Students in grades 1-5 used various applications to illustrate “all about me” pages. All elementary students attend formal technology enrichment classes weekly.
This week, Mrs. Parquette’s fifth graders studied parts of a map. They learned about map keys, symbols, drawing to scale, and the compass rose. Finally, students drew their own map of Saint James School! Using rulers and guides, the buildings and streets were drawn to scale and labeled. Students recorded themselves giving directions to our elementary science lab using cardinal directions and distance on SeeSaw, our digital portfolio app.
Map skills promote spatial thinking, allowing students to comprehend and analyze phenomena related to the places and spaces around them. Spatial thinking is an important skills that students can develop as they learn geography, Earth, and environmental sciences. Young students also grow their language skills as they collaborate with peers, parents, and teachers and communicate about spatial relationships. Spatial thinking skills and activities like the STJ map project reinforce the skills that may allow our students to be at an advantage in our increasingly global and technological society. In a world with apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Roadtrippers, map reading has become a lost art (I know it has for me)! Mrs. Parquette and our fifth grade team works hard to prepare students for the next step and think critically.
This week, second graders worked with prisms to learn how white light is refracted to produce a rainbow. On a bright day, students were able to “make” their own rainbows using rectangular prisms in our outdoor science lab.
When light passes through a prism, the light bends. As a result, the different colors that make up white light become separated. This happens because each color has a particular wavelength and each wavelength bends at a different angle. The colors that appear are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (the colors of the rainbow- “Roy G. Biv”)!
Last week, Mrs. Whigham’s Advanced 8th grade physical science class learned all about acids, bases, and pH levels. Students made hypotheses about what household items would be the most acidic and basic. Items like lemon juice, vinegar, hand sanitizer, bottled water, baking soda, and milk were tested and recorded in lab journals.
At STJ, it is important that students make connections between their lessons and labs in the classroom with real-world applications. The very same concepts that they used in lab today are being used world-wide to save lives and the planet. Currently, environmental engineers are researching water remediation or water treatment projects; understanding the chemical properties (including pH) of contaminants is important for safeguarding the health of environmental water sources and systems.
Students also studied the environmental correlation with pH levels. “The pH of different liquids and solutions, particularly the pH of bodies of water, are important in describing the behavior of different minerals and chemicals. For example, with increasing acidic pH values, water begins to cause harm and destruction of ecosystems and minerals, such as dissolving the calcium carbonate shells of mollusks, or making ecosystems unlivable for plants and animals,” said Mrs. Whigham. Relating lab experiments to everyday life and the world around us makes the classes more fun. The tools and equipment are especially fun.
This week, 3rd grade studied the movement of our planet. The students spent time investigating how the Earth rotates. Students learned that the Earth rotates on its axis and although it may look like the sun is moving across our sky, this is actually an illusion created by the Earth’s rotation.
On a sunny day, students ventured outside three different times to trace their shadows and see how they move and change. They measured the movements and recorded their findings to compare how much the shadows rotated during the day. Hands-on activities like this allow students to not only grasp science concepts, but apply them to everyday life.
Ms. Browning’s PreK3 class had a blast with Señora Jackson’s Spanish lesson this week. Students learned how to say “snowman” in Spanish along with body parts and some of his articles of clothing. The children sang songs to reinforce vocabulary and practiced saying the words as they decorated their very own "Muñeco De Nieve.” The boys and girls really enjoyed eating his "cuerpo” aka “body!"
All elementary students, PreK3-5th grade, visit Spanish enrichment once a week as part of their weekly enrichment rotations. Global languages like Spanish are incorporated into our school-wide curriculum throughout all grades.
The digital dice were rolling in Mrs. Greene’s class, as fifth grade students worked hard to get a noun Tic-Tac-Toe. Plural nouns were the object of the game and for every roll, student’s got a chance to cross off a square on the board.
Incorporating play into learning is a wonderful way to promote creativity and imagination. Hands on works builds cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Tic-Tac-Toe...three in a row WINS!
