Archive 2011-12

May 2012
A body has been found and stolen.  Four suspects act innocent.  Is Felix dead???  If so, who killed him?  Middle School students are on the case! Their challenge is to solve a mystery which is set up in the classroom.  The students are inspecting mapping and the evidence left at the scene and will test and analyze it to identify each item.  Next, they will have to determine what happened to Felix and prove it with evidence.
Speaking of CSI - the Cemetery Scene Investigators are on their way!  There is a great deal of fascinating exploration within the cemetery.   Eighth graders are focusing on : Potowatomee Indians, Anarchists, Druids, Monument Weathering, Cultures, Symbols and Tokens left by visitors.


Creative computing! Fourth grade is immersed in a design-based introduction to computational thinking and is creating innovative uses for their sensor inputs in the creation of their very own programs.


Third grade students are using loupes to look at the world differently and make new connections.  Looking closely allows students to think deeply about structures and ask questions to develop a new perspective and create analogies.  Looking closely also opens the door to imagination.  One student brought in a bag of moss- so we looked at it with a high powered scope to really see what was going on inside the moss.  Students were amazed to see teeny worms and bugs crawling about what they saw as a micro world.
Fifth grade is learning about math in nature by looking at patterns in nature (and architecture) and how they relate to pi and the Golden Ratio.  Students are growing plants whose petals fall into the pattern.  Ultimately, the kids are designing and planting a Fibonacci Flower garden in the planters behind the school.  We also created our own hydroponic system for growing plants (which may also be how plants could be grown on Mars).

Good luck to our six sixth graders who will take on the Argonne Electric Car Challenge over break.  Getting the car ready was very difficult - the gears would strip from the powerful motor and supercharged lithium battery and the cars would need lots of redesign work.  
This year, the Electric Car Race challenges students to use applied science, and engineering skills to meet technical challenges comparable to those that scientists and engineers face to provide a light-weight low-friction vehicle with efficient gearing, chassis integrity, and robust performance.
In the past, cars in the Argonne Challenge have been solar and hydro powered; however, this year they are aligned with the direction the government is going - that is: high performace batteries... gas prices are still climbing...

March 2012

Eighth graders explored the fields of GPS, GIS, mapping data, and even geocaching. 
The weather was beautiful as students set out to find their first geocache.  
The hunt for the geocache brought us to the Ancient Indian Trail in Forest Home Cemetery and opened the door for many more local historical discoveries.  (Here is a Prezi tour link.) 

Eighth graders are now researching topics of interest on the Forest Home Cemetery.  Topics include gravestone weathering, Native Americans, anarchists, Druids and symbols.

Nature links:
3rd graders at Field are looking closely at nature using a "loupe look"   - a program designed to encourage students to look closely, think deeply, and develop analogies.  

chall loupe look 2012

Next week, we will create poems using the analogies.

Meanwhile, 5th graders are looking closely at nature by learning about Fibonacci.  We are also planting a Fibonacci flower garden in the back of the school.  Students selected and planted flowers whose petals have Fibonacci numbers.  Art teacher, Ms. Skelton, gave us a great way to get the seeds started - - cut paper towel rolls and fold them at the bottom for planters.

February 2012
Elementary students visited Argonne National Laboratory  in late February.  The scientists at Argonne gave a Superconductivity demonstration where our Challenge kids had a chance to observe magnetic levitation using liquid nitrogen and discover how materials behave under cold temperatures.  

There were also two learning labs the students attended:  1.  Science of Toys Lab - kids learned how toys are designed around science concepts and principles and investigate how these laws and principles involved. 2.  Spectrophotometers Lab  - students used advanced equipment to compare the relationship between light and color. 

January 2012

Seventh graders have been keeping in touch with students in Prague using Skype.  The last week in January, the teacher took the students on a "walking tour" of Riverside School in Prague to see the art installations created by students.  All of the artwork pieces created by the students have become permanent installations and are made of recycled materials.  Prague instructor, Mr Hellman, challenged students to find more about Jan Kaplický, and his futuristic design plan for  the National Museum of the Czech Republic.  His design quickly became controversial and was ultimately rejected. 

5th graders are now completing the Mars surface for their Red Rover project.  The took a look at geomorphology of Mars and compared features to the Earth. 

