Winterim–Lab Rats Disney

Clarksville Academy Students in the Disney Lab Rats spent the first week of Winterim learning robotics coding and learning the physics principles of roller coasters.

Yesterday, these 16 students traveled to Disney World to see the science behind the park.  Students will take courses in Exploring Careers in Zoological Sciences and Energy and Waves Physics Lab.  Like their Leadership counterparts, students will take course in the mornings and will be asked to document evidence of what they learned as they enjoy the parks in the afternoon.

Day 1: Today students learned about careers in zoological sciences at the Animal Kingdom.  Led by Abby, an educator with expertise in the field, began by telling students about the park and how each part focuses on conservation.  The tree of life is modeled after an oil rig.  We rode Kilimanjaro Safari and learned about the steps taken by Disney to function as a zoo and the many careers involved in the care of animals and development of their habitats. Student played games and participated in demonstrations before heading “off stage”. In this area no cameras are allowed. Students went to the Tembo house, where elephants receive care. We met ectotherm specialist Trevor and his snake, Siba.  Nutrition for the animals was discussed and preparation was observed. We even saw Disney veterinarians operate on an antelope!  Abby described the many careers that play a role in maintaining a zoo and shared her experiences with the students. Tomorrow we will head to the Magic Kingdom to learn about energy and waves, and development of special effects.

Day 2: Today’s lesson focused on energy and waves, and how both are used in the Magic Kingdom.  Our leader, Rusty, discussed types of waves and their properties.  Students created a human circuit to successfully power a light. We rode The Little Mermaid ride to demonstrate the manipulation of sound to enhance rides. Students rode the Haunted Mansion and then were taken underneath the ride! We saw how Disney uses mirrors and scrim to create the Pepper’s ghost illusion used throughout the ride. We were able to watch riders in “doom buggies” from the other side of the dancing figures in the haunted ballroom.  Forced perspective is used all over the park to trick the eye.  Our final stop was Mickey’s Philharmagic.  All of our lessons merged with this attraction that manipulates sound and light, in addition to using other sensory tricks to create a rich experience. For example, over 180 speakers are used in that attraction.  They range in size and direction to create a magical show.

Day 3: Today’s experience focused on the art of Disney.  We participated in two classes at the Contemporary Resort. Our first class taught the history and techniques of cel animation. Artists Gina and Lynn, who worked on “The Princess and the Frog” and “The Little Mermaid ” took students through the steps of creating their own cels. Our creations will be dried and shipped next week. Kevin, one of Disney’s professional photographers, led our second class. Students received a set of lenses to use with their phones. Kevin gave the students five tasks in and around the resort. He proceeded to demonstrate and discuss tips to take great pictures and had students use the tips to redo their tasks. We then compared the images before and after learning professional techniques.  Kevin was adamant that the type of camera is not what makes a great picture. The photographer’s choices are what can make a cell phone picture look professional.  After our classes we visited the Animal Kingdom. Tomorrow we return home.

Winterim–Intermediate School Cougar Connections

Intermediate School Cougar Connections Winterim (CCW) is off to a great start.  Students are participating in ten different small group rotations each day.  These rotations are designed to meet all different learners and interests.  CCW is a great opportunity to take students to the next level in their learning.  They are problem solving, engineering, actively moving, thinking outside the box, learning about themselves, and exploring future career options and more.  Each of the rotations below are 30 minutes each day.  Then, students end the day with their advisor, a teacher assigned to them for support, discussing the day’s events and discoveries.  Advisors will continue to meet with students throughout the second semester to check in on their academic progress and to offer support navigating the middle school years.

Music– Ms. Thomas is working with students to explore all the different aspects of music in cinematography.  They are exploring different jobs and how movies use music in careers.
Lower School Mentoring– Coach Daniels is using team building concepts and games to have our students mentor and encourage our 3rd-5th grade children to work together.
Lower School Mentoring (2)– Ms. Procter is using literature and the library resources to mentor our PreK-2nd grades children.  These groups are focusing on ideas of empathy, kindness, and leadership.
Escape Games- Mrs. Trent’s rotation is using problem solving and critical thinking to solve math puzzles and compete in Escape Games.
STEM (2 groups)– Coach Welch and Mrs. King are utilizing the Maynard Makerspace to have students plan and engineer the design and building of parachutes and rockets from various materials provided.
Career Exploration– Coach Hughes is facilitating the exploration of top careers in different fields.  This group will not only explore the careers, but also hear from multiple guest speakers that are working in some of the fields they are researching.
Clarksville History– Ms. Kretz is walking her students through the history Clarksville and landmarks right here in their city.  This rotation will also feature historians as guest speakers.
Team Building– Coach Miles has each group creating and developing a PE game as a team.  Each team must design their game and then the different groups will play the games.  Some of the games may even be put into our PE rotations!
Reading and Research– Mrs. Wall’s rotations are reading various texts and articles to support the focus concepts for each of the grade levels.  Each grade level is focusing on a concept.  Sixth grade is focusing on empathy, seventh grade is focusing on kindness, and eighth grade is focusing on leadership skills that will take them to high school.
Each day we will add photos and brief descriptions from a variety of these activities.


