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November/December 2016

Volume 33, Issue 3


Meadows Mirror Math & Science Edition

Math and Science Issues up for Debate by Malcolm Gordon, Upper School Forensic Teacher

The policy debate season is in full swing. The topic this year asks whether or not the United States should diplomatically or economically engage with the People’s Republic of China. Given the breadth of the topic, policy issues involving math and science are playing a prominent role in our debates. One of the largest areas of debate is climate change. Climate change is recognized as the most important global policy question of our time. The United States and China are the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide. Both countries have also agreed to ratify the Paris agreement on reducing carbon emissions. The next step for both countries is deciding how to meet their carbon reduction obligations. Many debate teams are advocating that the US and China need to cooperate on developing a global renewable energy infrastructure. These debates involve many complex technical questions: how much of a decrease in carbon emissions do we need? How long will it take? Do renewable energies and/or nuclear power actually reduce carbon levels? All of these questions could be addressed in any debate round. Debate also requires students to read qualified, peer-reviewed evidence to support their ideas. As the season goes on, debaters will acquire a wide breadth of knowledge on these policy questions. Policy debate also challenges students to understand science at a level beyond technically-oriented studies about climate and sustainability. Debaters also tackle questions about the relationship between science and society. We are often taught that science is a neutral investigation of facts, when that science is implemented as policy, it brings socio-political concepts into the fold. Science is not implemented in a vacuum, and students are debating issues like environmental racism, the relationship between technology and classism, and the role of the public in determining the course of scientific policy. For example, the development

of wind and solar power requires the use of rare earth minerals. Acquiring these minerals involves intense mining operations that often lead to public health consequences and environmental hazards that are displaced on local populations. Who decides which community is more valuable? How do we decide? Policy debate offers students a unique opportunity to engage in questions of science from multiple perspectives: the scientist, the policy maker, the sociologist, and the philosopher. These perspectives are addressed at every debate tournament as Meadows students engage in policy discussions with peers from high schools across the country.


The Challenge of Implementing STEM - A Middle School Example by Scott Trujillo, Middle School Science Teacher


would first like to begin by apologizing, because as it became apparent, running a STEM project in a building wing filled with studious, quiet math classes made us the proverbial bull in a china shop. I’m sorry math teachers, though I hope you understand this wasn’t just any ol’ classroom ruckus. It was the sound of science. STEM projects bring out the emotions in students, from the shrill highs of getting that tough part just right, to the grumbling lows of frustrating fail after fail. Proximity challenges aside, that can be a major highlight of STEM. You see your students authentically excited about something you’re doing in class. If only spatial issues were our only challenge. There is a dilemma in the modern science classroom that you may not realize. Do we focus on teaching science as a body of knowledge or science as a process? The former favors AP tests, SAT/ACT tests, and exit exams, which are based on the traditional approach to science education. The latter is the focus of STEM, which is a movement derived from our current need to fulfill hightech jobs. It sounds quite promising at face value. Get the students engaged in an authentic problem, the necessary science concepts will follow, and students will be further inclined to pursue the subject. The reality is not always so simple. Managing successful STEM projects takes space, time, resources, training, connections, and ultimately goals that align with a school mission. Because of this, schools may not exactly want to jump in head first. Will it be another educational fad? Will the students be prepared for tests? Will this help students get into top college programs? The answers aren’t simple, but the path is beginning to clear up in my view. Standardized tests are bringing in more Next Generation Science Standards1; elite colleges may be looking past academics in favor of exceptionality such as student-published research2, and STEM programs3,4/contests5 are becoming college resume builders and scholarship opportunities. That brings us to the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. A national, yearly STEM contest that pits student teams of all levels against an engineering challenge that is as kooky as it is challenging. For the uninitiated, a Rube Goldberg machine is a witty, overengineered machine. It is designed to complete a task in a series of chain reactions in the spirit of the originating, Pulitzer-Prizewinning cartoonist who popularized them. You’ve seen them in movies: cue the cliché mad scientist moment in which a ridiculous contraption makes them breakfast. These projects are a blast to design and incorporate a slew of science concepts ranging from Newton’s laws to simple machines to the laws of conservation. More so, they get students cooperating, designing, engineering, and competing. This was our second year tackling the project. The goal was apply a band-aid. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Our 8th graders went through six grueling days of mistakes, failing gear, limited space, little time, and most importantly, little engineering experience. Yet in the end, teams came through with amazing projects that showcase what can be accomplished given some tenacity, ingenuity, and genuine enthusiasm. As the dust settled and the projects were broken down, I wondered how much they learned and if this was the right direction for my class? Grading blueprints, I looked at measurements and calculations. Watching videos of test runs, I saw cooperation. Preparing final grades, I saw problems solved using science. The


