Bird Identification

This website is a fantastic resource for learning about Missouri birds. It even gives you identification tips for some species. We will leave at 9:30 Thursday morning for our field trip. Be sure to bring binoculars if you have some.

Bird Study

Please sign up here if you would like to participate. We will be meeting for a class at school Monday morning, May 7th and then going on a field trip Thursday morning, May 10th. We will learn some basic bird anatomy, characteristics, behavior, and identification tips and have the opportunity to go birdwatching with an Audubon birding expert at Valley Water Mill Park.

Cave Projects

Here are some options for cave-related projects you might find interesting after our visit to Smallin Cave on Monday. You may choose to do any number of these projects (including zero) or design a project of your own.

  1. Cave model – using clay or other materials, design a model of a cave that includes labeled cave features such as stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstone, popcorn, etc.
  2. Mapping caves – create a map of the state of Missouri that shows the location and number of caves around the state.
  3. Cave current event – choose a news article such as this one that features new cave discoveries. Read it, and write a response. Or read it with a partner or small group and discuss the article.
  4. Field trip – visit another cave in the area, and create a photo essay about the cave. Display at art walk.
  5. Lab – Go to this website to learn about cave formations and complete the lab that is outlined on the website. Share the process and results via a presentation or report.
  6. Around the world – choose a cave from anywhere around the world that you would like to visit, and research the location and unique features of the cave.
  7. Wildlife – choose one or more cave animals to research, and share your findings. You could focus on species in Missouri, endangered species, adaptations for cave life, etc.

Cave Ecology

 

Smallin Cave – Ozark, MO

Visit Smallin Cave with us on Monday, April 16th. We will leave school at 9:30am and return around lunchtime. While at the cave, we will explore the history and ecology of the cave. There are many animals, fossils, and historical topics to research and/or develop into larger projects. This would be a good science study opportunity before the school year ends. 🙂

DNA

Image result for dna

Tuesday, March 27th, we will begin a workshop to investigate the structure, function, and extraction of DNA. We will create an edible DNA model, discuss DNA’s importance, create glowing bacteria using a bioluminescent gene, and extract strands of our own DNA from our cheek cells.

Shark dissection Thursday

If you are participating in the shark dissection, this video may be helpful for you to watch. It shows some external and internal anatomy that we will observe and identify. Plus it prepares you for what the shark will look like. Also, if you take a video or photos as you dissect, you could use it as your blog post for this activity.

Current u.school Offerings

American Citizenship Test/American History: This workshop started out as a study group to pass the US citizenship test (100 questions). That was the first two weeks. It has now shifted to be an overview of American History. We have divided the American timeline up into 20 segments and we are going over major events. This is largely lecture and discussion. No major reading or writing is required. It is meant to give a general overview of major events and trends in American History. This class is aimed primarily at 6th-9th grades, but anyone is welcome to join and could benefit from it.
Poetry Workshop: This is a weekly workshop that includes reading, discussion, and writing of free verse poetry. It is meant to allow students of all grades to understand and enjoy contemporary poetry. It involves some reading of selected poetry, finding and identifying poetry that the students connect with, and writing some verses. The workshop is a mix of ages and genders with everyone from middle school boys to high school seniors participating. It is meant to see the vitality and passion of modern poetry rather than some staid, dry, sucking the life out of poetry. It takes place Monday mornings for approximately 10 weeks.
Sharks and Rays (including shark dissection): This starts next week. It is an exploration of the anatomy, habitat, etc of sharks and rays and will include a shark dissection.  All ages are encouraged to participate.
Botony Experiment:  A group of students are conducting an ongoing science experiment to see if plants grow better when plant or human probiotics (or none) are added to the soil.
DWNTWN magazine: We are getting ready to send the March issue of DWNTWN magazine to the printer. Deadline is today.  We are starting to develop stories for the May issue. Students of all ages are encouraged to join in the production of the magazine. Some of the jobs are photography, page layout, ad sales, and writing. This publication looks great on a portfolio of work because it has an authentic audience (as all most all of our work does).
Math Hour 1-2 p.m.:  We subscribe to an online math course called Videotext. Classes range from pre-algebra to pre-calculus. Students may move at a pace that suits them and they can work with others or by themselves. Terri our math specialist is available to help and explain concepts during that time. Everyone works on math during this dedicated hour.
Book Club: We offer an individual book club where students pick their own book and meet as a group every Friday to keep each other accountable for reading and to tell about their books. We also have a group book club where everyone participating reads the same book and discusses it weekly.   The book club finished reading Bel Canto today.  The next book club book is Station Eleven (it is also the Library’s Big Read book). A description of Station Eleven is on the blog.
u.talks:  Every student is highly encouraged to give at least one u.talk on a topic of their choice.  This is a 5-10 minute presentation (in TED Talk style) to u.school’s student body.  Two dates are left to give a talk this year: March 22 and April 26.
The Intelligence of the Cosmos by Ervin Laszlo A discussion group based on the book exploring questions such as “Why are we here?” and “How are we and the universe interconnected?”  This book discussion will wrap up in the next 2-3 weeks and we will probably pick another non-fiction to read and discuss.  All ages are welcome.
Mindfulness: This is a weekly workshop on mindfulness techniques taught by a professor from MSU. All students are invited to join.
First Friday Art Walk: Our Art Walk theme for March is Luck. Students are welcome to work on a display of any kind of art or participate in the administration of the event. Art Walk is Friday, March 2 from 6-9pm.
 
Student-led Workshops:  Students are welcome to teach classes on subjects that they enjoy and know about.  Today was the first day of a workshop on 3D printing and jewelry making taught by a middle school and high school student (Will and Dawson).
Ice Skating: We have been walking down to the Ice Park every Thursday afternoon for the past month or so. We will be switching PE units soon. The students will vote on what they want to do next possibly bowling or open gym at the YMCA depending on the availability and cost.
Self-directed Independent projects and research:  Students are highly encouraged to pursue independent projects and studies. Teachers are available and excited to brainstorm ideas and help with these projects.
Communitas:  Weekly democratic meeting usually on Thursdays at 11.
Wiffle Ball Field Development:  We have an opportunity to work with the City of Springfield to develop plans and put in place a wiffle ball field for use by the downtown wiffle ball leagues.  We have a piece of downtown land to use, we just need a team of students to start work on this.
Meta hour: the first 30 minutes to 60 minutes of the day are spent in Meta hour. This is a time to plan, review, discuss group goals and personal goals and activities. We also do some creativity exercises, writing prompts, group activities, etc. Every one usually attends this daily session.

Shark Week starts March 5th

If you’re interested in learning about the world of sharks and rays, join us for a workshop on cartilaginous fishes where we will discuss their behavior, anatomy, and ecology. We will conclude with a shark dissection.