Middle School Program

Critical Thinking for Gifted & Talented Students
7th & 8th Grade Middle School Offerings
2015-16

Calendar & Schedule

Fall 2016 Semester

September 16, 30
October 14
November 4, 18
December 9

Spring 2017 Semester

January 27
February 10
March 3, 31
April 21
May 5


Period I
Period II
Lunch
Period III
Share

9:00 - 10:00 am
10:10 - 11:10 am
11:20 - 11:45 pm
11:50 - 12:50 pm
1:00 - 1:20 pm

Arts Immersion courses take place in the immediate neighborhood of Montgomery Gym on the Allegheny College Campus.  Students choose a “Major” which they attend each of the twelve sessions.  They are also assigned three different minors, which they attend three times each over the course of the year.

Yoga in Motion with Hannah Cosdon: This class includes a series of warm-up stretches and movement exercises to develop technique, followed by combination patterns to explore moving across the space in response to rhythm and music.  Students will learn about physical alignment, core strength, and breath/relaxation to enhance body awareness, flexibility and balance.  As the class progresses, students will create their own poses and movement sequences to encourage self-expression, presence and collaboration with others.

2-D Art with Brian Thummler
2-D Art is a class designed for students who have to draw in order to think.  All kids have tremendous talent - a capacity for innovation - but we are educating students away from their creative capacities.  This is done by punishing mistakes.  But creativity is the process of having original, and valuable, ideas, and originality can only be discovered by those unafraid of being wrong.  The goal of this class is to allow students the freedom to be wrong - while exploring various media (from pencils to computers) - without fear of punishment.

3D Art with Michael Marley: Recognizing that the first cornerstone of the foundation for visual arts is drawing, it becomes clear that it is also the basis for two-dimensional design, a fundamental source for the joy of human creativity. The natural expansion of this process is to move two-dimensional design through space, unveiling the never ending stream of possibilities for fresh three-dimensional design concepts and their aesthetic appeal.

A powerful and important premise for the approach to this domain of art is to provide the classroom- freedom to explore it through trial and error, developing, assessing, revising, and clarifying our work with the invaluable information provided by mistakes and initial failures. This allows students to flourish in a learning environment whose true purpose is growth through anticipation, excitement, and Joy.

Creative Music with Claire Jurs:  In this class we will create our own expressions of music using improvisation and writing compositions through whole group and small group collaboration.  Through the use of classroom instruments, body percussion, our own voices, and exploring materials around us, we will organize sounds into patterns – rhythmic, melodic, and/or harmonic – to serve as building blocks for our individual musical structures.

Creative Writing with Lora Zill: If you like to write, and talk about writing, then this is the class for you!  I offer fun, “hands on” creative writing prompts for you to choose from and respond to as you write. (You always have the option to work on your own writing.) If you are willing, you can share your work with the class, either in small or large groups.  We praise you for what is strong and offer input on how to write more effectively.  It is completely up to you whether or not you share, but I expect that you write and actively listen to the conversation about the writing.  We learn to think by writing, analyzing writing, and understanding how to use language to achieve our goals.

 

STEM and Social Science Immersion Programs

 

Option I

The World of Archeology with Danuta Majchrowicz (all three periods limit 10 students):

Students will explore archeological issues (such as the debates regarding the peopling of the Americas; mysteries of the Pyramids; recent discoveries of more monuments at Stonehenge, Nazca plateau markings; modern human origins; famous archeological hoaxes and improbabilities; other topics may be considered per class interest) as well as learn about colonial and urban archeology in NW PA. Students will learn how observations of the world around us are used to form testable hypotheses regarding questions about the human past (the scientific method). They will be introduced to archeological methods such as: excavation techniques, dating processes, experimental archeology, and uses of anthropological data to understand remains and  “predict the past.” Students will compare and contrast presentations of archeology in documentaries and popular media.  Field trips may include Greendale Cemetery, Edinboro University Archeology Lab, Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, Mercyhurst Archeology Institute, Baldwin-Reynolds Mansion. Costs of field trips depend on funding.
Option II

Period I: Astronomy through Mythology with David Samuels
Students will be able to locate and identify the constellations, major stars, and observable planets in the night sky of the Northern hemisphere.  Students will learn how to identify meteorological daytime and nighttime events to include sundogs, rainbows, and sun columns.  Instructor will also teach through discussion the Greek, Roman and Native American mythologies associated with the constellations and stars.  Students will develop an appreciation and understanding for the meteorological occurrences in observable the world surrounding them.    

