Mrs. Polak’s fifth and sixth grade social studies classes are in the midst of doing research projects to start the year. Ancient Cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Chinese, Maya, Inca, and early Afticans and American natives are occupying the sixth graders. They will be doing PowerPoint or Poster presentations of their research. The fifth graders are researching North American explorers, including Henry Hudson, Antoine de Cadillac, Kit Carson, and Juan Ponce de Leon. These projects came about as a result of the work of the Blue River Cohort, which brought schools in the area together to address common curricular issues. The sixth graders began with a brief introduction to archeology, during which they did some activities to show them how hard it is to determine what artifacts really represent about a culture.
The sixth grade science class has been “doing” science, and investigating a couple of questions posed by Mrs. Polak, and then coming up with their own variables to see if the results would change. They are now writing their own “testable” questions, and will eventually conduct an investigation of their own. Other topics for study this year include electricity, kitchen chemistry, earthquakes and volcanoes, and Lego engineering.
Fifth grade science has begun a study of plants, and many are waiting impatiently for their Wisconsin Fast Plants to sprout. These plants have a life cycle of 35-40 days from seed germination to seedpod harvest. Fifth graders will also study some systems of the human body, rocks, minerals and fossils, force and motion (including Newton’s Laws) and possibly some weather.
6th grade social studies students sort through “artifacts” of an imaginary archeological site to determine what the various areas of the dig were used for.
Mrs. Polak kept busy during the summer months directing a week-long science camp at Camp Carol Joy Holling near Ashland, NE. She is also working with Dr. Mike Leite at Chadron State College on a summer workshop for rural teachers of grades 4-8.