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This year’s science fair is going to be awesome!

This year’s science fair is going to be awesome!

The science fair has some great experiments going on.

The annual science fair is always a fun event. Across grade levels, all students participate and present their projects to the other grades. All students – whether individually or in groups – are responsible for coming up with testable ideas, hypotheses, drawing conclusions and interpreting results.

It’s not always so easy to come up with something that is both interesting and challenging. But, we have a sneak peek of our Omega 7/8 students doing just that.

We visited their classroom recently to see them testing and working diligently on their science projects to get ready for the upcoming science fair. In the Omega classroom, students were working in four different groups on a specific science experiment they chose.

Proving that gases have weight

This particular group set out to prove that gases have weight by using combustion. They weighed out pieces of wood and magnesium before burning. Next, they put each one to flame and tested their weight after the burning process.

Their prediction was that the wood would weigh less, and the magnesium would weigh more.

Omega students set out to prove that gases have weight by burning wood and magnesium, while comparing the weight of each before and after the burn process.

Engineering a Reptile Egg Incubator

The idea behind this science project was to engineer how to transport a reptile egg from site A to site B while using heat chemistry. The goal was to keep the egg stable and warm, as it could not shift position or roll over, nor could it endure temperature fluctuation.

The incubator required calcium chloride, baking soda and water. Students needed to measure whether they could detect temperature changes after they dissolved calcium chloride, and baking soda into water. The eggs needed a constant temperature of 28 – 32C during transport and being able to maintain temperature for a certain amount of time was an important consideration in this investigation.

Two of our Omegan students work on their project: Engineering a Reptile Egg Incubator (with heat chemistry).

The Digestion of Minerals in the Stomach

This group began their science class by heating up small glass pipes and bending them to simulate the “pipes” in human digestive systems. Once complete, they would then mix hydrochloric acid and marble to observe the reaction (much as it would happen in the stomach). The last step was to measure the resulting water and carbon dioxide from the process.

Above: Two Omegans heat and bend glass pipes to simulate “pipes” of the digestive system.

Below: All the materials needed to complete their investigation.

Testing for Vitamin C Content by Titration

Are you curious about how much vitamin C is actually in the things you buy? This group set out to answer those questions by testing how much vitamin C is present in various common beverages through a titration technique. Students used an indophenol solution to determine the presence of vitamin C by how much the color changed. The various beverages they tested included freshly squeezed lemons, limes, and oranges. They also tried orange juice found in the grocery store, and sodas that claimed to have Vitamin C.

This Omega group is checking the presence (and amount) of Vitamin C in common beverages using titration.

The Results

The results from each of these experiments is the subject of the upcoming science fair. You’ll have to check out the Omega 7/8 classroom to find the conclusions to burning magnesium and wood, how to maintain temperature in an egg incubator using chemical reactions, what happens to calcium carbonate when it reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and how much vitamin C is really in our common drinks. Check Rainbow Reminders for science fair details!

Omega Students Discuss Character Strengths & What Makes a Changemaker

Omega Students Discuss Character Strengths & What Makes a Changemaker

Character Strengths & Being a Changemaker

Recently, Omega 7/8 students gathered in a circle in the Social Studies room to talk about their character strengths, how all that ties in with learning, and being a changemaker. In a previous class, they watched a short video about the Science of Character. In this class, they looked at their own character strengths as a way to look at themselves as they are now, and who they want to become. They completed a “periodic table of character strengths.”

As students gathered in circle, their teacher, Jason, asked them for a willingness to be a little vulnerable as they embarked upon a conversation that would certainly involve sharing personal information about one’s character – not a task that’s so easy to do. Our Omega 7/8 students, however, were up for the challenge.

character strengths

Omega 7/8 students ponder questions about character strengths and about being changemakers.

Jason posed quite a few questions that made students really look at how or why they do the things they do. “Why explore character strengths?” was one question he asked, to which students answered, “Many current changemakers have these strengths and that can help others become changemakers themselves and live out their truth.”