final revelation came when students from the competitive science elective asked if they could enter their projects into the actual competition. I am confident that projects like this, punctuating a rigorous academic quarter, are a good thing. Will I attempt putting the project first next year in effort to focus on STEM and attempt to teach the science concepts via it? I’m not sure yet, but one thing is for certain: I should probably bring some treats personally to the math teachers, because much of the screaming and cheering was not just from students, but from me. 3 4 5 1 2

Want More Math? by Colleen Kodweis, Middle School Math Teacher

Math Club is for any Middle School student that wants to attend Thursday at lunch to do math problems. If they enjoy problem solving this is the place to come! In December, the students that have participated in the Math Club on Thursday at lunch will take a test to earn a spot at the Mathcounts Competition that will be held February in Las Vegas. The top ten students from the club will be able to participate in the competition.

The Meadows Mirror



TMSPA Updates by Donna Isaacs, TMSPA President


o celebrate the start of this academic year, TMSPA hosted the All-School Reception at Open House, Parent Receptions for the kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grades, and the Buddy Program/ Welcoming parties for new, incoming families, all in the spirit of promoting friendships and support of The Meadows family. These events would not have been possible without our hardworking, generous, and creative parents. To the volunteer parents, TMSPA expresses sincere gratitude. We welcome and encourage all parents to help and participate in the Meadows experience. We also hope you will attend one of our division coffees where you can learn more about your children’s academic, athletic, and social life. The Booster Club has had a busy start to the school year, supporting all teams. The TMSPA thanks the Booster Club for organizing such a wonderful Pre-Game Party for Homecoming 2016. Their team of volunteers did an amazing job, and we thank them for their time and dedication.

Upcoming Events • •

December 6, 2016: TMSPA Faculty Holiday Lunch March 4, 2017: Summer Camp & Activities Expo

For more information about any of these TMSPA activities, please feel free to contact me or any of our TMSPA Executive Board Members

Good Citizens Awarded in the Lower School After every Lower School Good Citizen assembly, Mrs. Shana Marek, the Lower School Director, presents select students with the Good Citizen Award. This award is given to students who go above and beyond to show compassion and be productive members of the increasingly global society of the 21st century. The following students were awarded the Good Citizen Award in October: • Olivia A. ’28 • Sofia A. ’26 • Connor A. ’25 • London A. ’27 • Audrey B. ’28 • Ella B. ’29 • Mason B. ’29 • Shirley C. ’24 • Colin C. ’28 • Sadie E. ’28 • Blake F. ’26 • Ella F. ’27 • Kate G. ’26 • Olivia G. ’26 • Allen G. ’27

• Isabella H. ’24 • Payton H. ’24 • Angel H. ’28 • Jordan K. ’27 • Riley K. ’26 • Piper K. ’27 • Mehrzad K. ’27 • Parker K. ’29 • Sophia L. ’28 • Megan L. ’26 • Jackson L. ’25 • Tatiana L. ’25 • George L. ’29 • Marlin M. ’27 • David M. ’24

Fall Festival Poster Contest

by Courtney Friedman ’01, Beginning & Lower School Librarian and Technology Integrationist


he theme for this year’s annual Fall Festival Poster Contest was “Falling for TMS.” Three winners were chosen in each class as well as a Grand Prize Winner and a Grand Reserve Winner. This year Isabella H. ’24 was named the Grand Prize Winner and Miranda P. ’25 the Grand Reserve Winner.


