Michael J. Allen

Class of 2016 - 2017

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Science-class teacher plan

 April 10th - 13th

This is the 'Specialist Class' page.

This page is for the students and parents of Ms. O'Donnell to find out about what happens during the Science class!

This week, we will start a new project on the subject of 'Life on Earth'.

The students will be considering the treatment and fate of chickens and pondering the pros and cons of Zoos.

They will read Tony Stead's student-composed book about zoos, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of these august institutions. They will form debate teams and battle it out after completing the reading, as well as, eventually, composing posters, dramas and Podcast presentations.

The focus for much of the work this week will be developing and exploring personal opinions through persuasive techniques and approaches in writing and in debate. We will be using multiple techniques and strategies, including drama, debate, artwork and persuasive writing to explore the following questions.

They will watch  selections from the PBS documentary, 'The Natural History of the Chicken', and write a fictional story called, 'The Cages' based on the life of chickens living in factory farms.

In the upcoming weeks, we will also be reading and completing activities from the Science text, Populations and Ecosystems, detailed below:

Part 1: Ecosystems

Activity: Owl pellets - understanding the diets of owls through exploring their ejected matter!


Part 2: Relationships

What's to eat? P16 -20


Activity: apply these concepts to a student-designed sea creature ecosystem.


Life Of Mammals

Find out about the history and life of mammals focusing on what the characteristics mammals have to have, as well as the individual species adaptations that make them fit their particular environments.

We will be watching and discussing David Attenborough's amazing, Life of Mammals for this work.

Starting from the earliest Mammals, the platypus and echidna, we will make a journey through this most splendid kingdom of life on Earth!

There is also another aspect to the whole project - a focus on the most remarkable and most unheralded lynchpins of the amazing world of living things:


The Private Life of Plants


Here's a more detailed breakdown:


Monday, April 10th:

Life on Earth - part 1- introduction - Should there be zoos?


Tuesday, April 4th:

Read Tony Stead's student-composed book about zoos, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of these august institutions. Reading one argument for and one against zoos.


Wednesday, April 5th:

Design a poster to represent the arguments for and against the zoos.


Thursday, April 6th:

Private life of plants - part 1 seed dispersal. Seed dispersal dances!


Completed Projects:


Light and Sound Links



Do Simple Machines really work?

Simple Machines Explorations:

They may try to make a giant pulley system, if they feel so inspired.

At the end, we will draw together our experiences to try to account for whatever we have discovered over the course of the week's experiments!

On-line activities

Take on the challenge to build the Puff Machine from the PBS series, Supersonic Spies.


Rocks, minerals and fossils

We start this new science unit this week. We will begin by choosing three favorite rocks then observing, classifying, sketching and writing about them.

We will conduct a series of tests of twelve mineral samples in an attempt to identify them by using their observed and tested properties and a key.

The students will read about minerals and ores. They will focus on iron and steel, diamonds and quartz. They will visit a PBS site showing the uses of minerals in our everyday lives.

The students will answer questions about minerals from their reading.

After this, we will be reading about the three types of rocks: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. We will examine, classify and investigate mystery rock samples. After examining samples, the students will use a key or chart to establish the identity of the mysterious rock samples.

We will also find out about and make diagrams of the 'rock cycle'.

In the final week, we will find out about the structure of the Earth:

We will visit the UCMP ( University of California Museum of Paleontology) website for a tour of geologic time and some classic cheesy animations on how fossils form and how we date rocks and fossils.


Rocks and Minerals Links

It's all very thrilling!!

See you back here next week!



Space - the infinite frontier!!

This week, we will construct a list of all the questions the students want to answer about the subject.

We will be developing our understanding of the creation of the Universe and the nature of gravity through whole-class lessons.

We will be completing activities after the whole-class explorations.

Over the next few weeks we will make our way through this project.



Space For Thought

Here's a page of excellent links for the Space project.



Invention Challenge 1

The first challenge is to design and build a wheeled device, using K'Nex, that rolls furthest from the top of a ramp.

Follow the link above to see how your favorite vehicle did!