Autumn Days at Our Country Campus

It’s our last autumn week out at our country classroom at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Here are a few fall highlights . . .

  • Preschoolers made their first visit. Photos on social media of their first venture into fort building inspired nostalgic comments from high school alums; one commented, “Wow. I feel sad since I don’t go outside at all during the school day. Really took that stuff for granted.”

  • Kindergarten students explored the woods and used tools to find evidence of the types of creatures who live there. After a discussion and a vote, they chose rabbits and worms as subjects to study more in depth.

  • Primary Unit learned all about trees — the parts of the tree, how to identify different types of trees, the role of chlorophyll, and more — while also taking time and to build forts, play games, and explore the space.

  • Third grade investigated properties of seeds — focusing on how and why seeds disperse.

  • Junior Unit learned practical skills like using a compass and orienteering.  Students even had an opportunity to meet and work with Greg Ahlswede, a local orienteering champion and current coach of the junior national team.

  • Sixth graders made connections between what they observed happening to sediments and other land materials at the Schuylkill Center with the large-scale version of the same processes that formed Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

  • Seventh grade students studied the concepts of ratio and proportion. They were photographed at the Schuylkill Center in front of structures they built, and they then used the photos to compare structure heights.

  • Eighth graders created a live-action theme-based role play at different ponds at the Center. They also had guided lessons with Center educators about macro-invertebrates in ponds and learned how they help indicate pond health. 

It has been a fun and meaningful fall season at the Schuylkill Center, and we look forward to reconnecting with this beautiful natural site in the spring.

Professional Development at the Zoo

Sixth grade science teacher Stasia Sumpaopol attended teacher workshops in conservation at the San Diego Zoo during the summer. 

She spent her days in intensive study in the Conservation Education Lab and her evenings at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, engaging with staff members and acquiring skills to take back to TPS.

Stasia will be running a Middle School intensive on conservation research this fall using all current research being conducted at the zoo. 

7th Grade Rock Band Video

Breaking news: The 7th grade rock band video is now available!

This year the 7th grade tradition continued – even though this year's performance date moved from fall to winter and  the science curriculum focused on the anatomical and not the geological.  

There were two rock bands this year! With the energetic support of music teachers Aaron Picht and Donna Bostock,  our 7th graders presented their own versions of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Gone, Gone, Gone," with witty revised lyrics and stirring musical performances.

There were two performances of each band - one for parents and our youngest students and the other for grade 1-8 classes.



Think Spring!

The seed to table cycle has begun in the kindergarten. Children planted seeds this week. Think spring! That's when the children will plant the seedlings outside in the garden.


The Philadelphia School is incredibly excited about a Middle School science partnership with medical researchers at Children's Hospital's new Roberts Center for Pediatric Research. 

Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in the eight-week medical research intensive (affectionately called "CHOPsuey") have been meeting with CHOP researchers to learn about their work and the medical breakthroughs that they have made – and that are on the horizon.

Here's what was on the syllabus thus far for January – all these activities will take place at the Roberts Center.

  • Ashley Zitter, clinical research coordinator and part of the STEM group, talked to the students about how she uses virtual reality in research. She did a virtual reality demonstration and then let the students try it out themselves!  
  • David Garbe, Outreach Educator with the Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research, presented about animals in research (with some lab activities in mind - using flies, daphnia, or zebrafish). He gave an interactive presentation describing careers in biomedical sciences, shared some new and exciting research, and explained why scientists work with animals.   
  • CHOP's CIRP team (Center for Injury Research and Prevention) gave the students get hands-on experience with driving simulators and eye trackers. 

Plans for February are not fully worked out, but students will have the opportunity to work with researchers from CHOP's Center for Autism and Vaccine Education Center.  

These extraordinary opportunities for our students have been made possible by Christopher Gantz and Valerie Laranko, staff from CHOP's Recruitment Enhancement Core (REC), which  aims to reduce the barriers to research participation. Gantz, REC's program director, explains, "Lack of participation is the number one barrier to success for research studies everywhere. Our group works to educate the public about the vital role they play in the breakthroughs that happen at CHOP and other research institutes and promote the idea of research as a partnership between the participant and the researcher. We also view participation as a way for students to . . . get a behind-the-scenes look at research that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see."

 TPS Middle School science teachers Stasia Sumpaopol and Noel Yee are leading the elective class.



Cretaceous Age Enters the Classroom

Paleontologist and geologist David Wilcots of Dinosaur Fossils and Adventures spoke to first and second graders about fossils. Students got a chance to touch a dinosaur bone from the Cretaceous Age (130,000,000 years old). The children loved hearing about the most recent, oldest, largest, and  smallest dinosaurs and fossils. They were so curious about how and where people find fossils and how animal bones can “turn to rock.” 

What better way to close out our geology unit than with such a fascinating and inspiring guest!