Pi Day!

At L-Dub, on Pi Day, we mean business. "Pi (Greek letter " π ") is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. ...Pi is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same." Got it?

This past Monday, we celebrated Pi Day at L-Dub! The girls had prepared by memorizing many (many) digits of the number Pi, families sent in delicious pies (thank you, all), and the STEAM department planned some new activities to celebrate this mathematical holiday! This year we looked closely at how the number Pi shows up in unusual places, we made our annual Pi chain, the girls made their own abacus, and they learned the Chinese method for multiplication....in Spanish!

Thanks again to families for sending in such yummy pie and to students for fully embracing the countless wonders of Math!

Oh, Math! We love you so!

 

 

FuerzaBots Making Trash into Treasure

The FuerzaBots are at it again! LWGMS's Robotics Team – the school's fourth – has been working hard building and programming their robots, creating their trash-themed LEGO® models, and working to complete missions on their specialized TRASH TREK playing fields. They have also been busy finding solutions to real-world problems by delving into trash-use problems right here at L-Dub.

As many of you may know, FIRST LEGO League introduces students to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. Our FuerzaBots, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches Ms. Christine, Ms. Cristina, Rob Sim P'16 and Tim Ross P'18, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society.

The FuerzaBots get to:

  • Design, build, test and program robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology
  • Apply real-world math and science concepts
  • Research challenges facing today’s scientists
  • Learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills
  • Participate in tournaments and celebrations

The FuerzaBots, comprised of sixth grade students Alicia, Ryan, Helen, Elliot, Vivian, Luci, and Edie, seventh grade students Sophie, Emiko, and Audrey, and eighth grade students Maya, Julia, and Isabel, have been tackling this year's Challenge as a unit. Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values. Teams of up to ten kids (on the competition floor), with one adult coach, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game) and developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by FLL's Core Values – that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork. 

The FuerzaBots Robotics Team heads to the North Seattle WA FIRST LEGO League Qualifying Competition this Sunday, December 6.


This year, the 2015 FIRST® LEGO® League TRASH TREKSM Challenge, 290,000 children ages 9 to 16 from over 80 countries will explore the fascinating world of trash. From collection, to sorting, to smart production and reuse, there is certainly more to trash than meets the eye. The FuerzaBots have been working diligently on the Robot Challenge for which, over three months, they designed, built, and programed four robots, one of which will tackle as many obstacles of natural disaster aftermath as possible in 2.5 minutes. The FuerzaBots dove into programing the "brick" – the brains – of the robot, and they quickly learned how the sensors work, and in what situations they would be used. They also mastered how the motors work to make the robot go forward, backward, and to turn, as well as how to make the robots pick items up and move levers. As of today the FuerzaBot's robots can complete eight of the ten course obstacles. The girls are putting the finishing touches on their TRASH TREK project this week.

They've also been asked to work to solve a real-life problem pertaining to trash in the "project" section of the Qualifying Competition. As LWGMS students do, the FuerzaBots sought to solve a problem right here in our school community.

58,140 plastic bags on top of each other it would be as tall as Seattle’s Great Wheel!

58,140 plastic bags on top of each other it would be as tall as Seattle’s Great Wheel!

From the FuerzaBots:

"Through surveys and observation, we found that 68% of L-Dub students use plastic baggies in their lunches. That’s over half the school! We also found that of the plastic baggie users, 34% use them five or more times a week! 

On average then, our community uses 323 plastic baggies per week. That’s a lot of plastic baggies going into a landfill each week! This would total to 58,140 plastic baggies in a school year. If you were to stack 58,140 plastic bags on top of each other it would be as tall as Seattle’s Great Wheel. That’s terrible!

We all know this is a problem we needs solving, so the FuerzaBots have produced a video tutorial for making a DIY Reusable Snack Bag. Hopefully, everyone will try to make and use these bags. We suggest if you can't, though, that you buy reusable baggies, or switch to wax paper."


The FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics Regional Tournament is this Sunday, December 6, at Ballard High School in Seattle. During the tournament, teams have three rounds on the competition tables to get the best score possible. When not competing with their robots, teams give their research presentations, and are interviewed about the technical design of their robots and how they work as teams. Regional qualifiers may advance to the championship event in January. The winners of the Champion's Award, the most prestigious award, may be eligible to participate in a variety of post-season tournament opportunities both domestic and abroad. This, their first year, our FuerzaBots, whose motto is "Code Like a Girl," are excited to be participating in the tournament and will be focusing on getting as far as they can and learning from the mistakes they make along the way.

Join us to cheer on the FuerzaBots Robotics Team as they head to the North Seattle WA FIRST LEGO League Qualifying Competition!

Where: Ballard High School

Schedule:
8:00a – Team Check-in Opens
8:30a – Coach Meeting
9:00a – Judge Sessions Begin
12:30p – Opening Ceremony
12:45p – Robot Game
4:30p – Awards Ceremony

Go, FuerzaBots!

Intel® Girls and Women

Intel will continue to take action to engage and inspire girls and women to participate in computer science and engineering fields through hands on, applied maker activities. – Intel

Thank you to Kristan Weller P' 15 and the fifteen ambassadors from the Intel Girls and Women initiative – Lizabeth Anderson, David Lin, Jane Mareth, Basu Nagarahalli, Carolyn Russell, Kirsten Spoljaric, Rex St John, Nadia Steere, Phillip Stephens, Allison Takeuchi, Kristan Weller P’15, Merrie Williamson, and Hope Yonemitsu – who came to L-Dub this week to spend time with the 6th grade, exposing them to STEAM in action! The Intel crew taught the girls about different concepts of circuitry, connectivity, electricity through activities using Makey Makey circuit boards, and a few simple, everyday materials. The girls designed and built Pac Man controllers using Makey Makey boards, graphite in pencils, and Play Doh, and they also made pianos with Makey Makey boards, alligator clips, fruit, aluminum foil, and a computer. Everyone got their hands on the materials, learning about their different properties, and everyone had a ball. We are so grateful for the Intel team’s generosity, time, intelligence, and humor...and for the strong women and feminists – those supporting the in the room!

Concepts we learned

Electricity: a form of energy that is carried through wires and is used to operate machines, lights, etc.  Electric current or power
Conductor: a material or object that allows electricity or heat to move through it
Insulator: a material that allows little or no heat, electricity, or sound to go into or out of something
Open Circuit: a discontinuous circuit through which no current can flow
Closed Circuit: the complete path that an electric current travels along
Ground: electrical connection with the ground

What we used

  • Makey Makey circuit boards
  • Computers
  • Scratch – computer program
  • Alligator clips
  • Conductive/Non conductive classroom objects
  • Brains – the most advanced computer ever created

 

 

Intel's Key Recommendations to Engage Girls and Women in Making

  • Build more girls- and women-inclusive maker environments in public places like libraries and schools.
  • Design maker spaces that enable open-ended investigation of projects meaningful to girls and women.
  • Develop initiatives that give girls more access to makers their own age and female mentors. 
  • Encourage parents to “embrace the mess” and engage in making with their children.
  • Align making activities, such as coding and making hardware, with current trends and personal interests to attract girls.
  • Include facilitators in maker spaces to create a safe, supportive, inclusive environment for girls and women.

Read the entire MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and Inventing report here.

Thank you, Intel!

 

Check out the photos on Smugmug

LWGMS Hits the Seattle Interactive Conference!

On October 15, Ms. Hearn will be presenting The Making of a School at the Seattle Interactive Conference. SIC 2014 will be examining the evolving landscape of Seattle pioneer-ism by turning to those with firsthand experience redefining the industry. They are the Makers; thought-leaders who synthesize creative inspiration with the next big idea, and companies that successfully cultivate innovation and then translate it into something meaningful. 

