Archive for the ‘Project-based Learning’ Category

Looking at a pillow made of plastic bags, eighth graders Melanie Vannoy and Natasia Coyle learn how to make them at an NJHS meeting.

By Andrea Darnell
Cougar News Blog

      NJHS members are making mats and pillows for the homeless. The group is gathering plastic bags and getting donations from other students and staff.
      The members are crocheting strips of plastic bag together to make the mats. They take the bags and cut them into loops to get them ready to be crocheted. The mats are passed out in the Phoenix/Metro area by ministers at Savior Lutheran Church and New Season Christian Fellowship Church.
      Making the mats will give NJHS members a chance to exercise their leadership skills. It will also give them a chance to demonstrate empathy. Making the mats will help members give back to the community while at the same time work together as a team.
      “I believe that the mats will help people regain a sense of dignity as well as gain a sense of self satisfaction,” adviser Lisa Schroeder said. “(Students can take) pride in knowing that their contributions are providing people with some comforts that are much needed in difficult living and alternative living situations.”
      Mrs. Schroeder said that she got the idea from “sure luck.” While making a trip to the office, Mrs. Schroeder ran into student services receptionist Jodi Rodgers and Mary Schroeder from Savior Lutheran Church.
      “I thought it was a cool idea and a great way for the NJHS students to help the community as well as participate in helping the environment,” Schroeder said.
      Many student are working on making the mats. It takes hundreds of bags to make one mat, but in the end they feel it’s worth it.
      “I do believe that making the mats will help many in need,” Angelica Lopez said. “It will give homeless people a mat and pillow to sleep on during the night.”

Ms. Wilbur-Bowers demonstrates during a lesson in CCJH's new computer coding elective. (Photo by Hannah Molino)

Ms. Wilbur-Bowers demonstrates during a lesson in CCJH’s new computer coding elective. (Photo by Hannah Molino)

By Skyler Wolfe
Cougar News Blog

     Someday there may be a game created by a Cactus Canyon student on the App Store.
     A new coding class is now taught by Marie Wilbur-Bowers and is offered to both seventh and eighth graders as a seventh hour elective.
     Students are learning how to code on the website The students are also learning about the development of games and mobile applications. Students spend the hour working independently and work as they go.
     Students use programs such as Javascript and move onto more challenging courses. The program used has different levels and difficulties to keep challenging students so they get better and understand more about coding. Students are expected to understand coding and how it works by the end of the semester.
     “I expect students to understand that there is a lot more that goes into programming a game or app,” said Mrs. Wilbur-Bowers. “Students will hopefully walk away with an intense interest to keep learning to code.”
     A key point of why teaching coding is so important is because these students live in a world revolving around technology and need to further understand it. Students have been learning how to program a character to move through a maze. They code in ICC which stands for the International Code Council. Programming also teaches students how to code something from start to finish.
     “In ICC we do coding, which is make a code and see if it will work to let the character or anything else reach the finish,” eighth grader Nycholas Robb. “Coding class helps me learn how to control a character and guide its way to the finish by programming the right parts.”

Sigfrido Ibarra
Cougar New Blog

     Programmable Lego robots are trying to make their way into Cactus Canyon’s tech club. Tina Jada, the tech club adviser, is trying to figure out how to use the robotics equipment from when Cactus Canyon had a robotics class.
     Students got to experiment with the equipment during the club’s last meeting, but Mrs. Jada doesn’t know exactly how they will be used.
     “We brought out all of the robotics parts at our last meeting and are trying to figure out how to make them functional,” said Mrs. Jada.
     In addition, tech club members will be making computer games, which seventh grader Marek Lemieux said is his favorite activity, and will be helping raise money for Project Help. If students join they wouldn’t have to worry about get hungry or thirsty because tech club will be serving snacks and drinks during each meeting.
     “Games that you build are accessible by you for life, even after you leave CCJH,” said Mrs. Jada.
     Tech club is always looking for new members and there is no sign-up fee. Meetings start at 3:15 p.m. and lasts until 4. They meet up every Tuesday in room 319 in the 300 building. Students who show up for the meetings get a free tech club shirt.
     “Students are always welcome to join the Tech Club,” said Mrs. Jada. “There is no fee involved and if you attend three or more meetings you qualify for a free T-shirt.”

Teacher Regan Roach confers with a student updating his blog for the 20 percent project, which encouraged students to spend 20 percent of their class time working on a project they are passionate about. (Photo by Megan Ash)

Teacher Regan Roach confers with a student updating his blog for the 20 percent project, which encouraged students to spend 20 percent of their class time working on a project they are passionate about. (Photo by Megan Ash)

