April 21, 2023
North physics students Olivia Hutchins and Camille Tedajio-Tsape took on the cardboard boat challenge on Monday.
Row, row, row your (cardboard) boat
What do Stephen Hawking, Daniel Fahrenheit, Galileo, Albert Einstein, James Watt, Marie Curie, Isaac Newton and Carl Sagan all have in common?
A. They are all physicists.
B. They are all the names of boats in Grosse Pointe North's cardboat boat race.
C. Both A and B.
If you guessed "C", you are correct. On Monday morning, Grosse Pointe North physics students at all levels – regular, honors and advanced placement – worked in teams to construct cardboard boats, each named for a famous physicist.
On Monday, 26 boats were off to the races. This is the 13th year students have taken on the challenge of constructing boats out of cardboard and duct tape and racing them two lengths of the pool, three at a time, in a series of heats.
Not all the students rowed merrily two lengths of the swimming pool for a successful finish. Some ended up drenched in the pool with sunken boats and soggy cardboard but, regardless of the outcome, the lessons learned were the point of the activity.
“There are a couple of reasons that we do this,” explained veteran physics teacher Don Pata, who started the tradition during the 2010-11 school year. “One is because it’s a direct application of some of Newton’s laws that we’ve been studying throughout the school year. When we put a boat on the water, why does it float at all? What are the forces on it?"
The second reason involves design thinking, which transcends physics, in Don’s view. The students take an idea, sketch it out, build a mini-prototype followed by a large-scale prototype.
“This helps the students develop this idea of a progression of how to design and then engineer something," he said. "Those are principles they can apply to any discipline.”
Boats can be up to 8-feet long, 4-feet wide and 3-feet tall.
“Sometimes the bigger it is the better, but it also takes much more cardboard and they’re not as stable if they’re too big,” Don said. “The students are going to see how their decisions affected the stability of their boat.”
Beyond learning principles of buoyancy, gravity and water displacement, the students also bonded outside the classroom while working in teams, honed their time management skills (juggling students’ busy schedules outside of school to get the teams together for build sessions was a feat), and were given “voice and choice” in making decisions, which was in itself powerful, Don said.
“It’s just a really fun experience that is connected to the classroom applications but doesn’t exist in the classroom,” he added. “The kids spend so much time in the classroom; to get them out of the classroom to do some other things can really be meaningful in itself, but also makes the classroom experience more meaningful.”
Clockwise from top left: Finn Marshall and Martin Daher; Dimitri and Vasilios Vasilos; and London Carter and Kennedy Bracey.
South ArtFest 2023
Clockwise from top left: Raku vase by Mara Adams, Grade 12; "Octopus's Garden" glazed stoneware by Louis Kidder, Grade 12; Metals Group Project; "The Favorite Mug," glazed stoneware by Brooke Lezotte, Grade 12; anticlastic cuff bracelets made with the new hydraulic press; South Tower stencil designs created on original building slate roof tiles.
There’s still time to check out an array of artwork by Grosse Pointe South’s talented art students during this year’s ArtFest. Exhibition hours are 5-7 p.m. today and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Use the door facing Fisher Road or the door by the greenhouse after school and on Saturday. Parking is available in the S-lot off Grosse Pointe Boulevard or the visitor spaces in the lot off Fisher Road.
Among many highlights of this year’s ArtFest are several group projects. Check out the ceramic towers and a metals group project made with reclaimed sheet metal and inspired by artist Carl Floyd. Mia Pellerito was the project manager and welder, Stella Fry was the graphic design pattern maker, Charlie Groustra was the photographer, Abe Mercer was the model and angle grinder, and Robbie Peabody did the oxy acetylene cutting.
Students viewed the work of Carl Floyd and developed a plan based on his outdoor work "Transportation Employees Memorial," located at the Michigan Welcome Center in Clare, Michigan.
Much of the artwork is available for sale. Find your favorite mug ("The Favorite Mug" stoneware by Brooke Lezotte) or an anticlastic cuff bracelet or other piece of jewelry made of textured and metal from the jewelry showcase. A Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education grant made it possible for the art department to purchase a hydraulic press to create these pieces.
Also available for sale for $100 each are original South slate roof tiles, with designs and stencils done by South's art department. All proceeds go to the Robert Rathbun Scholarship Fund to benefit South students pursuing art and design in college.
