Friday, June 2, 2017

Skype with Pete and Ben (PinBox3000)

Thanks to Pete Talbot and Ben T. Matchstick, creators of the PinBox3000 for Skyping with our class today.  This was a great opportunity to learn more about the process of taking an idea from concept to finished product through a Kickstarter campaign.  Students learned how passionate this pair is about sustainability and our environment in choosing cardboard as the main material.  Their creativity and drive to create a working pinball game began with their experience creating an interactive puppet fantasy adventure.  Along with their success, Ben and Pete shared their failures and how these helped them in the development of the final product.

Ben & Pete - PinBox3000

Friday, May 26, 2017


Zoom and Re-Zoom are wordless books by Istvan Banyai. The books cause readers to make inferences, predictions, connections and sequences. During this activity, 6th-grade Catalyst students were each handed a page of the book. The goal was to put the book back together again in the correct order. One catch was that they were not allowed to talk, set their page down or trade with anyone. Following the activity, students reflected on the process using to write a paragraph on reading strategies used along with their thinking.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Flying Eggs

Students from Mr. Goeldi's A.P. Physics course came to present a demonstration on physics and to share high school experiences with Catalyst 6th-graders. The presentation involved observing impacts of eggs on different surfaces based around the question, "What is a less dangerous impact between an airbag or a dashboard?" Students had an opportunity to throw eggs at a sheet to observe this principle while the demonstration was being recorded in slow motion. Next, the egg was thrown against a hard surface. Students returned to view the slow motion recordings of this activity and discuss the reasons behind the results.  The high school students then went on to share important lessons that they learned during their time in high school and answered questions from the 6th graders.

Flying Eggs

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pasta Challenge 4.0

The pasta challenge has been completed several times this year in the 6th-grade. Each time there is a new twist to the building.  This time, students were given a sheet of paper, 12" of tape, 20 pasta noodle, 20 small marshmallows and 1 large marshmallow.  The challenge was to build the tallest free-standing tower with the large marshmallow at the highest point to be measured.  Each time we do this challenge, students are organized into different pairs so that they learn how to work with different people.  It is interesting each time to see what innovative ideas the students come up with.

Pasta Challenge 3.0

Catalyst Showcase Night 4/2017

Catalyst Showcase Night offers family and community an opportunity to view the students’ accomplishments as well as learn more about the PBL (Project-Based Learning) approach.  PBL is more than the final product.  Entry events, planning, reflections, evaluations, real-world connections and communication are all a part of this process. 

7th- graders displayed civilization projects along with weather/water and a diversity of life project.  One interesting display was the live cockroaches habitat.
6th- graders shared working paper roller coasters along with black inventors' timelines and timelines of key events in their own lives.  Marbles were a “hot item” that night during the roller coaster demonstrations.

Showcase Night wouldn’t happen without the supportive of Catalyst parents and family.  Thank you for being a part of this night and encouraging your son/daughter to challenge themselves to continually develop as an independent learner.

Catalyst Showcase Night 5/4/17

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Alliance Engineering Experts

Thank you, Alliance engineers, for judging the 6th-grade roller coaster creations again this year.  The students experienced an in-depth evaluation of their roller coasters while having the opportunity to answer and discuss the design and workings of their coasters.  Students prepared responses to the following questions:

1. How were Newton’s three laws applied to the design and build of the coaster?
2. What changes did you make during the planning and creation process and why?
3. How did you integrate theme into your coaster, and why is theming a coaster important?

This evaluation created a real-life experience for students as seen in the photo slideshow below.

Engineering Experts 2017

The judges used a rubric while talking to groups, to guide the evaluation and discuss the structures with students. 

Awards were also given by the judges for the following areas:
1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place
Best Theme
The Dark Vortex
Safari Speedway
Strongest Construction
The Kick
Tornado Twist
Most Innovative Design
Summer Slider
The Dark Vortex
The Sporty Cyclone
Best Use of Space
The Dark Vortex
Unicorn Landia
Cake Madness
Most Thrilling Ride
Hole in One
The Sporty Cyclone
Par 5
Best of Show

Thank you for supporting and investing in the education of the Ripon community students.