Wednesday Exploratory Seminar
New this year, Wednesday Exploratory Seminars (WES) are designed to:
- Connect learning among the disciplines
- Spark wonder and creativity
- Develop critical thinking
- Reward intellectual risk-taking
- Stimulate student engagement
- Enhance communication skills
- Expand perspectives
The seminars do this by providing multi-disciplinary, problem-based, and experiential learning that connect skills and knowledge gained in core classes to real-world experience. Complementary seminars are designed to help students develop metacognition, study and organizational skills, and mindfulness.
Wednesday Exploratory Seminars include:
- Seminars that explore and expand knowledge and understanding of literature, writing, mathematics, science, history, and global issues and perspectives.
- Extended blocks of 70 minutes, providing adequate time for active, subject-integrated, problem-based experiences.
- Connections to core-class learning that is not numerically assessed to encourage intellectual risk-taking and authentic rather than strategic learning
- Multi-disciplinary instruction designed by faculty from diverse disciplines allowing students to connect biology and geometry, social studies and statistics, or music and math for examples.
WES this Week: January 17, 2018
• How Far Will It Go? It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no: it’s a marshmallow launched by a middle school catapult. Students work in teams to build a catapult out of legos, testing and modifying the catapult to change energy output and maximize the course of flight. Hands-on engineering and the application of math provide a real-world experience. A look back at the history of the catapult adds a further dimension to this dynamic seminar. Faculty: Steve Mayfield-Science 6
• STEAM Designs: Paper is the material of choice in this design and build challenge. From concept to execution, students lead their own learning by envisioning a structure they want to build and then creating it from limited resources. This seminar supports the development of a variety of fundamental skills, including visual-spatial reasoning, executive function, and problem-solving. Faculty: Celsa Rutan-Spanish
• Grammatical Performances: Parts of Speech take center stage as students create short presentations and perform for their peers. Rhyming couplets about coordinating conjunctions? Rhythmic raps about possessive pronouns? Creativity knows no bounds as students convey their grammatical expertise in a decidedly dramatic fashion. Faculty: Mark Garcia-Language Arts 6
• The Real Story of Vincent Van Gogh: The Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over ten years he created thousands of works of art, including vibrant and expressive oil paintings. Students explore Van Gogh’s personal story, particularly his struggle with mental illness. Focusing on one of his best-known works, The Starry Night, students consider the line between creativity and delusion. This seminar encourages an appreciation for art and the creative process while building empathy and reflective thinking. Faculty: Cheri Buxman-Fine Arts
• Team-building and Trust-building: Navigating the exciting but often confusing middle school years is a challenge for adolescents. Through a variety of team-building, role-playing, and trust-building exercises students have a chance to develop and practice important skills. This seminar fosters the ability to listen actively and interact positively, and helps students learn how to cope with the uncomfortable and difficult situations they encounter on a regular basis. Faculty: Jason Green-Athletics
• Olympic Games: Stay tuned February 9th for the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. But it’s not all about hockey, skiing, and figure skating. Students research the culture and history behind some of the less known Olympic sports, such as luge, curling, and skeleton. The seminar concludes with short student presentations, giving participants a chance to consolidate their learning and practice public speaking skills. Faculty: Andy Rodgers-Social Studies 6
• Deeper Meanings: A rose, is a rose, is a rose… Unless, of course, the rose means something more. This seminar challenges students to explore literary symbolism. An engaging and interactive concept card game is the catalyst for thinking in novel ways. Working in small groups, students practice making connections between the tangible and the intangible, between the concrete and the abstract. This seminar develops critical thinking skills and creativity, and supports classroom work in language arts and the upcoming political cartoon assignment in social studies. Faculty: Victoria Fernandez-Language Arts 7
• Peace Begins with You: A poem about the multi-faceted nature of “peace” is the starting point for this seminar. The poem invites the reader to consider how peace means different things to different people, at various times and places in their lives. Students reflect on what it means to be a peacemaker and how to foster lasting peace. Faculty: Christian Garcia-Spanish