Ceramics I students made sundials, many of which are available for sale.
Science day at Richard
On left, second grader Martin Quintero waits for the chemical reaction in his lava lamp. On right, fourth graders Elise Wilson and Gianna Rondini prepare for the next step in extracting DNA from berries.
Whether making slime or lava lamps or extracting DNA, young scientists at Richard Elementary School learned about chemical reactions and more during Thermo Fisher Scientific Science Day on Thursday.
Young Fives, Kindergarten and first grade students used glue and an activator to create slime. Whether they were successful in reaching the desired state of sliminess depended on the proportion of glue to activator, explained Audrey McDonald, a process scientist at Thermo Fisher’s Detroit facility. Audrey is a member of the company’s community outreach council and STEM is a part of the group’s education outreach.
Second and third graders made lava lamps, mixing oil and water with Alka-Seltzer and witnessing a chemical reaction from start to finish.
“The Alka-Seltzer creates a gas and makes the different densities mix together,” Audrey explained. “Instead of using electricity, we’re using a chemical reaction to get that lava moving. It’s perfect for these kids with what they’re learning in school.”
In a side experiment, a group of students poured the water first and another group the oil to observe how the different densities reacted with the liquid, putting new meaning into the expression, “Oil and water don’t mix.”
“Since the oil is more dense, it’s going to push itself underneath the water,” Audrey said.
Fourth graders had the most sophisticated experiment, learning about DNA, following a series of steps to extract DNA from berries. After crushing the berries in a plastic bag, they filtered it through a teabag, then collected it and made a buffer solution to precipitate the DNA out.
“It’s all about observation – trying something and seeing the outcome,” Audrey said. “That’s what science is about.”
Bedtime with Dexter
Ferry Elementary students, accompanied by their parents and siblings, returned to school Monday evening with a favorite stuffed toy and dressed in their pajamas for Bedtime with Dexter, a tradition literacy coach Sandy Cameron started during 2019-20. A statue Dexter, a lemur named in honor of the school's full name, Dexter M. Ferry School, has had a home at Ferry since it was presented to the school by the Parent Teachers Association in September 1965.
Mrs. Cameron read such bedtime favorites as Groovy Joe, by Eric Litwin, author of Pete the Cat and The Power of Joyful Reading: Help Your Young Reader Soar to Success, a professional development book for teachers.
Special thanks go to Ferry’s PTO for purchasing a rug for students to sit on during story time in the gym.
An introduction for future Norsemen
Grosse Pointe North students and Activities Director Peggy Bonbrisco, center, gathered before embarking on their visit to neighboring elementary schools as part of Willow's Strong GIrls/Strong Boys program.
Grosse Pointe North seniors Grace Korkmaz and Bella Yoakam remember to this day when the girls from North’s Willow club visited their grade while they were in elementary school.
Bella still has the “Strong Girls” magnet they handed out that morning at Mason Elementary.
Grace, who attended Ferry Elementary, doesn’t have the magnet, but she remembers “the energy they brought into the room. They were all so happy to be there. They had this passion for it. To have these people we were going to be in seven years – it was a new experience.”
On April 10, Bella and Grace, now co-presidents of the women’s leadership club, served as those role models for fourth graders at Mason, Ferry and Monteith – all feeder schools for Grosse Pointe North. The visit was part of the Strong Girls/Strong Boys program Willow started to connect with the younger students and build excitement for the future.
Bella and Grace joined Willow their freshman year. What drew them was the notion of “girls supporting girls,” Grace said, similar to what they both experienced outside of school as Girl Scouts.
One of Grace’s favorite parts of the club over the years was the opportunity to listen to different guest speakers, especially from North, who shared their experiences with them. The Strong Girls/Strong Boys program was a way for them to serve a similar role for younger students.
The importance of role models
Willow members recruited North boys to join them for their visit to the neighboring elementary schools because they believed it was important for the fourth grade boys also to have role models to look up to.
Accompanying the group was activities director Peggy Bonbrisco, who has served as Willow’s adviser since its inception, and North counselor Brian White.
The boys and girls met separately at each school, and the visit was broken up into three parts. The high school students performed skits, conducted a “power program,” in which they discussed study skills, how to perform well in school and the importance of making good decisions, and then opened it up to a Q&A.