Character Strengths at School and in US Culture

Another question: What character strengths do you think are valued at our school? They answered with a number of terms:

  • creativity
  • teamwork
  • kindness (especially in wanting everyone to feel welcome)
  • leadership
  • spirituality (through centering and other activities)
  • perseverance
  • honesty
  • love of learning

Jason followed up with, Are these the same character strengths that are valued in our culture? For a few quiet moments, students pondered their responses. Several offered their insights: “these are supposed to be values in our culture, but it doesn’t always happen that way. We’re supposed to be kind but you don’t always see that, and through some of the language and actions were seeing, kindness is not always there.”

character strengths

A few student examples of the “Periodic Table of Character Strengths”

J: Does that make it hard to value certain character strengths?
S: If you believe in these values, sometimes it’s not always easy to stand by them.

J: Which strengths are important to have or develop in a digital world?
S: Creativity, social responsibility, and gratitude. With social responsibility comes the idea that one must think critically in response to what’s online. It’s also important not to take for granted everything that comes to us as “easy.”

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Jason invited the Omegans to reflect on the idea of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset the video covered as a topic. A fixed mindset is the belief that you cannot change who you are. A growth mindset is the belief that you can. This was a segue into the next probing question:

J: Is there an area where you have a fixed mindset about something?
S: Yes. When you don’t feel like you’re good at math or reading, that you can’t draw, or that you always procrastinate to get things done

J: Is there any character strength that might help you shift out of a fixed mindset?
S: Yes: perseverance in which you keep trying to do something. There’s acceptance, where you accept that perhaps a subject isn’t your favorite but you can keep working at it. It’s an opportunity to be gentle with yourself and accept that this is where you are. Still, there’s curiosity. If you have a certain belief about something, such as “I’m not good at math,” you can adopt an attitude of curiosity.

J: When you’ve failed at something, how did you feel?
S: Anger, directed at the self, or it’s possible to even feel like a failure. Feelings of discouragement, being scared, or being fearful can happen, too. Being mad at yourself, however, won’t get you anywhere.

Learning from Failure

At this, everyone paused. Jason offered words of wisdom, as well as encouragement: These emotions can and do arise. It’s even possible to let fear get in the way of you trying again. This can be a great opportunity for self-reflection in which you ask, “what could I have done differently? What can I learn from this?”

J: Is it okay to fail?
S: Yes. We can learn from it. But it can also be hard.

J: What is it that you want to achieve?
S: That is a hard question: it makes you think about the future. Perhaps write a book. Be the smartest person that ever lived. Maybe doing a job that you “like to do” instead of something that is forced. You can make goals for yourself.

character strengths

A small poster hangs in the Social Studies room – a relevant question when determining character strengths.

Again, Jason offered his wisdom as their teacher. It’s up to you to find your truth. You also need to determine what lights you up. The way to grow your strengths is to be around others who have strengths that you would like to develop. 

As students concluded this portion of their lesson, they pensively began other projects. They demonstrated such wisdom and a complex understanding of life and its lessons. This is something we’ve come to expect of our Omegans: they embrace the journey and take charge of their learning in all Seven Domains. It is in that spirit they use their internal wisdom to guide their decisions as they navigate academics, the adolescent years, friendships, and so much more.

5 Reasons to Attend the Omega Open House Nov. 12

5 Reasons to Attend the Omega Open House Nov. 12

 You can learn so much at the Omega Middle School Open House

Our Omega Middle School Open House is right around the corner. We hope you will take some time to be part of this event, no matter your child’s grade in elementary school or middle school. It gives you an opportunity to see a Rainbow / Omega education across the grades, culminating with the 7th and 8th grade years in which students engage in larger projects, presentations, and leadership opportunities.

