October 25, 2013
"STEM for 8th Graders" is a New Course Offering
One of the things I enjoy most about being a school administrator is seeing a vision come to fruition—from the initial brainstorming session to the birth of an idea to the concrete evidence of accomplishment. That’s what I saw when I visited our newest class, “STEM for 8th
Graders,” this past week.
Three years ago, we suspended our Industrial Technology program as part of almost $1 million in budget cuts. Our intention was to bring back elements of the Industrial Technology program as
our budget would allow, but with a focus on Twenty-first Century themes. As a result, we spent some time last year investigating Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a nationwide program that provides “rigorous and innovative” STEM curricular programs, including comprehensive engineering programs.
Full-fledge implementation of PLTW was not for our smaller school system, because we don’t have the numbers to justify implementing this program. Administratively, we felt it would negatively impact already-established programs, such as our Advanced Placement offerings. However, we knew that there were elements of PLTW that we could successfully implement. One of those was “Gateway to Technology,” a middle school engineering program. This year, we are successfully implementing the program at the 8th
grade level, and we call it “STEM for 8th
O.H. teachers Brandon Aigner and Dan Feuerstein spent two weeks of their summer at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, receiving training from
PLTW to become certified to teach two units of the Gateway to Technology program: the first is Design and Modeling; the second is Automation and Robotics.
“The summer training was high intensity,” relates Mr. Aigner. “Each week, we squeezed nine weeks’ worth of material into five days. Our classes would go from 8 to 4, then we would go back to the hotel and work on homework assignments until 8 or 9 o’clock. Even before the training, we spent about 30 hours watching videos to prepare for the curriculum.”
Mr. Feuerstein and Mr. Aigner, who each teach one period of STEM for 8th
Graders, try to model their instruction after their own training. Instead of
students being fed information, they’re given a problem, then encouraged to explore, even make mistakes, as they seek to find solutions.
As they finish up the Design and Modeling section of the class, the students have become proficient in using Autodesk Inventor, a software program used to create 3-dimensional designs. Their latest challenge has been to design equipment for a theme-based playground. Mr. Aigner’s class chose a castle theme, while Mr. Feuerstein’s class is working with an “around the world” theme.
The two teachers agree on the benefits of the new class. Mr. Aigner notes, “The kids love it. It’s amazing. There are so many features on the software program that we don’t have time to teach.
The kids, just by exploring, are learning more than I learned in a semester long CAD class when I was in college. I would love to have a 3-D printer so that students can print out their creations.”
Mr. Feuerstein calls it “controlled chaos” at times because the students are working on their own and at their own pace. “But the good thing is, we have a lot of material,” he notes. “If kids are excelling, they can do more—some can get one design completed, but some can do multiple designs. It’s been cool to see kids who might not excel in math and science do very well in this class. They enjoy the hands-on aspect and they love seeing the finished product. It’s a dynamic change from a normal classroom.”
Student Shruthi Varier agrees. “You get to design things that you could really make if you had the right materials. You learn a lot of things on your own.”
Santiago Garcia-Mata shares, “We have to think hard and use a lot of creativity. Mr. Aigner guides us, but there are a lot of things we learn on our own.”
Weston Hecklinger from Mr. Feuerstein’s class shares that he has a new appreciation for how things are designed. “We start with something as simple as a circle, then we extrude it, calculate the length, and create an object. There are a lot of steps involved. But it’s good insight into what real engineers do. The next time I use a ladder, I’ll have an understanding of how it was designed and made.”
As Hannah Overmeyer finishes the design on her dragon-themed slide, she notes, “I like how the class combines all the elements together—engineering, technology, math, and science concepts are all important. We get to know the software program and we enjoy working on the computers.”
