Many times, December is viewed as a time to finish old business and tie up loose ends, while trying new things is saved for New Year’s resolutions. Not so at our school. Here, we actively seek out challenges and new experiences. Here, our students don’t just stand and watch from the sidelines; they jump right in and get their hands dirty. Here, we don’t just think of ideas, we make them realities. Here, we have The “It” Factor.
If you took a trip to the top floor last week and peeked into the science lab, you might have seen what looked like an arts and crafts class. Craft sticks, hot glue guns, dominoes, marbles, aluminum foil, tape, string and a variety of other simple materials covered tables, stools and floors. Middle School students, absorbed in thought or engaged in excited discussion with classmates, worked together to arrange and re-arrange items seemingly at random. A line of dominoes knocks over a level to release a marble down a chute made of tin foil. It drops into a pan below and things begin to make sense. These students are working to design their own Rube Goldberg machines.
Reuben Garrett Lucius “Rube” Goldberg born July 4, 1883 was an American inventor who is best known for his cartoons of contraptions that have been “deliberately over-engineered” to perform a very simple task in a very complex way – often relying on chain reactions.
Students were attempting to construct devices that would do everything from staple a piece of paper to turn the page of a book to use a needle to pop a balloon full of confetti. Working as teams, students brainstormed solutions to problems that arose in testing their machines. The design of each apparatus varied dramatically but the persistence, creativity and cooperation in the classroom was a constant.
Step into the gym on a Tuesday or Thursday and you might see Upper Elementary Students jumping, running, falling and rolling across the floor in every direction. Jen Landa, parent of two village school students, a dance teacher at Ridgewood High School, and sister to our very own Laura Uzzi, is coming in twice a week to work with these 4th-6th grade students, teaching them dance fundamentals as part of our Physical Education program. This week, classes focused on proper feet position, core movements and spatial awareness. Jen introduced the students to the history of dance and vocabulary used by dancers. Jen will continue to build upon these fundamentals and introduce some other dance moves and styles to the students in the coming weeks.
Sometimes creativity is born out of the search to solve a real life problem. If you happened to be in the school on Friday morning last week, you might have caught Village School student, Ansel Chang giving a presentation to the Upper Elementary classes on an invention he created in an extracurricular group in which he participates. The group, based in Glen Rock, noticed that there is a problem with flooding during the fall due to leaves clogging the storm drains. After researching the designs of storm drains in other countries, Ansel and his group worked to create a prototype of a new style of storm drain that could be incorporated to work with Glen Rock’s existing drainage system to trap leaves while allowing rainwater to drain through. This presentation sparked a lively and thoughtful question and answer session among his classmates as they validated the usefulness of Ansel’s design as well as explored possible improvements to it. Ansel and his project group are scheduled to present the design to the town in the coming weeks.
If you stuck around after drop off on Friday, you might have noticed groups of fathers roaming the school. These dads were all participating in a special Dad’s Tour of Village School. The many attendees gathered in the Primary Library for coffee and refreshments as they listened to a brief introduction by Board chair Mark Corrado. Then, the dads donned hard hats and headed out to the construction site to get a first-hand look on how the vision of the new gym and school addition is being made a reality. Back inside the building, middle school students were waiting to lead the fathers on a tour, giving some insight into what it is like to be a student in each program level at The Village School. We thank all the dads that took time out of their day to come and see a school day in action!
Did you hear the buzz in the virtual world last week about the Hour of Code? If not, ask your child to tell you all about it. Last week was National Computer Science Week and students in the technology classroom were introduced to the concept of programming using age appropriate techniques.
Kindergarten students were shown how coding works with a hands on demonstration. A volunteer student was designated as the “robot” and could only follow commands one at a time. Students learned that once a command is executed it takes another command to “un do” the original command. They also learned that multiple single commands could be strung together to create a program to carry out a task. They then used an iPad app called Daisy the Dinosaur to create their own programs.
Students in the elementary grades were introduced to the concept of programming by watching the following short clip found on code.org and then using the tutorials there to create their own programs. These programs are specifically geared towards kids and introduce programming in a fun yet challenging way. Parents can access these as well and do them with their children at http://code.org/
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