Thursday, March 19, 2015


The term Vikings doesn't mean 'vicious attackers' or 'Norsemen in fearsome ships' or even 'semi-hapless purple-clad professional football players'. It means 'the people who leave'. Summers-Knoll rang in March by hosting its own team of Vikings in the form of the ISACS Accreditation Visiting Team. Some of them were in fact from Minnesota, but other than that their only resemblance to any of the violent Vikings was that they left.

In this case, we were sad to see them go. The team made a very positive impression on all of us, and I'm proud to say that Summers-Knoll made a wonderfully positive impression on them too. Our kids were real stars. On several occasions, when asked to explain an SK protocol, tradition, ethos, or program, I simply deferred to the students. Twice I set them up with long sessions from which I absented myself.

The seventh and eighth graders made a huge impression on the Visiting Team. From the tours and performances they gave at the opening dinner on Sunday to the inclusive and generous spirit with which they answered questions, they showed SK at its very best. The team even went so far as to formally recognize the students' substantive work, eloquence, and pride in their school. That goes on our permanent record. Well done.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Nico's Exhibition: ACLs

Trent has a few notes about Nico's Exhibition.

Nico’s Exhibition was on the anatomy of the knee. He talked about how athletes tear their ACLs, and what effects these tears have on the knee. His activity was to have people to stretch out their knees and show them what ligaments were keeping the joint in place. Nico had many illustrations, which emphasized the knee’s balance between strength and flexibility.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Aristea's Exhibition: Elephants and Humans

Nicolas has some notes for our loyal readers on Aristea's Exhibition.

Aristea’s exhibition was on on the elephant brain, and how elephants deal with grief. 

She showed us a couple videos where elephants came across another elephants' bones and how they dealt with that. They showed grieving behavior like protecting the site. After she showed us the video, she explained that even though elephants are bigger than us, their brains are about the same size as ours. She showed diagrams of the two brains and noted which parts are stimulated during the experience of grief. After she explained that, she split us into two groups. Aristea had made two puzzles: on of the human brain, the other of the elephant brain. She had the elephant-brain and human-brain groups race to get their puzzle done first. 

Overall, this was an incredibly interesting exhibition. GREAT JOB, ARISTEA!

Nik's Exhibition: Lazarus Species

Nikolas shares a review of his Exhibition.

For my Exhibition, I researched Lazarus species, extinction, and what makes certain animals more prone to extinction.

In the beginning of my presentation, I talked about what it means to be an extinct species, and factors that can endanger species. Then I gave examples, like dinosaurs and dodo birds. After introducing the main ideas, I went deeper into the idea of extinction, and speculated on what increases the risk of extinction, and what can help prevent it.

Next I introduced Lazarus taxon or species. These are species of animal, or any other living thing, that were thought to be extinct but were later proven to be actual living specimens that continue to exist. These are fascinating species with incredible stories. Examples include Coelacanth, the Lord Howe Island stick insect, and others. I wrote the names of the animals on the board and made sure that they were spelled (and pronounced) correctly. 

For my activity, I put together a board game in which the goal is to avoid extinction and adapt to your environment. This game will be played, along with others designed by Karenna, Lee, Kaeli and Matthew, at Game Day with the 5-6 class.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Trent's Exhibition: Thrash Metal and Risk Taking

Maya took a few notes on Trent’s Exhibition.

Trent’s Exhibition was in the “social science” category. He told us at the beginning of his Exhibition that he couldn’t tell us what his project was about, and that if he did than it would ruin the experiment results. So, he split his audience up into two groups, and one would listen to “relaxing classical” music (actually smooth-jazz elevator music), and the other would listen to heavy metal music. 

After we took about two minutes to separate into different rooms and listened to different music, we played a game with a die, where the object is to get a high number on the die: then, you get more of the toy money that Trent had provided; and if you wanted to, then you could roll a second time for a higher number--which was a risk, because you could lose the money you got on the first roll.

His experiment turned out to be “Do people who listen to less relaxing music take more risks?” In the end, the people who listened to heavy metal music did end up taking more risks in the game, but Trent announced at the end that he couldn’t make any official decisions since he had such a small audience. (Some of us also observed that we were enraged by listening to Muzak.) The Exhibition was very engaging, people had a great time and understood what we were doing: overall, the Exhibition was successful.

