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Diving Into Nature's Classroom & Exploring Ecosystems

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The world of ecosystems came to life for our inquisitive third grade students last week! The students welcomed Mrs. Liberty Cosseti from High Touch High Tech, who led the classes through The Chain Gang, a program where students explore the food web and discover how animals adapt to their environment. There was plenty of excitement as these young students became Wildlife Ecologists for the day! 

"High Touch High Tech science field trips provide exciting opportunities for students to explore God's creation and inspire curiosity to want to know more,” says third grade teacher Christina Brazzel. “The hands-on experiments and activities meet the South Carolina Curriculum Standards and complements our BJU science curriculum. I am most excited and thankful for High Touch, High Tech experiences because it sparks interest in science and fosters curiosity through fun hands-on learning, which helps students to remember concepts and produces a desire to learn more."

 After an in-depth discussion of biotic and abiotic factors, students created their own ecosystems with gummies and pretzels before breaking off into centers that allowed them to dive deeper into the scientific world. Students explored three different stations; making their own ecosystem in a ziplock baggie, dissecting owl pellets to find the bones of the owl’s prey, and finally looking through a microscope at various slides.

Here's what a few of Mrs. Brazzel’s students had to say about this unique experience:

"I liked making a food chain out of food because I used my imagination. I learned about abiotic and biotic." - Chase Beville

"My favorite part was making a terrarium, which contains biotic and abiotic." - Micah Romfo

"I loved making habitats out of food and then eating it!!! I also loved making a terrarium and digging in owl pellets!" - Nora Brown

"I enjoyed making food chains and biomes for animals. I loved learning about producers and consumers in food chains." - Levi Hill

"My favorite part was discovering mole bones in the owl pellets, making a terrarium, making habitats and looking in a microscope." - Athan Dimitrious

"I loved the owl pellets. I liked the habitat we did and when we planted a plant." - Piper Johannesmeyer

"I liked planting grass and sorting owl pellets." - Isaac Earle

With all the excitement and "wows" throughout the day, these students were enthusiastic learners and clearly fascinated by ecosystems!

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Enhancing Executive Functioning Skills & Empowering Students

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In today's fast-paced and information-driven world, the ability to effectively manage time, solve problems, organize thoughts and information, and exhibit flexibility and empathy for others, is crucial for success and overall well-being. These skills, known as executive functions, play a vital role in our daily lives. They are a product of our brain’s frontal lobes and are given to us by God as tools to help us fulfill His purpose in our lives.

This year, PCA has introduced an Executive Function course, as a requirement for our 6th & 7th grade students and an elective for high school. Learning Specialist Megan Myrick, who is teaching the course, says students can improve their executive function skills by learning how the brain works, learning how to assess their own performance, embracing their weaknesses, and by practicing strategies that promote order and rest in their lives.

“Students will benefit from practicing executive functioning skills because they are learned skills just like crawling, walking, and speaking. As our society continues to expand its reliance on digital information and communication, we need to ensure that our students are learning the practical skills they need to organize information, focus on information, and interpret the information that they are receiving. As they grow in these areas they will become better learners, workers, family members, and defenders of truth.”

If you step into the classroom, you’ll see students working on practical application. Currently, our middle schoolers are creating visuals of their days and reflecting on things they wish they had more time for, as seen in the balloon exercise. From there, they brainstorm strategies that will allow them to do things without stress and perhaps allow them time to do more of the fun things they want to do. The first step is learning how to break big projects down into smaller pieces in order to better plan for them and avoid cramming at the last minute. The students are working in groups to break down a history project into tiny steps and identify what they will need to do to complete those steps.  

Meanwhile, our high schoolers are using a brainstorming and organization tool to write an essay on the struggles of Abraham Lincoln and how those struggles ultimately prepared him for great influence. 

In the coming weeks, students will be planning fictitious trips around the world, learning how to work with people with differing opinions and abilities, talking about the impact of our behaviors on brain health, and playing memory games. Equipping students with these practical skills of executive function, we empower them to thrive academically and navigate life’s challenges with confidence and resilience.

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