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Classroom Happenings: Celebrating Science Through the Decades

The Steward School
Science, art, and imagination combine for a cross-divisional project
Spartans of all ages are inspired by topics that encourage new ways of seeing the world of today and envisioning the world of tomorrow. A recent collaborative project tasked Spartans in all divisions to explore scientific milestones — and to imagine what life might be like without them. Celebrating Science Through the Decades, a gallery walk in the Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts lobby, showcased students’ research and innovative thinking. 

Young Innovators  
Junior kindergarten and kindergarten students participated in the gallery walk by celebrating the year that the iPad was invented (2010!) and using iPads to draw pictures of their favorite apps. Third graders created Rube Goldberg-inspired machines in their engineering class. Mr. Goldberg was known for his cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in convoluted ways. In the Bryan Innovation Lab, Steward’s young inventors built machines that could complete two simple tasks and ring a bell.

Life on Mars
Middle School Science Teacher Sarah Bain’s eighth graders worked in groups to identify the potential problems of living on Mars, brainstorm solutions, and design and build prototypes of colonies on Mars. They presented their projects in class. “More than 2,000 popsicle sticks, 300 hot-glue sticks, plus endless amounts of paint, markers, and LEGO were used in creating their models,” noted Ms. Bain. “I was blown away by the students’ creativity.”

Forward Thinking 
Upper School science students in Mary Greenlee’s AP environmental science class presented The 1970s: Improving the Environment for Future Generations, creating posters about the major environmental acts from the ’70s that improve air and water quality and protect species. Sixth graders in Middle School Science Teacher Claire Bailey’s classes conducted research on the environment, predicted outcomes, and created podcasts that depict what the world may look like without specific environmental acts and laws that were passed in the 1970s. Gallery walk visitors scanned QR codes to listen to the podcasts. 

A Modern Marvel 
Upper School Science Teachers Joe Hardcastle and Lexi Bach had their freshmen physics students create projects inspired by the James Webb Space Telescope: paper models; acrylic paintings; LEGO models; and photo journals documenting the telescope’s discoveries. 

Biomedical Design
Upper School Science Teacher Kristen Householder’s Biomedical Design students designed projects to teach others about CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) and its applications. CRISPR has the potential to treat or cure diseases by “cutting out” and editing a specific sequence of DNA. Projects included a storybook about aliens and CRISPR geared toward Lower Schoolers; a survey on the ethics of CRISPR (with code written by Cameron Berryman ’24); posters; and stop-motion videos. Charlotte Olexy ’24 and Sydney Rife ’24 wrote and recorded a song about CRISPR set to the tune of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.” 

Sydney said that she and Charlotte decided to write a parody of “Thriller” because writing and editing an original song is more complicated. Inspired by “MJ: The Musical,” which the two had recently seen in New York City, they got to work writing and recording. She said, “My dad loves to make and record music, so we had access to a professional recording program and setup, which made the process easier.” Projects such as this one, she noted, “are essential for developing creativity and making the classroom experience more entertaining. It was fun being able to share something that I enjoy doing and teaching others through it.”

The Elements of Discovery 
Upper School Science Teacher Leslie Kovach’s chemistry and honors chemistry students used an app called Book Creator to write miniature books about the discovery of the elements from 1949-2010. Each book describes the discovery of an element and highlights its properties. Visitors to the gallery walk viewed the books on iPads.

The gallery walk was just one way that Spartans are discovering the wonders of science. Through interdisciplinary endeavors, students from all divisions explore topics that define our time and take an active role in shaping what the future will be. 


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