Most schools say they want their students to succeed. As the head of Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Ms. Hearn begins many back-to-school talks by telling parents she wants their girls to fail. Ms. Hearn will talk to the conference-goers about the need for and the beginnings of LWGMS, and then she'll turn it over to a panel of seventh and eighth grade students who will discuss their experience in a school that embraces failure and cultivates creative confidence. LWGMS girls are rewriting the popular narrative that adolescence is a time when girls lose confidence, lose interest in STEM subjects, and engage in negative peer relationships.

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Patti Hearn is the Head of School at Lake Washington Girls Middle School in Seattle, a school committed to offering girls the opportunity to become competent risk takers and courageous mistake makers. About seventeen years ago, Ms. Hearn began working with a group of parents to open the first middle school for girls in the Northwest. Since then, she has been sharing her expertise in humanities, drama, martial arts, and curriculum development. She has also “taught”  lots of things in which she is not an expert, because she believes that teachers who are excited to learn alongside their students are the best role models. Today, LWGMS is an inspiring hub of creativity, design, inquiry, presentation, performance, analysis, messiness, and resilience, with 100 students, a few hundred alumnae, a dozen teacher role models, a leading-edge STEAM program, and lots of joy.

Ms. Hearn has spoken at educational conferences that include the National Association of Independent Schools and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. She has a Master’s degree in Education from Antioch and a Bachelor’s from Rutgers University. She has also broken a concrete block with her elbow, married the same architect twice, and produced two cuddly yet independent children. Sometimes, she reads the whole book before her book club meeting.

Use code SPKLWGRL100 for $100 off tickets! And if you're there, be sure to visit LWGMS's STEAM Booth! Ms. Cristina, Ms. Caitlin, Ms. Chelsea, and some students will be there guiding conference-goers through some cool L-Dub STEAM projects using LittleBits...banana pianos, anyone?!

Summer STEAM Camps

Our summer STEAM camps have started off with a bang. This week, our current student camp has begun working on a project building Cornhole game boards. As an introduction to the game, the girls had a mini tournament where they each took turns tossing their team's bean bags. Afterwards, the girls were faced with the challenge of measuring the dimensions of the boards and figuring out all the materials that would be needed to build their own games. 

Our second day of camp started off with a field trip to buy our supplies. We visited Blackstock Lumber, a local, family-owned lumber company. Here the girls had the opportunity to watch as their custom Cornhole boards were sized and cut to the girls' specifications. The girls participated in a tour of the lumber yard and watched demonstrations of many of the old mill working machines, including one from the 1940's. Afterwards, we loaded up the bus and headed to the fabric store for our bean bag materials.

After lunch, the girls received a lesson in shop safety and each had the opportunity to use our STEAM miter saw. It's clear our girls LOVE working in our shop and can't wait to use the rest of our tools. Stay tuned to see our final products. 

STEAM Fair!

The Eleventh Annual LWGMS STEAM Fair was held on Thursday, April 10, and it was wonderful! Each 8th grade student researched, planned, and implemented her own project with great attention to detail and diligence. This year, the 16 projects were designed to answer scientific questions such as "does studying with music playing increase or decrease your ability to concentrate,"  and two were engineering projects, designed to create a solutions to identified problems. The areas of science of this year's projects are: psychology/sociology, microbiology, food science/chemistry, astronomy/physics, computer science, and environmental science/chemistry. 

To see more photos, head to Smugmug.

FLEx Week Fun!

FLEx Week is one of our favorite parts of the term. While half of our girls are at the theater preparing for the play, the other is at school, hard at work on STEAM projects. This term we decided to focus the girls’ projects around aviation and women in STEAM.

To start us off with a bang, we began the week with an incredible field trip to the Museum of Flight. The girls loved it! During our tour the girls had the opportunity to not only learn about all the skills necessary for flight, but to actually put those skills to work in their very own flight simulators. We spent the rest of the day exploring exhibits, climbing through planes of all shapes and sizes, and watching our own private planetarium show. We are all hoping we get to go back soon. Special thanks to Señorita Jacquie and her family for connecting us with the museum!