Lee's Exhibition: the Stroop Effect

Hi, I’m KK, and I’m writing about Lee Hannibal’s exhibition.

He started off by telling us about his topic, the Stroop Effect. The Stroop Effect is a test where you can measure people’s reaction times based on how confusing the visuals are. For example, like writing the word purple, in green ink, like this: purple. They then proceeded to say what color the word was, instead of what the word read. They would record the times of the people who took it to see whether the conflicting information slowed them down. Lee did another variation with numbers: for example, the answer to ‘111’ would be ‘three’.

For his project, Lee took several people from SK aside and tested them with the colors and words test, as well as the number test, and made graphs comparing them: Middle Schoolers, Adults, Males, and Females. He talked about his results with the tests, like how people mostly took longer with the color test rather than the number test. After explaining his graphs, we continued on to the activity, which consisted of taking the Stroop test ourselves.

Overall, I think he knew his topic pretty well, and I enjoyed the presentation of his findings.

Isobel's Exhibition: What Are Blondes Like?

Hi, my name is Margaret, and I am writing about the Exhibition my classmate, Isobel, did. 

The topic of Isobel’s project was how hair color affects perception of intelligence. At the beginning of her Exhibition, Isobel explained what she did for her project. She had taken pictures of three of her classmates and of our teacher, Karl. Isobel made different copies of the pictures, each with a different hair color. She took the pictures of Karl, Jianmarco, Aristea, and me to the mall, where she asked thirty people something like, “Which of these four people looks the most intelligent?” This is what she explained at her Exhibition. 

She also showed us her charts and graphs she made from her experience at the mall, showing whether people's perceptions seemed to be affected by the hair color of the person in the photograph. There were some differences, although the sample size was too small to draw any conclusions, many interesting questions were raised. For the second portion of the Exhibition, Isobel engaged us in a activity to keep us interested. She showed us the pictures she had used at the mall and invited us to give our opinion. It was a really good Exhibition, and I learned a lot.

Kaeli's Exhibition: Pond Scum

Aristea, along with the rest of the class, attended Kaeli's off-campus Exhibition.

Kaeli’s exhibition was on algae and how its appearance changes with depth.

Kaeli had brought in a spectrograph, which for those of you that don't know, the dictionary definition is:
  1. an apparatus for photographing or otherwise recording spectra.

And for those of you who STILL don't know, a spectrograph is a device that measures and records how much green, blue and red is in whatever substance you're putting into it: in Kaeli's case, water with algae floating in it.

So it’s pretty much a rainbow recorder.

Kaeli took samples of algae from one of the ponds in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens conservatory. Then she made charts based on the colors. She also passed around the samples she took so we could see what the charts were on.

After showing us the technical side of the studying, we were released into the wild of the botanical gardens where we got to wander around and learn about all the wonderful plants. We ended with collection, our group meditation practice, at one of the other ponds.

Overall I really enjoyed it!  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Karenna's Exhibition: Bad Woman Take Pillow

Hi, I’m Lee, and I’m writing about Karenna Collins-Thompson’s exhibition.

Karenna started off by telling us about her topic, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. REM Sleep behavior disorder is when your body is not fully paralyzed, which it normally is when you sleep. For example, if you dream about having a fistfight, normally you would not move in real life, because your body is paralyzed. But, if you do not have sleep atonia, which paralyzes you in the first place, you would possibly end up punching someone in your bed, your sheets, yourself, or your cat. She then went on to talk about related conditions, including sleep deprivation (I had less than 7 hours of sleep the night before, and was tired) and showed us a mind map.  

For her project, she made a memory game, which had causes and effects for different sleep disorders, and we had to match them. Her rationale was that memory loss is one of the most common effects of sleep deprivation, so a memory game would be a fitting activity. I did not have a single match at the end of the game. The game was informative, but simple enough for my sleep-deprived brain to play.

Overall, I think Karenna knew her topic very well, thanks to her independent research and help from a professor at the U of M Sleep Clinic. She taught an interesting topic in a compelling way.