ELS Studio Week of January 27

This week the heroes have been experimenting with gears, wheels and axles.

Monday the heroes created different types of pinwheels, investigating what type of materials worked the best. They also investigated with different types of blocks with wheels and axles.

Tuesday the heroes investigated gears and how they worked together.

Wednesday and Thursday the heroes drew designs and created their cars to race, as well investigating how wheels and axles work together.

Today the ES studio came over and worked with the heroes  to race their cars and experimented with different blocks.



Goal Progress and Creativity in ES

Week 21: January 27 – 31

Goal Progress and Creativity in ES


“Excellence is not a destination. It is a continuous journey that never ends.” – Brain Tracy

When we find something that is off in a system, a growth mindset would say, “We can change this. Let’s make an improvement.” This week, elements of the Journey Tracker goal-setting and point-claiming system proved to not match what the heroes needed at that current time. So, after investigation and dialogue, the improvements were made! One change, for example, rewards heroes with points for focused work-flow time and effort in a program rather than “finishing a level” or “completing 1%.” The heroes have agreed that so far, the system’s improvements have been very beneficial.

Many progressive elements of this week included heroes tackling their session goals, growth in holding each other accountable, and leading and discussing studio topics in Town Hall Meeting. Two topics up for discussion this week included: “How can we conserve more printer ink?” and “Does the vestibule studio maintenance job deserve to be paid?”


Each week, academic check-ins provide a great time for the heroes to reflect on goal progress, daily habits, and work ethic.


What programs can you set goals for? Out of these, which programs are part of your session goals? How do you decide when to spend time working on the non-session goal programs?


This hero’s effort and hard work led her to celebrate the finishing of a level in her language skills and grammar program. You persevered in the midst of challenges! The heroes are enjoying their new progress-tracking charts for Lexia!


The “Leading Discussions” label was moved a smidgen closer to the Heroes side on the Responsibilities Continuum. Our goal moving forward is to have the heroes lead more and more discussions.


Thinking and creativity! The heroes developed creative story problems to address this question: “The answer is 9. What is the problem?” A growth mindset says, “I can stick to it and not give up easily.”


Leadership, delegation, problem solving, and collaborative planning!


A huge amount of time, focus, and effort has been devoted to earning her 3rd grade math badge!!


Mail delivery! The heroes created a pulley system to transport messages from one person to another. Which way do you have to pull the cord to move the message in the direction that you want it to go? The second challenge was to test the heroes’ hypotheses of how many marbles they could transport on the pulley system without the cup spilling or breaking off. What is your hypothesis?


Rube Goldberg chain-reaction machines continue to be constructed!  “We learn the most from the failed attempts.” The heroes selected a breakfast theme for the Rube Goldberg Machine that will be created for the exhibition. Planning and designs are in progress! Building will start next week.


Have you asked your hero:

  • What programs can you set goals for? Of these programs, what programs are part of your sessions goals? How do you decide when to spend time working on the non-session goal programs?
  • How often were you in work flow this week? How did your work flow impact your progress on the goal you were working on?
  • What do you hope to learn about Dr. T (also know as “Doc”)?
  • What will be important for making Dr. T feel welcome and accepted at Journey?
  • 9 is the answer. What’s the problem? (What creative math story problem can you write?)
  • If you could lead any discussion in the studio, what topic would you choose?
  • How have you held your fellow heroes accountable to the Rules of Engagement and the Hero’s Contract?
  • What new ideas do you have for your breakfast-themed Exhibition Rube Goldberg Machine?


See you next week!

Week of January 20th

This week the heroes have been learning about incline planes and kinetic energy.

Tuesday the heroes investigated inclined planes with how far a  marble would go depending on the slope.

Wednesday and Thursday the heroes worked in teams to make a marble move from the top of the pegboard to the floor.  The first challenge was for the marble to go across the floor and back, the second challenge was for the marble to fall into a cup.  The heroes practiced the skills of listening to all ideas, of having all team members take a part in the building, and of try, try and try again.

Today the heroes had fun with experimenting with dominoes and kinetic energy.  They worked with partners and drew or created designs and set up the dominoes to fall.


Grit, Learning from Failure, and Valuable Reflections in ES

Week 20: January 20 – 24

Grit, Learning from Failure, and Valuable Reflections

In pursuits to tackle and accomplish our goals (daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly), distractions and obstacles often arise. These interruptions and hurdles can lead to set-backs. Sound familiar? We have a choice in how we handle and approach these diversions. Are we going to have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?

