Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Fun (oh - and Learning, too!)

Looking for a good way to keep academic skills in play and preventing the dreaded summer learning loss known as the "summer slide"? (Yes, this even happens to gifted kids!) Sign up for one of our awesome summer camps:

I am super excited to be teaching three camps this summer:
The first is Genius Camp July 17-21, which will be a wonderful mash-up of art history, art practice, math, and science. We'll learn about and make art like Jackson Pollack, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau and Henri Matisse, among others. We'll learn a little about Renaissance art and thinking and do some designing like DaVinci. We'll do some math with our own Vitruvian Man drawings and explore the engineering brilliance of Brunelesschi's dome.

In Percy's Mythology Quest Camp July 24-28, we'll learn about Greek, Norse and other world mythologies through the eyes of Percy Jackson. We'll create our own Camp Half-Blood, choose a demigod relation, consult the Oracle, make a minotaur maze and toga party like a band of bacchanals!

In BB-8s Galaxy Tour July 31-Aug 4, we'll travel to a galaxy far, far, away and compare it to our own. We'll learn all about the planets, make a "nebula jar," and delve into that age-old question - are we alone in the universe? We might be bringing home some interesting alien friends!

This year, there is also an incredible offering of workshops for older kids (5th grade and above):

But if you're ready for a little less structure, that's OK too! Try one (or more) of the following:

My favorite list of summer activities for gifted kids is "The Summer Seven" at Mensa for Kids:
which includes watching TED talks, being a tourist in your own city, and ideas for learning a new skill (one of these is Zentangle, which I have become interested in lately and plan to play around with this summer myself.)
Mensa for Kids also has some great educational games to practice grammar and math, as well as a fantastic reading list (see the Excellence in Reading tab).

Hoagie's gifted is also an awesome web resource for ALL things gifted (Seabury families - if you are not familiar with this site, you should be!), and their games for kids and teens span all content and interest areas. Click here for choices like: arts, theater & music; books & authors; brain teasers, logic puzzles & optical illusions; natural science; for the love of words; space; and virtual reality -- just to name a few!

I also love just about every You Tube video made by Sci Show Kids and Crash Course Kids - these cover a range of science topics and all kinds of other cool concepts.

If your child would like to build on some of the things we've learned about this year, here are a few great sites:

Citizen scientists/Nature mapping:
Endangered Species:
Plants: (includes an awesome-looking great plant escape interactive!)
Make things:

Every Gemstone loved the computer this year -- here are some great sites for learning to code/design video games: (This is the one we used in class this year, so Gemstones are familiar with it.)
and if they must just play, at least have them create: (Serious Minecrefters - Seabury is running it's own server this summer -- if you have not signed up yet, talk to Mr. Botsford!)

For more traditional core subjects -
My favorite is still Khan Academy for advanced math topics and practice (and a whole lot more - their tagline is "you can learn anything")

There are also great math, grammar, geography games:

Keyboarding skills are  great to develop over the summer. We use:
Dance Mat typing:
Typing Web:

And here are some interesting looking ipad apps:
Learn and create on all kinds of subjects (lots of videos) with Wonderbox
Create ibooks with Book Creator - we definitely have some students who would love to do this!

Set aside reading time daily and check out your local library -- they are ALWAYS running some great summer incentive programs!

Don't forget the Seabury Library now has a giant catalog of new e-books and audio books that your Seabury students can access all summer long through the Overdrive link! Our fabulous librarian, Ms. Becky, has picked out some great titles and there is something for every age and reading taste. Be sure to check it out, Seabury families! (Each Seabury student has a sign-in. User name: First name and last initial, all lower case. PIN: The last four digits of the phone number listed in the class list in the directory.)

I recommend you highly incentivize summer educational work (personally, I do a 1-1 educational to recreational computer use time in the summer for my highly video-game addicted child) -- what is your child passionate about that you can use as a carrot?

For whatever subject area you are focusing on, the key is to keep it fun, but keep it in practice.
And, of course, to find time to also get outside, RELAX, and have a GREAT summer!

P.S. If you have other greta resources to share, please post them in a comment!

A Year To Treasure

It has truly been a year to treasure, and I am so proud of the growth and intellectual development I have seen in the Gemstones this year!

We ended the year reflecting on our overarching concept (Treasure); thinking and talking about why we treasure the subjects we learned about and what we treasure about learning in general.

Then we thought about what we treasured most about what we learned this year, and wrote a "treasure letter."

We put these inside personalized treasure boxes we created in the MakerSpace.

Then we created treasure maps, real or imaginary, to lead loved ones to our treasure. These showcased some of the mapping and geographic elements we learned about this year (map keys, cardinal and inter-cardinal directions, scale, landforms, etc.), but they REALLY showcased the creativity, originality, and imagination we have nurtured all year long!

 Ice Cream Island, located somewhere out in the middle of the Chocolate Ocean.

A compass rose featuring not just the cardinal and inter cardinal directions, but also the secondary-intercardonal divisions! (No underachievers here!)

  Here's lovely Unicorn Island...

 which, of course, has a mermaid pond and fairy trees!

I cannot pronounce this exotic island's name, but, being a cat lover, I'm sure I would love any place situated in the Meow Ocean...

 especially if the fish are all this exciting!

This one is "Banana-Phone Island." Don't you recognize it? It's a volcanic island, located somewhere in the Ring of Fire. (Where DO they come up with this stuff?)

On the last day of school, we hid our treasure boxes outside for parents and family to find. 

A sweet end to a treasure-filled year. Gemstones and families, I will truly treasure you all forever! 

Engineering Challenge: Earthquake-Proof Building

We had to shake up our study of geology a little -- with an earthquake!  So we did an earthquake engineering challenge: Can you design a building model that can withstand the forces of an earthquake? 
The students were given a budget to spend on supplies and a water bottle to serve as the basic building structure. First we did a little research -- watching videos of buildings being tested on a giant shake table: 

We noticed that the buildings shook from side to side, and that pieces came loose and fell off, so we brainstormed some ideas about how to stabilize things and how to attach different elements together.
Then, we dived into the engineering process. We designed, built, tested, refined, and evaluated:

Initial instructions.

 Budgeting and sketching initial design ideas.

One of the main design challenges was how to secure the structure to the ground -- the Gemstones most popular solution? Lots of tape!

Budgeting for supplies is always difficult. As in the real world, we cannot always afford exactly what we want, and a lot of negotiation goes on within teams as they weigh pros and cons and come to consensus.

In the initial videos, we noticed that trusses or buttresses and cross-braces really help withstand horizontal forces. Many teams ended up using the most basic truss of all - the super-strong triangle! The building above might have been inspired by our tepee engineering challenge. It was one of the top contenders, making to to the final shake-off.

 Glue is less expensive than tape, and you don't need as much.

This super-simple design ended up being our final winner.

 The initial testing stage was a lot of fun!

We were all proud of our designs and hard work.

As a wrap-up, we took turns testing our designs in front of the class, with Mrs. Towne supplying the shake table effect. Everyone gave and received input. Learning to give and receive constructive criticism can be a difficult skill to master, but it is an important one!

Finally, the top two models participated in the big "shake-off," using the earthquake shake table the middle school  built for  a similar project last year. It was extremely loud, and extremely exciting!