June 17, 2024
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Yeshivat Noam: Middle School Dynamic Earth Expo

The Earth is a wonderfully dynamic system and the learning of the Yeshivat Noam Middle School students in preparation for their Earth Science Expo has been wonderfully dynamic, too. The goal of the Earth Expo is to give students and parents a more complete understanding and appreciation of the beauty, power, and wonder of Planet Earth. As one sixth grader reflected afterwards, “I never really thought about what was inside Earth before and how big and deep it is. You just think about Earth where we live, but you don’t think about what is going on inside of it and how that impacts what happens on top of it.”

Students spent several weeks engaged in Earth Science related project-based learning with each grade taking on a different skill and content focus. Sixth graders studied plate tectonics and geology and designed working models of the processes that shape our planet. Seventh graders explored different biomes and habitats around the world and designed controlled experiments to delve deeper into the conditions of the ecosystem or the adaptations of the plants and animals that live within it. Eighth graders took on the many sources of energy that fuel our planet and our lives. Groups investigated the potential power of wind, sun, bioluminescence, and more, while building solar powered fashion accessories, ovens, Rube Goldberg machines, generators, and squishy circuits. Sixth and seventh graders shared their learning in an interactive museum for parents and elementary school students, while eighth graders gave formal presentations and demonstrations, working in advance to move beyond the boring bullet point riddled Powerpoint to more dynamic, intriguing slides.

In preparation of the Earth Expo, the Middle School science lab became a hub of collaboration, research, creativity, and design. Students worked with each other and their teachers to master new skills, refine their understanding of the material, troubleshoot broken circuits and surprising experimental results, and present their knowledge in sophisticated visual displays, accompanied by thoughtful commentary and demonstration. Students took ownership over their learning and over the many tools available to them throughout this time. The night was a spectacular culmination of this learning. Students presented with pride and authority and wowed their parents with just how much they knew about Earth and its ever changing, ever fascinating nature.

By Aliza Chanales

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