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This Week in Math and Science

Ana Chaney
Dear Middle School Families,
Since we spotlighted humanities last week, this week we are sharing some of the challenges, projects and perplexing problems our middle schoolers are grappling with this week. Enjoy.
Eighth grade mathematicians are dissecting the theory behind the Pythagorean theorem and radical expressions. A recent assignment was to analyze the diagram below in order to find various unknown side lengths, areas, and perimeters. Try this: How would you use what you know to find the length of segment GE?
As a connection activity, students will be annotating an article on Fermat's Last Theorem which states that no three positive integers, a, b, and c satisfy the equation aⁿ + bⁿ = cⁿ for any integer value of n greater than 2. (The Pythagorean Theorem is when n = 2). In science, students are just finishing the Virus Project in which they designed their own viruses and created stop-motion animations that told the story of how their virus originated, replicated, and battled against the immune system. 
Seventh grade mathematicians are asking, When looking at data or analyzing situations that involve two quantities, what kind of statement best communicates the information: ratio, percent, fraction, difference or scaling statement? Why might you use one over another? How can you convert between the different kinds of statements? They are beginning to analyze and talk about patterns that emerge in rate tables which will connect to the writing of equations and graphing of the information. In seventh grade science, students are deeply immersed in their preparations for the Great Energy Debate next week. Students will be debating the merits and the limitations of different energy sources as they make a case for which one should be the primary source of energy in the U.S. 
Sixth graders are studying statistics. Their next major project will allow them to incorporate and improve upon their design and communication skills.  And each day this month, students are starting class by reading about a Black mathematician or scientist who changed the world. In science, they are applying what they've learned in our study of cell systems to a new concept - fermentation. They are learning about how different fermented foods are made and are experimenting with making kombucha in the classroom.
In science, fifth graders are designing and building a board game that shows how evolution works. Their starting population navigates an arena to collect as much energy as possible before giving rise to the next generation. The more successful you are in the arena, the higher the chance the next generation will be born with a positive mutation that helps the population survive. In math, students are in the midst of a number theory unit. They are considering such questions as... How do numbers behave? Why do they behave that way? What is the correct order of operations? Why? Can knowing how to classify or break apart numbers help me solve problems?  Fifth graders recently started a new class: coding. They are exploring various ways to code and programs to use. They are using Scratch, an MIT-developed block-based coding language that makes coding accessible to every student of every experience level. 


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