Middle School Newsletter

Northland Innovation SAGE Center

SAGE Center Mission

As the heart of the gifted community, the mission of the SAGE Center is to ensure all students, as members of a global society, foster their uniqueness, develop their potential, and embrace their true belonging through learning experiences distinguished by:

*Courageous exploration and discovery of passions in a flexible and innovative environment

*Support systems for students, staff, and community

*Ownership and self-regulation in a student-driven culture

Program Goals

  • To provide curricula that focuses on more elaborate, complex, and in-depth study of major ideas, key concepts and themes that integrate knowledge within and across disciplines and encourages the use of higher-level thinking skills.

  • To provide curricula that sets high standards and that demands rigorous expectations for student work and performance demonstration.

  • To provide instruction that allows for the development and application of productive thinking skills and enables students to re-conceptualize existing knowledge and/or generate new understandings that deal with real-life problems and issues.

  • To provide instruction that is flexibly paced and matched to the student’s ability, pre- assessment data, learning style, interest, and motivation.

  • To provide opportunities for students to develop leadership and group interaction skills that allows student-centered discussion and Socratic questioning.

  • To require project based learning of gifted students that represents application, analysis, and synthesis of knowledge.

  • To encourage an environment that fosters a positive attitude toward creative challenges, investigative activity, and knowledge creation.

What We Are Learning Now

Forensic Science

Students will work a simulated crime scene and use the tools a real forensic scientist would use. They will work weekly on labs designed to help them understand the career of forensic science. Students will study such subjects as fingerprinting, bone identification, blood and fluid identification, blood splatter, ballistics, and much more.


Students in Botany have learned about soil, compaction, and it's effect on water filtration, plant growth and seed germination. Students have discovered the anatomy of a flower and how each part works to help them with growing their own flower. Students are now using their bean plants to graft and learn how to take care of their own hybrid plant. Ask your student about their independent Botany experiment.

Stock Market Challenge

Accounts are live and students have been busy trying to invest their virtual $100,000. Students are trying to build a solid portfolio through diversification. We are currently exploring the many possibilities of mutual funds.

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Kitchen Chemistry

Students in Kitchen Chemistry have been busy discovering what happens when acids and bases are combined. Students have been discovering that those chemical reactions even take place when mixing ingredients. Students also acted as scientists and tested the actual ph levels of 13 common kitchen items. Ask your student if they were able to correctly hypothesize where the items would fall on a ph scale.
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Advanced/Intro Graphic Design

Graphic design students have been hard at work learning about the basic elements and principles of design and learning how to use Adobe Illustrator by recreating a flat design with a summer theme. Once completed, students will then incorporate the skills learned into creating their own flat design, utilizing the basic elements and principles within their design.

Advanced graphic design students have researched various projects to develop their own personal learning plan to determine the best way to advance their skills as a graphic designer and with using Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop. Each plan is uniquely developed to address each student’s personal needs and goals.

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Character Animation

Character animation students have learned about the history of animation and some of the early, simple animation devices-a thaumatrope, phenakistoscope disc, zoetrope, and flip book. The students chose a device to create, designed a simple animation, and recorded it on their iPads. Students then analyzed the 12 Principles of Animation developed by Disney animators to determine the success of Disney animated films.
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SAGE Startup

Students have been busy learning about the Lean Startup Approach, identifying their why, and developing product ideas for their business. In the coming weeks they will be conducting customer feedback interviews and establishing their jobs within the company.
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Architectural Design

Students have been learning about the relationship between engineering and architecture, different architectural styles, and how to create renderings both by hand and digitally using the Chief Architect Software. They have also had the opportunity to work with building architectural models of their ideas and multiple architectural styles.
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Digital Communication

Digital Communication students are learning about capturing images and footage and using a variety of camera angles and effects. They have created photo essays and videos that use sequencing and transition skills to tell a story visually. The students in the photo are working together to create images for a visual essay. Next, they will be working on developing interview skills and creating news videos.
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Future Cities

Future Cities students are beginning second semester learning about city management and design. In the photos, they are maximizing their use of digital tools, using their laptops to run city simulation software, while using their iPads to answer reflection questions about their choices and the results!
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Laser Cutting and Etching

Many students have finished etching their first project, a tile coaster. Once finished with the coaster, students have moved on to their second project, a wooden notebook cover. Each notebook cover starts in Adobe Illustrator and requires students to apply layers, design with the paintbrush tool, and generate an SVG signature. To earn a badge, students must use the specified Adobe tools along with responding to a reflection question.

All project photos are available for viewing on the Laser Cutting and Etching Weebly.

www.laseretchingsage.weebly.com Password- laseretching

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Special Effects

New this semester is Special Effects. Students are in the process of completing 8 projects using Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects. The first four projects are introductions. Students learn how to create with the basic tools and how to add and modify effects and transitions in both programs. The final four projects require more advanced skills. Students will be designing a silent movie with all of the dust and scratch marks. Students will be adding a mask layer with a glow effect to construct a light saber. Students will be applying the green screen feature to assemble a magic carpet ride video. Lastly, students will be designing a hologram video using the pick whip effect. All videos will be on display through the Special Effects Weebly.

www.specialeffectssage.weebly.com Students have knowledge of the password.

