All K-8 students are encouraged to participate in the annual Science Fair where students apply the problem solving skills they learned in class to projects they design. Students gain confidence and knowledge as their curiosity moves from hypothesis to conclusion. Past projects include:
- Why Are Baseball Bats Made Of Wood?
- The Chemistry of Chocolate Chip Cookies
- How Much Space Does Oxygen Occupy?
- The Science of Flight
- Do Name Brands Really Taste Better?
- How Optical Illusions Work
Some school projects have been selected for display at the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum.
Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (description taken from MOEMS)
Students 5-8 have the opportunity to practice and participate in five monthly Olympiad contests. Contests are held after school and are intended to challenge students and provide opportunities for mathematical growth. MOEMS is a nonprofit corporation [501(c)(3)] which provides opportunities for children to engage in creative problem solving activities while developing a child’s ability to reason, to be logical, to be resourceful, and occasionally to be ingenious.
Goals for Math Olympiad participants include:
l. developing enthusiasm for problem solving and mathematics
2. deepening the understanding of mathematical concepts and strengthen ability to use these concepts
3. considering concepts that they might not otherwise encounter
4. enriching experiences in intellectually stimulating and significant mental activities
5. building a stronger foundation for assessments and for future mathematics studies.
First LEGO League
The AACS Lego Robotics Team (open to grades 4-8) participates in an international competition known as the First LEGO® League (FLL) Challenge. Teams of students design, build, and program an autonomous robot using Lego NXT 2.0 systems and software. The robots compete in a timed competition on 4 x 8’ playing field, to perform a serious of tasks created out of LEGO®, related to the theme of the challenge. In addition, based on the theme of the challenge, students research and present a science project aimed at developing a new scientific solution to an unsolved problem related to the theme. Examples of past FLL Challenge themes include food safety (Food Factor 2011) and solving problems facing the elderly (Senior Solutions 2012). Students also are guided in developing FLL Core Values, which are focused on working in a team environment and gracious professionalism.
The FLL challenges are released at the end of August. The team typically meets on Saturdays at the school and is coached by volunteer parents. The team’s season runs from August until regional competitions in November and a state competition in early December. The last two years the AACS Lego Robotics Team has received several awards and qualified for the state competitions (please see this article).
Science Olympiad (description taken from WESO)
The Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad (WESO) is an affiliate of Science Olympiad, a national, non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Science Olympiad was created in 1983 by Dr. Gerard J. Putz and Jack Cairns to increase interest in science and as an alternative to traditional science fairs and single-discipline tournaments. After a series of trials, Olympiads were held in the states of Michigan and Delaware. The Science Olympiad began to grow and now the Olympiad has members in all 50 states, totaling more than 13,500 actively participating K-12 schools.
WESO is comprised of students in grades 2nd – 5th in the Washtenaw County area. Each school team is comprised of up to 100 students (50 in grades 2-3, 50 in grades 4-5) who compete in a variety of science events. Students prepare for these events throughout the school year. Events have been designed to recognize the wide variety of student skills. While some events require knowledge of scientific facts and concepts, others rely on scientific processes, skills, or applications. This ensures that everyone can participate.
Exemplars is a math curriculum implemented in all the grades. It is an engaging curriculum that promotes reasoning and communication. Students are given applicable math problems where they must apply knowledge and higher level thinking skills. They explore multiple ways to solve problems and, in doing so, learn many different problem solving strategies. The curriculum also develops the thought process of the students. As a result, they gain a repertoire of critical thinking skills. Students must show and explain their thought process and solutions on paper and verbally with their partner and teachers.