Learning in Action: Prehistory Inquiries

Stonehenge — why was it built?  Who built it and how?  Catal Huyuk — how did its inhabitants live?  Why didn’t they have doors?

SMA Prep cadets are learning to think like archaeologists as they grapple with these prehistory questions in SMA-CPT Meissner’s IB World History course.

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Exploring topics such as Stonehenge, Catal Huyuk, early humans, migrations, and Sumerian achievements, 6th grade students immersed themselves in research and inquiry about these ancient periods and events occurring before written records.

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In addition to developing presentations that included detailed research about their selected topic, several students took their projects to the next level by creating models that supported their discoveries.  “I was really impressed with the creativity and details that my students displayed in their projects,” SMA-CPT Meissner proudly explained.

One of their discussions focused more deeply on Stonehenge as SMA-CPT Meissner shared the research about Dr. Andrew Young’s theory regarding stone/wood balls/rails method. As students learned more about the possible methods for moving the enormous stones to include the trench and log roller methods, questions began to form about the theories.  Bringing their ideas together, SMA-CPT Meissner sent an email to Dr. Bruce Bradley, Emeritus Professor from the University of Exeter, to find out more about possible excavations of stone or wooden balls near Stonehenge.  To everyone’s delight, Dr. Bradley responded!

Dear Eric,

The answer is no and yes.  There have been no stone or wood spheres found in the vicinity of Stonehenge that would work with the roller theory.  Some stone ones have been found in northern England.  However, there have been a few recovered at Stonehenge made of chalk.  While they are too soft to work they could have been models to be copied in wood.  There are no organic artifacts from Stonehenge. What can be said is that there is no direct archaeological evidence for how the stones were moved.  The log-roller method would need a hardened surface which should have left significant traces as would the trench method.  Neither has been found.  The stone/wood ball method would leave no traces.

I hope this has answered your questions. 

Sincerely,
Bruce

Bruce Bradley
Emeritus Professor
University of Exeter
Department of Archaeology

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The students and SMA-CPT Meissner were thrilled to receive the response but realized this created even more questions about the theory.  Eager to have their inquiries answered by an expert in the field, the students again submitted their questions for SMA-CPT Meissner to send to Dr. Bradley.

 

Dr. Bradley,

Thanks so much for your reply, I really appreciate it. I told my students about it, and we were excited to hear more about the roller method theory. I explained to my students what you said in your email, and they asked that if the logger method leaves traces, why wouldn’t tracks used for the roller method?

Again, many thanks for your reply.

Sincerely,

SMA-CPT Eric Meissner
6th Grade World History Teacher
Sarasota Military Academy Prep

 

Once again, Dr. Bradley responded to their questions!  Here are two of the pictures that the students studied as they pondered this mystery.

 

What do YOU think his response may have been?

 

Learning in Action: Nature as Art Inspired by Environmental Artist, Andy Goldsworthy

SMA Prep artists tried their hand at creating outdoor sculptures inspired by the work of environmental artist, Andy Goldsworthy. SMA-CPT Pam Kok developed this unit in her Visual Arts classes to support the campus-wide initiative Project Earth. Exposure to making deeper connections to nature fits in perfectly with the overall goal of building compassionate and caring environmentally conscious individuals.

The budding environmental artists enjoyed the process of using patterns, textures, and natural materials to create art. Cadets offered some insights into their experience:

  • “It was fun to keep adding to other materials as we got more ideas.” I enjoyed that everyone made something different.
  • “It was fun, and we used teamwork. We had so many ideas once we joined our ideas together.”
  • “We used creative thinking. I liked the different colored rocks and leaves.”
  • “I liked that we were building outside. We used logical thinking to come up with a plan and then added on to it.”

The classes hope to place installations around campus to share their ideas and the importance of everyone recognizing a connection to the nature around them.

