Middle School Science with Sheila: Hands-on Learning

What is the hands-on learning approach?

Hands-on learning is about creating an experience where the students feel empowered to try new things and work through failure. Maharishi School alumni Sheila Higgins explains, “when the students come up with something that’s Sheila alumni and middle school science teacher at maharishi school talks about hands on learningfrustrating them, they need to have a dialogue about why that happened, and what they could do to experience a different result. Especially with science it’s not a matter of right and wrong, it’s always a process of discovery.”

Sheila guides her students through the process of proving that something is “wrong” or doesn’t work, which she says is just as significant as proving that something is right. There are a variety of opportunities for hands-on learning in science, it has to be something that provides them with enough structure that they understand what the objectives are. While maintaining enough freedom to think creatively, and experiment with their own ideas.

What are the Middle School kids doing in Science?

Right now the students in Sheila’s Science class are working on a solar-powered model car. The students are familiarizing with concepts of renewable energy, solar technologies, basics of what a photomotaic cell is, and basics of circuitry. Having the hands-on experience of building something from scratch gives them ownership of the whole process of learning. Sheila says, “the students interact with success and failure in an important way and persevere through challenging concepts.”

Sheila found the kits on amazon that had basic components for the cars; tiny solar hands on learning middle school students build a solar powered carpanels, little engines and circuitry. The kids have to connect the positive to the negative leads and make sure everything is in place so that as soon as it gets enough sunlight, it takes off.

Sheila explains,”science is about maintaining that sense of curiosity, especially for middle school age kids. You have to get them excited about a subject. Then make them wonder how the world works and what their place is in it. As well as come up with new ideas.”

Click here to watch the solar car in action.

Click here to see Uma Wegman show the car up close.

What is the future of hands on learning in Sheila’s Science class?

hands on learning middle school students build a solar powered car

I asked Sheila how she plans on applying hands-on learning to her Science classes in the future.

Sheila wants her class to be as “hands-on and as student lead as possible. That means getting

the students comfortable working collaboratively with one another.” Sheila sets up groups

of students to coherently solve problems that use scientific principles. If you were to spy on Sheila’s classroom you would see kids building, experimenting, and putting learning in the context of reality rather than textbooks.

 

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Project Based Learning: Yearbook Project

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a learning method in which students are actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. Three days a week, Maharishi School students are given 70 minutes to work on a passion project. They problem-solve, experiment, falter and keep striving. Each project addresses an authentic, engaging and complex question or challenge. The students exercise real-life skills in their areas of interest while being supported by teachers. Often a community expert or leader on that subject is brought in to match the students’ interests.

What about bringing back the yearbook? 

front of maharishi school 2020

Maharishi School had a yearbook in the past and the desire to reinstate a yearbook was something that Ms. Blitz proposed to her students. “The yearbook, on top of building STEM and design skills, has served as a social bonding agent in our students as they’ve worked together creating, collaging, and reliving memories,” explained Ms. Blitz. The students included in this project period are; Vaisnavii Mohanraj, Jeremy Goodale, Lily Fenton and Ryan Buhre.

What did they learn in this project-based learning project?

During this process of creating a yearbook Ms. Blitz taught the students how to write HTML and CSS code. Throughout the project they had to problem solve and address challenges that arose. Programming requires an increased attention to

high school yearbook collage made by the students

detail, as one student reflected, “I found that doing the task was challenging because I made some small errors in my code (e.g. forgetting to close a tag, forgetting to use a ‘;’ after CSS properties, and so forth). These mistakes have taught me that looking over your code is a crucial step in coding.” The students also experienced working within company design standards, a typical industry practice. The yearbook was created to fit preset color palettes and fonts as set by Maharishi School’s branding guidelines. Exposure to industry standard practices such as this is one of the benefits of having PBL at Maharishi School because of the customization of the curriculum to any specific project.

What can the students do with this knowledge?

In the bigger picture of working with computers, knowing how to insert pictures, use CSS properties, and HTML basics will be important in web development. Because of project-based learning, these students will be able to use the concepts to create posters, 10th grade students at Maharishi School webpages, or further help design within the school. They’re learning skills that can be used for design projects of any company that they choose to work with in the future. PBL is important because the students become directors and managers of their learning process, mentored by a skilled teacher.

