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PFFS Continues Its Commitment to Place Based Learning

PFFS-University

IMG_3686As the school year comes to a close, we are getting to our last few expeditions for each grade level! Two weeks ago, sixth graders participated in a pilot program entitled “A Geological Walk Through Time,” run by Pima County Parks and Resources. While on a guided desert hike in the Tucson Mountains, they found artifacts from different geological time periods. In putting their artifacts in chronological order, we discussed how the artifacts evidenced evolutionary changes over time.

IMG_3763This past week, seventh graders were part of a buffelgrass removal program. We’ve been learning about ecosystems and species interactions in science class, and the expedition served as a tangible example of what happens to an ecosystem when an invasive species take hold, and just how hard eradication can be – though the seventh graders valiantly wielded their shovels and gloved hands for the two hours we were at work, none have eagerly asked me when we will be returning ;).

Tomorrow eighth graders will be visiting the Tree Ring Lab at the UA. The lab is the only dendrochronology lab in the US and is rumored to be quite the place to visit. Ask your young one to tell you all about it tomorrow eve!

PFFS-Downtown

IMG_2650On Thursday, the 6th and 7th grade students went to the Pima public defenders office.  The attorneys there had prepared a well thought-out and professional series of presentations about what public defenders do, how the authority of the courts is derived and applied, and the educational path a person could take to become a lawyer.  Our students were attentive, perceptive, and asked some impressive and informed questions.  Coupled with our visit to the Pima Justice Court 2 weeks ago, guest from the prosecutor’s office next week, our kids will have a rich context for understanding how the courts work in our community.

As part of our unit on the Cold War the 8th graders studied the science of rockets and ballistic missiles.  As a way of investigating projectile motion students designed and built their own rockets to meet the performance goals set as a class.  It was an extraordinary experience to observe students completely immersed in this process, evaluating design choices based on laws of force and motion. The highlight was traveling to two locations nearby to launch our water bottle rockets! In the morning we went to Armory Park and tested our rockets, recording maximum height and distance traveled. We then returned to class and modified our designs based on performance. In the afternoon we walked to El Mercado just west of the Santa Cruz River and conducted our second launch. Afterward enjoyed pastries at La Estrella Bakery. authorphoto4x6The 8th grade worked hard together, supported each other through the design, construction, and launch process. Kudos to all! You rocked the rockets!

Next Friday the 8th graders will be visiting with Janni Simner, a writer in residence at the Pima County Library. After a little background on the author and a brainstorm session, the student will show Janni, our Writer’s Workshop process (bringing their Chromebooks to the library) along with their writing in progress.

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