About Andy Goldsworthy

“Using the temporal materials as the reflection of the world we live in, Andy Goldsworthy collaborates with nature creating ephemeral works which remain immortalized only on photographs. Traveling around the world in a quest for perfect environment, he strives to understand nature by his direct participation, enjoying the freedom provided by the possibility to create something just using his hands and material that is within reach. His outdoor sculptures of snow, ice, leaves, rock, clay, feather and twigs represent the idea of change, movement, growth, and decay that is the vitality of nature, the driving energy that he tries to elicit through his pieces. Using the earth as a source, he makes art sensitive to every process that happens around us. Nature and land are in a state of change which itself is the key to understanding.” (www.widewalls.ch)

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Cadets used Andy Goldsworthy’s outdoor sculptures as inspiration for their own creations

About Sarasota Military Academy Prep

Sarasota Military Academy Prep is a public charter, middle school and authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, providing students with a 21st-century learning experience immersed in daily military principles of honor, respect, and leadership. Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor, and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multicultural and globalized world. More information is available at www.sarasotamilitaryacademy.org

About Project Earth

Project Earth is a student and faculty-driven collaborative effort spearheaded by Agri-Science, the Interact Club, and Project Inspire. Our goal is to become an Eco-School, a new certification backed by the National Wildlife Federation. It is a seven-step process that requires audits in twelve sustainable categories such as water consumption, energy use, and campus biodiversity. The certification would be a year-long effort that would promote environmental awareness of the cadets and a chance to lessen the carbon footprint of our school. To find out more about upcoming speakers visit Project Earth

 

Learning in Action: Creating Stop-Motion Claymation Using the IB Design Cycle

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In Design Technology III cadets are learning how to create claymation film in the logical workflow of the I.B. Design Cycle in order to complete assigned tasks and projects. For the Stop-Motion Claymation short films, cadets collaborate in small groups to establish a 2-4 minute movie theme, develop characters, write the script, design and build the set, create their modeling clay characters and use an iPad and the “Stop Motion” app to film their movie.

At the end of the project and as part of their summative feedback, each group will present their films at the “SMA Prep Peer Film Festival,” where they will receive thoughtful feedback from their peers in areas such as film concept, script, set design, and overall presentation. SMA-MAJ Billy Hodges along with his creative cadets are looking forward to presenting their work.

Character Day 2017 Highlights

As part of the campus-wide event, faculty and students participated in Character Day! Let It Ripple Film Studio, who sponsors the global collaboration, explains the event:

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“Thank you all for being part of the fourth annual Character Day! On September 13th, 2017, there were over 133,000 events and people engaging from 150 countries from Guam to Thailand to the Central Africa Republic and many more. We saw so many amazing photos and videos come in from so many different types of events: everything from K-12 school districts to universities including UC Berkeley, Harvard, and MIT, to The U.S Airforce, to companies like Intel, to individual families across the country and world. We provide the materials, you create an event that works for you.”All classes took on a character trait to explore and express in the form of posters, crafts, presentations, and hands-on projects. Character traits included teamwork, kindness,  love of learning, bravery, fairness, humor, creativity, curiosity, and leadership just to name a few.

All classes took on a character trait to explore and express in the form of posters, crafts, presentations, and hands-on projects. Character traits included teamwork, kindness,  love of learning, bravery, fairness, humor, creativity, curiosity, and leadership just to name a few.

Many teachers integrated their character trait study into their current units and focused on developing the social skills of communication and collaboration with cadets.

Character Day was an effective way to bring our school together and set a positive tone at the start of the year.

About SMA Prep

Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor, and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multicultural and globalized world. More information is available at www.sarasotamilitaryacademy.org

About Let It Ripple

Let it Ripple’s mission is to use film, technology, discussion materials, and live and virtual events to engage people in conversation and action around complicated subjects that are shaping our lives, and updating these topics through an engaging, accessible, 21st-century lens. Over the past ten years, we have created and distributed 30 films, engaged over 50 Million people in dialogue, pioneered a new way of making films we call “Cloud Filmmaking,” where we make films collaboratively with people all over the world, and founded a new model to start global conversations with screenings and discussions across all continents on the same day, with a combination of live and virtual events. More information can be found at www.letitripple.org

Tropicana Speech Contest Winners!

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Congratulations to the winners of The Tropicana Speech Contest. SMA-Major Pelletier and SMA-Captain Neff had their students write an original speech, cadets presented their speech in class, and then competed in the finals.
  • First Place: Ava DiGiovanni “Social Media Apps”
  • Second Place: Aurelia Pyrczak “Poverty”
  • Third Place: Daliah Helfrich “I am Syria”
Ava DiGiovanni will represent SMA Prep in the 4/H Tropicana Public Speech Contest on Wednesday, May 10.

Stop Motion Claymation

SMA-MAJ Hodges is supporting 30 teams who have written movies (3-5 minute script), built sets, and fashioned their characters out of modeling clay.  They are ‘rehearsing’ their claymation techniques. Once the animators are finished filming…they will go into post-production for editing, sound/music as they finalize their 3-5 minute movie. Can’t wait to see their finished products!