STEM Night at Windsor Mill Middle School was a resounding success this year. Just like every other year. Organized by Science Department Chair, Anu Bajpai, and 6th Grade Science Teacher and Team Leader, Katie Dell, the evening offered students and families an abundance of science and math related activities. Guests could make ice cream in the science lab, personalized ‘zines in the makerspace room, or living seed necklaces. The WMMS greater community also played a huge role in the evening. The gymnasium was a future scientist’s dream. Students and parents tested their driving skills with the P13 Robots and UMBC’s Baja race cars, or their flying skills with WMMS drones. And the pièce de resistance? An inflatable planetarium hosted by Dr. Storrs courtesy of Towson University. Eighth-grade Science Teacher, Josh Foorhogue, said the WMMS STEM Fair “allows students to interact with professionals who are currently working in STEM careers and high-school students who are pursuing STEM careers. Students can see that a career in STEM is a real possibility.”
Church Lane Elementary (CLETS) students in grades four and five participated in the Maryland M.E.S.A. (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) program for the first time during the 2016-2017 school year. M.E.S.A. is a structured, after school, pre-college program designed to prepare students for academic and professional careers in a STEM field. The twenty-five students that participated, worked collaboratively on various engineering project and science research projects. The students faithfully met every Wednesday after school and worked on a number of hands on learning tasks in addition to meaningfully using technology in order to complete the tasks at hand.
M.E.S.A provides an opportunity for students to interact with various professionals in STEM related fields to discuss their profession, educational pursuits, and other opportunities that are available to students. CLETS students had an opportunity to meet with midshipmen from the Unites States Naval Academy and personnel from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (JHU Applied Physics Lab) on a field trip in October 2016. The JHU Applied Physics Lab is also, the main sponsor of Maryland MESA.
In March 2017, CLETS students then participated in Regional MESA Day at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to compete with other MESA teams throughout Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). The students worked on projects prior to MESA Day for the various challenges. The students were divided into four teams: Cyber Security, Storybook Theme Park Ride, Effective Communication, and Wood Bridge Challenge. All of the aforementioned challenges are designed using Next Generation Science Standards.
The Cyber Security Awareness Challenge, the students use Scratch program (developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) which is an introductory teaching tool for computer programming. Scratch makes it easy for students to create and share interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art, via the Scratch website. Students use scratch in order to create a game with the theme of their choosing to create awareness to Cyber Safety. By creating Scratch projects, students will learn important problem-solving skills as well.
The Story book Theme Park Ride Challenge is to expose students to the engineering process through the design and construction of a functional model theme park ride based on a storybook of the team’s choosing. The ride had to be designed to safely carry one golf ball, two Ping-Pong balls, and a standard-sized marshmallow through two consecutive test runs.
The Effective Communication: Advocacy for Social Concern is a presentation competition for elementary school student teams of four to eight students each. Each team created a compelling public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness and present a recommended action in response to a global, national, or local issue of concern.
The Wood Bridge Challenge is to engage students in the engineering and design process through the construction of a wood bridge, were assessed for its strength-to weight ratio (efficiency). Constructed bridges were to be simplified versions of real world bridges, which are designed to accept a load in virtually any position and support that load without failure/collapse. In this challenge, only one loading position (the center position) was tested.
Although the students didn’t place in the categories, they were encouraged about the possibilities of next year’s challenge. The students enjoyed interacting with other teams and learning from their peers.
Participating in Maryland MESA has sparked student interest in STEM related fields. As a result, it has transferred into their classroom learning behaviors through problems solving and inquiry. I am excited to see the changes in these students and anticipate great things for them in the Maryland MESA program. If you are interested in this program for your school please go to the following website for more information: https://secwww.jhuapl.edu/mesa
The Lighthouse initiatives at Pikesville High School have played an integral part in successfully implementing the Project Lead the Way Engineering Design and Development Capstone Course. The students work in groups of four to research a real-world, current problem and develop a testable solution to the problem over the course of the year; the engineering design process is closely followed every step of the way. In prior lessons, each student generated three-to-four concept sketches that presented a proposed solution to their group’s problem. At beginning of this lesson, each group had already narrowed their proposed solutions down to three-to-four. Throughout the course of this lesson, students rotated to each group to provide feedback in order to aid in determining a final solution to the proposed project. The students left physical post-it notes on the designs while they rotated, as well as comments on each group’s online virtual engineering notebook. With the use of the physical post-it notes and the devices to access virtual notebooks, students were able to provide each other with comments, questions, and other various forms of feedback. The students were heavily engaged in this lesson and were forced to think outside-of-the-box in order provide meaningful feedback to their classmates. Although this lesson could be implemented without the use of the device, the opportunity for students to provide feedback to online engineering journals was more engaging for students and provided the opportunity for digital documentation.
Submitted by Tricia Brown
Reading Specialist, Halstead Academy
Halstead's First Grade Advanced Academics Group performed their own original reader’s theater version of "Catwings", for parents and first grade classes. After shared readings of all four Catwings adventures, the group identified literary elements, distinguished important events from each book, and determined both character traits and feelings in order to create this production. Crystal, one of the first graders, said, "At first I was really nervous, but when I got to perform for my mom, I knew I did a great job."
Our amazing performers were Crystal Maduh, Palou Ngaba, Madisyn Almond, Josiah Smalls-Marquez, Analena King-Sykes, Madison McGann, and Carwyn Ndegwa. Palou said, "This was a great experience. I loved when we laughed together because we knew we finally did it!"
