Peter Muschal Elementary School

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Just a couple of months left to the year 2018…what progress did the Peter Muschal program students make in November and what will they be looking at in December?

Round 1 of Kindergarten whole class enrichment concluded with our fourth thinking skill character, Isabel the Inventor.  Posed as a builder, Isabel uses both critical and creative thinking to design new ideas, new technology.  Did you know one of the many inventions Ben Franklin invented was wooden flippers to swim faster, like a frog! Students listened to selections from the life of Leonardo daVinci; he looked at how birds fly to come up with a flying invention. Students helped build a flying thing idea; did it fly? Ask a Round 1 Kindergartener; the flying things were taken home to share with family.  In December Round 2 of Kindergarten whole class enrichment will begin with a look at a scientist.


First graders were introduced to analytical thinking via attribute blocks. Create a train of blocks, changing one attribute, then two, then three. Hmmm, focused thinking made this a fun challenge. Then, Dudley the Detective had a problem! He needed to get home by walking thru an enchanted forest; with each step he needed to change, possibly one to three attributes. What did he see along the way? Shapes that were used to problem solve were intended to be used to create something he saw…. time ran out on us, but what thinking fun!  Students were also introduced to a thinking card game called SET. The game uses card attributes to form sets.  In December, students will do an unplugged coding activity, and become familiar with analogies.


In Second Grade, students began using their Logic Link binders to record their independent problem-solving skills of Logic Link problems. Students are already seeing how careful reading can help make a difference to earning a “star”.  Students were also faced with a mystery to solve. Five friends got together one day to build a clubhouse for their stuffed animals. What seemed like a fun day at first did not conclude that way.  One of the stuffed animals was tampered with; left a mess.  How did this happen? Did someone do this? Who? Why? So many questions! Fortunately, there was evidence. Students ran forensic tests in their crime lab, aka classroom. A photo selection glimpses at testing done by the students. Students came up with a culprit. The culprit left a man-made pattern, a repetition of clues left at the crime scene pointing to them. Man-made patterns are all around us; thinking deeper, so are nature-made prints. In December, students will make their own fingerprints and identify the different patterning found there. Students will make statistical connections with their fingerprints. Time permitting, they will complete a chart begun earlier this year, continue with Logic Links, and be introduced to the critical thinking game SET.


Third grade students began an engineering unit. They learned of the world of engineers through a book titled Rosie Revere, the Engineer, the story of a young girl who at an early age yearned to help people by building elaborate structures that seemingly would help fix problems.  Was Rosie an actual person in real life?  Videos show Rosie as one of many women who either began working or left other jobs, to work in American factories during World War II. They became assembly line workers, helping to build airplanes, ships, vehicles used in the armed services of that time.  Ah, builders! Enter engineering! Students learned of several types of engineers, civil, mechanical, electrical, software, aerospace; they listed many of the products each could design and build. Do engineers have a procedure for solving problems? Yes, the engineer design process; some call it the technology design process. In December, students will apply the design process and work collaboratively to build a solution to their first engineering problem, to build a tower.   Additionally, students will continue their independent work with Logic Links.


Fourth graders began background work on building a city. Where did they begin? Recalling plane and solid geometric shapes, students then drew a “mind’s eye” city photo. What shapes could be found in their drawings? Where could their drawings be found in a city? Geometry is an integral part in the successful design of a city, whereby sections of a city are put together to bring about a place for people to live, work, play. Students examined Bordentown to identify city elements, how the parts work together and learn of how the city has evolved thru time to maintain itself.   In December, students will collaborate to design and build a 3-D model city that will incorporate the geometry and sections learned thus far.


Fifth graders delved into their independent research of a specific threatened or endangered animal of New Jersey they chose to research further.  The main reason for the decline in population of an animal species is habitat loss…. animal homes have been destroyed to make way for developments, businesses, roadways in our state. There are other reasons as well, depending on the specie itself.  In December, students will complete their research and begin a collaborative project to share what they learned about these animals with their peers. They will be working to create a comic booklet about these animals.  The booklets will be a fundraising project for the students to earn money to adopt a species of New Jersey animals through the Conserve Wildlife Foundation.


As fourth and fifth graders become busier with extracurricular activities, they were reminded of their responsibility to work effort and task commitment within the program; we meet once a week, when homework is assigned it should be brought in at our next meeting; the work is integral to continue the flow of learning and encourage discussion at home of their unit work.  Both grades will be working on collaborative projects and require the commitment of all students in each of the groups.


Parent teacher conferences were well attended.  Some parents asked about other out of school activities they may be doing with their son/daughter. The New Jersey Association for Gifted Children, offers parent resources and a list of places/things to do throughout New Jersey. The link is


Wishing you and your family a Happy Holiday Season!