By Stanley Cook and Zach Grattan
Cougar News Blog

     Much like Google started a trend that encourages employees to work on their own projects, eighth-grade advanced science students are participating in the 20 Percent Project during class. The project is a yearlong activity that helps students help others, and work on what they truly have a passion for.
     Student in this class, taught by Regan Roach, have been working on a project of their choice where they will make anything that helps someone in some way. The goal is to present the final product to parents and faculty members at Apache Junction High School near the end of the school year. The goal of this simple “elevator pitch,” is to influence them that this is a helping product.
     “They will learn a lot about themselves and they will have commitment to finish, normally the teachers tell you to do X-Y-Z, but with this project you get to do whatever you want,” said Mrs. Roach.
     The project helps students learn responsibility and how to use time wisely. Mrs. Roach hopes students who finish before the end of the year will become leaders in the class.
     “If students finished before the end of the year they can help each other, and make improvements on their own,” said Ms. Roach.
     Each week, students track their successes and plans on their own blog.
     One of the students in the sixth hour is making an app for hunting. It will help many people in Arizona because the app will allow people to know when a hunting season is open, show the maps, the units, and possibly have the animal calls. Another student hour is going to pick a day that elementary students will go out to a park. He will help kids that don’t have money get bats, and all the gear they need to play baseball. Then he will teach them to play better.
     “I like that I get to teach kids something that they truly want to do,” said eighth grader Brian Favia.

This photo of eighth grader Tatum Schuh was posted to the Cactus Canyon Instagram page on Monday, Sept. 26. (Photo by Megan Ash)

This photo of eighth grader Tatum Schuh was posted to the Cactus Canyon Instagram page on Monday, Sept. 26. (Photo by Megan Ash)

By Megan Ash
Cougar News Blog

     It’s the gram you can instantly see yearbook photos on. The yearbook staff is now moving forward and posting on Instagram, they are posting a picture every day. The pages is entirely student run and photographers will be posting pictures from sporting events to academics and everything in between.
     On Instagram the pictures are of Cactus Canyon, which is at cougar_media. Cougar Media has 171 followers and students have posted 21 days continuous days.
     The account was started to give students to show their work on a regular basis.
     “We spend a year working on a product that comes out one time, but these students are tremendous photographers and their work deserves to be seen,” said yearbook adviser Jason Davis. “Not just once in May, but all year long.”
     Yearbook students are planning to start advertising the account. The staff is going to start making posters and handing out flyers asking people to follow them.
     “It would be cool for students to see what the yerds (yearbook nerds) do during the year that leads up to the fantastic yearbook at the end of the school year,” said eighth grader Chloe Krueger.
     Mr. Davis hopes being in charge of the page will help all the staff members learn leadership by setting an example for the seventh graders, and by not forgetting that it is their day to post.
     “Students need to be able to be in control of something because it helps them take ownership of what we’re doing in yearbook,” Davis said. “I direct a lot of what we do for the book, but I want it to be as student-driven as possible. If students feel like they can be in charge of the Instagram page, hopefully it gives them the confidence to take more of a leadership role for the book.”

Isabella Vasquez, 7, and Emely Zepeda, 7, tape their bridge together. (Photo by Carissa LaFrance)

Isabella Vasquez, 7, and Emely Zepeda, 7, tape their bridge together. (Photo by Carissa LaFrance)

By Bronte Pappas
Cougar News Blog

     Building bridges is the step to creating good relationships. Only this time, it’s literal. Cactus Canyon now offers a new enrichment class, where students build bridges.
     In this study skills class, students will be building real model bridges, but also learn about civil engineering. Students research different types of bridges and construct one using popsicle sticks with the goal of building one that can withstand 100 pounds.
     “I am excited to see the creative solutions that students will come up with for everyday problems,” said science teacher Diana Kidde. “Students will also have to explain their design and process. I am excited to see the different designs and which ones will support the most weight.”
     Students will be learning about engineering design. This is the engineering design process that will guide the students. It will help them solve problems, and it will help them make improvements to their designs.
     Many of them are excited for the experience because they are looking forward to making something with their hands.
     “I am excited and the reason is because we get to construct something small but if made big it can hold a lot,” said eighth grader Krysta Espinoza.
     In the future this will help students who one day might want to take up a career in engineering.
     Not only will students be building bridges, but they will also be constructing a spaghetti tower. They will even be making an egg engineering project which will be a ton of fun. The spaghetti tower is a tower made of uncooked spaghetti noodles, and the egg engineering project is where the students must create a safe incubation for an egg. It will have to be safe enough for the egg not to break.

Passing a cup during during a team-building activity, drama students learn to work together, which is an important skill for performing. (Photo by Hannah Molino)

Passing a cup during during a team-building activity, drama students learn to work together, which is an important skill for performing. (Photo by Hannah Molino)