If you are interested in purchasing a yearbook or if you have any additional inquiries about the yearbook, please contact Sophia Blitz, sblitz@maharishischool.org. Please note that there is a limited supply of yearbook. The yearbook project team would like to apologize for the mix-up on senior quotes. You will find the quotes of George and Jurina have been switched on the final page of the printed book. Our online version which will be released shortly will have the correct quotes.

The Maharishi School 2020 yearbook was created using Printing Center USA printing services. To create your own print product, checkout www.printingcenterusa.com

 

How Much Is Too Much for AP Class Workload?

What are AP (Advanced Placement) Classes?

AP (Advanced Placement) is a program of classes developed by the College Board to give high school students an introduction to a college-level workload. Maharishi School offers Advanced Placement courses in Psychology, Statistics, Microeconomics, U.S. History, Calculus, English Literature, English Language, and Physics.

Why are AP classes important for our students?

Taking an AP class introduces students to the rigors of a college course which helps prepare them to transition to yenet using a microscopecollege. Highly selective colleges expect their students to complete these courses and to pass them with top marks. Many colleges grant students college credit if the student scores well (at least a 4, or 5 out of 5) on the AP exam. Being successful in class and on the test gives students a competitive edge. Apart from the exam results, students who successfully complete an AP course (with a grade C or better) improve their chances of admission to a selective college.

How can we reduce the stress load and still be college prep?

We recommend that most students take no more than five AP courses in total. This way the students don’t feel overly stretched and stressed. As researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill determined, taking more than five AP courses in high school gives no student working in schoolsignificant increase in college grade point average (GPA): More AP Classes May Not Be Better.

The UNC-Chapel Hill article describes their research: “They found that students who take more AP or IB courses do better in college—but only up to a certain point. If two students have similar SAT scores and high-school grades, and one takes zero AP courses and the other takes five, the student with five AP courses will probably have a higher first-year undergraduate GPA (3.26 versus 3.07). Above five courses, there’s no significant increase in GPA.”

So your child still wants to take 10 AP Courses regardless of the stress?

According to the American Psychological Association, 30% of teens feel overwhelmed and depressed as a result of stress overload. Growing up is tough. Teens today are under immense pressure. It can feel as if they are out in the ocean being tossed and turned by turbulent waves. Maharishi School addresses this issue by offering a tool for stress relief called Transcendental Meditation®. By accessing our own inherent intelligence via the TM® technique, we utilize our full potential and are able to move towards goals with less turmoil. Regular practice of TM erodes the effects of stress and creates skillful action allowing our students to take on more work if they choose to do so, with less energy expended. Work smarter not harder!

students meditating stress release

Senior Pranav Chhalliyil Attending World’s Largest International Pre-College Science Competition

On May 12th – 17th the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of the Society for Science & the Public, and the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, will be held in Phoenix, Arizona.

Maharishi School Senior Pranav Chhalliyil will be attending Intel ISEF for his fifth consecutive year. Pranav was also recently named Honorary Grand Champion at the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa, and received an award for 6 years of participation. A total of 5 students are representing the State of Iowa as finalists at Intel ISEF.

Pranav’s project is titled:  “DNA Sequencing of Soil Microbiota From Mulching – A Novel Rotational Fragment Farming for Efficient Agriculture”

“The idea for this project came from my previous research experience on the oral microbiota,” Pranav said,  “which triggered a curiosity on the soil microbiota when I had interesting observations while gardening. I found a higher yield of flowers and vegetables, as well as a higher tolerance to winter frost in perennials after introducing mulching in my home garden.”His project uses DNA sequencing to look at the thousands of bacteria and fungi species which brought diversity in the soil and increased soil fertility.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) unites the top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral-level scientists review and judge their work.

Each year, approximately 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $5 million in prizes at Intel ISEF. The competition focuses on identifying, inspiring, and engaging the world’s next STEM generation.

Millions of students in grades 9-12 worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs. The winners of these events go on to participate in 420 Society-affiliated regional and state fairs, from which the top projects are selected and receive opportunity to attend Intel ISEF. Each affiliated fair may send a pre-determined number of projects to Intel ISEF to compete in 22 different categories.