Photo: Isabella H. (left) and Miranda P. (right)

• Kage M. ’24 • Ryley M. ’29 • Gia O. ’24 • Miranda P. ’25 • Christina P. ’24 • Meghna P. ’25 • Nimrah Q. ’25 • Raquel R. ’27 • Adam R. ’28 • Alexis R. ’25 • Ella S. ’27 • Jibran S. ’26 • Gia S. ’29 • Mia S. ’29 • Halle S. ’25

• Sahej S. ’28 • Noah S. ’28 • Devereaux S. ’29 • Somi S. ’29 • Lily S. ’29 • Zan S. ’26 • Anika S. ’29 • Jude T. ’27 • Nicolette T. ’26 • Kyle V. ’26 • Luke V. ’29 • Sedona Z. ’28

Middle School First Quarter Honor Roll - Honors Class of 2023 • Kyra L. • Jasmine C. • Manat C. • Iris C. • Emily E. • Benjamin E. • Andrew K. • Phillippe K. • Cody L. • Sophie M. • Dagny M. • Noor N.

• Campbell N. • Zack R. • Bree S. • Ray T. Class of 2022 • Elizabeth B. • Brooke F. • Alex F. • Franklin F. • Havana G. • Julia G. • Raffi H.

• Araf K. • Alexander M. • Alexanna M. • Jacqueline R. • Rena R. • Talia S. • Claire S. • Justin V. • Vanessa V. • Julia W. • Matthew Z.

Class of 2021 • Cesira C. • Aidan H. • Benden P. • Anthony P. • Nana S. • Adam S. • Iycis S. • Angel-Anne V. • Marianne W.

Middle School First Quarter Honor Roll - High Honors Class of 2023 • Shazray A. • Faris A. • Joseph B. • Brinley B. • Aashman B. • David C. • Amy C. • Perter D. • Sanjana D. • Elizabeth D. • Chloe G. • Sean G. • Madeline H. • Ashley H. • Sabrinna I. • Mandalay L. • Caroline L. • Sam L. • Leighton L. • Julianna L. • Sierra N. • Karissa N. • Alberto P. • Dominic P. • Phoebe S. • Sydney S. • Edwina S. • Elle T. • Lynsey T. • Lauren W.

Class of 2022 • Jaz A. • Amanda A. • Jacqueline B. • Corey B. • Alexander C. • Kade D. • Lauren E. • Ainsley F. • Justin H. • Sofia K. • Veena K. • Patrick K. • Marcus L. • Sophia L. • Anna M. • Jonathan M. • Isabella M. • Rahul M. • Kristine N. • Tai N. • Jenna O. • Nishelle P. • Nashrah Q. • Niccolo R. • Rachel R. • Melanie R. • Robert S. • Hailey S. • Mathew S. • Styles S.

• Emma T. • Lyla W. • Madelyn W. • Luke Y. • Erica Y. • Lauren Z. Class of 2021 • Claire A. • Sydney A. • Calista B. • Bianca C. • Lars C. • Tyler C. • Blake C. • Izzac C. • Michael C. • Jerry E. • Gavin E. • Karthik G. • Caroline G. • Amelia H. • Lindsey H. • Devin H. • Lia J. • Chelsea J. • Arianna J. • Sophia J. • Raees K. • Chiara L. • Michelle L.

• Jake M. • Ethan M. • Adam M. • Isabella M. • Ella M. • Ethan N. • Evan O. • Anthony P. • Nicholas P. • Michael R. • Ty R. • Grace R. • Nebiyu S. • Sneha S. • Kambree T. • Taylor T. • Avery T. • Claire T. • Lauren T. • Alexander W. • Alexander W. • Alexis Y. • Brian Y.

