Modeling a Whole New World

In MST, this term we are considering models and how we use them on a daily basis to understand the world around us.  As the culminating project this term, we will be creating models to explain topics of the students’ choosing.

Each student is working with a small team to study an area.  Within that area of study, each student will create their own specific research question.  They will then research their topic, consider the most important aspects of the topic and create a model to explain their ideas to others.

For more information about this project and the idea of scientific modeling read on:

Modeling Project Description, Rubric and Steps

Modeling in Science Articles:

Sampling and Generalizing

Element Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr

We are embarking on a challenge to create personalities for each of the first twenty four elements in the periodic table, plus some extras!  Each student has chosen or been assigned at least one element for which they will create a MOCK social networking site.  The goal is for us to model some of the characteristics of these elements in a way that is transparent to our audience.

The students will:

  1. Research their element
  2. Think about what the important characteristics of their element are
  3. Create a social site that represents their element

Ms. Ransijn and I are really looking forward to seeing their creations.

Here is a template for FACEBOOK.

If anyone creates a template for another site, please email me and I will share with others.

Tom Lehrer- Element Song 

Daniel Radcliffe sings the element song

Element Assignments:


Yi-Shan- Phosphorous

Destinee- Helium

James- Oxygen

Isadora- Titanium

Kierra- Beryllium


Monica- Carbon

Jermaine- Nitrogen

Agasha- Flourine

Kamau- Sodium

Zareah- Magnesium

Jovany- Aluminum

Elijah- Silicon

DeQuayvious- Chlorine

Brenna- Potassium

Maeve- Neon


Mae- Lithium

Paula- Chromium

Gabrielle- Calcium

Isabella- Hydrogen





Functions Continued, Assessment Tomorrow: Element Research

This week, we have continued our practice with functions.  We will have an assessment to see where we stand tomorrow.

Here is a quick practice to see if you got it!

Remember, you should be able to:

  • evaluate a function
  • determine if a relation is a function from a table, graph, and ordered pairs

Tonight, please be sure to email Mrs. Cannon ( and Ms. Ransijn ( with your first, second and third choice for your element.  You must research one element within the first twenty elements.  You may choose an ADDITIONAL element from anywhere on the periodic table.

Some links you may find useful in your research:

The Elements Revealed, by Scientific American 

Loa Alamos National Laboratory



Element Hunters: National Geographic


What’s your function?

This week, we are considering functions as a special set of equations that have only one output for each individual input.  

We began by imagining ourselves as spies and considering how reliable we would want our cipher to be.  We decided that we would only want one possible result for the code.  We didn’t think mixed messages were a good idea.  We then used some ciphers before exploring linear, quadratic, and cubic functions.

We then created a foldable which outlined how to determine from a graph, coordinates, or a table whether a relation is a function.

A brief review of functions. 

Functions on Khan - This is a great topic to explore and exceed the standards.  How much can you learn about functions?  This is the basis of much of the higher math that you will come across in high school and beyond!

Trigonometric Functions-  EXCEEDS!!

Models, Math, and Atoms and the Newest Work with Atoms

This week, we have been considering how we use models in our learning and how scientists use models to better understand the world in which we live.  We watched an intriguing film yesterday, Atom:Clash of Titans, which introduced us to several models of the atom and left us wondering whether we can really represent the atom with a visual model or not.

In math, we are considering how linear equations and systems can model business situations and how we can use color or other means to emphasize important aspect of our work to convince others of our perspective.

In the south of France, check out what they are doing with Atoms…. What do you think?

Some models of atoms we considered:

Thomson’s Model of the Atom





Rube Goldberg Voting and Systems of Equations Practice

Over the next two days, there are two assignments that we would like for students to complete.

The first is to vote for the top three Rube Goldberg videos to be shown at morning meeting.   Each student has a voting sheet on which to record notes about the videos and to chose their top three videos.

The second task is to practice solving systems of equations with both methods, graphing and algebra (substitution or elimination).  We have only practiced substitution in class, but students can try elimination as well.  Here is the Khan page on Systems of Equations.

Some specific skills I recommend are:

Graphing Systems of Equations

Graphing Systems with Substitution

Students should practice for at least 30 minutes each day.  

You tube links:

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3

Videos 4- 15: Google Drive Folder of Student Videos

Rube Goldberg Share Outs and Video Voting

Rube Goldbergs were turned in today, and the work that I saw was thoughtful, creative and reflective.  Today in class all students reflected on the things that they learned through the project and the evidence of their learning found in their projects.  They then presented in groups of four and gave and received feedback on their work.  Finally, we came together as a class and to produce this list of the ten most important things we learned through doing this project.

Top Ten Things We Learned from Rube Goldbergs:

  1. Failure is ok, as long as you try, try, again.
  2. Never give up.
  3. Put reliable things last.
  4. Strive to see the bigger picture.
  5. Be patient.
  6. Be realistic.
  7. Small adjustments make a big difference.
  8. Plan things out.
  9. Improvise and be creative.
  10. Energy cannot be destroyed or created only transformed.


The next audience for this project will be morning meeting.  We can take the top 4 videos to morning meeting.  Please vote by making comments on the videos below:

You tube links:

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3

Videos 4- 16: Google Drive Folder of Student Videos

Systems of Equations and Systems Thinking

Yesterday and today, we explored the big picture of what a systems of equations is.  We discussed possible ways to solve them (graphing, algebra, tables) and the types of solutions that are possible (one, infinite, or none).  We also worked through a systems of equation problem beginning with modeling a realistic situation with equations and then solving the system graphically and algebraically.

We then dove deeper into the habits of systems thinkers and wrote in our systems thinking journals that will be a part of the Rube Goldberg Project that is due on January 27th. For more information see this link:

Remember that there will be a workshop for building Rube Goldbergs for students on Tuesday, January 14th from 4-5pm.