The rest of the week was spent hard at work on Design Thinking projects, robotics, and film making. By the end of the week we were all happily exhausted. On Friday, as a special treat, the girls were introduced to Erika Wagner, a true woman in STEAM with a PhD in Bioastronautics. Talk about an inspiration! See Dr. Wagner's amazing bio here.

As their final FLEx Week activity, the girls were asked to showcase their work to the Mulan cast and crew, as well as a few family and community members. The films, prototypes, and robotics courses were presented with huge smiles and lots of applause. After watching all the girls’ grit and gumption throughout the week, we can definitely say that here at L-Dub, we love STEAM! 

Hour of Code 2013

We are about to finish up the second FLEx Week of the school year, a week of "deep dive" STEAM/Design Thinking projects. The girls (not in Peter Pan) have been embracing every opportunity offered to them, busy making short films around the topic of "what makes a girl strong?", formulating ideas and creating prototypes addressing accessibility to alternative transportation, and getting their hands dirty repairing bikes (and learning even more about alternative transportation) at Bike Works. And last but certainly not least, they have spent time coding — creating animated stories using the programming language Scratch — every day, and participated in the Hour of Code during this Computer Science Week. 

The Scratch projects were great: goofy and adorable. Through trial and error and lots of problem-solving, the girls programmed puppies, birds, and monsters to move around the screen. They created animated holiday cards and walking snowmen. One student sent a squirrel over a rainbow. Many added music to their stories. By the middle of the week, the girls were feeling empowered by their creations, and by the fact that they were learning — and writing — a new language.

At LWGMS we believe that programming can teach our girls fundamental skills like problem-solving and abstract thinking. Embedded in all disciplines at LWGMS is an emphasis on Design Education as a way of fostering fluency in creative thinking skills to solve 21st century problems. Problem-solving, risk-taking, and mistake-making are necessary skills to practice, especially at the middle school level and especially for girls.

Students experienced and familiar with Design Thinking (empathize, identify, ideate, prototype, and test) demonstrate resiliency and approach problems collaboratively and creatively — the heart of STEAM education at L-Dub. 

Out of the more than ten million students who have taken part in the Hour of Code as of this writing, 53 percent of them are girls.

“Don’t just buy a new video game — make one,” President Obama urges in a video he recorded on behalf of the campaign. “Don’t just download the latest app — help design it. Don’t just play on your phone — program. No one’s born a computer scientist, but with a little hard work — and some math and science — just about anyone can become one.”

Make sure to join us Friday at 2pm at the FLExing Our Muscles Project Fair to see all of the great work our girls have done during this FLEx Week.

See more images from our coding/Hour of Code session here

Go, FuerzaBots!

This term Lake Washington Girls Middle School has been offering a robotics and programming club – FuerzaBots! Guided by Ms. Rooks, Ms. Cristina, and Rob McCann P'14, the FuerzaBots team has been busy preparing for the FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League (FLL) Robotics Challenge. Each year, FIRST releases a new challenge that engages teams in hands-on robotics design and scientific research. The theme for the challenge is different each year, allowing teams to learn about a variety of subjects. This year, teams will apply research and robotics to explore natural disasters with FLL "Nature's Fury" challenge. To successfully complete the challenge, teams of young people must build and program a Lego Mindstorms robot to complete missions on a thematic playing surface and conduct research to discover what can be done when intense natural events meet the places people live, work, and play. This is Lake Washington Girls Middle School's first year participating in the event.

The FuerzaBots, comprising sixth grade students Eva, Ula, Julia, Maya, and Lucy, seventh grade students Paisley, Hava, Jayla, and Mackenzie, and eighth grade students Rae, Alma, Sadie, Helen, Josephine, and Savita, have been tackling this year's Challenge as a unit. Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values. Teams of up to ten kids (on the competition floor), with one adult coach, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game) and developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by FLL's Core Values – that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork. 

