To kick off their environmental science unit, Teal and Indigo Bands headed out this morning for a half day excursion to Whirlpool Cave through Austin Watershed Protection. They climbed deep into the Edward’s Aquifer via caves to explore Austin's unique Karst topography and learn more about our city’s watershed. This experience will be helpful as they later move into a project focused on water quality in which the learners will develop their own water filtration systems.….
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At Long-View, our days begin not with the ringing of a school bell, but with the resonant hum of a singing bowl. Teachers, learners, and visitors gather around an (unignited) campfire log, and as the sound of the singing bowl fades slowly to silence, we settle ourselves in for a rich day of learning.
This ritual, which we call “Campfire,” is not just circle time or show-and-tell, but an intellectually rigorous start to every day. We begin by greeting each member of the community with the Zulu word Sawubona, which means “I see you.” Each person responds, “Sikhona,” meaning “I am here.” But don’t be mistaken--this is not just a silly way of taking attendance. When our learners say they are here, they mean it in every sense of the phrase. Not only are they physically and intellectually present, but they are here for each other as a community of thinkers and problem-solvers….
Science fairs are one of those quintessential elementary school experiences that students and parents love to complain about, and for good reason. In their worst form, parents do all the work, the artistry of the display board takes on outsized importance, and students lose track of what they are doing and why. But this bad reputation masks the underlying good bones of the idea: giving students a chance to participate fully in the process of doing science.
Our Long-View students are immersed in that experience right now, which will culminate in their participation at the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival next weekend....
Last week we pivoted in science from a focus through a series of lessons on how engineers solve problems to deeper work on the nature of science and how scientists think and work. Mrs. Swanson took the group through a demonstration that involved catalyzing the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide. The result of the very exciting demonstration was that a huge swath of thick foam poured out of the graduated cylinder, and the timely addition of food coloring made the foam look like large toothpaste, or “Elephant Toothpaste."
As we carefully observed, Mrs. Swanson mixed hydrogen peroxide with some liquid soap....