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A Day in the Life . . .

Congratulations to Max Saenz who recently landed an internship at The Qualcomm Research Center. He is working on a project designing and building a specific part of a drone.  WCA is incredibly proud of you!

The 2nd Annual March Madness Free Throw Tournament sponsored by the WCA ASB happened last Thursday.  Fletcher Williamson won for 6th grade, and Jolene Armendariz was crowned champion for 7th/8th graders.  As per tradition, the winners receive one doughnut.

This week the 6th graders had a science lab on air pressure. Looks like everyone had a great time!

This assignment required the 8th grade students in the Engineering Design Lab to design and build a ladybug house that is part habitat and a shipping container for ladybugs. The target audience was a fictional national home and garden TV channel and its audience of home gardeners who wanted an eco-friendly solution to combat aphids and other garden pests. Students were to research the ladybug’s habitat and what would be a desirable shipping container as well as an aesthetically pleasing design. Using only raw materials and no building instructions, the students built and presented their solutions to the class who used peer evaluations as part of their grade.

Ninth grade biologists have begun studying the diversity of life and how it can be classified to show evolutionary relationships.  First, they worked together to make a dichotomous key for identifying various genera and species of shoes in the family "teenagerus". Next, after learning about cladistics and phylogenic trees, they examined, dissected and categorized various candies based on their morphology and molecular composition.  From this data they created a cladogram to show their hypothesized evolutionary relationships.

The ninth graders look hard at work testing out acids and bases in Mrs. Vargas’ chemistry lab.

In their aquatic biology lab this week, the seventh grade students acted out water charades to help describe the chemical properties of water.

The eighth graders just finished learning about the Reconstruction Period of history following the Civil War.  Students created review games based on those concepts. It looks like students had a fun day in social studies! 

In math class, the freshmen were busy constructing a parabola using the focus and directrix and then deriving its equation!

The sixth grade classes are working on a Poetry Recitation Project for their language arts class. They have been researching poems and have narrowed it down to one to memorize each. They will be performing it for the other 6th graders in a couple weeks. This is not just about memorization, but being able to perform the written word with articulation, volume, vocal variety, and an overall performance live in front of an audience (6th grade students). It's been fun to watch their personalities come throughout this project!

In AP Biology the sophomores are busy with their Biotechnology unit.  Today they were performing gel electrophoresis analysis of lambda DNA digested with several different restriction enzymes.  They learned to make a standard curve with the results from the "known" digest and then to interpolate the "unknown" digests' fragments in terms of base pairs measurements.

As we finish up this last week before Spring Break, students in Honors Biology are investigating the occurrence and possible sources of variation within a population/species.  Today they were collecting data, both quantitative and qualitative on sunflower seeds.  Our focus lately has been on quantitative analysis of data.  After gathering their data students created histograms of their results and then calculated different measures of central tendency in order to analyze how similar and how different their seeds were.

In the high school chemistry lab, students were carefully calculating the percent yield of sodium chloride from the reaction of sodium bicarbonate and hydrochloric acid.  Hooray for safety goggles!

Yesterday the 8th graders went to Knott’s Berry Farm to celebrate Physics Day.  Some of the activities that the students did included using protractors to measure the height of the rides and using accelerometers to measure the g-force of certain rides in the park.

Sophomores are making connections between the unit circle and the graphs of the sine and cosine functions. What better way to show this than by painting it on the window!

The aquatic biology lab spent the afternoon dissecting fish in class.  Awesome job everyone and I hope you washed your hands after the lab!

Celebrating Pi Day in the after school Christian club.  Looks super messy!

Students in 7th grade have been learning about the different Phylum of Invertebrates. Today students dissected grasshoppers which are Arthropods.

Freshman in Honors Biology are studying the molecular basis of genetics - how our DNA codes for our traits.  Here they are modeling the process of DNA replication.

Last week the sophomores took a trip to see UCR.  We toured the campus, saw the dorms, ate lunch in the dorm cafeteria and then spent the afternoon in a College Biology Lab.  The students were able to practice using micro-pipettes and perform a PCR lab. (DNA amplification)

The seventh graders created their own blueprints for a stained glass window. Students had to create equations using slope intercept form and then graph those equations.  They also had to add some coordinate points for some extra flare on their windows.  Mrs. Nathan’s art class at High Tech Middle School loved the projects so much that they even took Harry Derck’s design and made the actual window! Amazing job everyone!

In science class, the eighth graders used dry ice in class to show the process of sublimation (the process of going from a solid form to a gas form and skipping the liquid phase).

Today in class, Mrs. DeLuna demonstrated how different elements have different colors when introduced to a heat source.

Reality TV Star- Gillian Larson spoke at today's Motivational Monday. Retired after working as a registered nurse for 41 years, Gillian Larson has never satisfied her appetite for adventure and travel despite her wide array of experiences throughout her 61 years. She has traveled through 46 countries and all but a few U.S. states, much of it backpacking. This adventurous "granny" can climb and rappel 4,000 foot mountains and swim with the Great Whites. Not only is she versatile, but she is competitive by nature and feels as though she is an perfect fit for the game of SURVIVOR, having applied 15 times, always believing she would one day be selected. Her incredibly motivational speech message was work hard, believe in yourself, and Go for your dream.