A fishy smell filled the science lab as Ms. Taylor, elementary science lab teacher, prepared squid for dissection. Fourth graders were eager to “dive in” and learn more about the squid’s anatomy as well as document their study in an app called Book Creator.
Students took pictures of each step and drew on paper with the squid’s ink. Ben Hooks, STJ 4th grader, said, “It was really interesting to see what was inside the squid and feel how squishy it was.” The science lab gives students hands-on experiences that enhance their classroom learning.
Last week, fifth grade performed a lab where they witnessed the circulatory system in action. Students placed live goldfish in Petri dishes and looked at their tails under the microscope. They were able to see blood circulating through the fish’s tail in real time. After the lab, the goldfish were released to the pond in our outdoor laboratory space. All elementary students, Pre-K3 through 5th grade, visit the science lab weekly for hands-on application of what is being taught in the classroom. Disclaimer: no fish are harmed during this experiment.
Every year, STJ sixth graders celebrate the culmination of their Ancient Egypt unit by dressing up and participating in projects and activities. The students created a "Book of the Dead," sarcophagus, cartouche, and wrote their own Egyptian inspired poetry.
Each subject area studied various aspects of Egyptian culture and history. This multidisciplinary approach allowed each subject area teacher to focus on a specific theme and assign projects and classwork related to each subject.
Art, music, technology, and the four core subjects all worked together to provide a broader scope of learning for the students.
Each student created his or her own Egyptian ornamental collar, inspired by the ancient pharaohs and priests of the time. Students chose symbols, called hieroglyphics, to represent different objects, actions, sounds and ideas.
Our K-5 classes recently read the Norwegian fairy tale, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” They learned all about the three billy goats that tried to cross the troll’s bridge. The story tells of overcoming obstacles and problem solving. Our kindergartners got creative with a S.T.E.M. challenge of building bridges with Legos in the science lab. All elementary students, grades K3-5, visit the science lab each week during enrichments. The lab is a perfect setting for hands-on application of what is taught in our classrooms at all elementary levels.
Mrs. Taylor’s Science elementary Lab was all abuzz, as fourth grade experienced a special presentation by STJ alum Joe Barnett, a local beekeeper. He spoke about pollination, bees, and honey production.
Mr. Barnett even brought an empty, but complete, bee hive and explained the fundamentals of what goes on in the hive. Even Dr. McLemore stopped by and helped with the presentation!
This week, third graders dissected owl pellets in the elementary Science Lab to accompany their study of food chains. Finding bones and feathers of the animals the owls had eaten helped students see what prey was in the owl’s food chain. Students especially loved finding the skulls of small birds and mice, then matching them to bone diagrams.
Happy Mole Day! National Mole Day commemorates Amadeo Avogadro's Number, 6.02 x 10^23, which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Each year, on October 23rd, schools throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Mole Day with various activities related to chemistry. Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry and S.T.E.M. fields at large.
Saint James sophomores and juniors celebrated Mole Day by creating their own mole themed projects.
Choo! Choo! ... All Aboard the K3 Train! Mrs. Browning and Mrs. Dickens’ Pre-K3 classes made edible trains in the Imagination Station while studying the letter “T.” They learned about all types of locomotives and transportation. This fun activity and tasty treat also reinforced recognizing shapes. STJ’s elementary Imagination Station is a fully-stocked design lab, offering a space outside the classroom to build, discover, and practice S.T.E.A.M. skills (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).
The STJ 8th Grade Science and Invention Convention is constantly doing fun and educational activities and labs.
Last week, students in Ms. Whigham’s Invention Convention exploratory class participated in an Excited Elements lab. Students viewed "bright line spectrums" produced by various elements to identify an unknown element. This uses the science branch of spectroscopy! Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.
Students were able to make a real-world connection, discussing how NASA uses this same concept to identify the elemental composition of planets and stars. Hands-on application of science outside of the classroom helps students grasp concepts, all while having fun!
