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Upper El: First week!

We're back, and it's been a great first week! We dove into our science theme for the year and explored our creativity and how it applies to engineering. All that on top of the most important thing: everyone getting to know each other and getting comfortable in our new space together!

On our first day, in the afternoon, I gave students a simple assignment. They all had to write their name in some creative way. Markers out, colored pencils out, and they were off! We used their final products to mark each of their engineering "cubbies" in the back room.

Then, we sat together and spoke about what we can take away from the exercise. Was it just about writing our name? Together, we all went back to look over everyone's final product to see just how different each one was. In engineering, in science, in all things, it's to our benefit when we can incorporate alternative ideas and perspectives. That's what happens when we work together and share.

As we'll do a lot of teamwork and problem solving as a class this year, these names will serve as a reminder for us all to make sure we're listening to what others have to contribute.

On Tuesday and Thursday, we explored our theme for the year in science. The theme is life. We're going to explore the many facets of this theme by imagining we're on a mission—a mission to the stars! We're going to pretend that we've been given the task of discovering life elsewhere in the Universe and establishing a human settlement on another world.

To begin this awesome quest, we started by asking the question, "What is life?" Students split into groups and made lists of things that are alive and things that are not alive. We shared and made a giant list on the board. Then, students went back to their groups to try to develop a set of criteria that all living things have/are/can do.

On Thursday, we took things further and looked at two other definitions for life. One from NASA, and then the standard set of criteria we find in most textbooks. We discussed how none of these are perfect and that even the textbook definition runs into problems!

We've just begun to scratch the surface of this mission. This group is fantastic and, after this first week, I know it's going to be an incredible year together!

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