Period 2:  Sea Perch Underwater Robotics with D. Bradford Boughton
This course is a hands-on STEM Initiative adapted from the MIT Sea Grant program providing students an opportunity to build and operate Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV).  Students will be introduced to the marine application of robotics through historical, current and ongoing projects involving water quality assessment, surveying, marine archaeology and biological sampling.  Participants will construct a PVC froma, payload netting, tether line, flotation, waterproof thrusters, control box and power adapter.  Students will study buoyancy principles, develop soldering skills, wiring, water proofing, safe tool applications, and basic electronics.  Students will develop an appreciation and understanding for the meteorological occurrences in the observable world surrounding them.

Period 3:  Comparative Evil with Wally Mason
This course will focus on comparing evil characters from history to fictional evil characters in literature and film.  Real people will include Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Vlad the Impaler.  Fictional characters will include Voldemort (Harry Potter) Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs), The Joker (Batman) and Dracula.  We will use a variety of sources to investigate why we can be captivated by evil in film and literature and fear evil I real life.
 

Option III

Period I:  Sea Perch Underwater Robotics with D. Bradford Boughton
This course is a hands-on STEM Initiative adapted from the MIT Sea Grant program providing students an opportunity to build and operate Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV).  Students will be introduced to the marine application of robotics through historical, current and ongoing projects involving water quality assessment, surveying, marine archaeology and biological sampling.  Participants will construct a PVC froma, payload netting, tether line, flotation, waterproof thrusters, control box and power adapter.  Students will study buoyancy principles, develop soldering skills, wiring, water proofing, safe tool applications, and basic electronics.  Students will develop an appreciation and understanding for the meteorological occurrences in the observable world surrounding them.

Period 2: Food for Thought with Brynya Bowden
Students will be encouraged to consider their food choices in a new light.  The goal of “Food for Thought” is to actively engage students to understand the correlation between nutrition and personal development as well as the impact their daily food choices have on a larger scale.  This course will look at food from a nutritional perspective and how food choices affect our overall health and well-being.  Additionally, this course will highlight how and where food is grown through critically exploring conventional, organize, sustainable, and local food production.  We will conclude the year by designing and cooking a healthy, food systems conscious meal based on the concepts covered throughout the year.  This course is primarily discussion based and thus requires active participation from students.

Period 3: Math Puzzles and Games with Jill Hyatt
This course will help students build math problem-solving and logical thinking skills by actively engaging in a variety of challenging games and puzzles.  The work completed in this class will help students develop the important mathematical practices of reasoning abstractly and quantitatively and making sense of problems and persevering in solving them.

Option IV

Period I:  Global Studies/Cultural Studies with Jack Blatnick:
Travel the Globe exploring a variety of modern day countries and their culture.  Discover the geography, history, religion, government, food, art, music, and holidays that comprise the different countries we will “visit”.  Students will be encouraged to share their own experiences from personal travels or ancestral history of the cultures we will encounter.

Period 2:  Your World Today: Current Affairs with Wally Mason
This course will focus on local, national, and international events and issues as they unfold throughout the year. Through discussion, we will broaden our understanding of geography, politics and history of issues facing the world today. We will debate these issues as to how they affect and influence our lives.
Students will be expected to participate in class through group work and discussion by critically reading, analyzing and debating current events. They will be able to express their opinions in a non-threatening environment.

Period 3:  Science vs. Pseudoscience with Mike McGrath PhD
We will use simple examples and experiments to explain basic scientific principles and the scientific method.  No specific science knowledge or science background is required but some of the examples will be drawn from mathematics and chemistry.  After laying the scientific groundwork we will examine a variety of popular beliefs to see if they hold up to scrutiny.  Students interest will determine the subjects discussed, but some possibilities include such topics as extra-terrestrial life, mental telepathy, the Gaia hypothesis, alien abduction, evolution, etc.  Wherever possible we will try to devise experiments to test the validity of these beliefs.