Flying Bricks Science Newsletter
September 5, 2006


Greetings!

Welcome to the first science newsletter for the Flying Brick Team.  I hope you and your family had an enjoyable summer and are looking forward to an excellent school year.  I call this "cranial crank-up time" as all of us get used to waking up at a very early hour and begin to remove the cob webs that accumulated during the summer break.  

We've begun by identifying the independent and dependent variables in an experiment, a concept that we will revisit throughout the year.  Another theme I will continue to stress this year is the need to be observant and look for details.  Ask your child(ren) about the "invisible" jello.

Beginning this year, the team's science classes will be supported by my new web site www.mrsthall.com.  This will be used to provide 24/7 access to class information.  Among the items to be found there are homework assignments, syllabus, policies, this letter with links to relevant pages, contact information, science activities, web science resources, test date reminders, project descriptions, science news, and other items as I am able to post them.  Obviously, this is an evolving enterprise.  I'm sure we will be constantly finding new and useful items to post, so check the site often.  Suggestions are always welcome.  In fact, there is a link for that, as well-- suggestions@mrsthall.com .

Looking ahead to the next few weeks, the children will continue honing observation skills through one or two additional investigations.  We will then integrate our curriculum work with Mr. Anthony's, looking at the ecosystems of Antarctica as he begins his study of the continent.  We will start our study of weather and climate and the transfer of heat energy as the hurricane season peaks.   While studying the transfer of heat energy students will have their first project, to build a device that keeps an ice cube frozen for as long as possible. More later.

From time to time I will use this space to inform you of interesting science activities outside the classroom.  One such opportunity is brought to us by NASA. Their "Star Count" is designed for middle school students. The purpose of Star Count is for students to investigate whether people in different parts of the world see the same number of stars. The students will share their data with other students from all over the world to find out why differences might occur.   As we spend some time studying astronomy this year, I thought this would be a valuable project.  I will be speaking of this in class, but since it involves viewing a darkened sky from outside, students interested in taking part will need your assistance.  For further informatiion please visit the following site:  

 www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/starcount/home/index.html

Let me know if your family will be participating.

Please save any small appliances and other interesting devices you plan to discard.  We may be able to use them Take Apart Day. More on this activity later.

I truly enjoy teaching science to middle schoolers and am very excited about our plans for the coming year.  Helping children understand how their world works is most rewarding.  We know there are great science mysteries yet to solve and all children like to solve mysteries.  I hope that by year's end your children will not only have mastered the state standards, but, perhaps more importantly, have reinforced their curiousity about the natural world around them.

I look forward to working with you this year and meeting you at Open House later this month.  Until then, should you have questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to contact me at any time, jthall@franklin.k12.ma.us .  

June Thall