7TH GRADE NEWS
LANGUAGE ARTS AND HISTORY:
Seventh grade has been studying the imperative case for verbs in Latin. This case is used when making a command. You merely remove the last two letters of the infinitive for a singular command and when giving a command for more than one person, you add “te” to the singular stem. To reinforce the purpose of the imperative, the students practiced giving commands to the 5th grade class to determine if they were using the right form (and if the 5th grade heeded their words!).
MATH AND SCIENCE:
Aquaponics in the Classroom
Life science has truly come to life in 7th grade at St. James Day School! Thanks to a generous grant from the Junior League of Texarkana, our students gained the opportunity to build an aquaponic ecosystem in the classroom. Aquaponics combines aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics (gardening without soil). The waste from the fish fertilizes the plants, and the plants purify the water, creating a symbiotic relationship once equilibrium is achieved. The students first researched the best model for classroom use and then consulted with a representative from the AquaSprouts company to learn how to successfully start and maintain their system. We have also made several trips to our local pet store, DogPatch Pet Shop, to learn from owner Lawrence Braswell how to properly care for our fish.
It has been a labor of love for these students, and they have spent countless hours researching and cultivating their aquaponic system. Their learning extends beyond the school day into evening hours, weekends, and holiday breaks. They have become intimately familiar with the nitrogen cycle and how essential nitrifying bacteria are to the health of their system. They have learned the hard way how a spike in ammonia can negatively impact the life of their system, and they are careful to test and treat their water chemistry on a regular basis.
Not only do they care for their system on a macroscale, observing and nurturing visible growth and vitality, but they also study the microscopic components of the plants and water. It was an exciting moment when they successfully identified under a microscope the cell wall and chloroplasts in the leaves of plants they had grown themselves. It is one thing to see diagrams of cell structures in a textbook or website, but seeing these components in real life is much more impactful. Every day presents new opportunities for meaningful learning in seventh grade!