In effort, to prepare students for college and the workforce, Church Lane Elementary students participated in their first Church Lane Elementary College Tour. Fourth and Fifth grade teachers and their school counselor collaborated in effort to promote college readiness and a general understanding of the college experience. Through classroom guidance, students were introduced to and discussed the need for college and vocational training. With support from their classroom teachers, students in 8 classrooms worked hard and obtained information about a specific Maryland College. Each class created a display highlighting information about their specific Maryland College. Using the student created displays, students took a “College Tour”. Students read for information and completed a “scavenger hunt” to gain knowledge about college programs, tuition and extracurricular activities. All students upon tour completion received badges that said, “I am on the road to success”. Keeping with that theme, students then reflected and wrote on posters about what would STOP them on their road to success and what help them GO in the right direction. Prior to the College Tour, students had the opportunity to meet with 16 college students. In a panel discussion, 4th and 5th graders were able to ask questions to current college students and gain understanding about education and career options in their future. Students enjoyed the hands on and engaging opportunity to experience college using technology and discussion.
On November 2nd and 3rd, superintendents from all over the United States and professionals from the world of education and educational technology gathered in Baltimore County schools as part of the League of Innovative Schools 2016 Fall Meeting. BCPS co-hosted the event with Digital Promise. The purpose of the meeting was for school and educational leaders to collaborate on shared priorities in providing access and opportunity for all students. Windsor Mill Middle School was fortunate to be selected as one of two schools to highlight the STAT 1:1 Learner-Centered Environment initiative. Student participation was central to the success of the two-day event, and students at WMMS proudly served as BCPS Ambassadors to their guests. Students launched the event by welcoming visitors as they arrived by bus. Student Guides led small groups on Learning Walk tours of classrooms. Guide Khalil Davis said, “I like to meet new people, and today I had the chance to do that.” Selvin Gonzalez reflected that he was proud to show off Windsor Mill. “I could see on the faces of the visitors that they were amazed at what they saw.” To close the day, a Student Panel eloquently described their journey in a Lighthouse school to the audience of educators. Eighth grader Alesha Pryor said participating on the panel gave her an opportunity to hone her skills in speaking in front of a large audience, and for that she was grateful.
As we searched for resources for our upcoming neighborhood/community helpers unit Ms. Cargill went to one of her favorite BCPS One tools: NBC Learn. She stumbled upon a wonderful neighborhood project called “The Wishing Tree”. This tree isn’t just about wishing for toys although you could; it’s about wishing for something more, maybe not even for yourself but knowing you have the right to wish. You need to watch the story on NBC Learn!
In Kindergarten, we strive to teach more than content, we want to teach our children to be caring citizens. We wanted to spread this message of hope and kindness to everyone at Church Lane, so we made a tree! We sent out a flyer to everyone at school encouraging then to first watch the NBC Learn news story and then wish. We are very busy making more tags and branches because everyone is wishing! It feels good to wish but we have found it is even more moving to read the wishes. We don’t have to wish for wonderful students or teacher. The wishes on our tree let us know that that wish has already been granted!
Searching for ways to incorporate 21 century skills in her art classes, Pikesville Middle School Art Teacher, Ms. Lynam, engaged her 7th grade students in applying their artistic skills to a problem they could relate to in their own world: homeless animals. The students partnered with the Baltimore Humane Society in Reisterstown, MD to bring attention to the animals that were in need of adoption. After they researched images of animals on their Revolves, the students practiced sketching the animals. Wendy Goldband, the head of PR at the Baltimore Humane Society, came to the school and talked with the students about the facility and their animal adoption process during which time the students presented her with donated pet treats and toys. After her visit, students searched the Humane Society webpage, chose an animal they wanted to sketch, and then designed adoption posters. Their fabulous designs, made from the heart, were displayed on the Baltimore Humane Society’s website, Facebook page, sent out across Twitter, and hung in the facility. Students celebrated when they checked the website and saw that their animals were adopted. The unit concluded with the students creating thank you letters reflecting on their experience of giving back to their community.
The Mid-Atlantic Conference on Professional Learning visited Windsor Mill Middle School to study the day-to-day workings of a Lighthouse School immersed in the one-to one digital conversion. Over 50 participants from Florida to Vermont arrived early in the morning to benefit from the hard-won wisdom of the BCPS offices involved in the transformation in learning. A highlight of the day was the Learning Walks when visitors observed the use of formative assessments, targeted small-group instruction, customized and personalized learning, and student collaboration in the classroom. Teachers and students alike were delighted to hear the feedback that reflected a common theme: “Love the hands-on inquiry and level of student engagement” wrote one visiting teacher, “and a culture that promotes deep thinking.”
Sixth-grade students became community leaders during the Windsor Mill Middle School Night of Innovation. Students, parents, community members, and stakeholders gathered for an evening of learning and fun on December 3rd. Discovery Ed, partners in education with BCPS, sponsored the event. Teachers dipped into their trove of Learner-Centered Environment lessons, and student leaders took it from there, facilitating sessions on digital tools such as Nearpod, Plickers, MakeBeliefsComix, and guiding visitors through a virtual archaeological dig on the Aztec, Inca, and Maya; a tutorial in Business Entrepreneurship; and hands-on science experiments with Spaghetti Towers and Marshmallow Catapults. The historic evening was captured by a Tweetbeam and a livestream via Periscope. Participants in the WMMS NOI Community shared words that captured the evening for them on a Word Cloud. The final verdict? Joyful.
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.