Find the Good and Praise It

Words of encouragement we hope will stick with students.
Words of encouragement we hope will stick with students.

During one of this week’s professional development sessions, the entire CCSC faculty shared some of the phrases they use to motivate students to always do their best work and to encourage them to keep persevering, no matter how hard it seems. Teachers jotted down each phrase on yellow stickies and read them aloud to each other. We’ll be hearing a lot of these words of encouragement in classrooms when classes start next Wednesday. Continue reading “Find the Good and Praise It”

Summer Academy Brings Match Teacher Residents to CCSC

Ms. Rieser greets every student with a handshake at the front door.
Ms. Rieser greets every student with a handshake at the front door.

Our Summer Academy for new students is off to a great start. About ninety rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders are at CCSC every morning this month, taking humanities and math courses and learning the ropes, from the dress code to classroom systems like Homework First, Do Nows, Shout Outs, merits and, yes, demerits. Their teachers are new to CCSC, too, but they have spent the past ten months training intensively, as part of the  Match Teacher Residency (MTR). Continue reading “Summer Academy Brings Match Teacher Residents to CCSC”

CCSC Teacher Recognized for Excellence

Heather Haines with Gov. Patrick
Heather Haines with Gov. Patrick

CCSC science department chair Heather Haines was one of 11 teachers recognized for excellence at the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year celebration held June 13 at the Museum of Science. Governor Deval Patrick spoke, and Department of Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester and Education Secretary Michael Malone were on hand to congratulate the honorees. Continue reading “CCSC Teacher Recognized for Excellence”

Eggs-panding Students’ Engineering Skills

Phil Roebuck
Science teacher Phil Roebuck

Students in Phil Roebuck’s Principles of Science II class are competing in the First Annual CCSC Egg Drop Contest. Working in groups of three or four, each team is building an apparatus to protect their (raw) egg to withstand a four-story fall from the roof of the Lower School building. A complex point system based on the number of pre-approved materials used and the mass and volume of the apparatus will determine the winner.

The Egg Drop Contest challenges students to work collaboratively to put into practice what they’ve learned about the engineering design process. Students work through the entire process, carefully designing, building, and then testing their first prototypes before making design improvements and testing out their designs a second time. The project culminates with a group presentation, in which students explain how they applied the principles of crumple zones, drag, pressure distribution, and inertia to their designs, and describe what changes they would make if they were to go through the design process a third time.

Read the handout that explains the point system and the materials allowed.

Students working on their designs
Students working on their designs.
Mr. Roebuck drops an egg apparatus from the roof
Mr. Roebuck drops an egg apparatus from the roof of the Lower School Will this egg withstand the impact?


Students check to see if their egg survived the fall.
Students check to see if their egg survived the fall.
This egg did not make it
This egg did not make it.
Another casualty.
Another casualty.
This team's egg survived!
This team’s egg survived!



Where There’s Smoke…

Ms. Zimbardo injects water into a straw on the boat's hull.
Ms. Zimbardo injects water into a straw on the boat’s hull.

The faint smell of smoke wafting from Marianna Zimbardo’s classroom yesterday was, fortunately, not a cause for alarm, but a demonstration in her applied physics and engineering course of how a single birthday candle can power a miniature boat. The students built steam pulse engines modeled on technology patented by 19th century engineer Thomas Piot and widely used for toy boats. In a Piot engine, water is injected into the boat’s boiler and heated; as the water boils, it gives off steam, which creates a cycle that sucks in and expels more water, propelling the boat forward with its distinctive putt-putt sound. Constructed out of juice cartons and drinking straws, the boats emitted wisps of steam as they chugged along a canal made from two gutter tubes.

The third unit of Ms. Zimbardo’s course focuses on how fluids can be harnessed to generate forces through the study of engines. Students explore steam engines, four-stroke diesel engines, and non-combustion engines, in addition to learning about alternative fuels and other environmentally friendly technologies used in transportation.

Watch a short (18 sec.) video of the Piot Boat in action.

Chemistry in the Kitchen: Chocolate Soufflés


Heather Haines explains the secret to a perfect souffle
Heather Haines explains the secret to a perfect souffle

The most delicious of labs took place last week, as upper school chemistry students learned the science involved in making chocolate soufflés. Though teacher Heather Haines wore an apron as she folded stiffly beaten egg whites into melted chocolate, the lesson was more than a cooking demonstration. Students learned the properties of polar and non-polar molecules, the difference between hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids, and how the amino acids in egg whites rearrange themselves when beaten to form a non-polar pocket where air bubbles can be trapped and have room expand when exposed to heat—the secret to a perfect soufflé (see recipe below). Continue reading “Chemistry in the Kitchen: Chocolate Soufflés”

Black History Month Tribute Paintings

The Rebirth of Malcolm X by Charde Hunt '13
The Rebirth of Malcolm X by Charde Hunt ’13

Our recent Black History Month Celebration included choral performances, student reflections, a guest speaker from Harvard and a slide show of artwork by the ten seniors enrolled in Studio Art, a yearlong credit-bearing course.

Art teacher Jessica DaSilva tasked the students with creating “tribute paintings” in acrylic that depict important achievements or leaders in African-American history. The assignment challenged the students to create the illusion of depth in the picture plane and to use analogous color that effectively emphasizes both the depth and the focal point of the composition.

The resulting images are spectacular. Here are they: Continue reading “Black History Month Tribute Paintings”

Study Tips from Our Learning Specialists

Learning Specialist Day Farenga
Learning Specialist Day Farenga

How families can help their children be successful students was the topic of a recent meeting of the Parent-Guardian Association. The CCSC curriculum is rigorous, and teachers have high expectations for all students, but academic support is readily available. Continue reading “Study Tips from Our Learning Specialists”