What made me a supporter of Rainbow, was the kids’ strong sense of self. They knew who they were and were not. They knew their strengths and weaknesses. And even though high school and college brings its own set of social and educational challenges, the students I met were at peace with themselves, ready to take on the challenges of young adulthood with confidence and determination. —Bill Drew, parent of a current 5th grader

Here is this year’s schedule:

Morning Session
8:30 – 10 am

  • 8:30 – 8:45 coffee/tea/chocolate in the auditorium foyer
  • 8:45 – 9:00 short presentation about Omega Middle School
  • 9:00 – 9:30 tour classes in progress
  • 9:30 – 10 Q & A with current teachers & students back in the auditorium

Evening Session
6:30 – 8:00 pm

  • 6:30 – 6:45 – pizza and salad in the auditorium foyer
  • 6:45 – 7:00 – short presentation about Omega Middle School
  • 7:00 – 7:15 – tour classrooms
  • 7:15 – 8:00 – meet recent graduates and ask questions with our alumni panel

The five big reasons you should come to the Omega Open House:

1. Meet teachers

During the school year, it’s not always so easy to speak with a teacher who is not attending to other tasks – students, planning, teaching, training, in a meeting, etc. Having their undivided attention to answer all your questions about what they teach and how becomes such a gift! The open house provides you this opportunity. Meet all the teachers in our Omega Middle School: Susie (division head), Susan, Jason, Niki, Justin, Lisa, Jenny, and some of our specialists.

open house


2. Meet students

We love opening up our campus so that you can meet students and see how incredible they all are. The programs and curriculum in the Omega program allows them to explore their interests more in-depth through our regular academic program and through our electives classes. We have extensive electives courses and our students can tell you about them.

open house

3. Meet recent graduates

You also have an opportunity to hear from recent graduates who can give you candid answers about how prepared they felt for high school. They can share about their Rainbow experiences, the transition to high school, and tell you much more about their academic and extracurricular careers as a result of their Rainbow / Omega experience.

You can get a great feel for how this works with our past alumni panels who have spoken at other Open Houses:

 

4. Visit classes

On the morning of the Open House, you can see classes in progress. On any given day, students engage in different experiential activities involving collaboration, problem solving, math, language arts and social studies.

omega open house

5. Get all your questions answered

We cannot stress enough the value in being part of an event like this. You get to see the “whole Rainbow story” and how proud we are of our young students and who they grow to be.

Last year, one parent attended and felt so moved by the event, he wrote a long letter of how this event alone helped him decide on a middle school for his child. Take a look! at Bill Drew’s Testimonial Letter.

We hope you will join us for an evening of connection, information, and fun! We’ll have door prizes and other giveaways, too!

Student Flipbooks Illustrate Newton’s Laws of Motion

Student Flipbooks Illustrate Newton’s Laws of Motion

Newton’s Laws of Motion

We stepped into sixth grade recently to find them learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion.

But it wasn’t just any science class. The Kitsune created flipbooks to illustrate their understanding of these universal laws.

The first law of motion is that an object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Kitsune teacher, Jenny, created these incredible posters that illustrated Newton’s laws.

 

Newton’s Second Law of Motion

The second law of motion is that Force (f) = mass (m) x acceleration (a).

 

Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion

The third law of motion is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Science and Rollercoasters

A day earlier, students created a marble roller coaster. They were applying the principles of what they had learned about energy and the laws of motion, specifically, Newton’s 2nd law. Their challenge was to build a roller coaster that would allow the speed of a marble to speed up or slow down using inclines, different materials or textures, and the like.

Persistence of Vision

Before diving into flipbooks, the Kitsune recently spent part of their morning talking about the “persistence of vision” in which students brainstormed some concepts about what this was. Persistence of vision, as it relates to animation and film, includes three main ideas:

  1. optical illusion
  2. the human eye can process 10-12 images per second
  3. the faster the images go, the more they seem to be in motion

That is, the human eye effectively “retains” an image up to a fifteenth of a second. If you “speed up” looking at different images, they will appear to move due to this phenomenon.

To illustrate this, Jenny, had students create and imagine a few drawings of what “running” would look like.

 

They had a chance to see different examples of flipbooks.

 

After they got all inspired, Jenny showed them what a story board looked like.