Intel ISEF alumni have gone on to receive some of the world’s most esteemed academic honors, including the Nobel Prize, Breakthrough Prize, three National Medals of Science, and six MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and have been involved in some of the most groundbreaking scientific research.

Congratulations to Pranav and we wish him the best of luck!

To learn more about what makes Maharishi School students like Pranav so successful click here.

For more information and updates on Maharishi School and our students follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Regeneron Science Talent Search

Regeneron Science Talent Search

Pranav Chhaliyil named as Regeneron Science Talent Search scholar and Ms. Barbara Hays, the Teacher of Merit.

On January 9, the Society for Science & the Public named the top scholars of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. The Regeneron Science Talent Search, a program of the Society for Science & the Public, recognizes and empowers the most promising young scientists in the U.S. who are creating the ideas and solutions that solve our most urgent challenges. The Society for Science & the Public and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have announced Pranav Chhaliyil as one of the 300 high school seniors named as Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars. Pranav is a senior at the Maharishi School, Fairfield, Iowa to receive this great honor. His mentor and teacher Ms. Barbara Hays also was nominated as the “Teacher of Merit” by Regeneron.

The selection as scholar is a great honor, and signifies talent and promise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These scholars join a distinguished group of alumni that includes Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows, entrepreneurs and innovators who, were named among the top 300 competitors in this program as seniors in high school.

Regeneron Science Talent Search scholarEach scholar, selected from 1,964 entrants, receives a $2,000 award with an additional $2,000 going to his or her respective school, resulting in $1.2 million in total scholar awards from Regeneron.

The scholars, who hail from 184 American and international high schools from 38 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and two countries abroad, were selected from an applicant pool of nearly 2,000 students. Each of the 300 scholars and their schools will be awarded $2,000.

Pranav’s Findings

Pranav from his 7th grade had been involved in scientific research on oral microbiome. Last year he conducted research on the effect of sugar causing dental damage and was curious to know if white sugar or unprocessed brown-sugar made any difference. To his surprise, he found that eating unrefined sugar is good for preventing systemic diseases like eating unrefined starches like whole grains. The balance of good and bad bacteria of the oral microbiome was significantly disturbed with white sugar. However while eating unrefined sugar, which is rich in polyphenols, prevented biofilm formation in the tooth.

“I actually invented a new mouthwash that’s rich in polyphenols and it includes my previously developed Nano charcoal. Middle school children volunteered to be his subjects for the research involving DNA sequencing of oral microbiota. The subjects who ate porridge that contained the white sugar got protection from the early colonizers by using the mouthwash.” He plans to commercialize the product as a healthier alternative, Pranav explained.

We Are All Proud

“We’re very proud of him, he set a great example to other students because he is not only highly achieved, but we see the support that he gives to his peers here at the school as well. He has kept his feet on the ground. So, just deep pride,” said Dr. Richard Beall, Maharishi School Principal.

Pranav has some words of advice for students. “Never belittle your small ideas that popup in your brain. If you think how it will help others, it will magically self-develop and will impact the lives of many people more than you can think of. “I always believe that in order for you to succeed, it’s important for you to also give back,” said Pranav.

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

Exciting News – #1 Ranking!

Exciting News – #1 Ranking!

As the new school year begins, we are looking forward to updating our wider community of the exciting things happening around the school!

First, we are excited to announce Maharishi School’s number one ranking! According to Niche.com, Maharishi School is the #1 Private K-12 School in Iowa. In addition to that, we have receive #1 rankings in several other categories:

  • Most Diverse Private High School in Iowa
  • Best Private High School in Iowa
  • Best Boarding School in Iowa

We received several other rankings:

  • #2 Best College Prep Private High School in Iowa
  • #5 Best High School for STEM in Iowa

View our certificate here: Niche 2019 Certificate #1 Private High School

We are honored and excited to be recognized for our innovation, insight, and success in education. We have our staff and faculty to thank. Each day, they work hard to instill trust in education in their students, to spur our students on to greatness, and to encourage passion and originality in our students – preparing them for future success.

