Middle School STEM Update 1-24-19

posted Jan 24, 2019, 11:05 AM by Cynthia Friedman



January 24, 6:30 pm

Lottery Information Session

January 25, 6-8 pm

Talent Show – Is your student interested in performing? A sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board in the lobby. Questions? Ask Kate Downing.

January 31 and February 1

NO SCHOOL - Conferences

January 28th to February 14th

Human Health and Development Presentations provided by Planned Parenthood during Health from 2:15 to 3:05 over the course of three weeks.

Topics Covered:

  • Birth Control and Sexual Protection

  • STIs

  • Consent

  • Healthy Relationships

  • Sexual Decision Making

  • Biological Sex and Gender Identity

February 11 to February 14

Human Health and Development Presentation provided by CAHOOTS during Health (2:15 to 3:05)

January 31

Lottery Applications Deadline

February 18

NO SCHOOL - President's Day



Talent Show – On January 25, from 6-8 p.m., Ridgeline students will rock your socks off! Last year’s event was a great success—we had musical acts, fly fishing, and tumbling, just to name a few! A volunteer will go around Friday to give the kids talent show guidelines, and a sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board in the lobby. This year we need someone who can help run the sound booth and we will need help putting out chairs after school and putting away chairs after the event. Questions can go to Kate Downing. Click here to volunteer to set up and put away chairs.

Canopy Connections Field Trip (Seventh Graders)

The all day Canopy Connections Field Trip will be May 16th this year.  Seventh graders will be journeying to the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest an hour’s drive up the McKenzie to Blue River area.  UofO Ecology students will host rotating workshops where your students will learn about forest research, and ecology, in this beautiful old growth forest.  Students will also rope climb using the Single Rope Technique System. We have been participating in this workshop for many years, it is very well run, educational, and the students love it!  If you are interested in chaperoning on this field trip please let me know. Thanks to those who have already stepped forward! We are still in need of two more chaperones!

Eugene International High School Options for Eighth Graders

For information on the Eugene International High School Options contact one of the Eugene IHS offices below, or visit the website at www.ihs.4j.lane.edu.  School choice season ends Jan 31.

Eugene IHS @ Churchill:  541-790-5225

Eugene IHS @ Sheldon: 541-790-6636

Eugene IHS @ South Eugene: 541-790-8030


We have a second batch of conferences scheduled for Thursday, January 31, and Friday, February 1. These conferences are not mandatory. We would like to reserve these 30 minute conferences for families who have specific concerns they would like to discuss with Jon or Carrie. If you would like to meet with both Jon AND Carrie, please sign up for the same slot with both of them.

We will be reaching out to some families to request that they sign up to meet with us. If you feel that things are going smoothly, please enjoy the long weekend, and leave the slots for someone else. Please remember: Jon and Carrie will make time to meet with you throughout the school year; you don't have to wait for conferences. Please just send us an e-mail.


Science -

What is the difference between an observation and an inference?  

In order for students to construct their own answer to this question through their own experience, students were given a box with a mystery object in it.  They were not allowed to look in the box, but were to devise ways to interact with the box so their other senses could make observations (gather information) about the object’s shape, composition, size, thickness, etc. Like scientists, they described their test in enough detail to allow someone else to perform the test exactly as they did, and recorded these observations using descriptive adjectives (such as scratchy, rough, smooth, continuous, rapid, repeated, vibration, heavy, etc.).   Then, drawing upon both their observations, and their past knowledge and experience, they inferred a number of the object’s characteristics. Finally, they hypothesized what the object was and estimated their confidence in their guess.

Table groups then shared their process and results, and reevaluated their guess based on new information from their peers.  Perhaps they did not change their mind at all, or they may have adjusted a detail, or become more or less confident. This activity illuminates numerous key aspects of the scientific process: designing experiments, making unbiased, disciplined observations, and clearly differentiating those observations from inferences. The group consultation step parallels how scientists publish their work to share their investigations with other scientists.  This is the process by which our scientific community’s understanding of our universe deepens.

Earlier in this unit, students read and analyzed text describing characteristics of Earth’s crust, mantle and core. This week, they ran a lab investigating properties of density.  Students began this weeks density lab by deciding which order liquids (dish soap, water, baby oil, and glycerin) would stack in a density column. Interestingly, most students hypothesized that the thickness of the liquid is correlated with the density of the liquid.  Some groups correctly guessed the stacking order of the fluids based on this criteria. We then had a great discussion about the differences between mass, weight, and density, and got into a long discussion about how correlation does not necessarily imply causation. We brainstormed examples of thick materials floating on top of thinner (marshmallows on cocoa and olive oil on balsamic vinegar) materials. We applied our improved understanding of density in terms of mass/volume and how it factors into the layering of Earth's interior.  

 Towards the end of this week, the group discussed the strengths and weaknesses of various models of the solar system.  Having examined and evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of a hard boiled egg as a model of the interior of earth. We considered the necessity of compromises in the making of various models, and listed tools (Labels, colors, keys, magnified sections of a graphic, etc.) commonly used to communicate key information.  Now, students are in the process of designing a detailed model of the interior of the earth. Their model is to illustrate the relative thicknesses, consistencies, densities, and temperatures of the layers using the tools gone over in class.

Questions regarding current investigations:

  • How do scientists gather information and make inferences about the interior of Earth when it cannot be directly observed?

  • What are two key features of a model?

  • Why do scientists make models?

Warmest Regards,

Carrie and India