Their objective: create a 30-page flip book that illustrates the principles of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Students would also need to write a paragraph explaining the action that happens their flip book, as well as how the action illustrated Newton’s laws of motion.

We’ll update here when we see the final flipbook creations students have created.

All in a day’s work

All in a day’s work

So many things…all in a day’s work

Sacred geometry, science experiments, and literacy – all in a day’s work. Maybe not even a day’s work, but in the span of an hour and a half, students experienced some incredible learning.

Language Arts

It was mid-morning, and students were well-immersed in their classes.

Teachers create units that complement each other. Today’s activity included vocabulary words that would come up in  science class later in the morning. Students were likely not familiar with them.

all in a day's work

Susan, their teacher, had them study the list of words for two minutes. We love that some kiddos wanted to know why they needed to study and memorize them. Susan had them “sit tight” because they would find out in a few minutes.

At the end of the two minutes, students turned their papers over and had one minute to write down the words they remembered. Afterward, some folks remembered 2, 3, or 5 words, and one student had 15!

Learning strategies

Some students had words from an “A” list, or from a “B” list. The words on each list had different characteristics. Some words were bold, some were in alphabetical order, and more.

Students discussed their strategies for memorization. One student said he memorized words in groups. Another said she put a description with each word. Others mentioned eliminating words that were too long, repeating different words over and over, and some tried writing them down.

all in a day's work

Learning objective

The idea here was that It’s important to try different learning strategies. By doing so, students can figure out what works best for them, and what doesn’t. By sharing ideas, everyone could learn a strategy that maybe they hadn’t tried previously.

Learning games

Next came cutouts of the vocabulary words. Students split into groups of 3 (with 8 vocabulary words each) or 4 (with 6 vocabulary words each) to collaborate and separate their vocabulary into categories. They were allowed to discuss and work together to do so. Susan instructed them not to worry about words they didn’t know, but to work together to see if someone else knew the meaning. If not, they could use deductive reasoning to separate them out.

What a way to learn vocabulary. Students had some fun and challenging approaches to learning new words. They will then relate them back to their science learning, as well as tie their different classes together to touch on the different domains. The lessons on this day emphasized the mental and creative domains.

Art History

Across the hall, another Omega class studied art history and math. It wasn’t just another garden-variety middle school class, however. Their teacher, Mark, was incorporating elements of sacred geometry.

Sacred geometry is an area of intense interest for Mark. In fact, he’s publishing a book on the subject soon.

While in his class, students studied Renaissance paintings and works by Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Verocchio, and others.

all in a day's work

Da Vinci and math

While listening to Mark’s lecture, students were quite riveted with the presentation. Mark mentioned how Da Vinci was a great artist, AND used mathematics heavily in his work.

Incredibly, perspective and sacred geometry came into play. The proportions of the human body, for example, represent universal sacred geometry parameters. Da Vinci’s paintings include so much symbolism as well as “hidden” geometry, especially in his human subjects.

For example, one might be able to find evidence of the sacred spiral or even phi ratios in different Da Vinci paintings.

all in a day's work

 

Students had a chance to try their hand at creating their own works of sacred geometry. They used a compass and ruler and made their own golden rectangles, along with sacred spirals.

They also saw examples of how those patterns show in up nature on the most minute scale (such as with tiny seashells) all the way up to a universal scale, such as with spiral galaxies.

 

all in a day's work

The “Eggs-periment”

Back in the science classroom, the Omega group that had become vocabulary masters began delving into their new science unit.all in a day's work

They began an investigation involving the standard egg. They chose to either do an “egg-speriment” or “what about other eggs” for their research.

The eggs-periment involved observing changes in an egg and recording those observations. The latter assignment gave students the opportunity to study an egg-laying creature to investigate.

Both projects required entries into student science journals, presentations, making models, and writing effective science reports.

all in a day's work

Omegans have a rich curriculum

All these interesting subjects, all by the noontime hour! We can only imagine what happened after lunch. All in a day’s work.