When the students complete the Design and Modeling unit, they will switch to Automation and Robotics, using VEX robotic kits. The instructors share, “The kits were a big expense, but the Parents’ Association helped to purchase the kits. Each kit has everything needed to solve a problem, but there are no specific instructions. We give them a problem, such as we have a train that has to cross a bridge and boats that have to cross under the bridge. The students have to build something that coordinates the timing of the trains and the boats, so they have to integrate sensors and correct programming code while they build the mechanism. The kids will work in teams of three. One will be an electrical engineer who wires everything and places the sensors, one will be the mechanical engineer who builds the device, and one will be the computer engineer who creates the code to operate it. They constantly have to communicate and coordinate their various roles. It’s problem-based learning at its best.”
STEM for 8th
Graders and the computer programming class introduced last year have been good initial steps toward re-introducing Twenty-first Century elements of Industrial Technology. The Board of Education has determined that if the operating levy passes on November 5, they will create a full-time position specifically focused on engineering-related programs. Mr. Aigner sums up the benefits of programs like STEM for 8th
Graders: “We spend time talking about schools with great engineering programs along with talking about what it takes to get there—math, science, the ability to communicate effectively, and creativity. If we can create that spark in them and they realize ‘this is what engineers do,’ it might set some of them on that career path."
OHES Welcomes New Title I Tutors
Ottawa Hills Elementary welcomes two Title I tutors who have begun working with our students. These two tutors join Barbara Mann, who returns this year after serving as a Title I Reading Tutor last school year. All tutor positions are funded with federal Title I grant funds.
Kelly Bohland joins us as a Title I Reading Tutor. Mrs. Bohland has a Master’s of Education in Special Education from the University of Toledo. Previous to coming to Ottawa Hills, she was an intervention specialist at Washington Local Schools. She and her husband, James, are parents to eleven-year-old Garrett, eight-year-old Kennedy, and five-year-old Avery.
Outdoor activities with her children rate among her favorites, along with running and reading. Recently, she ran in the Glass City Marathon and competed in a “tough mudder.” She notes, “I am very pleased to have been accepted into such a great community of teachers and families. I look forward to making a different in those lives around me academically and by being a positive role model.”
Maureen Sorensen will be a Title I math tutor at OHES. Mrs. Sorensen has a B.S. in secondary mathematics education form Bob Jones University, and an
M.A. from Marygrove College. Most recently, she was a math and science teacher at Vanlue Schools. Mrs. Sorensen’s husband, David, is the band director at Arlington High School. Their son, Paul, is a Junior at Ohio Northern University, while daughters Mara and Lydia attend Arlington High School.
Scrapbooking, listening to audio books in the car, and attending musicals and operas are some of Mrs. Sorensen’s favorite activities. She’s also been a high school volleyball referee for 20 years and works at the Football Hall of Fame every summer on Hall of Fame Weekend. Mrs. Sorensen shares, “I knew that I would enjoy working in the Ottawa Hills School District. I look forward to working with the students, teachers, parents, and administration as we begin a math tutoring program.”
Pill Drop Off is Tomorrow
Tomorrow, Saturday, October 26 is a great day to clean out your medicine cabinets and bring your expired or unused medications to the Ottawa Hills Police Department's Drug Take Back Day. The Ottawa Hills Police Station at 2125 Richards Road will be a collection site from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. that day. You can bring narcotics, over-the-counter medications, pet medications, prescriptions, and vitamins to the drop-off. Items not accepted include syringes, inhalers, liquid medications, and ointments/lotions. For complete information about the Drug Take Back Day, see the flyer here
Coach Hardman’s Last Game
Tonight, come cheer on the Green Bears and honor teacher and coach Chris Hardman during his last home football game when Ottawa Hills takes on Northwood at 7:00 PM. Coach Hardman is completing his 16th season as Varsity football coach in addition to 13 years as an assistant coach with Coach Norm Niedermeier and Coach Paul Yunker.
After the game, all former players and community members are invited to gather in the junior/senior high school's main gym to honor Coach Hardman and share some memories.
Fall Collage Concert
Please join us for a relaxing and inspiring evening of music during the Annual Fall Collage Concert this Sunday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. in the high school gym. All OH junior and senior high
school music groups will perform, including the Junior High Band, the Senior High Band, the Choraliers, the A Cappella Singers, the Senior Chorale, the Junior Chorale and the Junior High Choir. Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets on which to sit.