• Power Brain-Change your Energy: Creating positive synergy among mind, body, and spirit is the path to a happier, healthier life. But what is consciousness? How do we achieve mindfulness? Are adolescents ready to develop the intention and commitment necessary to synthesize mind, body, and spirit? Using the Power Brain Workbook as a resource, this seminar guides students in understanding how to be their personal best. Physiological explanations provide context as students practice breathing exercises and other tools. Individual goal setting concludes this seminar. Faculty: Roberta Hamilton-Griggs- Performing Arts
• Roaming Robots: Student leaders from the Middle School robotics team help a High School/Middle School faculty team introduce seventh grade students to the exciting world of coding and robotics. This hands-on experience in engineering and design is intended to give some students their first taste of coding and building, while allowing more experienced students to take their robotics work to a higher level. Faculty: Dave Gesler-High School Robotics and Jason Jung-Fine Arts
• Memorable People, Monumental Achievements: Timed to coincide with this week’s observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this seminar focuses on the National Memorials and National Monuments located on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall. What is the difference between a memorial and a monument? Who has our nation chosen to honor and what does that say about our nation’s history and vision? Students apply a mathematical eye by examining visitor statistics and other data to gain insight into how our society engages with these places of honor. Faculty: Melissa McQueen-Math 7
• Young Leaders Can Change the World: This seminar introduces students to non-profit organizations: what they are, how they are founded, and how they serve communities of need. Short video clips of young non-profit leaders sharing their personal narratives will inspire students to consider what they might feel called to do one day. Skills in collaboration, concept design, and public speaking will all be practiced as students present their ideas for a future non-profit mission and organization. Faculty: Zac Hood-Athletics
• The Life Boat: The boat is sinking and only eight passengers will survive. How do we judge human worth? Who is valued the most? The simulation challenges students to use their abilities to reason, collaborate, and debate, and exposes them to the dangers of stereotypes and jumping to conclusions. Role-playing activities help students consider the impact of stereotyping. A reflective writing exercise leads students to explore their best personal qualities and self-worth. Faculty: Michael Pattison-Math 8
• Google Maps-Geography Live: Travel around the world and visit new places, all from the World Issues classroom. Using Google Earth, students embark on a global scavenger hunt. They discover corners of the world they never considered before and learn geography skills along the way. Technology fluency in Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Slides will be developed, as will search skills. Faculty: Joe Riehl-World Issues 8
• Crystalline Structures: Minerals are naturally occurring crystalline solids with specific chemical compositions. When they form unimpeded, minerals create beautiful crystals. Students construct 3-D paper models of the six basic crystalline systems, and then compare their models to actual mineral samples. Students begin to visualize the repeating crystal patterns that provide evidence of atomic arrangements and reveal the “bling” of mineral compositions. Faculty: Kathy Rosborough-Science 8
• Personality Theory-Color: What is personality? Is personality set? Are we different in different settings? This seminar introduces the long history of personality typing, how humans have applied it, and why we find it so interesting. Students attempt to type themselves and consider commonalities among personality types. This exploration of personality gives students a framework to consider a primary adolescent concern: the sense of identity. Faculty: Martha Ashley-Principal and Ana Fonseca-Spanish
• Orienteering: A true renaissance man, SMA music teacher and instructional media technologist is also a member of Loveland’s Ski Patrol and is certified in Outdoor Emergency Care. Geoff shares his passion for outdoor adventure and his disciplined commitment to safety in this outdoor education seminar. Students use applied math skills as they try their hands at basic orienteering. They develop executive function and planning skills as they review the ten essentials of outdoor gear. The seminar concludes with a thoughtful discussion about how to react appropriately to emergencies when they occur when enjoying the outdoors. Faculty: Geoff McVie: Instructional Media Technologist