They used plaster to sculpt the land and carefully selected colors that matched the photos the looked at.  The students also built rovers and programmed them to run at a low speed to ensure the missions do not get damaged when the are operated over the internet.  

3rd and 4th graders are testing the machines they built which are powered by three alternative energy sources: water, wind and solar.  

November 10

Solving global problems is all in a days work for thirteen Forest Park Middle School 7th and 8th grade students who participated in the Northern Illinois Model UN Conference at the Chicago History Museum on Thursday, November 10th. The students did an outstanding job role-playing delegates from different countries while learning about international affairs and gaining insight into other cultures and countries across the globe.


During the mock summit, students were able to develop negotiating, writing, and public speaking skills while discussing solutions to international problems. Delegates participated in one of three UN bodies: the Committee for Disarmament and International Security (DISEC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Security Council. The topics they faced included: climate change, nuclear non-proliferation, terrorism, child soldiers and the piracy in Somalia.

There was also an interactive simulation with crisis scenarios that tested their foreign policy knowledge – - and a few "fun" crisis scenarios such as an alien invasion and UFOs over Russia. The students had a blast and learned a great deal. Forest Park Middle School students won the NIMUN School Initiative Award for their hard work at the conference. Way to Go FPMS MUN!

October 26

Grade 3 and 4 traveled to the Graue Mill to explore a working water-wheel that represents an important technology era in the history of America.  It is one of a few restored mills that remain in this country, and today the museum is filled with local history. This is part of our renewable energy study.  As a follow-up to our visit, we will construct our own renewable energy designs including solar, wind and water-powered machines. 

October 20

Sixth graders explored history exhibits at the Chicago History Museum in preparation for their Chicago Metro History Fair research project.  Projects will be local history (Chicago, Forest Park or Illinois) and students will show the impact they made.  Students can select their product to be a documentary video, research paper, museum display, website, or performance.

October 10
Elementary classes are busy moving up through the levels in Hands-on Equations using kinesthetic strategies to strengthen their understanding of 
algebraic concepts. We also are having fun with plexers (picture puzzles), creative thinking activities/warm-ups and solving mysteries through critical questioning.

October 3
  • Students in grades 3, 4, and 5 are currently exploring Hands-on Equations- a kinesthetic approach to algebra.  Third graders have started using Scratch (MIT) to learn programming basics.
  • Fifth grade completed their KWL on Mars and will explore features of Mars.  Once we learn more about the red planet we will try to develop a solution for inhabiting Mars in the future. 
  • Middle School has been working on team building skills.  Eighth grade is getting ready to work as a team to prepare for Future Cities and seventh grade is working together in preparation for their global virtual classroom project.

  • To prepare for Chicago Metro History research projects, the sixth grade is exploring primary sources with a mystery object.  The coin below has an interesting background - students used their research skills to seek out the secret mystery behind it.  

September 18
We will be using our Thinkquest to document PBLand reflections. This year, I want you to explain howyou are participating, what you have discovered, what you had success with and what you did not - in your own words.  You can find Challenge Chat by logging into your Thinkquest account. Additionally, you can include your KWL chart (What You Know, What You Want to Know, and What You Learned) for upcoming projects.  

Your new self-evaluation post will be a requirement each time we meet. 
What should you include in you Challenge Chat?  We'll discuss this more this week.

Coming September 2, 2011... Get Ready for...

In the 2011 Food Factor Challenge, over 200,000 kids from over 55 countries will explore the topic of food safety and examine the possible points of contamination our food encounters – from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsterile processing and transportation, to unsanitary preparation and storage – then find ways to prevent or combat these contaminates.  
Teams will build, test, and program an autonomous robot to solve a set of Food Safety missions as well as research, develop, and share their innovative food safety solutions.*

*FLL 2011

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

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Argonne Car Competition:  April 14

Juggernaut takes third in the table rounds!

What is Challenge Class?? Click here if Prezi is not loading

Food Factor Challenge 2011 - Team Juggernaut
 Food Factor Team Links
All over - apparently! We went to Ed's Way and found the same shrimp company had packaged shrimp from Thailand, Vietnam and India. 


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.



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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