Elementary 5th grade students put their their teamwork skills to the test in Mrs. Simon’s classroom while participating in The Great Marshmallow Challenge.
Given only 20 dry spaghetti noodles, one yard of tape, and one yard of string, the students were challenged to build the tallest tower. Their creations would be tested to stand up, unattended, when a single marshmallow was placed on top. The timer started and groups worked quickly to devise a plan and put it into action.
Groups that used triangles and unique wide bases were successful, some with heights as tall as 21 inches! Even though a few towers fell, groups didn’t give up hope. By working together and regrouping, many pulled through and their spaghetti towers stood.
“I enjoyed this challenge because it gave us a chance to interact with each other and experience what it’s like to engineer and design a structure.”- Benjamin Green, 5th grade
This Ted Talk video was shown, which explains the challenge and dives deeper into teamwork. Mrs. Simon explained, “in Middle School there are even more team projects, so this gives elementary students some experience, all while enforcing strategy and teamwork.”
These students surely could be our future architects and engineers! Ms. Simon engages all elementary students, Pre-K3 through fifth grade, in character building lessons and core value teachings of Saint James.
Have you ever thought “I would love to be a fly on the wall” when thinking about your child and their classroom? It would be amazing to see what they are doing each day! It is now possible, with the Seesaw app!
Since STJ introduced Seesaw four years ago, elementary students have been given an avenue to document their learning creatively through technology. Students share their amazing photos, videos, drawings and notes with parents via the app. Some of the best parts of the day are getting notifications from Seesaw!
“Seesaw is an amazing tool allowing students to share all types of learning experiences with teachers and parents. It provides an authentic purpose for learning, creativity, expression, and reflection.” - Tina Waggoner, elementary technology teacher
Seesaw is just another tool Saint James School uses to educate the whole child and share with families the amazing work our students do in the classroom each day!
What do you get when science meets arts? Beautiful sun prints! On a bright Alabama summer day, freshman physical science students witnessed endothermic reactions first-hand. With light-sensitive paper and everyday items from the classroom, Mr. David Beach’s class created their own art prints with nothing more than UV rays from the sun and a tray of water. The experiment was a two-for-one, as physical and chemical reactions both occurred.
”Doing the experiment is more fun than just reading about the lesson. You learn a lot more.” Patrick Hobbs, freshman
Experiments like this bridge the gap between science and art. As a school that specializes in DBAE, discipline based arts education, Saint James provides hands-on experiments to each level, grades PreK3 through twelve.
Have you ever dreamed of flying? On Friday, September 7th, our eighth graders attended Dannelly Field’s STEM Day where they learned all about the 187th Fighter Wing and the Red Tails. STJ’s eighth grade math teacher, Sarah Moncrief, said “the event featured an air show with the 187th Fighter Wing, a demonstration on weapon loading, opportunities to view and walk through different aircrafts, a military working dog demonstration, a fighter pilot meet and greet, and other exciting stem opportunities. It was a fun filled day full of experiential learning!”
Several military officials also remarked on the excitement of the day. Maj. Shawn Daley, STEM Day Director, said “I would hope that every Airman’s passion and every person’s passion that is wearing the uniform would be passionate to extend the opportunities that we have here at the Alabama Air National Guard. I think making a difference today with these kids is the reason why we’re out here.” Colonel Ed Casey, the 187th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, said “We have a fifth generation airplane and we need fifth generation airmen. So we need those folks that are going to have that STEM background and are going to be able to work with the technology.”
Not only do our middle school students have the very best teachers, they also are provided with the very best learning experiences—both inside and outside the classroom. Jake Streeton, one of our eighth graders, said that "My favorite part was learning about the missiles and bombs. It was a really fun day!" Parker Gallion, another eighth grader, really enjoyed this field trip and commented, "I enjoyed watching the K-9 demonstration. It was neat to see how they trained the dogs and how well they reacted to their trainers."
Through all of their experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, we are confident that our students will soar into the future!