Love of Writing in the Middle School

by Rebecca Reeder, Middle School English Teacher


he Middle School Creative Writing club was formed in September 2016, in response to students’ requests to have additional writing opportunities as well as some instruction on ways to make their original stories more appealing. Mrs. Reeder, the club’s advisor, is

incorporating lessons from her experience as a judge in creative writing contests along with ideas from classes she both took and taught. Currently, club members are working on increasing their dialogue to develop their characters indirectly and to add interest to the plot development.


French Students Give Back by Ginnae Stamanis, Upper School French Teacher


he French Club and the Societe Honoraire de Français participated in the Walk for One Drop, October 15, 2016. The event paid tribute to the countless individuals, par ticularly women and children, who have to walk miles every day just to access water. Students walked with small buckets of water from the Smith

Center to the Springs Preserve to help raise awareness for One Drop, an organization that works to develop sustainable water sources in communities that desperately need them.

Recent Debate Results by Tim Alderete, Upper School Forensic Teacher


n October 22 and 23, the Meadows Forensics team competed at the Green Valley High School tournament, the largest tournament in the Clark County District. In policy debate, Chloe N. ’20 and Kayla S. ’19 were named the 1st place team in Junior Varsity. The Varsity and JV divisions were combined, meaning that Chloe and Kayla were competing against the top varsity teams in Las Vegas with a winning record. As this is Chloe’s novice season, this is particularly impressive. Chloe and Kayla defended the policy of cooperation with China on space programs. Finn S. ’18, an exchange student from Germany, reached the Quarterfinals in Novice Lincoln Douglas debate. Eighth grader Alex W. was undefeated and made it all the way to the finals and took Second Place in Novice LD, where he bowed out to Northwest Career and Technical Academy. Alex competed exclusively against high school students, which is very impressive for a middle school student. Congratulations to all.

Tennis Regional Competition Results Girls Singles Champion - Abbi K. ’17 Finalist - Anuja D. ’17 5th Place - Shayna I. ’19 Girls Doubles Champions - Olivia W. ’18 and Grace N. ’19 3rd Place - Peyton B. ’20 and Sara B. ‘ 20 5th Place - Jessica L. ’17 and Caroline L. ’17 Boys Singles 2nd Place - Nate Van der Post ’17


Boys Doubles Champion: Brian C. ’20 and Ryan C. ’20 Finalist: Eddie R. ’17 and Justin F. ’19 Ahmed N. ’18 and Peyton S. ’18

Are You Smarter Than a Meadows Fifth Grader? by Shana Marek, Lower School Director

Can you solve this problem? Ms. Brennan has 3/4 of a yard of string that she wants to divide into pieces, each 1/8 of a yard long. How many pieces will she have? A. 3 B. 4 C. 6 D. 8 Sixty fifth-grade students in Lower School took a pop quiz recently. The test was designed to assess their understanding of fractions and computation. In response to the question above most students simply multiplied 3/4 by 2/2 to determine that the answer is C. 6. A student’s knowledge of fractions in fifth grade may predict performance in Upper School math classes according to a 2012 study by Dr. Robert Siegler, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. “If you don’t understand fractions, it’s literally impossible to understand algebra, geometry, physics, or statistics,” Dr. Siegler says. Researchers believe that a student’s ability to recognize the numerical meaning of fractions on a number line, fractions as a ratio, operations with mixed numbers, and fractions as quotients broadens students’ understanding of numbers and how they are related. Students in The Meadows Lower School first develop conceptual understanding of fractions by using manipulatives and supplementary materials. Conceptual knowledge combined with daily math instruction leads students to procedural fluency: understanding accurate, efficient calculations, and reasonable answers.

