Archive 2010-11

May 17, 2011

April 2011
4th grade is busy creating some awesome programming with Scratch.  The projects show how we might survive on another planet!  We spent a day at the Adler Planetarium to learn more about survival in space and came back with tons of information and creative ideas for this project.

8th grade completed their bridge building projects and tested their bridges - videos to come after we speed up the footage. 

Medieval Times was a blast!  Swordplay, jousting, food, and those amazing horses!

Students in seventh grade took a special trip to the House of Blues.  We travelled to the House of Blues to hear not only the history of blues music, but also to look at the untrained artistry of folk art, the materials used in folk art creation (mud, sticks, stones, wooden doors, bottle caps and shoes) and listen to the stories behind the artists.

March, 2011
6th grade is exploring Shakespeare, the Globe Theater, and taking on a few plays: MacBeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  We hope to see a live presentation if we can get the tickets!  

The Philanthropy websitecreated by the 7th grade and Canadian students is up and running. 

The seventh grade is now creating books with a  paper engineering unit.  We are also using special software to test out our designs before we put the scissors to the paper.

5th grade is exploring structures and building skyscrapers.  We are trying to find a unique idea to fill the void of the Chicago Spire.  The Spire was to be a 150 story residential skyscraper in the city; however, lacking the funding to continue, thearchitect returned to Ireland.  What is left of the extreme building design is a 76 ft. deep and 110 ft. wide hole.  Our mission:  to come up with a creative use of the space.  The plan can be a skyscraper, a work of art, or just about any type of interesting and aesthetic structure.

3rd and 4th are exploring space and will take a trip to the Adler Planetarium to explore survival in space.

It is painstakingly hard to construct a toothpick bridge (ask any 8th grader) The sad part of it is:  in order to test its strength we will have to destroy it!

February, 2011

Minerals are everywhere!  In toothpaste technology fourth grade students explore minerals and visit a virtual quarry. They create a "product," by following the a sequence of science processes -- they study the attributes of the product, test its ingredients, and then mix ingredients to create their own personal "secret formula." 

The third bridge building challenge for eighth graders was to recreate Leonardo Da Vinci's self-supporting bridge.  The bigger it gets, the stronger it becomes. This month we will begin our toothpick bridge design.  
Final entries into the West Point Bridge Design contest are being uploaded - - designing a computer model and viewing it in 3-D helps us to see the tension and compression on the design as a load rolls over it.

Seventh grade is working on their website: Philanthropy: The Giving of Time, Talent and Treasure.  They held a "Puppy Love" bake sale to benefit the Animal Care League.  We will post the website when it is ready next month.

January 2011
Third grade finished their tribute to Dr. Seuss by programming their first interactive animations of "Oh! The Places You'll Go."  Here are the links:

In designing a Coat of Arms for a medieval heraldry project, fifth graders had tocarefully consider things they stand for, emblems, mottos and colors that represent themselves.

Early challenges faced by eighth grade bridge designers made use of simple 
materials to build strong structures. Can you rest 50 pennieson a single sheet of paper 
suspended 4 inches above a table? 
Thinking about the shape of the paper helps.  

Tufts U. provided an excellent engineering challenge for students to build a "people mover." After examining various simple machines and their  trade-offs, students needed to design complex machine that will move people safely up and over a specified distance.

Dec 17, 2010
After building a medieval castle we needed to create a catapult to "test" the strength of the walls. Using popsicle sticks, tape, a paper clip, and rubber band we constructed three 
strong triangles and connected them to create a powerful catapult.  Some students got creative and added additional containers for their paper projectiles.  The catapults were a smashing success.

December 10, 2010
Taking a break from our project, students in 7th grade created and raced edible food cars.  The goal was to build a car that would not fall apart going down the track, look "cool" and roll.  The task of building a car completely out of food was quite difficult and getting it to roll was even more of a challenge.  Spaghetti was used for most of the axles and a range of bread and fruit and lunch leftovers were pasted together with cream cheese.  

November 18, 2010
5th grade began building castles - we have some photos once they are completed.  6th grade had a representative from the Chicago metro History Fair come and talk about writing a thesis statement.  She also shared some great projects with students and helped them analyze what made them great.  We will have a field trip to the Chicago History museum after Thanksgiving.

November 14, 2010
Eighth grade explored GPS and geocaching as a
first step toward mapping our local cemetery.
Our mission: to find a hidden cache in the cemetery.  After a bit of searching, we discovered the cache.  The capsule was a small bison case with a log - good cache find for beginners.  

The geocache directions had led us to a large pink granite boulder - the Indian Trail monument with the inscription:

An Ancient Indian Trail once passed this boulder skirting the forest along the Des Plaines River through groves of wild plum and hazel thickets. Eastward the tall grass of the
prairie stretched as far as the eye could reach. Later it served as a road for the early settlers in the long months when the flooded prairies were impassable. May those who now follow this trail gain comfort from nature's peace and beauty. 1942

November 9, 2010
Elementary students visited the Museum of Science and Industry for some hands-on engineering with simple machines.  We had time to explore some of the exhibits including : U-505,  and You: The Experience, and Science Storms.   

