Mountain Charter School hosted its first annual STEAM night on January 24th, reaching out to students, parents, alumni, and community members to engage in STEAM activities for all age ranges. A wide variety of activities were available to explore, designed by community members in STEAM fields, Mountain School staff, and their fellow classmates. These activities ranged from math games to stargazing to having discussions about the importance of our local watersheds.
Lowell Observatory: STEAM night attendees navigated the stars with Mary Lara from Lowell Observatory. Attendees searched for constellations, galaxies, and nebulae while enjoying a s’more. At the stargazing station, students learned the importance of space exploration and gained insight on why we should all take a moment to look to the stars.
Coding: As students finished their s’mores they moved inside to investigate all that STEAM night had to offer. Students practiced coding with Mountain School’s kindergarten teacher and programmed a coding mouse to move along their desired path to get to its final destination.
Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project: The Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project was there to emphasize the importance of wolves and their positive impacts in our ecosystems. By learning about the region wolves inhabit, how to identify them, and their impact on the ecosystem, students were motivated to take action for wolves and help educate their peers.
Oak Creek Watershed Council: Students and community members also participated in activities put on by the Oak Creek Watershed Council learning the importance of Oak Creek watershed and the effect it has in their communities. Students walked through the effects of litter and how long it can last in an ecosystem. Student also learned through a 3D model of the watershed how litter is carried through our watershed and in some cases into drinking water. Through these activities students were informed and motivated to implement “Leave No Trace” practices into their daily lives.
Tynkertopia: Tynkertopia worked with students as well to learn the importance of engineering all while tapping into their creative side. Students dipped paper into water and paint to create works of art and see where art and science intersects. Tynkertopia inspired students to look outside the box and problem solve creatively and in their own unique way.
Teacher- and Student-Led STEAM Activities: Teachers and peers also provided a range of activities that explored many areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Creating snowflakes, students learned about symmetry and that harmonious proportion and balance is important in both art and math. Using prisms, students learned about the color spectrum, and investigated how light passes through a prism and separates into the colors of the rainbow. Students discovered that light and color can be both beautiful and educational! Boat building, the engineering behind oil spill clean up, and how the design of a bird’s beak affects its diet were all among the topics to investigate. Students learned about force and motion, friction, and magnetism through a series of exciting games, and discovered the bones in a human hand. Math games from the classroom were a popular activity, and students had a chance to be the teachers as they shared with their parents.
Mountain Charter School’s STEAM Night exposed students and community members to all that STEAM has to offer. STEAM Night not only opened attendee’s minds to all the different fields STEAM encompasses, but connected local community members and the Mountain School families in a night of STEAM, games, and family fun!
Written by Crystal Routhe
Lunch with an Expert continued at Killip Elementary this month with expert Dr. Cindy Browder. Dr. Browder is an associate professor at NAU in the Chemistry Department. Dr. Browder is not only a professor, but also a researcher. She talked to the 5th graders about some inventions she's been working on. She brought along a prototype for a solar power storage unit, somewhat akin to a battery, but smaller and more sustainable. Dr. Browder also discussed how to go through the patent process when you have an invention you want to patent. Thank you Dr. Browder for inspiring our Killip 5th graders!
Written by Mallory Schaefer
The 6th Annual STEM Celebration took place on March 11th, 2019. This STEM Celebration had 110 exhibitors, the most exhibitors for a STEM Celebration yet!
Exhibitors came from all over Flagstaff from a variety of organizations. There were schools, non-profits, government organizations, businesses, and clubs. All these organizations were there to showcase how they help enhance STEM in our community. Many of the exhibitors had activities for kids to do and others had little take home items.
The Celebration would not be possible without the sponsors who donated time and resources to the event.
Over the past few months, STAR school middle schoolers have been learning about simple machines and engineering. They have undertaken numerous challenges; building Popsicle stick catapults, designing bridges, and engineering miniature Ferris wheels. Each project required the students to think critically, work as a team to accomplish a common goal, and troubleshoot to overcome unexpected obstacles. Additionally, the students have been learning how to balance creativity and function- following the printed directions to assemble a working stand for their Ferris wheel while also decorating said stand with bright markers and color coordinated rubber bands.
This balance was illustrated by the latest engineering challenge- to build the tallest skyscraper possible out of Legos. The only restrictions on the skyscraper designs was that they needed to stand on their own. The rest was left up to the imaginations of the students! The results were predictably creative and fun, with one “portable” skyscraper on wheels, another growing plastic Lego plants out of every story, and a third with a giant robotic arm sprouting from the top.
Although these designs may not be realistic for life-size skyscrapers, they were a great way for our middle school students to think about the challenges engineers face when building tall buildings and have fun while doing it. And who knows, maybe one of our students will be designing a new addition to the New York City skyline in 15 years and look back on this activity as the inspiration for their career.
Written by Regan Gee
A remorseful Goldilocks asks for the help Mountain School students after accidentally breaking baby bear’s chair. Mountain School’s helpful 2nd graders tapped into their engineering skills to provide the best chair they could for baby bear. Students were provided with minimal materials including index cards, paper, cardboard rolls, Popsicle sticks, tape, and their imaginations.
