It is often said that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. Our seventh graders have been teaching the kindergarten and first grade classes about what fish need to survive, and where fish come from. This is all part of a national conservation and education experience called Trout in the Classroom.
Trout in the Classroom is an environmental educational program that teaches participants to raise trout from eggs. As part of the process, the students monitor water quality and study stream habitats. Through this they learn appreciation for water resources and begin to understand ecosystems. We proudly released our trout in the Mill River of the Lake Mohegan State Park, here in Fairfield in May.
“Sonny, move out to the country,
Workin’ too hard can give you
A heart attack (ack)”
Apologies to Billy Joel. The seventh grade’s year-long study of life science concluded with an examination of the cardiovascular system. Students dissected sheep hearts to get a first-hand look at the differences between atria and ventricles and the strong and weak sides of the heart. Everyone made it through without a heart attack.
For the fourth Earth Day in a row the Upper School focused on a theme related to one of the greatest challenges facing our planet. This year the focus was on Global Warming and specifically the impact of rising CO2 on the world’s oceans. Students traveled to Stratford, CT to explore and plant sawgrass at Stratford Point. This exploration had robust science and ecological activities, raised social awareness, and is part of the science curriculum. We worked in concert with Sacred Heart University and Dr. Jennifer Mattei in the Living Shorelines Project to plant sawgrass next to geodesic domes to help combat erosion due to rising sea level.
After lunch the Upper Schoolers led their Lower School partners in afternoon activities demonstrating the effects of Global Warming. For instance 2nd and 3rd graders learned about melting glaciers with their 6th and 7th grade partners.
Is banana bread a healthy snack? When baked by Margot, Daniel, Greg and Chef Jessica, not only is it healthy, it’s delicious! For their nutrition project, the team analyzed a banana bread recipe to determine if it could be modified to make a healthy snack. They discovered how easy it was to make simple substitutions for flour and sugar, but would it taste good? From the preparation, to the baking and clean up, these grade 7 students were all smiles, especially when they added the chocolate chips. Yes, they kept the chocolate chips! When the bread was baked and shared with their classmates and teachers, their reactions were “it’s good!” and “it’s delicious!” Job well done Unquowa bakers!
See all the monkeys they’re scritch-scritch scratchin’
Jumpin’ around and scritch-scritch scratchin’
Hangin’ by the long-tail (huff huff huff)
And we can stay all day! by Peter Paul and Mary
The seventh grade wrapped up a unit on evolutionary adaptations and natural selection by visiting the Bronx Zoo and participating in an active classroom experience called the Hunter Games. The students explored the natural advantages of both predators and prey before being led on an animal behavior tour guided by the Zoo’s Conservation Society staff.
Our 7th-grade humanities class has studied the spectrum of foreign policy and how the geography and history of a country influences they way it interacts with other nations. In preparation for our unit covering Afghanistan and the complexity of the challenges facing the Middle East, our class participated in “Nations: A Simulation Game in International Politics.”
Similar to Model U.N., students represented one of the seven countries on the fictional continent of Lostralia. Provided with a unique history, social structure, religious beliefs, intelligence secrets, and objectives, students had to improve the previously set factor totals reflecting the strengths or weaknesses of each country (e.g., food stability, infrastructure, military power, etc.). Three students, a minister of press, a diplomat, and a head of state, represented each nation. Now, this sounds too complex for a group of seventh graders, right? Not for our scholarly students! They threw themselves into the game with all the vigor and exuberance we could have hoped for, creating flags, national anthems, detailed maps, even passports! Each country produced press releases that used persuasion techniques, including propaganda; they scheduled diplomatic meetings and negotiated trade and military defense treaties.
The game culminated with a world summit to debate issues regarding human rights, religious rights, and environmental protection. It was an inspiring moment, witnessing our students solve the problems of their world through diplomacy. Most impressively, despite the temptation to declare war, students diffused tension before it could escalate. Upon reflection, the students expressed how difficult it is for diplomats to walk the fine line between peace and war. While it was only a simulation, it is comforting to know that our students- if given the opportunity- are capable and eager to solve the world’s problems with diplomacy.