The tangled web we weave
The students’ favorite part, Bella and Grace agreed, was the skits.
For example, in The Entangled Web, about gossiping, the older students created a visual, wrapping a rope around each student who was told the gossip to show how while one person may have started the gossip, it entangles everyone who continues to spread it.
“The solution was to tell an adult,” said Bella, who played a counselor in the skit. “We wanted to teach them to reach out responsibly. My job was to unwrap the rope from each person so they can solve the problem.”
“It was definitely the skit that impacted them the most,” Grace said, “especially the visual aspect of it, seeing all the people you’re impacting just by the words that you’re saying.”
A sense of community
The girls also were impressed by the questions the students asked, ranging from whether they could wear Crocs in the hallway to “what are cool classes you can take,” Grace said.
“At Ferry, they wanted to know what was our favorite part of being at North,” Bella said. “So we all stood up and shared our favorite memory. I think we brought Mrs. Bonbrisco to tears. The kids were a little confused why the lady in the back of the room was crying!”
Bella, who is Student Association president, talked about what she loved most about this role – organizing the float building and homecoming parade, and what it meant to her to see the whole community come together to support these events.
Grace shared the range of opportunities and sense of community.
“My favorite part about North is all the new experiences I’ve been able to have,” she said. “I’m in a ceramics class. I get to make anything I want and I know that it’s my product. I really love all the traditions we get to make here. My freshman year we started our marching band again. To be able to watch it grow over these four years, especially now because I’m the drum major this year. It was fun to watch it grow in such a positive way and impact so many people, all because of this one connection that we all go to the same building.”
Nothing to fear
Bella also talked about how she felt like North prepared them for their futures.
“I’m going into advertising and graphic design,” she said. “For that I’ve taken computer graphics, art design. I’m in journalism so I’m doing page design. I’ve learned how to do all these different programs. I feel so prepared and ready.
”Being a part of Willow was a big part of their overall experience, Bella added, allowing them the opportunity to lean on each other while also educating those around them.
Both girls wanted the younger students to know that they don't have to know their whole plan for the future right now.
“They don’t have to be afraid of not knowing what they want to do, because there are so many different opportunities for you to figure out what you want to do here,” Bella said about the breadth of offerings at North, as well as other role models to help them find their way.
“We have so many resources in the building – all of our counseling staff, our teaching staff, the main office,” Grace said. “They’re there to help you.”
North and South DECA success
Members of both Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South’s DECA teams, led by faculty advisers Brian Levinson and Erin Moretz, respectively, have qualified for international competition after participating at states in mid-March.
As a group, North’s DECA was named a top fundraising chapter for raising $1,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The team also received an award for chapter membership growth.
In total, North’s DECA team brought back 28 medals and two chapter awards.
Kinsley Aldridge, De’ja Hill and Cam Schafer earned Gold in the school store competition. Jake Sachs repeated as a state champion, earning medals in each category of his competition. Massimo Tedesco dominated with a clean sweep of medals and was named a state champion. Daniel Michael, another one of North’s state champions, also swept his competition. George Safadi and Sahith Nannapaneni teamed up to become state champions in the Financial Team Decision making competition. Christina Shea, Leilani Feltman, Ashlei Anatalio-Williams and Asher Fuchs also earned the right to attend the international competition. Gruhith Yerramalli earned a spot as the state runner-up in his first year as a DECA competitor. Finally, Aakash Nagori attended his third state competition and for the third time won the test medal in his category.
South’s DECA students showcased their skills in both individual and partnered events and did a fantastic job representing the community both in and out of competition, according to their adviser. South contributed to the Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraiser in their annual miracle minute at the North-South game in the fall, supporting DECA’s largest fundraiser to send kids with this disease to a summer camp where they learn skills, develop confidence, and gain independence that will help them throughout life.
Adelina Parikh, Keira Collins and Elizabeth Peberdy received medals for qualifying as finalists in their categories. This medal signifies the top two contenders in each event. Paul Kaminski earned a test medal and finalist medal and qualified for internationals. Sophie Schuetze earned a medal for her roleplay along with a finalist medal, also qualifying for international competition.
DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospital and management in high schools and colleges around the world.