The theme for this year’s competition is Disaster Relief: Nature's Fury. For the "project" part of the challenge, teams were tasked to develop an innovative solution to help people prepare, stay safe, or rebuild after a natural disaster. The FuerzaBots – using the process of Design Thinking – created an app that will help people find and gather an emergency supply kit closest to them (utilizing geo-location), instruct the user how to operate the kit's contents, and offer information on how to best handle the emergency situation at hand – in their case, a volcanic eruption. The FuerzaBots are preparing a presentation of their app to share with the judges at this weekend's tournament.

The FuerzaBots have also been working diligently on the Robot Challenge for which, over three months, they designed, built, and programmed four robots, one of which will tackle as many obstacles of natural disaster aftermath as possible in 2.5 minutes. The FuerzaBots dove into programming the "brick" – the brains – of the robot, and they quickly learned how the sensors work and in what situations they would be used. They also mastered how the motors work to make the robot go forward, backward, and to turn, as well as how to make the robots pick items up and move levers. As of today the FuerzaBot's robots can complete six of the ten course obstacles.

The FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics Regional Tournament is this Sunday, December 8, at Ballard High School. During the tournament, teams have three rounds on the competition tables to get the best score possible. When not competing with their robots, teams give their research presentations, and are interviewed about the technical design of their robots and how they work as teams. Regional qualifiers may advance to the championship event in January. The winners of the Champion's Award, the most prestigious award, may be eligible to participate in a variety of post-season tournament opportunities both domestic and abroad. Our FuerzaBots, whose motto is "Code Like a Girl," are excited to be participating in the tournament for the first time and will be focusing on getting as far as they can and learning from the mistakes they make along the way.

Go, FuerzaBots!

Stop-motion Claymation in STEAM

One of the projects our girls have been working on this term in STEAM is stop-motion claymation films. They began by researching and writing their own "How or Why" stories such as "Why the Trees Lose Their Leaves" or "How the Crane Got Her Blue Eyes." From there, the girls built their own backgrounds, sets, and characters using clay and our STEAM Studio supplies. It has been such a blast seeing the girls work together to create such incredible short films. They have loved this project and so have we! If you'd like to see more of their work, join us for the LWGMS Film Festival February 12th.

STEAM Yo-yos

 As the first month of school winds down, our first set of 3D models are being printed.  Half of the STEAM enrichment class has spent the past two weeks researching and designing their version of a yo-yo.  By taking kinetic and potential energy into account, some designs ended up a bit more traditional, while others had clear indications of student personalities and zest.  Either way, the girls had a blast and were thrilled to see their own creations come to fruition. 

See more photos here

STEAM Egg Drop

Our STEAM class was posed with the question: Can you design a system that will protect an egg from a fall? The goal is simple – design and build a system that will protect your egg from a 3.3 foot drop. 

Use items from around the house to build something that will prevent eggs smashing all over the ground. Build your egg protectors from the following resources:

  • 15 popsicle sticks
  • 15 straws
  • 1 piece of paper
  • 5 rubber bands
  • 1 meter of string
  • 1 meter of masking tape

You need to create something that can absorb the energy the egg gathers as it accelerates towards the ground. A hard surface will crack the egg so you have to think carefully about how you can protect it. Something that will cushion the egg at the end of its fall is a good place to start, you want the egg to decelerate slowly so it doesn't crack or smash all over the ground. You'll need to run a few trials so have some eggs ready as guinea pigs, those that don’t survive will at least be comforted knowing they were smashed for a good cause, and if not, you can at least have scrambled eggs for dinner right?

The girls were using the Design Thinking process, and during today's re-drop of new systems based on what they learned about yesterday's failures, we are happy to report that Josephine '14's egg made it!

Yay, STEAM! 

You can see all of the egg drop photos here