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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Science Night 2017

This year's 8th grade Science Knight was billed as an evening of Chemistry Connection. Students prepared demonstrations, created poster boards and prototypes of their inventions. Their invention can be a brand new technology or a new application of an existing technology and address one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as set out by the United Nations in 2015

Students created a prototype of their inventions using many materials and supplies in the Makerspace (cardboard tubes, cereal boxes, glitter, electronics …) These are some of the questions students have tackled: Why is spider silk so strong? Why does chocolate taste so good to humans but is toxic to dogs? How can hair be used to solve crimes? Can beet juice be used to melt ice on your driveway?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Summer STEM Opportunities for Upper School Girls


Boston University is pleased to host CODEBREAKERS, a four-week summer program providing an introduction to the fundamentals of cyber security, a field that combines the studies of computer science, forensics, law, and computer programming to protect networks, computers, programs, and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access.

Students will participate in a four-week session of lectures, hands-on training, and day trips to technology companies to receive an immersive and supportive introduction to the interdisciplinary field of cyber security. CODEBREAKERS provides a unique opportunity for high school students to be introduced to career opportunities in the exciting field of cyber security, as well as to be mentored by women who are program coordinators or invited guest speakers.

The program will run from July 10th through August 4th Monday-Friday from 9:00-3:00 pm. Young women currently in 9th or 10th grade who live within daily commuting distance to Boston are eligible to apply. Students do not need any background or experience in cyber security or computer programming is needed in order to apply, only their interest and enthusiasm.

For more information and to apply: go to:



BU is pleased to host the Summer Pathways program July 7-14, 2017. In its eleventh year, Summer Pathways is an exciting seven-day, residential program for high school girls entering their junior or senior year in September 2017. The program targets girls from Boston area high schools who show promise and/or interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Tuition is $675 and includes room, board, all travel and activities, and an overnight at Thompson Island in Boston Harbor. Scholarships of up to $575 are available to students with demonstrated financial need.

Over the course of the week, participants in Summer Pathways have the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of a wide range of careers in STEM disciplines, and also to interact with successful women at all levels of science and engineering -- undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and members of industry.

Participants live in a BU dormitory along with their peers, and during this week, engage in many hands-on science activities, visit laboratories and a local industry, hear from a career panel, and learn about the college admissions process. On Thompson Island, they will develop communication skills and experience a process of self-discovery through team building exercises.

For more information about the program and to apply, go to:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kahoot! and other games in the curriculum

Playing a Kahoot! game is a very popular MS classroom activity. Students and teachers create games in world languages, music and science. Kahoot! is a web-based tool that allows asking a consecutive, quiz-show type questions using a game-based format. Students respond by joining a game through a unique number using any mobile device.

A list of other teacher's favorite classroom games:
  • Quizlet Live - create a collaborative classroom game
  • Socrative is a student response system that works across all devices. Teachers can ask a number of different question types and gather student data for formative assessment.
  • TinyTap - create fun games, personalized puzzles, question and answer activities, turn reading a book into an interactive activity, make a tappable sound boards.
  • Quia - an online platform to create quizzes, games, and assignments online. There are wide range of games: flashcards, matching, challenge board, hangman, rags to riches, pop-ups and more. Examples of student created 7th grade games in history:

Explore the use of Sketchup in Latin

In the 8th grade Latin classroom, Tony Breen uses Sketchup to expose his students to multiple aspects of architectural construction and lets them get a glimpse into the various phases of the building process.

Sketchup Assignment:
Construct a monument (temple/victory column/arch etc.) to commemorate one of the following:
  • Religion 
  • Janus Mars V esta 
  • Historical Personae 
  • Cincinnatus
  • Constantine the Great Hadrian
  • Horatius
  • M. Agrippa
  • P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus Romulus
Incorporate a decorative element or elements which indicate some aspect(s) of the god/goddess or which refere to an episode of the character’s achievements. Somewhere on the monument indicate a likely date for its dedication (e.g. a cornerstone).

Prepare a short report (5 or 6 sentences) describing the story of the monument: to whom is it dedicated? What are its dimensions? What specific motifs does it include (types of column etc.)? Any symbolism in the monument?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Creative use of Voki in the Spanish Classroom

Margaret Hardy, MS Spanish teacher, had a special assignment for her 7th grade students. They were asked to create a mystery Voki avatar. The identity of each avatar (the student's name) would be kept a secret, but the avatars would describe personal information about a student: is it a boy or a girl, height, hair and eye color, home town, siblings, hobbies....