Bears Score Wins Over Woodmore, Van Buren--District Finals Tomorrow
Congratulations to the boys’ soccer team. They defeated Woodmore last Saturday to capture the sectional title, then followed up that win with an overtime victory against Van Buren in the district semi-finals on Tuesday.
Come on out to Niedermeier Stadium tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. to cheer on the team as they take on Archbold in the district finals. In related news, Coach Nate Baer was named TAAC Coach of the Year. Congratulations to Coach Baer and all of our Green Bears, and good luck in the tournament tomorrow against the Blue Streaks.
Everyone Loves a Parade
It was a perfect fall afternoon for the 5th annual Village Life Parade. The streets were lined with smiling spectators to watch the procession, visit with
neighbors and friends, and watch the kids catch candy. This year’s participants included representation from the following groups: Ottawa Hills Local Schools, OHEA, Village Life, Class Officers and Floats, Homecoming Court, former queen Mallory Findley, State Championship Golf Team, Marching Band, Cheerleaders, Dance Team, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Girls’ Soccer, Boosters, OH Foundation, ALUMNI, Ottawa Hills Schools Parent Association, Green Bear Ball Committee, Fall Festival Committee, OHPAC, and Challenge Crew. Thanks to Village Manager Marc Thompson, OHPD Chief Wenzlick, and the Toledo Fire Department for leading the parade and creating a safe environment. A special thanks to Mary Yark and Yark Chrysler for providing several of the convertibles used in the parade. Kudos to parade organizers Jay Burzynski, Kym Lemieux, Erica Silk, and Jane Minton on another successful year.
The Green Bears finished off a perfect day by beating Danbury 53-14 in the Homecoming football game. Lauren Miller was crowned homecoming queen. Congratulations to Lauren and members of the court: Paige Koury, Mara Horn, Claire Oxford, and Alex Crider.
Band Brings Out New Material at Homecoming
Bursting at the seams with new members, the high school marching band treated the school and community with their latest material last Friday after the game. The 50+ member band
featured hits from the last four years, including Michael Jackson’s Thriller
complete with fun, sophisticated choreography. The band also performed España Cañi
and Fat Bottom Girls
. In addition, the show included the first majorette twirler in over 30 years, freshman Miranda King. Band Director
Michael Leeds was pleased with the performance and said the band is eagerly awaiting the next home game. Hats off to parents Sherry Cousins and Teresa Leinweber for handling the behind-the-scenes logistics. Finally, the Band joins many other teams and extra-curricular activities that place signs in the yards of participating members. Congratulations to Michael Leeds and to all of our musicians!
Coach Bigler Named NWOHSSL Coach of the Year
Andrea Bigler was named Northwest Ohio High School Soccer League Coach of the Year. Coach Bigler has been with the soccer team since 2012. Although the season has
ended, the team captured the league title for the second year in a row. Andrea’s coaching record at Ottawa Hills is 19-10-3. Congratulations, Andrea!
Follow OHES on Twitter
Stay on top of the latest happenings at OHES--follow Ottawa Hills Elementary School news on Twitter by following @OHESPrincipal. Get updates and reminders of school events to keep you informed of the latest information.
If you are new to Ottawa Hills Schools this year, you are in for a treat as our elementary students begin their Halloween Celebrations here at school. The Halloween Parade is a special event at Ottawa Hills Elementary, followed by classroom parties. Students will go home at 11:05 to eat lunch and get dressed for the parade. You should return
your child to school at 12:30, then find your place to watch the parade, which will begin at 12:45. Classroom Halloween parties will follow the parade, and dismissal will be at the regular time.
If you are unable to pick up your children at 11:05 and/or return them at 12:30, please plan with other families for this, as there will be no supervision of children at the school between those times.
Morning kindergartners should come to school in their costumes. They will have the opportunity to parade through the elementary halls, followed by their classroom parties. Morning kindergartners will start and end at their regular times.
