackish freshwater. The females have smaller, but similar claws to the males big claws. They fight over females during mating season. They mature in eight months.

Posted by on September 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink