The Impact of Eighth Grade Service Learning

For nearly ten years, our Eighth Grade class has focused on Service Learning as a key component of their Social Studies curriculum. They research food insecurity and the causes of homelessness, and they learn that 1 in 5 children in the United States struggle with hunger each day. They volunteer together at the San Francisco Food Bank and GLIDE Memorial, and they participate in the We Schools initiative, which focuses on shifting young people’s focus “from Me to We.”

One of their largest initiatives throughout the year is Adopt-a-Family, which came to a close last week. Eighth Grade students led the charge to collect toys and clothes for local families.

“Thank you to our parent volunteers, who delivered more than 35 full bags of gifts to Coastside Hope,” said Wendy Connolly, who leads the initiative. “Thank you to the teachers, too, for helping the Eighth Graders connect with families. Students created sign-up lists, met with Lower School classes, announced at assembly, wrote to parents and teachers, sent friendly reminders, and made sure they collected all the correct items for each family. We donated holiday gifts to 16 families.”

 

Sea Crest Runner Proves a Natural

Aidan Pond started running when he was about 3 years old. He would scurry after his father, Tim Pond, when his dad jogged to the store in El Granada to buy Reese’s peanut butter cups.

From the looks of things, it doesn’t appear Aidan ate too much of that candy. He is as lean as a No. 2 pencil at 5-foot-8, 116 pounds. He can also run like nobody’s business, finishing a mile in five minutes, six seconds as part of a 4-kilometer race in Fresno. That effort qualified the Sea Crest School student for an even bigger race.

On Saturday, despite a 5,000-foot elevation and frigid temperatures, the younger Pond ran a 4K in 15:56.9 to place 206th in the National Junior Olympic Cross-Country Championships in New Mexico.

Read more by John Murphy in the Half Moon Bay Review.

Coding and Computer Science at Sea Crest

Our Computer Science program extends far beyond one week of Hour of Code. In fact, we use Hour of Code as a kickoff to our second trimester Unit of Coding for the Lower School classes. In Middle School, we continue to offer a variety of Computer Science Explorations, including a full-year Computer Science class that allows students to dive deeply into Javascript.

We have been offering Computer Science opportunities for more than a decade. In the early years, Comp Sci was limited to Middle School Coding Electives, which focused on Scratch, Karel the Robot, Alice, Greenfoot, and HTML. In 2012, we expanded our program to begin in Second Grade, using online resources and Pro-Bot programmable floor robots. By the time the first Hour of Code event was held in 2013, there were many more offerings tailored for younger students, such as Kodable and other iPad-based apps that taught programming basics. We now offer Computer Science from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade and are in the process of integrating physical computing using ProBots, Makey Makeys, WeDo Robotics, OzoBots, and Arduino.

So why do we teach all students Computer Science? Does everyone need to be a programmer when they grow up? The answer is that Computer Science can apply to every field: our students learn logic, problem-solving, and design skills. They take complex ideas and break them down into smaller parts. They work collaboratively and with persistence in the face of frustration. The creative aspects of coding are also often overlooked: creating interactive stories, animations, games, and websites. Coding, in fact, is all about turning ideas into reality.

“I like the terms ‘hard fun’ or ‘healthy struggle’ to describe some of the learning processes associated with programming,” says Technology Integration Specialist Ellyn Kohrs. “One of my students in the Full Year Programming Exploration recently said, ‘It is very fun and it makes me think hard.'”

 

Sixth Grade Astronomy

The Sea Crest Greenhorn Astronomer Society (slogan: “We are terrestrial; we are GAS”) named and studied newfound “planets” as amateur astronomers.

Students made careful notes and sketches, gathering as much information as possible about their discoveries.

“The Sixth Graders know that any scientist who gets their research in first gets to name the discovery,” said Science Teacher Rob Kashima. “The motivation to be able to name the planet they discovered made them act fast!”

Students gave oral presentations to a peer review committee, and they displayed posters from their presentations outside of MS Room 6. Our young astronomers are now awaiting evaluations from their peers!

 

Invention Convention!

The Second Grade Simple Machine unit concluded with a successful “Invention Convention” in the Innovation Lab. Each child designed and built a machine using recycled materials. Thank you to our families for sending in reusable items, and a big shout out to the parents who volunteered to make it a fun learning experience for everyone!

 

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