By Alissa Baker
Cougar News Blog

     Actors in Lisa Schroeder’s drama class are preparing for the upcoming play being hosted in December.
     Mrs. Schroeder is both an English and drama teacher. Drama is one of the new electives this year, and it seems to have attracted many students. Zack Kinion, one of the members of the class, is really happy about the class but is a little uneasy the auditions.
     “The drama class exceeded my expectations and it was fun,” he said. “I am really excited for the upcoming play, but I’m nervous for the tryouts.”
     Students in the class and after-school club will be performing “Murder at Rundown Abby,” which is a spoof of the BBC and PBS show “Downton Abby.”
     Mrs. Schroeder claims that theater helps her students learn team work, gain self-confidence, and learn leadership skills.
     It wasn’t Mrs. Schroeder’s plan to become a drama teacher, but she said she did perform when she was a student.
     “As I built my family I began to teach acting classes for the stage and screen, along with special effects, makeup, costume and set design, and ballroom dancing for musical theater,” she said. “I am pleased with my outcome and I am glad to watch others reach their goals. It is rewarding to see the transformation.”
     The class spends most of the time playing trust and teamwork games, working on vocal and dancing exercises, and reading script. At home, students look up hair, makeup, and clothes from the 1920s, since that’s what time “Abby” takes place. Many of the young actors are happy that the play revolves around a murder mystery.
     “I personally like the concept of Rundown Abby the most,” said eighth grader Kyra Garrett. “The idea of the 1920s is very interesting.”
     “Murder at Rundown Abby” will be performed in December at Apache Junction High School.

Students work on their Rube-Goldberg projects. (Photo by Tiffani Morris)

Students work on their Rube-Goldberg projects. (Photo by Tiffani Morris)

By Chris Munro
Cougar News Blog

     Students in the eighth grade at Cactus Canyon Junior High are learning about Newton’s Three Laws of Motion in an unusual way.
     Science students at CCJH are learning Newton’s Laws of Physics using the Rube Goldberg Method of creating a large machine to do a small task, as brought up by science teachers Candice Wyatt and Regan Roach.
     “Science is amazing when you can have fun with it,” said Mrs. Wyatt.
     The students in the science classes started their physics unit in the third quarter, and this project is meant to enhance what they learned by giving them hands-on activity as well as having them use simple machines in their project, hence the Rube Goldberg-Physics team .
     “I do prefer the Rube Goldberg Project over text book learning as (it) is hands on unlike the textbooks,” said Gabriel Gentry.
     The project, is meant to enhance students’ understanding of Newton’s Three Laws, specifically on motion. The main goal is to teach the kids how things move and what can change movement. The project’s due date is set for May 9 to allow for competition between the class teams.
     “I wanted students to end their eighth grade year with a fun science project that they enjoyed building, testing and competing with,” said Mrs. Wyatt.
     Mrs. Wyatt estimates there are around 60 teams between her five classes, at around twelve teams per class on her end, with a few less teams in Mrs. Roach’s classes. As the due date is May 9th. Gabriel Gentry and Alex Troutz are working on their project with the theme of Lego and the goal of lifting up a curtain to reveal a Lego sign.
     “This is a fun and interactive way to demonstrate understanding of Newton’s Laws of motion and forces,” said Mrs. Roach.

Faith and AJ make paper rockets while learning about Newton's Laws of Motion in Mrs. Roach's science class.

Faith and AJ make paper rockets while learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion in Mrs. Roach’s science class.

By Chelsey McCarthy
Cougar News Blog

     At Cactus Canyon teachers like to give students hands-on experience to teach lessons. Regan Roach demonstrated Newton’s Laws of Motion by having students create paper rockets.
     The students first started off with making a flip chart and playing a card game to get a basic understanding of the laws. After she thought the students were ready, she gave them a project to start. Roach has picked paper rockets for her class project.
     The students had a choice to work with a partner or individually to create a functional paper rocket. She is supplied each student with one water bottle, two index cards, two pieces of printer paper, and four bendy straws. Then students used their creative minds to start the journey of making a rocket.
     “I wanted students to work with something (hands-on) to learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion and how it changes,” said Roach.
     The students said the paper rocket topic is weird and unusual, but is unique because they’ve never done such a thing before. The unique challenge was that students had to make the rocket fly without using their hands.
     “The project is very confusing at first, but once you know how to make the rocket and get an idea on how to make the rocket fly, it is really interesting and less confusing,” said Emily Lewis.
     After the projects were complete, some students had the opportunity to compete against one another.
     Mrs. Roach lined up three targets, the closest target is worth 10, the middle 20, and furthest 30 points.
     “There (were) three targets, each at a different height and distance from the starting point,” said Roach.

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By Abraham Viscardi
Cougar News Blog

     Social studies teacher Sheryl Anderson is a quilter and fabric-worker in her free time and has now started a new study skills class on sewing.
     The enrichment class will last for 50 minutes per day, and will be held at the 500 building during study skill which is fifth hour. Students will be making rag quilts, which are made from materials such as denim, flannel, and fleece.
     “They will be small ones that kids can use when watching TV, playing video games, or reading their favorite book,” said Ms. Anderson.
     In this class, the students will be learning how to thread a sewing machine, fill a bobbin, and properly install it in the machine. They will also sew a straight line, measure and cut fabric accurately, and use the simple tools of fabric construction.
     “If you don’t cut off one of your fingers with the razor sharp rotary cutters, and if you don’t stab anyone (including yourself) with the sharp pins and needles, and if you manage to put together something that resembles a warm, fuzzy blanket, you pass with flying colors,” said Ms. Anderson.
     In addition to sewing, students will be learning typing during the class.
     By learning to sew at a young age, students will be able to stitch up clothes when they get ripped or lose buttons.
     “I want to know how to do life skills like this,” said Willoughby Cobb.