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Biomedical Engineering

In Biomedical Engineering, we started our semester by gaining a solid understanding of the engineering design process. Students designed newspaper shoes in response to the problem that many people around the world suffer illness and even death due to lack of protective shoes. They evaluated the steps in the design process and justified which step they believed to be the most crucial in the creation of their prototype. Most classes are now working on their geneticist badge by learning the basic structure of DNA and applying it to code DNA of an individual, build a DNA model for that genotype, and finally decode DNA from a peer to identify phenotypes. Next up is the prosthetist badge, when students will be expected to create a lower-leg prosthetic using household materials.

Textile Studio

In Textile Studio, we have been mastering the art of hand-sewing and are moving into confidence with the machines. We have differentiated between woven and knit fabrics and understand the value of knowing what you are using for textile work. Many students are beginning work on their personal wallet, which requires use of hand and machine sewing, in addition to applying fusible interfacing and snaps. Advanced textile students have developed personal learning plans and are already hard at work to earn their badges by applying various textile skills such as pattern reading, zipper application, quilting, doll making, and many others.
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During IGNITE, students have been working on service-learning projects. Students have been collecting evidence of progress towards meeting specific service goals and learning outcomes from multiple sources throughout the service-learning experience. The group below has been working on a way to clearly and effectively communicate their idea by creating a "I AM" wall. The purpose of the wall is to eliminate stereotypes and appreciate the difference in others that are gifted.

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Gifted Symposium

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Gifted Symposium

Below is the link to register for the Gifted Symposium at Union Station. This is our district's GAM Family Day. We have some great opportunities for families this year. Students will spend their time exploring Science City while parents will attend the symposium led by keynote speakers who will share their varied knowledge on gifted learners.


Event space is limited, so please get your tickets as soon as possible.

Here is the schedule for the event, including keynote speakers. This schedule and description can also be found on the event page linked above.

Check in starts at 9:30. Students head down to Science City at 9:45. Presenters begin at 10.

Below is the presenter schedule for the Gifted Symposium.

Keynote 1: Sheila Bonner-parent and teacher of gifted

Topic: "Parenting a Gifted Child" resources and ways to communicate with the classroom teacher?

Keynote 2: Dixie Youngers - Vice President School Board MSBA Delegate, City Council Rep-Gladstone, Community Education, Executive Committee, Marketing Advisory Council, PTA Council and SAGE

Topic: Advocacy for gifted children

Keynote 3: Dr. Sherri Fry-Wendt

Dr. Sherri Fry Wendt, PHD is a psychologist in Kansas City, MO. She specializes in gifted children psychology

Topic: unique mental health needs of the gifted child and will discuss perfectionism, anxiety, and depression as they pertain to the gifted population.

Keynote 4: Rita Barger

Professor Rita Barger as a guest speaker for a presentation in Strategies for Mathematical Enrichment.


Students will have chaperones (teachers) at Science City, so parents do not need to have anyone watching them while parents attend the symposium.

Each person that comes to the event needs to purchase a ticket. Students need to purchase a ticket to get into Science City. Adults wanting to attend the symposium need to purchase a ticket to hear the speakers present. (See Event Brite for ticket info)


To continue to be innovative and above the curve, we are using a badging system with our Middle School curriculum.

How do badges benefit SAGE students?
In addition to motivating students to develop specific skills and competencies, both individually and collectively, badges offer the following benefits to students:

  • Enhance CANVAS assignments by providing evidence of a completed task and knowledge gained through the completion of that task and or assessment.
  • Focus learning on specific goals, which can lead to improved quality of work as students revise and resubmit their work through an open badging system.
  • Provide a supportive environment in which students’ learning emphasizes and encourages an action-oriented understanding of course objectives.
  • Foster deeper learning of course material, as the badges are content driven, specific to the course goals and content.
  • Creates a positive environment and holds kids accountable to a professional standard in behavior.
  • Create practical ways for students to learn in the classroom and to share what they have learned in our SAGE progress reports.
  • Add an element of fun to the classroom in a gamification type of platform.
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Middle School SAGE Team

Shon Adamson

Robotics and Forensic Science



Melissa Duffett

Kitchen Chemistry


Jennifer Koch

Graphic Design & Photography



Cassandra Shaffer

Fab Lab & Arduino Programming and Coding



Lara Owsley

Broadcasting & Future Cities



Cassie Fogel

Robotics & Forensic Science



Wendy Rust

Biomedical Engineering and Textile Studio



Melissa Torres

SAGE Start Up & Interior Design