In class, it's a listening comprehension activity. As each avatar speaks, students listen to guess it's identity The game is not over until all the facts are recalled and the avatar's identity is revealed.

Videoconferencing with the school in Morocco

An 8th grade Arabic class partners with a school in Morocco. Through several video-conferencing sessions (using Skype) the students learn about each other’s cultures. Later in the semester the class will write a play in Arabic, while the school in Morocco writes a play in English. Students will exchange plays and perform them for each other via video-conference.

Creating a Timeline in the Latin American Classroom

Seventh graders used our new maker-space to create Latin American timelines. These multi-colored timelines cover their country’s history from colonization through modern times and have the following requirements:
  • The timeline must be to scale 
  • The timeline must have a key to show scale measurements 
  • Years should be listed on the timeline at regular intervals 
  • A list of 15-20 important dates in the history of your country must be included
  • Include extras to enhance your timeline’s appearance (drawings, pictures, etc.)

Made with Padlet

QR Codes Book Display in Middle School LLC

Want to find good books to read over break? The Library Learning Commons (LLC) faculty has created QR code book displays in the first floor foyer window display. QR codes consist of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by the QR reader app on a smart phone or iPad. A QR code is really just a website URL, but it allows phones, iPads, and other mobile devices to easily pull up the website by scanning it with the camera, rather than needing to type in a long URL. This makes it easier to bring a visitor to a website to get more info.

To read the QR codes:

Coding with Scratch in 8th Grade Math

Inspired by an array of digital screens projecting an interactive pattern simulation during our field trip to the Museum of Science this fall, MS math teacher Randi Currier, challenged 8th grade students to use the Scratch coding environment to create their own interactive art exhibits. Their task was to incorporate geometric concepts, such as angle measurements in relation to number of sides. Students applied coding skills of program structure, variable declaration, iteration and conditionals to create their exhibits. They brainstormed ideas of what makes an interactive exhibit engaging: 
  • Interesting visual effects 
  • Variables with sliders 
  • Color 
  • Sound 
  • Random elements 
  • Immediate feedback 

Below are the top five exhibits, voted by the students:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Student Ingenuity on Display at Upper School STEM Fair

When Lily Druker '18 and Ali Plump '18 assumed leadership roles in the Upper School GAINS club (Girls Advancing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) they knew they would be overseeing a fascinating variety of innovative ideas. Impressed with the energy and commitment they witnessed, the two decided that the entire school needed to get involved.

"We just wanted to come up a fun way to share all of these great student ideas with the community, but we didn't want to make it a stressful thing," says Plump. "So we came up with an optional fair that anyone could get involved with and bring their projects or ideas to the table."
The result? Nearly 40 students volunteered to present. And on a Friday afternoon in later winter the Upper School community room was packed with students and faculty alike, eagerly checking out the myriad concepts on display.
Among the many exhibitions were homemade Van der Graaf generators (capable of creating a visible electrical charge), cathode ray tubes, models of energy efficient smart homes, space telescopes, chemically altered "healthy" caramel, software designed to cater course curriculums to specific student learning styles, and many more interesting projects.
Click here for a gallery of images from the STEM fair.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Top 10 Tech Tips for Power Users

  1. Use canned responses in Gmail.
  2. Use voice dictation in Google Docs.
  3. Use priority in-box with unread, starred, everything else in Gmail. Unread or star emails that need more action later.
  4. Use reminders in Google calendar as to-do list.
  5. Set up VIP contacts in iPhone for notifications of important emails.
  6. Save your iPhone voicemail by emailing them to yourself.
  7. Set up a hot corner on your mac to lock it when you walk away.
  8. Enable 2-step verification to log into Google.
  9. Use a password manager like DashLane to save unique passwords for every website.
  10. Command-tab to switch between applications on a Mac if you are multi-tasking.

To view more tips, please visit our Tech Tips web page.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox creeps along

Drilling new holes to lower the table

Finding time in her busy teaching schedule isn't easy, but LS Science teacher Ms. Derrien continues to construct the AR Sandtable.  