Students worked in teams exploring different ideas on how to build the best chair before beginning construction. Once students started constructing their chair, they put their heads together to delegate jobs and utilize all the skills that individual team members had to offer. Once construction was done they entered the final test: “How would baby bear like his new chair”? Baby bear tested the chair to see if he fit comfortably and the team met all of their goals. By the end of the day baby bear had many comfortable chairs to last him a lifetime thanks to Mountain School’s 2nd grade students!
Written by Crystal Routhe
The Killip Elementary Lunch with an Expert program continued on January 30th. The expert visiting was Colonel Ron Morris who served in the Army for 29 years. The Colonel brought along with him two JROTC students from Coconino High School.
This was the biggest Lunch with an Expert yet, with 67 fifth grade students attending. The students learned about what it takes to join the Army and the JROTC program at Coconino High School. Students were able to ask questions about Colonel Morris' experiences in the Army and learned that he was able to live in 23 different countries during his service.
Thank you to Colonel Morris for participating in the Lunch with an Expert program. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Melissa’s 4th grade class explored the Lake Mary watershed with assistant research professor Kevin Grady from NAU’s school of forestry. Together they learned the impacts of fires on watersheds and the importance of conserving watersheds for generations to come. Mountain School students explored our watershed searching for signs of drought through finding insects, looking at the health of the ponderosa pines, and analyzing understory vegetation. Students also planted ponderosa pine seeds that they found in at Lake Mary and will continue to learn how our native pine trees develop and thrive.
By engaging in hands on activities with the different components that make up a watershed, interacting with professionals, and becoming more aware of how parts of an ecosystem interact with each other, students learned a little more about what makes our home town watershed tick!
Written by Crystal Routhe.
NAU’s forestry club came to aftercare to teach 3rd through 5th graders about different components that make up our ecosystems. Hayden Siros, a forestry student at NAU, started her lesson by talking about tree rings and how they are made. Students then discovered what stories trees can tell us through their tree rings such as their age and how much precipitation the forest has gotten through the trees lifespan. Students made their own tree cookies which displayed tree rings and represented their own lives. Students deciphered how their trees grew up based on the rings they drew.
Aftercare students also explored the life of a water droplet by how it moves through the water cycle. Students moved from station to station as their water droplet changed form. Students explained how they thought the water was able to change form and built water molecule bracelets that represented the water droplet that they were following. By engaging in interactive activities with both the water cycle and the life of a tree, students learned the importance of valuing and respecting the natural world around us!
Written by Crystal Routhe
NAU’s Girls Teaching Girls program has returned to Killip for another semester of lively STEM activities for Killip’s 3rd-5th grade girls. We are lucky to have 6 mentors from the program visit throughout the week, providing a great variety of exciting opportunities for participants.
One of the earliest projects the girls did was learn about the impact of oil spills by simulating their own oil cleanup. Students picked toy sea creatures to place in tubs of water as oil was poured in. Given a variety of tools-- pipettes, sponges, brushes-- the girls were able to gauge just how difficult cleaning up a real life oil spill is, and how harmful oil spills are to aquatic life.
Girls Teaching Girls participants learn about the effects of oil spills.
Most recently Girls Teaching Girls members utilized their engineering and chemistry skills to create bottle rockets fueled by vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). This was a great learning experience, as teams took turns changing the ratios of the baking soda and the vinegar to determine the most successful recipe for blasting off.
Girls Teaching Girls members work together to design bottle rockets.
Girls Teaching Girls members create an explosive mixture of vinegar and baking soda for their rockets.
Other meetings this semester encompass discussions on disability, including learning differences and invisible disabilities, as well as testing engineering skills through designing gumdrop-toothpick towers, and learning about the water cycle and cloud permeability. Students closed the semester by demonstrating how to make slime at the winter Showcase by combining craft glue (polyvinyl acetate) with borax (sodium borate) to create this popular non-Newtonian fluid and Maxwell solid.
A big thank you goes out to NAU’s Girls Teaching Girls program; Killip is looking forward to an another exciting semester collaborating with them!
Written by Lee A. Haferkamp.
Killip teachers worked closely with their students to integrate materials learned in class with discoveries made at the Arboretum.
Killip Elementary School first grade students visited the Arboretum at Flagstaff as part of their ongoing fall Problem Based Learning unit focused on the life cycle of plants. Family members and teachers worked alongside students as they identified baby plants by leaf and stem details, juxtaposing their information with adult plants to identify matches.
Students had a fun time seeing how young and adult plants can be alike in many ways yet different in others. The first graders concluded their visit by stopping by the butterfly exhibit to witness a few of the many pollinators in the Flagstaff region. Check out their work below!
A Killip first grader studies unidentified Baby Plant C to collect data used for adult plant identification of Red Cinquefoil (Potentilla Thurberi).
Killip first graders analyze the leaves and stems of unidentified Baby Plant B to be used for adult plant identification, Golden Columbine (Aquilegia Chrysantha).
Killip first graders sketch pictures of unidentified Baby Plant A to be referenced when matching with adult plant, Coral Bells (Heuchera).
Written by Lee A. Haferkamp