Every Thursday, ASB has a fun activity for the students to do at lunch. This Thursday students did a “Mammoth Run” which was a fun and challenging obstacle course!

The 7th grade Maven Lab students volunteered to help out this past Saturday for the Science Saturday sponsored by the Western Science Center. Students were able to teach their about the Maven Orbiter and mentor younger children in the community about engineering, science and Mars.

Yesterday the middle school did a great job at the district science fair. WCA students interviewed with five judges and displayed their work. The following students are advancing onto the County Science Fair April 6-7. Please congratulate all their hard work and efforts.

The freshman just finished reading The Three Musketeers in their English class. As an analogy for “staking out the house”, the students created mouse traps.  

Mrs. Munoz has started doing Motivational Mondays in her lab class with the 7th graders. Koby Dumas was their first guest speaker. He inspired students to reach for their entrepreneurial potential and follow their dreams in this very motivational day! 

 

Koby Dumas is an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, a corporate trainer, a business and marketing consultant, and Co-Host on the Saturday Morning CEO radio show. 

 

 

The seventh graders are learning about Fossils, Evolution and Dinosaurs in their science class right now. They had an amazing time on their field trip to the Western Science Center learning about the Palaeontology and the amazing history of the Hemet Valley

Why does cellular respiration happen in a series of small steps? Today the freshman investigated the release of energy from one Cheeto.  They created their own calorimeter to measure the change in enthalpy when the energy stored in the Cheeto was released all at once and then compared that amount to the declared energy value (Calories) on the bag to calculate a percent yield.  The average efficiency of our calorimeters was 72%.

Today the sophomores used natural logarithms to solve problems involving radioactive decay. They were able to determine the age of several fossils from the Western Science Center Museum, including mammoth and mastodon teeth, a saber tooth cat and an ancient horse. 

Remember those investigations AP Biology students performed last week regarding enzyme mediated reactions?  Today students presented their findings and had a peer review session.  Here you can see them using their chromebooks and Google forms to provide feedback.

The seventh graders were busy measuring each others’ feet and height this week for a lesson on Line of Best Fit. Once students had the measurements, they created a table of data, created a scatter plot of the data, and then found a trend line for the data.

Congratulation to all the winners of the annual science fair! Thank you to all the participants for your hard work.

The seventh graders created their very own Slope men (or women or monsters).  The slope man has become so obsessed with slopes that his face has turned to slopes and everything in his life (background) has become how to solve slopes.  The students were very creative in their designs!

“Wait, I can write on the table?” Today in class, the freshman were using new vocabulary related to the light dependent reactions of photosynthesis and the Calvin Cycle by writing sentences and making diagrams on the classroom tables.   

 

AP Bio this week has been focused on metabolism and enzymes.  Here the sophomores are conducting a lab they designed to test the effects of environmental changes on the reaction rate of peroxidase.

You sunk my battleship!  Today in 7th grade math, the students played Slope Intercept Battleship.  The students drew their ships on the coordinate graph and the other student wrote an equation in slope intercept form (y=mx+b) and drew the line. If the students wrote the equation right, they should hit their opponent's ship! 

The sixth grade is studying India and the disappearance of an advanced civilization in India.  Students are creating poster that they will use to teach about the advances of the civilization- from the development of a sewer system to the use of currency.

Everyone loves a good pun!  In 8th grade science, the students are getting creative with the chemistry jokes. This wasn’t an actual assignment; just a moment of fun that happened on the whiteboards.

On Friday, the WCA High School participated in the Stick Bomb Engineering Challenge. Nine teams of ten students worked together for 1 hour to create a Cobra Weave. Videos on how to create a Stick Bomb were shared with the students during their STEM classes. Students were given awards for Most Epic (longest lasting) Stick Bomb, Most Fant-a-STICK (most creative) Stick Bomb, and Biggest Dud (shortest lasting) Stick Bomb. Students also made Stick Ninja Bombs to throw at Mr. Bailey. It was a GREAT day to be a Mammoth!

 

Today in geometry class, the ninth grade students are using cereal to derive the formula for the volume of a pyramid.  Students must determine how many pyramids of cereal are needed to fill a prism of equal height and base.  Looks like a fun math lab!  

This week the sophomores were investigating the various ways molecules are transported across cell membranes and how this might explain cell size.  In this class lab, students calculated the rate at which "nutrients" diffuse throughout various model cells.  From these observations and calculations regarding surface area to volume ratios, they designed their own version of a "perfect cell" (optimize mass and diffusion rate) and we tested those designs.  Most efficient cell design goes to Tim Johnson!