October 28, 2010
7th and 8th graders walked into a mystery crime scene this week.  
Students studied the crime scene, tried to distinguish between evidence and inference, created a map of the crime scene and a clue board of suspects.  Next week, we will begin to analyze the evidence.

7th grade got a chance to meet one of their partner schools for GVC in a video conference.  The topic this year will be Philanthropy Planet: the giving of Time, Talent, and Treasure
We will have a lot to talk about and do with this project!

October 21, 2010
7th and 8th graders met with FBI agent Mr. Smith to go over current crime scene techniques.  Students were able to fingerprint and see how a footprint can be lifted from a newspaper.  
Elementary students are working on "Hands-on Equations" and are getting quite 
confident with solving the equations.
Grade 3 is working on understanding the logic of programing with MIT's Scratch application.  4th grade is investigating simple machines with Legos and an engineering unit designed by Tufts University. 5th grade is beginning research on the Middle Ages and 6th grade is beginning to select topics of interest for the Chicago Metro History Fair theme "Debate and Diplomacy."

October 8, 2010

Middle School Challenge students took a trip to Argonne National Laboratory for labs in forensics and in chemistry.  

In the Forensics Lab, students were briefed on a crime that took place in the lab.  Students needed to analyze evidence gathered from the crime scene to solve in the case to solve “The Case of the Missing Microscope.” There was a variety of evidence- fingerprints, shoe and tire prints, hair samples, powders, and security logs that could help to identify the culprit.  Students also interviewed the suspects in order to determine if their suspicions were correct.  The problem?  Some people do not tell the truth!

In the Chemistry Lab, students explored  “Vitamin C Testing.”  Students used a

laboratory technique called “titration” to test various fruit drinks and beverages for relative vitamin C content.  The juices: white grape juice, apple juice, Gatorade, orange juice, etc. all contained various amounts of Vitamin C; however, the Gatorade tested did not reveal much at all!

Students had a great time with the hands-on explorations at Argonne.  Thanks to all our volunteers for helping chaperone the trip!

September 24, 2010

There are many new games in the Challenge room this year.  The selected board games are the Spiel des Jahres (German for Game of the Year)  award winning games:  Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride.  
The newest game, Dixit, is a 2010 Spile des Jahres winner and it is a huge hit in the classroom.  Students enjoy playing the storyteller in an attempt to outwit most (but not all) of the other players.  
Many of the students also like Carcassonne because it is easy to set up and they can play a thief to defeat their opponents.  After students learn the game rules they can then develop strategies for optimal play.  

Elementary students (Gr. 3-4-5) are getting started with Hands-on Equations! 
 The program teaches algebraic concepts in a way that makes students comfortable and confident in learning mathematical concepts.

2010 Topics!

Grade 3
Plexers, Logic, Hands-on Equations
Stories of the Stars
Shadow Theater

Grade 4 Plexers, Logic, Hands-on Equations
Toothpaste technology
Simple Machines
Inventions – Rube Goldberg
Forces of Nature: Natural Disasters

Grade 5
Plexers, Logic, Hands-on Equations
Medieval Knights & Castles
Get Your Bearings: Orienteering & Geocaching/Letterboxing
Bridges & Structures

Grade 6
Math Challenges: Figure This
Stories with Holes
CMHF: Chicago Metro History Fair
Scratch Interactives

Grade 7
Math Challenges: Figure This
Stories with Holes
Crime Lab/Mystery Festival
GVC: Global Virtual Classroom
Paper Engineering

Grade 8
Math Challenges: Figure This
Stories with Holes
CSI Geospatial Technology
Crime Lab/ Mystery FestivalBuilding Toothpick Bridges 

West Point Bridge Design
Argonne Solar Car Challenge

Visit the Challenge Class HippoCampus a virtual school to help with your homework.

RoboSmashers at UIC Regional FLL Body Forward

Congratulations on a job well done!  RoboSmashers performed very well in all competitions and even held tight to 4th in the table tournament.  Everyone had an exciting experience at the event.

Forest Park Robotics Team Presents at Lego KidsFest!

Forest Park Middle School Robotics team (#9130) members presented their robot at the McCormack Place Lego KidsFest on Saturday, October 30th.  
Students demonstrated their programming and design skills and answered visitor questions in an effort to get the word out abo
ut FLL (First Lego League) and the opportunities to get involved.
First Lego League is a worldwide robotics competition that motivates kids to pursue careers in technology by developing skills in problem-solving, strategizing, and thinking creatively.

The Census Bureau's new projections indicate that the 7 billion marker will be reached in July of 2012.  In March, 2010 there will be a new Census.


One birth every..................................   7 seconds
One death every.................................. 13 seconds
One international migrant (net) every............ 36 seconds
Net gain of one person every..................... 11 seconds

US Population Clock

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