To our current and past students, we are so proud of where you are, who you are, and all that you have and will accomplish. You have been our purpose and motivation as we refine our vision and the direction we pursue. You are the oxygen that allows the organism of Maharishi School to exist. We cherish each one of you.

We do not take our ranking lightly. We appreciate the recognition of our hard work, but we will continue to strive for more. We will not settle, and we will not grow stagnant. This is evidenced by the many new and innovative projects and initiatives we are introducing this year. We will keep you updated!

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

Make Your Self-Care Routine More Meaningful Than a Face Mask

Where is the Self-Care Movement Now?

It’s 2018. It seems as though everyone is on a quest for self-improvement. In a way, that’s encouraging. Finally, we are collectively caring a little more about our mental health, spiritual health, and emotional health. The understanding that food matters is spreading, and people are taking a hard look at what that means. Although most of this seems positive, it can leave us feeling empty. After a while, we see the holes in the self-care paradigm, and we are left feeling like there should be more to the story. Well, there is…

Cafe-Paradiso-Maharishi-school-performance

The thing the self-care, self-help, self-love movements often leave behind is the inner self, the true self. Now, there certainly is an uptick in “looking within” ideologies, but knowing yourself is still often undervalued. How are we supposed to be true to ourselves, to care for ourselves, to improve ourselves, if we have never taken a single quiet moment to get to know that person?

The Reality of A Busy Life

Life is so busy. Adding a more intense skincare routine to that in the name of self-love does not lessen the stress of life. These things have their own value and sense of fulfillment, but fulfillment that transcends emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental states comes from getting to know the person underneath all of that. When we quiet our worlds (yes, it’s a learned skill, but you can do it) long enough to meet the person who exists under all of life’s circumstances, we bring forth the quietness into our being, our routine, and spread it around to encourage others to do the same. Now, that definitely sounds like a movement worth spreading around – finding our own inner self and fulfillment. 

Girls sit together

 

Make Your Own Quiet

So how do we get to this quiet place? Well, the answer is simple – meditation. There are a lot of options out there so do what works best for you, but one technique many people (and science) have found to be beneficial is the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique or TM for short. The TM technique provides a way to access the quietness within and lets you access your inner self. This then spreads to every part of life, becoming the base from which all self-improvement efforts can stem. Suddenly those face masks and bubble baths have a deeper meaning because you have tapped into the source of stillness, fulfillment, and energy – yourself.

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

So Your Child is Attending Private School – Here’s How to Prepare

So you are planning to send your child to private school next year? You are probably feeling nervous. You are probably wondering if your child is nervous. You worry that there might be something you forget or overlook because you can’t anticipate everything that might be different about private school. All of this is normal. Don’t worry, regardless of where your child plans to attend school, everyone wants you as prepared as possible. No question is a new question. Hopefully the information that follows is helpful to ease some worry and anxiety!

 

What to Wear

Private schools tend to have dress codes. Most are fairly simple, but some require clothing with the school logo. If the school your child is attending requires a specific logo or emblem on the clothing, they will direct you to the place you can purchase this article of clothing. For example, at Maharishi School, we go through Lands’ End for our school uniforms. We provide a special link to our uniforms

 

What to Bring

Just like at public school, private schools have school supply lists. Each grade level at each school is slightly different, but they lists tend to be predictable. Older kids need special calculators; younger kids need crayons and colored pencils. None of that is a surprise. Feel free to view our supply list as an example. We have a few lists for our different age groups.

 

What to Expect

Each private school is different. Each school starts on a slightly different date, but usually in August or September. Usually there are a few different school breaks throughout the year. There are different extracurricular activities for each school. The best place to turn is your school’s calendar. It will give you the best picture of what is going on throughout the school year, what dates to put on your calendar, and when events take place.

Although the atmosphere within each school is different, expect private schools to be a little smaller, to have a tight knit community, and to have it’s own sort of dynamic. One thing you should absolutely expect is to feel welcomed by your school, to feel at home, and to feel included. If you are not feeling like this within your school, please consider it the school’s mistake, not your own. There are other options out there. Read about one here.

