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.
The second grade students came into music and movement class one day singing a Spanish song Vivir La Vida. We had been learning the Cumbia Dance in movement class and this was a perfect song to choreograph a partner dance to! The students and I were so excited to begin! Our voices began to carry down the hallway to where Senora Brenna’s seventh grade spanish class had also fallen in love with this catchy song and a natural collaboration began! The seventh graders focused on the verses and pronunciation of their Spanish words. The second graders focused on the chorus of the song and on their Cumbia Dance. In only two weeks we were ready to show the school what we had been working on in class! At assembly the second graders came running up to me “Mrs. Kirk, we are missing a student! Now someone will be without a partner!” Getting up on stage with the second and seventh graders was a true joy!
The seventh graders have been working on a printmaking project that pushes their previously learned skills to the limit. Reduction printing, a favorite technique of Picasso, utilizes a single block to create a print of several layered colors. The block is carved out systematically, starting with the largest areas and lightest colors, and printed each time until the block is “destroyed” and there is only a small area remaining to print. The seventh graders have been doing a fabulous job with this process, starting with designing the multi-colored images that they would print. They then had to determine the order in which they would print the colors and started carving accordingly. Each student makes at least three prints because once the block is reduced, there is no going back, as the subsequent colors are printed directly on top of the previous colors. This advanced technique is an exciting and challenging process, and the seventh graders have created some truly amazing images!