Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Throwing a Shoe

Off to a grand start for the 2014-2015 year!  I believe I must be the first Leverett Elementary School teacher in over a hundred years to throw a shoe on his way to work.  Only I didn't notice I had thrown it till I arrived at school and my horse pulled up lame.

Actually, I was on my bike, not my horse, and it did not pull up lame. I dropped the shoe (actually a sport sandal) off the back as I rode up Depot Road. I had to retrace my steps (pedals?) all the way past Amherst Road to the steepest part of the hill on Depot before I spotted it.

Luckily I didn't have to nail it back on or call a farrier to reattach it. A bungee cord and my panniers served instead.  Feel like starting the year off with a tall tale, anyone?

Thanks to 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Explorers!

Our classroom welcomed 14 different European explorers this past week. The men shared with us their life stories, their goals, ambitions, and legacies.

We completed our own journey of exploration in canoes the week before that, exploring new islands and seeking out new civilizations.  It has been a year-long journey into the unknown, and we have all returned wiser and better prepared for the challenges ahead.

Bon voyage, class of 2015!  Bueno suerte en Grade 6!  Chus!

It has been an honor and a pleasure to be your teacher this year!
Yours truly,
~Mr. Stewart
Leif Eriksson

Marco Polo
Christopher Columbus
John Cabot

Vasco DaGama

Ponce DeLeon
Hernando Cortes
Ferdinand Magellan
Francisco Pizarro

Jacques Cartier
Hernando DeSoto

Francisco de Coronado

Henry Hudson

James Cook

A Sea Chest of the Age of Exploration

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mickey Novak Retires, MAD Science Continues, and We Enter the Age of Exploration!

We said farewell this spring to a long-time contributor to education in our area, U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Mickey Novak.

May the fish find your lures and the jokes never stop!  We'll miss you, Mickey!

Mad Science Challenge:  How much upward movement can you create in a roller coaster?  The goal was to convert potential energy to kinetic energy and then recapture that energy again by sending the ball back up a ramp. The winners were the ones who created roller coasters with the greatest total rise in the ball's path. Each team had the same materials and dropped the steel ball from the same height.  Photos below!

Up next: The Age of European Exploration!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stock Out!

We released our brook trout into the Sawmill River in Montague today!

In the classroom, we had about a 50% overall mortality rate and some trouble keeping the water clean, despite frequent water changes, additions of healthy bacteria, frequent replacement of recharged ammonia chips and ammo lock, and weekly water quality testing.

Today was a fun day in the river for both the trout and human fry!

Pre-stock out... not much to read for the fish, even though they are in a school.

Hauling the cooler full of brook trout to the bus on a hand truck

Zach and Will keeping the water oxygenated en route

Collecting the fry in cups

One at a time

Letting the fish acclimate to their new homes

Celebrating the release of the trout!

Fifth Graders acclimating to the river habitat

Exploring the riffled stream bed from the shore

A rapidly cold seat

Swimming with the fish!

It seemed like the Fifth Graders might be ready for a day on canoes after this trip in knee deep water.  Next up: Tully Lake and an epic paddle!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014



Our Ancient Cultures Fair was a huge success!  Everyone from Kindergarten on up visited our fair, and the feedback we got was universally positive.  The Fifth Graders were able to tailor the exhibits so they were appropriately interactive for children of different ages (and adults as well).  The food was delicious (Molly has threatened to stop cooking and let the Fifth Graders take over the kitchen!).  The interactive arts and crafts were a big hit, and the game was hugely popular.  Each historical civilization  presented in its own way: the Inca were welcoming prospective citizens to their empire; the Mayans created a school where students could eat and then learn to write, build, and play a new game;  the Aztecs created a market reminiscent of Tenochtitlan, with money made of cacao beans, art for sale, bracelet making, face painting, food to sample, and a bit of gambling for those with a little extra time on their hands.


Here is a link to the brochures the students created for each culture and photos of the fair:

Noah and Ocea's photography experiment

Ocea reflects

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mount Holyoke College Art and Skinner Museums

As part of the final push for our Inca/Aztec/Maya presentations next Tuesday, April 29 from 9:45-11:45 AM, we went to the MHC Art Museum and the Skinner Closet of Curiosities. Thanks to GP's dad for contributing pix!
 Examining artifacts: what were the objects and how were they used?
 A singing water whistle...
 Kendra reveals the artifacts
 A Skinner mystery... diving bell? Compass? Early space suit?
 Up close with the artifacts...
 Examining the chicha drinking vessel from Peru
 Two jugs, one link, many tones...
 A treasure from the Skinner museum

Arrowheads from the Skinner...
Scar Lip and friends

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thousand-Year Old Mayan Teeth!

Guest speaker (and Ruby's Dad) Professor Alan Goodman visited our classroom yesterday with a mystery:
Imagine you are vacationing in Belize and visit an ancient Mayan ruin. You see a rock slab and decide to raise it up to see what's underneath and you find over 300 teeth!

Whose teeth were they?

How old are the teeth?

How old were the people whose teeth were removed?

How was the health of those people?

Were they men or women, boys or girls? Did they have many cavities?

Were they taken out (shudder) while the people were alive, or (shudder) long after they had died?

Were they a sacrifice to the toothless rain god Itzamna?

We studied the teeth to find the answers to some of these questions and to ask some questions of our own!

Thanks, Alan! What a great experience you shared with us!

Alan greeted us in Mayan!

Studying the teeth

Observations and questions

Checking for signs of forcible removal

A small incisor, with root

Checking for tooth decay

Signs of malnutrition in the teeth?

Classifying teeth: deciduous or permanent?

Sketching the teeth

Wrapping things up: student observations and questions