Nissitissit River Trip!

“There’s a snake in my boot!”
“No, that’s just water!”, Mr. Pineda told one of his students.
Students and several teachers went to the Nissitissit River WMA on Hollis Street last Friday morning.  After a short walk, nets and tupperware containers were picked up at Mr. Pineda’s truck as children rushed to wade into the river to catch shiners, crayfish, dragonfly nymphs, clams, frogs, and toads.
Fifty gallons of water and many specimens were hauled back to school to set up the classroom aquarium.  By hauling water, problems in adjusting water pH and temperature are avoided.  Over the next several weeks, the aquarium will be a discussion topic as local ecosystems are investigated.
According to Mr. Pineda, there was one question that was asked over and over again:  “When is our next trip?”!🐟🐸

Merrimack River Watershed

The Merrimack River Watershed – shaped by human and natural influences – served as a living laboratory for the study of ecosystems and earth science for our 5th grade students last week!

Our students traveled by boat in Lowell’s canals to explore how natural and human forces are changing the Merrimack Watershed.  We collected water samples, performed tests, and analyzed data. Students also built and tested water filters to assess their ability to clean polluted water and used models to explore how the world’s water is distributed.  What a great learning experience. A big thank you to Mrs. Worth for organizing this trip!

Amphibians and Mud!

The study of amphibians in science class was enhanced by perfect weather….namely, rain, drizzle, and cool temperatures.

Our vernal pool was found to have more egg masses of Spotted Salamanders and Wood Frogs than ever before!  Some of the Wood Frog tadpoles are being used in the classroom to study embryology and metamorphosis.
Further fieldwork turned up both color phases of the Red-backed Salamander…and more Two-lined Salamanders in Varnum Brook (the brook itself) than we have previously recorded either.  Both of these salamanders belong to an unusual salamander family, the Plethodontidae, that is lungless and whose eggs undergo metamorphosis right in the egg, skipping the tadpole phase!  No need to travel to the tropics to study this cool kind of biology….it’s right on our campus!
Nevertheless, students may agree that the highlight of their fieldwork was watching Mr. Pineda fall into the mud!


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Mr. Pineda’s students learn how to pick up chicks!

Yes, you read that correctly! Mr. Pineda’s students learned how to pick up chicks last week! Students learned about incubators and how important they are when they studied the conservation of endangered species like California Condors and Whooping Cranes.  Then, they had the chance to see how it’s really done, as the incubator was set with 40 Nankin Bantam eggs from Mr. Pineda’s farm.  The chickens are used to help study genetics, anatomy, physiology, animal behavior, flight, ethics, and ecology.  But, we don’t think the kids even notice how much they’re learning because the chicks are so much fun to play with….oops….we mean study!

3D Printing Project

Sixth graders have been learning about the new technology of 3D printing for the last few weeks in technology class. Students began by creating their own name tags in tinkercad and have recently been working on designs that will make teacher’s lives easier.

Students brainstormed ideas and then drew a prototype of what it might look like. Next, they used tinkercad to create a 3D model of their design. After printing some test pieces to test their design, some groups were ready to have their’s printed!

All groups were able to present their ideas to the class and each class voted for their favorite. Here are some highlights!

Carrying on a New England Tradition

Over the last week, students collected sap from our school sugar bush.  Over 20 maple trees were tapped over February vacation by Mr. Pineda and his family.  Over 50 gallons of sap was collected.  Several students and staff brought home sap to boil down into syrup.

50 gallons of sap will boil down into 1 1/4 gallons of syrup.
This has been a tradition at NMS since the school opened in 2000!  It’s a great experience for kids and can be applied to many academic concepts such as plant physiology, the changing seasons, chemistry of mixtures, and global climate change.  Nevermind the fact that it is just plain fun!
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