To accommodate the range of students (Beginners - 6th) who will be using the table, she had to customize the height of the cart and drill new holes in the leg supports.  Chaulk up the drill press as another tool that Ms. Derrien now knows how to use!

The projector and Kinect camera need to be positioned 42" above the surface of the sand.  Below, Ms. Derrien attaches the projector mount and supports for the camera

Bolting on the supports for the camera.

Casters are bolted on.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Too Nice to Stay Inside!

The 4th graders took the laptops outside as they continued to explore what is possible with their new design tool - SketchUp.

 They are preparing to map the electric usage of the BBN Lower School Campus.  Stay tuned!

Does it get better than this?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Ultimaker Arrives

Fresh out of the cardboard box

The LS Maker-space received a new addition today with the arrival of its sencond 3D printer, joining our Form1+ is an Ultimaker-2.  We have high hopes - and a lot of work for this printer.  We equipped it with PLA filament and had it up and working in under 45 minutes.

Getting right to work.

The first prints were stock objects - the Ultimaker robot and a stacking cup

Monday, February 20, 2017

Upper School AP Physics Students Descend on the LS MakerSpace

Watching Clifford at work

Cardboard prototypes
US AP Physics students used Clifford, the big red laser cutter, to cut pieces need to secure their solenoid engine.  Initial prototypes were completed in cardboard to finalize sizing and placement.   

The final cuts were made out of 1/2" plywood - a bit of a struggle for old Clifford, but he was able to make it through.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Laser Cutter Helps Bring Mapping Alive in Spanish Class

The 5th grade Spanish teacher Omar Machado enlisted Clifford - our big red laser cutter to engrave a 3'  of a map of South and Central America in plywood.

Students then used Playdough to color code the map, carefully following the detailed contours of each country.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Organizing your Desktop

A clean, organized desktop can make our day go smoothly.
Here is a link to a handy, step-by-step guide to organizing your desktop.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Take a deep breath. Play. Learn.


Being in the moment requires a quality of attention that engages all our senses. Last night we witnessed this quality of deep attention and focus as the Patriots and the Falcons faced off for the Super Bowl. Players have to attend with all their senses indeed their whole bodies as they play. Indeed they most likely enter a state of "flow" (see mihaly csikszentmihalyi's work) during play. And some athletes choose to take a few minutes to attend to themselves in-between play as well as we see LeBron James above.

This quality of deep engagement and attending to the world outside oneself or within oneself is related to mindfulness. But of course the image of football players is far from the image of mindfulness that most of us have come to accept. Mindfulness conjures up an image of a person meditating in a beautiful setting unlike LeBron above who is taking time to breathe amidst the high level intensity and noise of an arena.

Mindful attention is being present in the moment with all our senses. Mindful attention is slowing down enough to breathe deeply and engage with the world in which we find ourselves be it a sports arena, a sports field, an indoor classroom or a beautiful setting like an empty beach.

Research shows this kind of engagement with all our senses can in fact facilitate learning.
"According to the researchers, it is easier to learn vocabulary if the brain can link a given word with different sensory perceptions." Read more

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Slo-Mo Feature of Phone Camera

This "telephone" I carry around in my pocket has amazing features. The slow-motion capture is pretty cool! Have you tried it?


Friday, January 27, 2017

3rd Graders Explore Electricity

The 3rd-grade science class visits the Makerspace to meet the challenge of designing an electrical path to light an LED.  The design process follows an iterative procedure beginning with a pencil drawing, proceeding to blue tape, and finally using copper tape for the final design.

Reflecting on the process, students add to their science journals
Laying down the copper tape.

The Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox is taking shape.

Mitre Cutting the sandbox sides. 
Working through a school funded Launch Grant, Lower School science teacher Ms. Derrien has teamed up with Technology Specialist, Tony Cai and Makerspace Mentor, Joseph Heitzman to bring an augmented reality (AR) sandbox to the Lower School campus. Stay tuned as this project is built completely from scratch.
Gluing and nailing the sandbox together
Cutting the metal supports to size

Friday, January 13, 2017

This image above is inspired by an image from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation's 
Mindfull Bells Sounds page.
Thich or Thầy in Vietnamese refers to teacher.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a teacher, a peace activist, a poet and writer
who continues to teach about the importance of living in the present moment.

Thich Naht Hanh was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize by MLK, his close friend.
In honor of MLK let us take a moment to