— In the News: Challenge within a chair’s construction

The Half Moon Bay Review published an article about our seventh graders’ project in the Innovation Lab: Challenge within a chair’s construction: Educator looks at everyday objects in a different way. They prototyped four chairs out limited materials as part of their Explorations and the results were remarkable.

Sea Crest School students were recently challenged to think outside the box — outside the cardboard box, to be exact.

As part of a semester-long exploration class, aspiring makers were required to enhance an old office chair using nothing more than masking tape, cardboard and hot glue.

The lesson took place in the Innovation Lab, a maker-space where tinkering is not only encouraged, it is expected.

“During the summer, I saw a lot of old chairs in the hallway that were going to be thrown out,” said Patrick Neary, Innovation Lab manager at Sea Crest School. “There was a lot of cardboard that was also going to be thrown out. I thought maybe there was a way to upcycle both slightly and see what we could do with them.

“It occurred to me that the curved, rotating chair was a common thing, almost in contrast with these big square boxes,” he continued. “One of the things that I was concerned with was challenging the kids about their basic assumptions about things.”

Before the course, most students would look at the chair and disregard it as a utilitarian object. After completing the project, it was clear that the students would no longer take the art of sitting for granted.

Innovation Lab Chair“To get started, the kids had to think about how does this chair come about?” said Neary. “Once they re-examined this common object, they could start to reinvent it.”

Part of that process included deconstructing a few samples in order to gain a clear understanding of how the chair worked.

Innovation Lab Chair“Some of the students used power tools, like drills, to pull out the screws,” said Neary. “The students then had to figure out how many screws were used and why.”

Once the kids understood how the chair worked, they were challenged to improve upon the design. Neary created four teams. Students drew lots to determine who was in each group.

“It was random,” said Neary. “Some students liked the partners they were grouped with, others had never really talked before as partners.”

The newly created groups started sketching out their ideas as they began working to build a better chair.

Once the drawing was complete, the makers-in-the-making moved into the physical world of construction.

“The students experienced obstacles of different viewpoints and agendas that required that the students collaborate, negotiate and corporate,” said Neary.

The students worked hard on their final designs, pieces of cardboard that were held together with nothing more than masking tape and hot glue.

The groups then presented their projects to a panel of judges that assessed the projects on the basis of collaboration, the mindful use of the materials, the overall design aesthetic, and the cleanliness of the final construction.

There was also one more catch, the completed prototype had to support the weight of the intended user, whether a student or an adult.

The results were stunning to say the least. One group opted for a minimalistic design going heavy on the masking tape. The end product was a sleek chair sure to hold up under the average adult. Others were more creative, adding butterfly wings, cup holders, and slots for books.

 

Seventh Graders’ Makey Makey Musical Instruments

What is a Makey Makey?

A Makey Makey is an invention kit that turns everyday objects into touchpads by combining them with electric circuits, alligator clips, USB cables and the internet. With Makey Makey projects, students can do art, engineering and everything in between!

Makey Makey started out as a project by two students at MIT Media Lab as an academic and artistic project. Now it’s both a business and a project with thousands of community collaborators, with more joining the ranks of inventors everyday.

Our Seventh Graders built Makey Makey musical instruments as part of the Explorations curriculum under the guidance of Ellyn Kohrs, Technology Integration and Computer Science Teacher. They made musical plastic animals, drum sets, a floor piano, a stuffed animal band and a foil key instrument.

They also had the amazing opportunity to share their inventions with Third Grade, who had a blast playing the instruments and learning about electronics, conductivity, circuits, programming and music!

 

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Connor made a drum set out of pipe cleaners and gold pin heads. The way the drum set is set up the crash cymbal is at the top left and the drums are in a triangle.

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Charles made a piano out of plastic animals. He has an entire key from middle C to high C. To play the piano you hold the earth and then touch the copper tape on top of the animals.

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Billy built a drumset with two drums, a high-hat and two drumsticks. It is made out of cardboard, copper, tape, pencils, aluminum foil, a makey makey set and chromebook. To play it, you hold the drumsticks without touching the aluminum foil and tap the copper.

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Conor’s instrument is a piano and the piano goes from A to G. The piano is made out of tinfoil wrapped around cardboard. To play his piano, you hold the earth which is the yellow alligator clip and you touch the cardboard wrapped in tinfoil and it makes the noise.

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Maisie made a piano out of carpet squares for stability wrapped in tin foil to be conductive. To play you take off your shoes and touch the aluminum foil.

Seventh Grade Makey Makey Musical Instrument

Mikalee demonstrating her stuffed-animal band and sharing important concepts, such as electric circuits and connectivity, with third graders while they were all playing music and having fun.