Students had to try to flip the blanket without leaving the blanket.
Looking at short stories in new and exciting ways.
In STEM student created rocket ships, roller coasters, and parachutes!
In PE each group is designing their own game.
Our Cougar Connection groups participated in a “Collaborative Art Project”. They each started with a blank piece of paper and were prompted on a subject. They had about 2 minutes to draw then every 2 minutes they passed their sheet and the next classmate added to the sheet until all the sheets made their way around room.

IS students worked with LS students on a Marshmallow challenge.  Students were given 50 marshmallows and 50 toothpicks and asked to make the tallest free standing structure possible.

During STEM Challenges this week, 6th grade created and tested parachute designs and catapults, 7th grade created and tested rockets and 8th designed roller coasters and created and tested containers for the egg drop challenge.


After reading an excerpt from “Out Of My Mind”, students road in a wheelchair to have the experience of not talking and not being able to move.

The Cougar Connection groups participated in “Get to know you balloons”. They each wrote a question on a strip of paper then inserted it into the balloon, blew it up & tied it. They had a few minutes to pass the balloons around before popping them. They then took turns reading the question they ended up with and sharing their response.

Interactive reading to Lower School students provided a fun activity for both age groups.


Joann Askew, Lower School Science Lab/STEM Instructor

Science, Technology, Engineering, Math – disciplines collectively known as STEM, the buzz word of the science community, has evolved. It became STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math. Then, before we could memorize it, it morphed into STREAM (Science, Technology, READING , Engineering, Art, Math). It is comparable to our ever-changing complex world and we continue to adapt our educational approach. As we educate the next generation, it is more important than ever that we prepare our youth to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. It addition to content knowledge it is crucial that we train students in the field of technology to meet the needs of the world’s workforce. We can no longer educate in a traditional format that presents itself as “a teacher in front of the room – teaching content” and measure progress with traditional “fill in the bubble” tests. We need to instill a desire for building, creating, tinkering and making. These provide helpful projects that promote further exploration and learning in our naturally curious youth. We need to question like a scientist, design like a technologist, build like an engineer, create like an artist, deduce like a mathematician and most importantly…play like a child. In order to maintain global influence, we continue to advance our efforts in educating under the current acronyms. November 8, is National STEM/STEAM day. A day recognized and set aside to inspire youth to identify passions related to these disciplines. We are fortunate to live in a time where information is so accessible; we have no excuses. We find trends are changing, we continue to make headway encouraging girls and women to impact the STEM/STEAM/STREAM workforce.

Realizing the trends of the present parents, mentors, and educators will need to utilize STEM, STEAM, STREAM – in fact, all subjects to build leaders of the future. As we prepare our students to excel, not only in school, but in LIFE, we recognize the need to educate differently. So on November 8, National STEM day, gather up the students in your life, get a full head of STEAM and create something that engages, stimulates curiosity, and just might make an impact in the world.


By: Paul Mittura, Upper School Science

You get up on cold winter morning and the sparse clouds are beautiful reds, pinks, and oranges. Why? You are trying to head a soccer ball and can’t quite find the right place to be. Why? The breaker keeps tripping when you use your curling iron. Why? You are cleaning your bathroom and the new cleaner is making your eyes water and your throat scratchy. Why?

As a science teacher, people are constantly asking me why.

Most behaviorists would agree infants are born with innate reflexes like grasping, sucking, and blinking,but most behaviors are learned through exploration and experience. Most children will look at, pick up,and taste everything they can reach in their environment. As adults, we discourage the touching for fear of embarrassment and the tasting for obvious reasons. We encourage our children to explore in our predetermined “safety” filtered environment. This environment is usually inundated with the interests of the parents. For example if the parents are sports enthusiasts the toddler will be dressed in team apparel and every type of ball known will be in the playpen. We expose our children to what we know and like.

This behavior is both normal and expected.

As educators, it is incumbent upon us to introduce children to all disciplines. With STEM education, students are encouraged to explore the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Quality STEM educators can produce environments with “safety” parameters that allow each individual to experiment with disciplines they may not have had the opportunity to explore in a home environment. Early introduction is important for the formation of accurate concepts in a controlled environment with respect to the 4 disciplines. Continued exposure (grades 1-12) to these types of explorations is an important part of STEM instruction. One of the biggest obstacles for any educator is the dispelling of a misconception caused by misinformation or misinterpretation. Continually introducing STEM activities hopefully prevents these misconceptions from developing.

Now here comes the tough part. It is impossible for teachers to become “experts” in all areas of the educational process. Only through collaboration and pooling of resources to include expertise can pure STEM education be achieved. Vertical teaming (elementary and secondary teachers) and cross curricular teaming (science, math, English, social studies, fine arts, etc. teachers) is a good start. Ideally this would occur with each new unit,but as little as once each semester can capture a student for future studies in a discipline. This concept looks good on paper,but the logistics of moving teachers around and finding time for collaboration is a potential nightmare. Large group presentation is an option but is far less effective than single class presentations and hands on exploration. Regardless of the obstacles, STEM is a worthwhile endeavor. Capturing the interest of students is every educator’s goal and a school dynamic rich with STEM opportunities should be every institution’s goal.

To learn more about CA’s STEM program visit:


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