“What is 25% of 88?” This was also a pop quiz question. Rather than multiply 0.25 x 88 nearly all fifth-grade students simply divided 88 by 4 to determine the answer. This demonstrates their conceptual understanding that decimals and fractions are interchangeable. 6.345 x 5.28 = 335.016 Fifth-grade students were asked why this couldn’t possibly be correct. One student responded, “Obviously, this answer is wrong because when you round the factors and multiply, the product should be greater than 30 and less than 42.” Larry Martinek, chief instructional officer at Mathnasium tutoring centers in Los Angeles, confirms that trouble with fractions is the most common reason parents seek math help for their children. Students learn how to find common denominators and that 1/3 + 1/2 is not 2/5. Tutors explain, “One apple plus one apple is two apples, one banana plus one banana is two bananas, but one apple plus one banana is not two banapples.” “Ours is not to reason why; just invert and multiply.” This old adage, used to describe division of fractions, has been expelled from math classrooms. Lower School teachers encourage students to ask “why” and to understand both concepts and algorithms used in solving equations. Galileo once said, “If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics.”

Raising Money for a Worthy Cause by Kathy Brennan, Lower School Teacher; Jilliene Jaeger, Publications Coordinator


ince 2004, the Lower School has participated in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF after being introduced to the amazing fundraiser by the Abdul-Aziz family. Started in 1950, the Halloween-themed campaign originally raised money for children affected by World War II. Today, UNICEF strives to improve the lives of children all over the world through important initiatives ranging from providing clean drinking water to disaster relief. Ms. Brennan’s class coordinates the program in the Lower School with students helping take on the responsibility of tallying the money raised. This year,

the class is proud to announce they raised $4,238.13! This brings the total amount of money raised by the Lower School over the past few years to almost $30,000. Beyond the fundraising efforts in the classroom, Genevieve G. ’27, Piper K. ’27, and Palmer K. ’29 took it upon themselves to organize a lemonade stand to raise more money for UNICEF. Despite the rainy weather, the trio were happy to sell lemonade and lemon cookies to help other children. In total, they raised almost $1,000 and are excited to do so again next year.

Photo: some of Ms. Brennan’s students counting the money raised during Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

Photo: the lemonade stand organized by Genevieve G. ’27, Piper K. ’27, and Palmer K. ’29


Foundations of Math by Sheri Turner, Beginning School Teacher


tudents at the Beginning School are active, eager learners of mathematics. They learn both “formally” while sitting and sorting manipulatives, as well as “informally” as they try to balance a seesaw on the playground and one person is heavier than the other. Math concepts, whether formal or informal, are taught at a basic level, and the children are unaware they are learning mathematical groundwork. Within the classroom, manipulatives and blocks are used for playing and building, but look further and you will see that these children are learning patterning and fractions. Early mathematical groundwork is advanced by teaching basic concepts, such as number recognition and rote counting. From there, we continue the framework of a solid math foundation by introducing comparing and measurement, patterning (such as ABAB or ABC and so forth), sequencing and reasoning, and graphing and sorting. Additionally, we touch on money concepts as well as simple addition and subtraction computation. As the ages of Beginning School students range from three to five, so does the formality of our mathematical instruction. As the students grow, so does their numerical ability, and we continue to develop their math readiness for kindergarten. Many of the above named concepts are outlined by both NAEYC (National Association of Young Children) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics as particularly important parts of mathematical learning in pre-kindergarten curriculum. These concepts are introduced and even if they are not mastered, the introduction plants the seed to lay a solid foundation on which to build in years to come.

The Meadows School Coat Drive The Meadows School National Honor Society will be running a campus wide coat drive beginning on November 28. The items collected will be donated to the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, which will distribute the jackets to those in need of warm clothes for the winter. Gently used coats, sweaters, and jackets are welcomed. A marked donation box can be found in the Beginning, Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools.


The Meadows Mirror: November/December Issue  

The Math & Science Edition of The Meadows Mirror

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