Afternoon kindergartners should also wear their costumes to school, and should come at their regular time. They will join the parade with the rest of the elementary school, followed by their classroom party, and will be dismissed at their regular time.
ALICE Training for Elementary Students
On Monday, November 4, we will be training Ottawa Hills Elementary Students on our new lockdown/evacuation procedures, ALICE. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. All elementary students will be trained by their classroom teachers at 8:30, following a common powerpoint that has been tailored for grades K-3 students and grades 4-6 students. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions of their teachers during their training. Immediately following the classroom trainings, the building as a whole will practice a standard lockdown and a school evacuation. At the elementary level, we will not be teaching students how to counter-attack. During the drills, the word “stranger” will be used to describe the intruder. During the training, our guidance counselor, Darcy Browne and school psychologist, Sharon Barnett will be available to students. Our local police department will also be present to monitor the practice drills and to support students. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the ALICE training, please contact Principal Kori Zake at 419-536-8329.
Chilly Weather Warning
As the weather continues to change, we see many cold mornings and warmer afternoons. Most students go outside multiple times each day. It is helpful to dress your child in layers so that he/she can be comfortable both in our warm building and the cold outdoors. Please write your child’s name on the tags of these layers so they can get back to your child if lost or forgotten, instead of making their way to the already full lost-and-found table.
Fantasy Land Maps!
As a culminating activity for their study of maps and geography, second graders designed original "Fantasy Land" Maps! Some of the creative lands that students invented maps for were "Ice
Cream Land" and "The Land Where Wishes Come True." Students had to include a map key with symbols for items on their maps. Featured here are students from Mrs. Dever's Homeroom who were proud to show off their Fantasy Land Maps: Scott Smith, James Schaefer, Catherine Rhegness, Ava Jessee, and Ethan Green.
Ecologists at Work
Fifth grade science students became hands-on ecologists this week as they participated in their owl pellet dissections. As part of their study of ecosystems and food chains, students looked more closely at the bones they found in undigested remains of an owl's diet and decided what the owls have most likely been eating. With this information, students were able to create an owl food chain and calculate the number of rodents and other pests owls could eat in a year. As the students continue with their ecosystem investigation, they look forward to creating milkweed bug habitats and developing their own mini-ecosystems, complete with fish, snails, and many other "real-life" organisms. Stay-tuned for more details to come!
Dr. Miller Visits Kindergarten and First Grade
The kindergartners and first graders had the opportunity to meet the superintendent last week. Dr. Miller came to the classrooms to introduce himself
and read some stories with the children. The kindergarten students thoroughly enjoyed the rhyming book, I Can't Said the Ant, The Rules
("Don't forget clean underwear!"), and The Giving Tree
, our school theme story this year. Dr. Miller shared Halloween and Fall stories with the first graders: Happy Hallo-wiener
, I Like Pumpkins
, and Dragon's Halloween
. A special thank you to Dr. Miller for taking the time to meet our newest students!
Young Engineers Explore Potential and Kinetic Energy
Fourth grade engineers built roller coasters to apply the concepts of potential and kinetic energy. Not only did many of the riders make it through safely, but students were able to discover what needed to be changed to their design to correct the problem of riders flying off their coasters by applying science principles.
Boys Varsity Football vs Northwood HS
Boys JV Football @ Northwood HS
2:00 PM –
Division III Boys District Soccer Tournament
Boys Varsity Soccer vs. Archbold HS
Fall Collage Concert OH Gym
7:00 PM –
Division III Girls Soccer Regional Semi-Final (Hosted by Ottawa Hills)
Boys Varsity Soccer in Regional Semi-final (with win on 10/26)
Boys Varsity Football @ Toledo Christian Schools
Junior High Halloween Dance
HS Multi-Purpose Room
In partnership with our community,
Ottawa Hills Local Schools
will challenge and inspire each student
to realize his or her unique potential;
to embrace learning as a lifelong process;
and to become an active, responsible citizen.
Every day, try to help someone
who can't reciprocate your kindness.
Coach John Wooden