In summary, private schools are different but not that different. There are many, many benefits to private schooling, and each one is unique. However, all schools are here to educate. That is the important thing to remember. Take comfort knowing that everything will be okay. To be prepared, read the material your school provides. If you have questions, ask them. Make sure you feel welcome and included in your schools community.

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

How Do We Put Passion Back into Education?

Passion In Work

The other day, I was filling out some paperwork, organizing some things in my office, and working on a project that wasn’t the most exciting to be doing. It was hard to focus, but I had so much to get done. Now, I am an adult, but I had a hard time getting all my work done. I had a hard time focusing, and I struggled to manage my time. Eventually, everything got done, but it got me thinking about how we ask children and teens to do this all the time in school (or most schools and teachers do). We ask them to complete work, focus on subjects, sit still, learn, and to do it all in a timely manner. However, a lot of students resist. Most end up doing their work, but even those students would likely do better if we approached education in a different way.

In both my situation and the educational expectations of our kids, the thing that often is lacking is passion. I had no passion for the tasks I was doing. Similarly, students often lack passion for what they are learning and the work required of them.

How Do We Fix What is Missing?

So how do we convince kids to excel at the tasks, assignments, and subjects they learn? Passion. Passion is the solution. We have to either 1) show kids how to be passionate about the subjects they are learning or 2) provide space in education for each student to pursue their passion. Both of these solutions are valuable and possible. However, it is likely easier to cultivate the natural passions of a student rather than ask them to adjust their passions, though it may be necessary to ask them to adjust occasionally.

One model of education that allows for the students’ own passions is Project-Based Learning. In Project-Based Learning, Every day students are given time (70 minutes at Maharishi School) to work on a passion project. They problem-solve, experiment, falter and keep striving. Through the process, they learn real-world skills that will serve them when they are adults working on projects at their workplaces. Some of the Learning Goals for project learning are creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, a growth mindset, societal impact and service, interdisciplinary integration, development of student portfolios.

Passion in Education

Not only does Project-Based Learning let the students figure out what they love, allow them to pursue their passions, equip them with essential skills, and show them their passions matter; it also helps them move forward in life by strengthening their portfolios for college and their resumes for future employment.

Project-Based Learning really is an amazing option for our students. We only want to see them excel, to reach their own goals, and to self-manage. This is an excellent way to learn those skills.

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

Why Do People Choose Private Schools?

Benefits of Private Schools

There are many reasons people choose private schooling for their children because there are many benefits to private schooling. Some students can greatly benefit from what private schools have to offer. Of course, each private school is different, but there are many similarities.

Individual Attention

One of the benefits of private schools is the individual attention that is given each student. At private schools, class sizes tend to be smaller so each student is given more individual attention. This means, if your child has a question or is struggling to learn a new idea, they will be more likely to get their question answered. If your child learns something more slowly than other students, the teacher is able to address their individual needs. If your child does not understand a subject, the teacher is very likely to notice because there are fewer students to keep track of so no one slips by. This can be invaluable to all types of students. All students benefit from individual attention and connection.

Teach to Learn

Another benefit of private schools is that schools are able to teach in order to learn rather than to teach in order to test. Unfortunately, poor test scores can lead to less funding for public schools so public schools often feel the pressure to teach in order to test their students rather than feeling free to teach the ability to think and learn. At private schools, funding is not connected to the test scores of the students which enables teachers to equip students to think for themselves, learn the way they naturally learn, and learn at a speed that works for them. Fortunately, the more student-centric environment actually improves academic performance. Whereas, teaching to test does not work for all learning styles.

Balance

The third benefit to private schooling is a more balanced curriculum. All types of schools try to provide balanced opportunities. Unfortunately, funding issues can make that a lot harder to public schools. Private schools have more ability to provide a balanced education, including extracurricular activities.  Though activities vary from private school to private school, there tends to be a more balanced view of activities and education, allowing for individuals to adjust to their preferred activities and passions while setting them up to succeed academically as well in their extracurricular activities.

Many Benefits, but the Biggest is…

There are many benefits to private schools. These are just some of the reasons parents choose private schooling for their children. Each private school is different and be better in one area than another. But, the best thing about private schools is that you can pick which one fits your child and will provide the best education for your child.

If you want to read more about what makes Maharishi School different from other private schools, check out some more information here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556