Introducing Our New Director of Middle School

As Sea Crest continues to grow, it is vital to have an administrator dedicated to leading our Middle School. Following an extensive national search, we were fortunate to invite three highly qualified finalists to campus for two days each to meet with faculty, staff, students, and a small group of parents. We are now pleased to announce the appointment of Jessica Patti, who will join us this fall as Sea Crest’s Director of Middle School.

Jessica received her Bachelor of Science from Tulane University with concentrations in Anthropology and English Literature. She earned her Master of Education degree from Harvard University with a focus on School Leadership. Most recently, Jessica held the position of Dean of Students at Sacred Heart Schools (Atherton, CA), where she was responsible for staff supervision, curriculum development, student leadership, experiential education, and teaching history. Prior to that, she was the Upper School Dean of Students at John Cooper School (Woodlands, TX), the Director of Student Life at Quest Academy (Palatine, IL), and Program Coordinator of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas.

An avid outdoorsperson, Jessica has coached at the Middle School and varsity levels in boys’ crew, cross country, and track and field. She has led students on backpacking trips, been an on-site Wilderness First Responder, revamped outdoor education programs, and constructed K-8 service learning programs. She has also created leadership workshops for students and trained teachers to support authentic student initiatives. She has presented at The California Association of Independent Schools’ conferences on topics such as Honor Code, Student Discipline, and Student Club Moderation.

Those who know Jessica emphasize her collaborative style, warmth, deep knowledge of Middle School development, and high standards of integrity. She lives in Moss Beach with her two dogs and can often be found enjoying the outdoors with them.

Launching Origami Rockets

Middle School students have been prototyping a standardized propulsion system for their origami rockets. Originally, students used lung power and plastic straws to launch the rockets, but they soon found there was too much variability in people’s lung capacity.

“We wanted to see if we could create a uniformly reliable way to propel the little rockets,” said Innovation Lab Manager Patrick Neary. “That way, the standardized propulsion would give us all a better idea about the aerodynamic properties of the individual origami techniques.”

To complete the project, students were given straws, recycled plastic bags, various sizes of plastic cups, masking tape, and (at a student’s suggestion) lemon juice and baking soda.

Origami Rockets

Sixth Grader Ryan Rose Grout measured and prepared baking soda and lemon juice to test a chemical propulsion for her origami rocket. “This was a great attempt to provide a more complex solution,” said Mr. Neary.

“At the outset, the students were pretty skeptical about how much they could actually accomplish with the basic materials that I provided,” said Mr. Neary. “However, just a few minutes into the class, all of the students were deeply engaged in figuring out how they could get their rockets to move. It was very gratifying to see that transformation, where the students became so completely focused on creating a solution to the challenge. Every student did successfully complete a prototype by the end of class, and some students actually created several variations following unsuccessful testing.”

Seventh Grader Cole Ramsey designed and prototyped a multi-chambered propulsion system. The chambers are intended to multiply the chemical reaction, producing a greater amount of gas than would a single, one-time mixture of baking soda and lemon juice.

Origami Rockets

Origami Rockets

Eighth Grader Jake Metz had multiple successful propulsion attempts using an inflatable plastic bag with multiple straws.

Origami Rockets

“The straws fed into a plastic cup, which concentrated the compressed air around the origami rocket contained within the cup itself,” said Mr. Neary. “A very unique and innovative solution!”

Exploring Art with No Wrong Answers

One of our Middle School Exploration courses, Abstract Painting, was featured in the Half Moon Bay Review. Read below!

For many children, middle school offers the first taste of academic freedom, as students can choose electives in addition to traditional core classes.

Sea Crest Middle School offers a variety of electives to encourage students to explore topics they might not have been exposed to previously.

In addition to computer programming and poetry, young scholars at Sea Crest can also create origami rockets or go myth-busting with a beloved science teacher.

Abstract Art is also one of these explorations. Students who didn’t consider themselves to be artistic are finding an affinity for art after taking this course.

“In the class, Abstract Art has helped me become more artistic, because, before, I wasn’t really into art,” said Kai Guevara. “Now I really like the class because it shows that I can be creative.”

Abstract art isn’t about the perfect placement of physical objects on canvas. It’s an exploration of relationships of forms as well as layers of color and texture.

“With abstract art, there’s no object and no person,” said Sea Crest seventh-grader Nataly Gijon. “It’s just random shapes in different orders as well as different colors combined together.”

Regardless of the techniques used, there are no wrong answers in this class. Students in the class experiment with pigments of color. Some try broad brush strokes across the canvas; others create circles of varying shades.

“You can draw whatever you want and it will end up being something,” said eighth-grader Rose Geller.

“Exploring Art with No Wrong Answers,” Half Moon Bay Review


 

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