One of my favorite units that I teach in 8th grade is our unit on quadratics. We completed the unit just before Spring Break and as a fun way to end this unit we split into groups and launch marshmallows, gummy bears, and balls of clay from mini catapults. The students record the time the object is in the air and the distance the object traveled. With this data the students can create an equation that models the flight of their object. We then move the catapult up 150 cm off the ground and the students have to adjust their equation. With this new equation they are able to predict where their object will land. We place our target at that spot and fire away. Each group gets 4 shots to score as many points as possible (the closer to the bullseye the more points earned) and the group with the most points is the new champion and their names are placed on the coveted Catapult Contest Trophy.
The 8th grade students have now wrapped up their Cold War work. I attempted to have them send a link to their website via email earlier this week. If you did not receive the link please ask them to show the site to you. When viewing the site pay attention to the details they have created and connections they made to the big idea of the fears and paranoia created by the war here in America. Each student wrote summaries of the different sections of the war with their interpretation explaining their understanding and connection to the Statement of Inquiry – “Distrust between nations can lead to mistrust and fear resulting in attempts to gain control of the other through scientific advancement.”
Tomorrow the students have the field trip to Redmond for the Junior Achievement Finance Park. This is a great connection to the world of personal finance they are headed toward. Students will be given life scenario including job, income, marital status, and children to work with. They then have to balance a budget with finding housing, buying a car and insurance, paying for food, clothing themselves and their children, etc. This is a real eye-opener for many and a great discussion point when they return home Monday evening. Please take that opportunity if possible.
Our next unit will begin soon on the Vietnam War. In studying the war students will form news broadcast teams, write news copy and present it on video they shoot and edit. This unit will take us to the end of the year.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Last week in Language Arts, we pressed pause on the 8th graders’ personal research projects to prepare for our upcoming JA Finance site visit. Topics we’ve covered include income; saving, investing, and risk management; debit and credit, and budget. Monday’s simulation will pull all these topics together in a real-world experience that is both fun and enlightening. The students have been particularly interested in the subject of compound interest, both as it relates to savings and debt, so be sure to continue those discussions at home. They have a ton of great questions.
Stay tuned for more details on the research process as we resume that next week.
After finishing our study of electricity and magnetism, 8th graders have moved into our second to last unit, Light and Sound Waves. I enjoy teaching this unit because of all the real-world applications and examples it provides every day. Students have already learned general properties of waves, and are now studying light. Next week, we’ll study vision and corrective vision measures such as contact lenses, lasik eye surgery, and glasses. We will also dissect a cow eye to give students a deeper understanding of eye anatomy and function. After finishing light, we move into sound waves and hearing where we follow a similar path of real world application-based activities. As a fun final project, students complete a short individual research project on a topic within the unit of their choosing. Some prompt possibilities include why your voice sounds different to you than someone else, how chameleons and octopus are able to change colors quickly, and why sunsets, sunrises, and rainbows are so colorful.