The ninth graders have been investigating the effects of environmental changes on enzyme activity.  They used the enzyme catalase, found in the liver of many animals, to catalyze the decomposition reaction of hydrogen peroxide.  The students then tested the effect of varying the temperature up and down, as well as altering the pH.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission is part of NASA's Mars Scout program, funded by NASA Headquarters. Launched in Nov. 2013, the mission will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.

Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars' atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.

 

Students have been engineering MAVEN from recycled materials and learning about the different instrumentation that is helping scientist learn more about Mars. Students are also learning about the atmosphere, magnetic fields and spectroscopy of Mars.  

If the city of Hemet was a Sim City…  The eighth grade students in the civil engineering lab have been spending the last few days reading the city of Hemet’s General Land Use map and recreating the city on their own zoning map based on the zoning colors in the Sim City game.  The goal is for students to see how a city is zoned (residential, commercial, and industrial), how streets intersect and are placed, where schools are located, and to gain ideas for how they will zone their virtual cities in a few weeks.

Seventh graders have spent the last week learning how to graph linear equations. Yesterday in class, students practiced how to write an equation in function form and then graph the function.  Today the students are finding the slope triangles of a line. They are working on their accuracy (during the evaluate step), showing all their steps, and the precision of their lines. They are also checking for errors in other students' work and explaining how they could fix their mistake. Keep up the good work!

AP Biology students started back by exploring the emergent properties of water as they relate to living organisms.  As an application of this understanding they are testing environmental variables, as well as variable stomata density, which may affect transpiration in plants.  They first had to make stomata peels from the plants to count the stomata and calculate density per square mm.  Next, they measured leaf area and calculated total area for their plants and then total number of stomata per plant.  Next they prepped their plants for experimentation.  We'll have results next week!

The Western Center Academy Holiday Food Drive is off to a great start!  In one day, students have bought in 181 donations to give to the Valley Community Pantry.  Students who brought in 5 or more items were given a cup of hot chocolate from the ASB students.  As of right now 7th grade is in the lead with 90 donations. Great job everyone, and let's keep up the generosity for two more days!

 

Tuesday Update: In total, students have donated over 630 food items!!! Amazing everyone! Seventh grade is still in the lead with 268 items donated. Sixth grade is in second place with 213 items.  

 

Final Update:  The donated item total was 1,089!!!! Wow! Great Job everyone.  Sixth grade took the lead with 418 items donated.  Good job 6th graders!

Spirit Week for the middle school is always a fun time. Here are some pictures of some great holiday hair.

6th Grade ROCKS! We have been working on a cross curricular project with English and Science over the last two days in 6th grade. Students filmed a stop motion video that demonstrated the rock cycle. They began planning with a storyboard to show the sequence of their film. After detailed planning, the filming began. Using everything from paper to clay to anything their imaginations could come up with, they completed a stop motion that was a minimum of 60 seconds. It was a great learning experience for us all and the results were beyond our expectations. 

Last week the 7th grade aquatic biology lab went to the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanographic at UC San Diego. The students had a chance to see the museum, visit the experimental aquarium where the  students were able to touch sea anemones, starfish and sea sponges, and spend some time on the Scripps pier. Looks like everyone had a fun time!

Somebody stole the Mastodon tusk! Today the sixth graders became criminal investigators and worked together to solve a crime using science. It was reported that the Mastodon tusk was missing from the museum and that white powder was found at the crime scene. They had a list of suspects (Mr. Bailey, being one of them!) and information on each of the individuals. They tested their evidence from the crime scene to determine who the criminal was. Make sure to ask a sixth grader about their findings!

Today in lab class, the 7th graders were collecting data from their terra-aquatic column (TAC). Sitting at the bottom of this column, submerged in water, is an aquatic plant and at the top are radish plants. Students then pollute the water using detergent, acid rain (a vinegar and water solution), salt, or pesticides.The water plant is exposed to the pollutants as they travel down the wick from the soil above just like polluted water can seep through the soil and into the ground water. At the end of two weeks, students will graph the results of their experimental TAC and their control TAC to see what effect the pollutants had on their aquatic plants.

In the eighth grade Civil Engineering and City Management lab, students plan, create, and manage their own cities. Students must create a proposed city zoning map, have it approved by the state (or in this case, their lab teacher), build their city using the SimCity 4 game, and then manage their creation. Students quickly realize that there is more to a city than houses and places to shop. They must create roads and transportation systems that alleviate traffic congestion, build water systems underground, choose the right power system for their city, properly zone their cities for maximum efficiency, find ways to lower water and air pollution,  provide funding to the police, fire, education, and other necessarily departments, and keep the city treasury at an appropriate level. All this, and making sure their citizens are happy!

In the highly popular robotics lab, students work together to build, program, and remotely control Lego robots.  In order to assemble a particular robot, students must follow detailed building instructions from a booklet. Once their robot is completed, the students program their robot using the computer program Mindstorms. Students then compete in engineering challenges to see if their programming worked. If their robots did not complete the challenge, they must go back and troubleshoot what is wrong in the programming.

Being a student at the Western Center Academy takes focus!  Students make sure to put their concentration skills to work in their core classes.