A growth mindset would say, “I can learn from my mistakes, I can improve by working hard, I will never give up, I am determined to do my best, self-reflection will help me succeed, I can overcome challenges with effort, and I can train my brain.”

As distractions and challenges interrupted the heroes’ work flow this week, the setbacks that took place did not stop the heroes from pursuing their goals. Rather, the heroes re-evaluated their progress and where they wanted to get to, reflected on what set them back, and put forth loads of grit to keep moving forward.


The heroes demonstrated growth mindsets to tackle their goals this week. In order to get there, designated work spaces like this “focus fort” were set up around the studio by the heroes.


When heroes want to accomplish their goals, sometimes, they just want to set up a fort to concentrate.


Other Growth Mindset nuggets of gold this week:

  • Heroes finished Deep Books and started book reviews on them.
  • One hero restarted her book review (completely on her own initiative) after receiving constructive feedback from fellow heroes on the first creation of the review.
  • Heroes led discussions this week.
  • One hero finished her year-long goal to read the Gospel of John.
  • Heroes held each other accountable to the Hero’s Contract.
  • Squad group meetings were held to help set stretch goals for core skills.


In the weekly Town Hall Meeting, the heroes decided to share their “How-to” speeches at the upcoming quest exhibition, and they defined the expectations and requirements for D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read).



The Rube Goldberg machines are getting more and more complicated and involved. As the heroes experiment more with building chain-reaction machines, their plans and ideas are growing in complexity.


The heroes built drag racing cup cars with a rubber band motor! Some attempts worked, and other attempts led to improvements needing to be made on the cars.


Have you asked your hero:

  • What goal are you most proud of accomplishing this week?
  • What goal(s) did you not meet this week?
  • How is the teamwork with your Rube Goldberg group during experiments and machine building times?
  • Is there a subject or program that you want to stretch yourself in more?
  • What ideas do you have for the exhibition Rube Goldberg machine?
  • How will you grab the attention of your audience at the beginning of your “How-to” speech?
  • What is something that you want to learn more about?


See you next week!

ELS studio week of Jan 13

This week the heroes investigated levers, fulcrums, and kinetic energy.

On Monday there was a hero talk, with Ms. Sarah’s dad.  The heroes investigated where to place the fulcrum to lift heavy objects with little effort.

On Tuesday the heroes investigated pullies, how to move an object up and down the pegboard. They had a choice of materials and experimented about which materials worked the best.

Wednesday the heroes investigated vibration with placing paint sticks inside books and pushing down on them.  They experimented with where to place the stick to make the most vibration.  The heroes then built with Lincoln Logs, working in their groups.  They could build anything but a house.  There was a barn, a tower, and a water tower.

Thursday was the field trip to Impressions 5.  The heroes had a wonderful time investigating all the different activities.

Today the heroes investigated Kinetic energy with bouncing and rolling balls to touch a cup.

The heroes then had an enjoyable time with Lego building.

What a wonderful, fun, and exciting week.



Simple Machines, Laws of Motion, and Impressions 5 Science Center in ES

Week 19: January 13 – 17

Simple Machines, Laws of Motion, and Impressions 5 Science Center in ES

Inclined plane, wheel and axle, lever, wedge, screw, and pulley. These six words come out of the heroes’ mouths quite often lately. Moving filing cabinets, hammering nails into wood, splitting wood, experimenting with the Law of Inertia, and building Rube Goldberg machines have become common work tasks this week.

In addition, the heroes are going after their academic session goals with grit and lots of gusto! The heroes are thoughtfully setting their daily goals to work towards their larger session goals.


The week started off with a mind-blowing hero talk from Mr. Jeff, Ms. Sarah’s dad! Using weights, heroes, and a lever (a beam with two ends and a fulcrum), Mr. Jeff showed us how less force/weight can lift heavier loads when you move the fulcrum closer to the heavy load you want to lift.

It’s a math equation. To balance each side, (the load weight multiplied by the distance from the fulcrum) must equal (the load weight on the other side multiplied by the distance from the fulcrum).

Evi was lifted off the ground by the lever with only 10 pounds on the opposite end. With the fulcrum closer to Evi and the counterweight at the far opposite end, this task was possible. Mr. Jeff’s demonstrations proved that simple machines do indeed make work easier. Thank you, Mr. Jeff!


