Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Creating a Language

As part of their studies of ancient cultures, the Olympians learned that many ancient cultures developed sophisticated systems of communication and writing. After looking at a few examples, such as Egyptian hieroglyphics and Babylonian cuneiform, and making some comparisons, each student tried their own hand at creating a system of written language.

  Most were based on our modern English alphabet, but some were pretty out of this world...
 All were exceptionally creative:

 One was based completely on animals:

 After creating the symbology, the students wrote and "encrypted" a message, then passed around their messages for others to decipher.
 It was a lot of hard work, and also a lot of fun!
What do YOU think this says?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving at Seabury is always celebrated by the students with a "Charlie Brown-style" feast. Each class prepares some small snack or treat that is a riff on traditional Thanksgiving meal items, and we all come together at the end of the day to share our bounty. Turkey is not usually on our menu, but there is always a veggie platter in the shape of a turkey!
Everybody gets in on the chopping!

We then assemble out trays tp show off all the delicious color.
We form a big circle and everyone says what they are thankful for. Occasionally we hear funny things like "squirrels," and "the internet," but for the most part, it's the heartfelt things that matter most that students share. This year, family, friends, teachers, and "Seabury" came up over and over. There is a lot to be thankful for here, that is for sure!
Gobble Gobble!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Mentoring - a Win/Win equation

This week during mentoring we played a simple math game with the younger students. Many of the Olympians found it difficult to keep the Ladybugs and Bumblebees on track once they had played the game a few times through, and they ran into issues of younger students getting upset when they lost or having disagreements with their classmates when game play slowed down. Afterward, we reflected on ways to help younger kids solve these problems. Student suggestions included:

1) Make the game harder by adding another game board to extend the numbers. Help the younger students add or subtract the bigger numbers by counting. One mentor even started teaching his mentee to multiply.

2) Remind them to take a deep breath to calm down (a skill we have learned in mindfulness).
3) Listen carefully to what they are saying and help them take turns talking to each other to work through disagreements. 
4) Use gentle reminders to help keep them on track.
5) Make sure to let them do things for themselves and do not do things for them. When they need help, give hints instead of telling them exactly what to do.

There are many benefits of mentoring, but some of the most highly touted are improved communication and interpersonal skills, development of leadership and management qualities, reinforcement of individual academic skills, and improved engagement and motivation. 

These certainly seem to be in play here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Fossil Field Study at the Burke Museum

Blog by the Olympians:

We went to the Burke Museum for a field study of fossils. A Paleontologist named Maureen Carlisle took us on a trip back in time and showed us many things about the cold age, hot age, dinosaur age and pre-dinosaur age.

We had a challenge to fit as many people as we could in this cave with a blue rhino skeleton. We got seven people in the hole. We had a fun time in the Tertiary period!

This is us measuring ourselves to a dinosaur leg in the Mesozoic era.

We were looking at the Paleozoic period and we saw this sign about when Washington was under water.
Maureen Carlisle told us to separate fossils from "not fossils." She gave us many rocks and fossils and we had to separate them.
These were not the fossils.

Theses were the things that were fossils.

After that, we got to dig and classify the fossils we found.

We laid them out in the same order we found them.

Then we had to tell what era the fossils we dug up were from.

After our class, we saw an archaeologist working on  the skull of a T-Rex.

We had an awesome time!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Pyramids and Perseverance

Our first engineering challenge this year had us thinking like ancient Egyptian architects. The challenge: Can you build a pyramid using only toothpicks and glue? The only requirements were that the base of the pyramid had to be square or rectangular and it had to be a minimum of 4 toothpicks in length or width. 

Phase one was a math focus: Estimate how many toothpicks you think you will need. 


Thinking about the number of edges in a large 3D shape was more difficult than the teachers had imagined. Students planned, plotted, counted, added, multiplied and drained their brains trying to figure out a number. Some students came up with reasonable estimates, but many were completely stymied. In the interest of working against perfectionism, once frustration levels peaked, we made educated guesses and moved on to the next phase. We talked a lot about how it is OK to make mistakes as part of the learning process, that struggling with a problem is the hard work that helps our brains grow, and that perseverance is the key to success. So, did we give up? No way!

In Phase 2, using just glue and toothpicks, most of the groups started building one big 3D structure. Every group struggled with getting the glue to hold, and almost every group had trouble with at least one edge or side collapsing, especially as they got longer/taller.

Once we noted the issues groups were having, we came together to share ideas, discussing what was working and what wasn't. Students from each group shared possible solutions. Then we tried again.

Some groups tried reinforcing their joints with small pieces of tissue paper, but sagging sides remained an issue.

Some students had a bit of success, but at the end of phase 2, none of the pyramids looked quite right. We watched some videos about how the pyramids may have actually been constructed, and noticed that they were built using big rectangular blocks piled on top of one another. We talked about three dimensional shapes and how we might stack them on top of each other to create a larger shape out of many smaller ones. We looked at a few pictures. Armed with a new approach, we moved on to Phase 3; this time using marshmallows instead of glue.

Pyramids quickly began to take shape, and some groups created assembly lines to speed up construction. Some groups struggled to add angled sides to rectangular prisms or cubes. One group discovered that many smaller pyramids stacked together created the correct angle, and very soon every group was on track.

It was a long process - three days of work spread out over several weeks - but in the end, every group experienced the satisfaction of accomplishing a difficult challenge.

Persevering through a difficult challenge -- now that's success!

Evolution & Archaeology Overnight Field Study: Sun Banks Cabins

We roasted S'mores and told stories around the fire. The cabins were nice and we got great cabin mates. There was a lake that people ...