Friday, December 16, 2011

Weekly Update 12/16/11: Happy Holidays!

Sigma had a busy week leading up to winter break!

In social studies we wrapped up our study of Mesopotamia by making cunieform clay amulets.  We used a Sumerian "alphabet" to create messages with ideas that are important  to us and then we exchanged with our classmates to decode them. 

Period 4/5 displaying their amulets
Period 7/8
David R's amulet says "HAPPY."
Andrew's amulet says "SIGMA."

On Tuesday Elton and Stephen represented Sigma at our all-school spelling bee.
We were very proud of their great effort against some tough competition!



The highlight of the week was our field trip on Tuesday to the Futabakai Japanese School to complete the second half of our exchange.  We were amazed by all the time and effort that our Futabakai friends put into planning such an exciting day!  Our activities included a welcome ceremony, a tour of the school, an elaborate Japanese festival in the gym, three-legged races, lunch & origami, and card-making.  Below are lots of pictures from our day.

We were so impressed by our day and will never forget it!  

Lauren and Anna decided to get in one last relatively warm day of outdoor PE
by running laps around the softball fields.
It was just the two of them and a whole flock of geese!
After lots of trial and error over two days, Elton persevered and discovered how to construct the elusive quadruple origami crane out of a single sheet of paper like one we saw at Futabakai.  Impressive feat, Elton!

Thursday was Nicholas's birthday, so Ms. Fergus led us in an opera-style version of 
"Happy Birthday" during drama.

On Friday, we attempted out own versions of the famous "Cobble's Knot" from Maniac Magee.   We learned how to tie different types of knots and challenged each other to untie our own complicated knots.  Below are some of our creations:

 Kevin with "Butter Knot."
Jasmine, Kate, Lucas, Hannah, and David R. 
Jasmine and Kate with "Wobblyside." 
Anna and Mili with "Ruffle Knot." 

In science we looked at states of matter.  Oobleck.  Is it a solid or a liquid?

Katherine's penny experiment.  Pennies soaked in vinegar.  Success?

Lucas demonstrating how fat molecules break apart when a base such as dishwasher liquid is added.

James demonstrating during our "Tech Tips" session.

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and a very Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Weekly Update 12/9/11 by CiCi, Hannah, Morgan, Sammi, and Jasmine

Sigma Supermodels Strike a Pose!

This week's bloggers:  Cici, Hanna, Jasmine, Sammi, Morgan

We made a presentation to the faculty and staff at Thomas this Monday about what our Sigma program is about.  We had a fun time preparing for the presentation and getting to share what being on the Sigma team is all about. 

This week in LA and social studies we read a picture book version of The Epic of Gilgamesh (a very long poem) and discussed what makes Gilgamesh a hero.  We talked about the idea of heroism and then talked about ways that Maniac Magee from our class novel is a hero, too.

Two Heroes
Our two heroes helped their communities solve their problems over 4,000 years apart!  What do they have in common?  They both do things for other people.  Gilgamesh went on his quest in memory of his friends, and Maniac was trying to help people from different races get along.

Some awesome new pencil sharpeners were donated to our class by Smith Marketing Group.  We are testing them out.  We are collecting data on how well each of the four different sharpeners works based on ease of use, quietness, and sharpening results. We are going to graph our results and give the feedback to the marketing company to then give to the Bostitch Company that makes the sharpeners.

In social studies we are studying Ancient Sumer (modern-day Iraq).  Below we are making inferences about Sumerian civilization by carefully observing Sumerian artifacts.
Katherine and Andrew

Kyle's graphic organizer of inferences he made about Sumerian civilization.

Max's version

For Sigma Team Community Project two of our groups are working on healthy lunches at Thomas.  We have been emailing Mrs. Coletta Hines-Newell, our district's food service director, with questions about school lunches.  On Thursday she came to Thomas to visit us and to answer our questions.  She also told us a lot about what she does in her job.  She goes to Washington DC at least once a year to talk with congressmen about healthy lunches.  Also, she works for two other school districts besides ours.   We are very excited that she is going to use our suggestions for changing the traffic patterns and location of foods in the cafeteria. Also, she is going to offer V-8 Fusion as a drink choice after break.  We are really excited that our idea for V-8 is actually going to happen!!
Mrs. Hines-Newell answering our questions.
Our talk with Mrs. Hines-Newell

In drama we created story maps for our pantomime stories.  We talked about how a good story needs to have a BIG problem or conflict in reading, writing, AND acting.  Here we are making noises to exaggerate the suspense leading to the climax of a story.

It was an exciting week in science.  Cici presented the popular topic of Mentos and Diet Coke.  Here is the result.

 Our solar ovens are finally complete.  We are going to see if we our modified Pizza Hut containers can trap light energy and make chocolate melt.  Hopefully it will be sunny enough!

Katherine, Lauren and Lucas take a break and appreciate the power of static electricity.

Finally we continued to look at phases of matter in science.  Here Josh and Hannah look at food coloring and how fast it moves through waters with different temperatures.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekly Update 12/2/11 by Katherine F., Stephen M., Eddie M., & Lauren T.

In LA we just finished reading Maniac Magee.  It was sad but good.  We wrote summaries and made inferences for each section, and in WEX we are writing about Maniac's character traits using quotes from the book for evidence.  
Stephen and Eddie holding copies of Maniac Magee.

In social studies we are learning about Mesopotamia.  We learned about how the first cities developed, and we did a simulation of what it was like to live in ancient Mesopotamia.  We brainstormed ways that Mesopotamians could solve problems such as food shortages and how to maintain their water supplies.   
Map of Mesopotamia
Irrigation System

In math we covered exponents and powers, monomials and the disibility rules.  We know how to quickly figure out if 2,452 is evenly divisible by 9.  Can you?

In science we are learning about smells and how a scent goes through the air.  We are learning about the three phases of matter.  We also discovered that air has mass.  Here are Mili and Kevin explaining how mass and weight are different.

 In Community Project we are making good progress on solving our problems.  Some of us are  ready to put our creative plans into action.
Jake, Gina Morgan, Matt, and Sammi are making posters and flyers for the food drive to be held in January 
for Wheeling Township Pantry.
Mick, David, Katherine, and Lauren are emailing authors and preparing book order flyers 
to raise money for books to donate to Patton's library.
On Monday during the staff meeting some of us are presenting about Sigma to the rest of the teachers at Thomas.  We are going to tell everyone about the interesting, fun new things Sigma does.  We have been working hard during lunch on our slideshow and presentation.  Do you notice anything about how we made our Sigma sign below?

In drama we have been learning how to mime, including using exaggerated gestures and facial expressions.   We were given a scenario and had to act out our mime skit with no rehearsal.  Here are some of our impromptu mime performances.  Can you guess what we are doing?




David R.


Future Sigmian?  This is Nicholas's adorable little sister Natalie at conferences last week 
checking out our blog on a laptop.