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Piekarz Classroom Article by Bibiane Kan

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Throughout the month of March, the eighth grade Panther science classroom has  a busy atmosphere. Students bend over sticks of balsa wood, gently marking out sections of the wood and making incisions. Others measure out manila folders, cutting the paper with precision. Hot glue guns balance on the counters lining the science room, steadily heating up. The students are building their thermal energy houses and it is an exciting yet nerve wracking experience.

The thermal house energy project is a part of the physics unit in which students have to use only a few materials to create a sturdy model of a house that will be well-insulated. Students are allowed three pieces of cardstock, four pieces of balsa wood measuring 36 inches each, and one hot glue stick. The dimensions for the house are to be at least 8 inches tall and wide, and there is to be a chimney and a 2 inch by 2 inch window, using the scale of one inch to one foot. The houses are the engineering project that Mrs. Piekarz alluded to last month. Once their houses have been built and fortified with cardstock and balsa wood, the students will choose methods of insulation, such as aluminum foil or saran wrap, and do their best to insulate their house. Many students, as of the week before Spring Break, are nearly done or have already finished building the structure of their houses. One student says, “We (my group) are almost done building the house. The only thing left for us to do is to attach the roof, fortify the edges, and then we have to insulate it.” Another group is still working on the framework of their house. “We’re still building the house, and we haven’t attached the walls yet either because we wanted our measurements to be as precise as possible.”

The main focus of the science classroom in March was the thermal house projects, along with finishing up their unit of genetics with presentations from groups of students that were designed to explain mutations in DNA strands. Mrs. Piekarz particularly enjoyed the presentations because they came with a creative aspect. It is one thing to learn a concept, but to mold that information into a way to communicate the ideas requires a completely different thought process.. In the following month of April, the students will continue building and insulating their houses, learn more about thermal energy, and continue their physics unit as a whole by studying waves and force fields. There will most likely not be any tests in April, and the homework load will be similar to what the students have had in March. Good luck to all the students on constructing their houses!


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Piekarz Classroom Article by Bibiane Kan