This week, the heroes experimented some with Newton’s Laws of Motion.

  1. Newton’s 1st Law (Law of Inertia) states that: An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless a force acts upon it. (Objects resist changes in motion. If they are moving, they want to stay moving, but if objects are at rest, they want to stay resting.)
  2. Newton’s 2nd Law states that: An applied force on an object equals the time rate of change of its momentum (force = mass x acceleration). (The harder you push, the faster your bicycle goes.
  3. Newton’s 3rd Law states that: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. (As a bouncy ball hits the floor, the floor pushes back = action and reaction cycle.)


Who holds the responsibility for the following studio elements currently in the studio? The heroes used a continuum to identify where responsibilities rest at the current moment. This continuum of responsibilities can improve and change to place more responsibility in the heroes’ hands.


Team building! Building a house of cards often results in lots of failed attempts. The heroes responded with a growth mindset!


First day using the peg board for making Rube Goldberg Machines. The heroes attempted to create a chain-reaction machine that included a wedge and wheel and axle.



Most of the attempts at their machines failed. The ES heroes still demonstrated these machines to the ELS heroes and discussed with their younger peers the importance of a growth mindset in the midst of failure. Wonderful learning opportunities!!


Impressions 5 Science Center!! What an amazing day filled with discovery, fun, and play-based learning! 

The heroes at Journey rock at play-based learning! They spent a large amount of time in the grocery store area.

Major highlights of the heroes from Impressions 5 included the grocery store, the giant teeth, the bubble room, the water “flow” room, and the Think Tank room. In the Think Tank room, the heroes planned, tested, and experimented with getting boats to float and sail in the wind of a fan.


Friday morning, the heroes ventured out to Calvary Church’s indoor prayer garden. Just as Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray to his Father in Matthew 26:36-56, we went to Calvary Church’s indoor prayer garden to spend time with God in a peaceful and serene place. Getting away from distractions to hear from God and talk with Him was the best end to this week. In Matthew 26:41, Jesus told his Disciples: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 


Have you asked your hero:

  • What program was the most challenging for you this week?
  • How did you fail this week? What would a growth mindset think about that failure?
  • What simple machine examples can you find around the house, especially in the kitchen?
  • What was frustrating about trying to build the house of cards?
  • What are you learning about failure with building the Rube Goldberg Machines?
  • What did Sir Isaac Newton contribute to science, especially to physics?
  • Why do we wear seat belts in our car or vehicle? 
  • How could you experiment with Newton’s Laws of Motion at home? (see above for a reminder of Newton’s Laws of Motion)
  • What was it like in the prayer garden at Calvary Church? How did you spend that time?
  • Why do we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. this coming Monday with a day off school?

See you next week!

ELS studio week of Jan 6

It is the start of a new quest: Rube Goldberg machines.

Rube Goldberg drew machines that performed simples tasks in multiple steps.

This week the heroes had Chop Bags: a lunch bag that had at least four different materials in them, including paper towel rolls, yogurt cups, small plastic containers, and other fun plastic pieces.

Om Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday they each had their own Chop Bags.  The criteria were that they had to use all the materials in some way and that the finished piece has to do some type of task.

On Thursday the heroes worked in teams to build something with Lincoln Logs but it could not be a house.

Today the heroes shared some Show and Tell.

Today the heroes also worked in their teams to create something from materials they picked out as a team.  The same criteria applied: have to use all the materials in some way and the finished creation has to do something.

Creations included a car, a water carrier with handle, a water tower, and a water fountain.

Next week heroes will be learning about incline planes, pullies, and Kinetic energy.



ES Rube Goldberg, Incline Planes, Levers, and “Kids are the Guides Day”

Week 18: January 6 – 10

Great Start to a New Quest!

Our simple machines and Rube Goldberg quest has been a blast so far! Discovering how simple machines make work easier, experimenting with lever loads and spring scales, finding failure and success during Rube Goldberg challenges, starting our how-to speeches, and “Kids are the Guides Day” have been several of the highlights.

With “Kids are the Guides Day” being on Friday, Jan 10, the heroes and the guides switched roles and switched “To Do” lists. Therefore, the heroes had the responsibility of writing the newsletter for this week. Parents, check your email for a newsletter from the heroes.  : )

Sneak peak!

See you next week!