Visit to the State House for the Electoral College Vote Dec. 19

Protests outside the State House December 19, 2017 prior to the Electoral Vote

In conjunction with our election study, I made a trip to the State House in Boston to witness the Electoral College’s historic vote. Although Donald Trump won the electoral vote overall, Massachusetts voted unanimously for Hillary Clinton, the winner of the popular vote and the first woman in history to win electoral votes in a presidential election. There were protests out front, but the ceremony within the State House was joyous, purposeful, and spirited. The Electors made speeches about how and why they were casting their votes and the atmosphere felt historic. Looking at the names painted  on the walls around the House Chambers reminded me of a time when Massachusetts lawmakers shaped the course of this young country as it revolted from England and charted a path away from tyranny.  It was an inspiring field trip!



I was also able to take a tour of the State House and found Leverett’s flag in the Hall of Flags!  Can you find it?

Life Science: Two Raptors Visited and We Dissected Owl Pellets!

Thanks, Julie Collier, for bringing in two raptors: a red tailed hawk and a screech owl!  What a treat for our class!  She gave us a copy of a drawing she had done of the screech owl to show its remarkable camouflage.  She’s a wonderful artist as well as a naturalist! Julie also brought in scores of Native American artifacts from across the United States as a way to help us launch our unit of study into the pre-colonial Americas.
This week we are dissecting barn owl pellets. Whoooo knows what we will discover within?!?

Mad science last week was to test the strength of egg shells.  Each group design held 8-10 textbooks of weight!  Even shells that have been cracked in half are more than strong enough to hold up the weight of a fully grown hen.  That’s useful adaptation!

We also tested the shells in a vinegar bath. Acid softened and weakened the shells. There is mounting evidence that rising acidity in the ocean may be having a similar effect on the shells of mollusks such as mussels.


Marvelous Magnets and the Hidden Forces that Surround Us

This week we went to Morse Hill where we used compasses to orient ourselves and to find hidden treasure!  We designed, built, and PADDLED our own original rafts. No one sank and all the boats proved to be seaworthy (or at least Lake Wyola worthy!).

But how do compasses work? What are these hidden forces that surround us?

We explored magnets and their amazing abilities today in Mad Science. Then we received the challenge:  Build your own compass…


dscn0080 dscn0079 dscn0078 dscn0077

dscn0076 dscn0075 dscn0074 dscn0073 dscn0072 dscn0071


Using magnets, needles, water, and things that float,  Fifth Graders built working compasses!

dscn0067 dscn0066dscn0058dscn0056

Scientists at work

Investigating and exploring living things…  What happens when you put freshly cut foods into a dark space and let them sit?  What might grow? How might different starting foods grow different things? What if we take away all light energy by putting the foods in the dark?  Just add water to find out!

dscn0016 dscn0015 dscn0014 dscn0013 dscn0012 dscn0011 dscn0010 dscn0009dscn0018

dscn0020 dscn0022 dscn0023 dscn0026

Fall, 2016

We’re back! The year is off to an explosive start with Is it Alive?!?! and Mad Science.  Two substances, both alike in size, in texture and in color, each the equal of the other.  Both dry and lifeless… could either hold the spark of life within its seemingly inert form? What does it mean to be alive?  How can we tell? What is the difference between living and non-living?

DSCN0003 DSCN0004 DSCN0007 DSCN0005 DSCN0008 DSCN0006

All living things:

Get energy

Use energy

Get rid of waste

React to change




Was either of the Mystery Substances alive?!?

Putting it to the Test

Three weeks in a row of 3-day a week testing, with PARCC lasting seven days and MCAS Science taking up two more, makes for a whole lot of assessment! We are working on our original class play these three weeks when we are not testing, and it has been a good release and change of pace to tackle an artistic project.

Look for a link to our expanded Grade 5 Continent/Country websites on Weebly, coming soon! They will be featuring Papua New Guinea, Italy, Brazil, Nepal, and Algeria, covering countries in 5 of the Earth’s 7 continents!

Follow the link to Ken Robinson’s thought provoking TED Talk on education:

TED Talk on Testing and No Child Left Behind



Mae Tuck on (mock) Trial!

Students prepared for and acted out the trial of Mae Tuck after reading the book Tuck Everlasting. They got into costume, and studied to inhabit the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, defendant, and witnesses in our trial of Mae. Mr. Stewart was the judge, Bobby was the Bailiff, and everyone else prepared for a role in our trial. The trial scene is not in either the book or the movie (which we watched the following week), so the students had to use the text of the book, their memories, and their imaginations to justify their character’s actions.
We used the LES Parent room to make our courtroom. We ended with a hung jury, but there was a clear majority, and with a bit of debate (and more time), it’s likely that the jury would have come to a unanimous decision.
The trial was very well done, and the students did a fabulous job acting out their roles!
Thanks to Ms. Lori for taking the pictures!

Keeping Warm with Vegetable “Blubber”

The test: How well does fat insulate? We tried our hand(s) at staying warm with a layer of extra fat by taking our own version of the Icebucket Challenge. We immersed our hands in ice water and recorder the results. One hand was protected in a comfortable, well insulated layer of blubber. The other was not.
Descriptive words used to describe the insulated hand: “warm and toasty,” “cozy warm,” “absolutely comfortable,” and “totally fine.”

The uninsulated hand? “Cold, cold, COLD!” “Freezing!” “Shocking, burning pain.” “Agony of cold.”

No one had to keep their hands immersed longer than they could tolerate, but everyone experienced the difference, first hand!