GT Times

Special Edition - Grades 4 & 5

Miller School - March 2021

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Welcome to the "special edition" newsletter of the Gifted and Talented Department for the Egg Harbor Township School District! This issue will focus on the 4th and 5th grade students at the Miller School. They have been so busy doing great activities that they needed their own edition!

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Fourth and Fifth Grades Place in Top 10 Nationally on 2nd WordMaster Challenge!

Two teams representing the Miller School in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey competed in the recent WordMasters Challenge™—a vocabulary competition involving nearly 125,000 students throughout the United States annually, and achieved Highest Honors by placing in the Top 10 in their respective divisions! The 4th grade team scored an extremely impressive 197 points out of a possible 200 in the second of three meets this year. They placed third in the nation out of 117 teams in their division where the median team score was 165. The 5th grade team scored 185 points out of 200 in the same meet, placing eighth in the nation out of 113 teams in their division. The median team score for the 5th grade Gold division was 152.

Competing in the very difficult Gold Division of the WordMasters Challenge™, 4th graders Kora Bair, Dante Olivieri, Elias Person, Sandhana Rajesh, Nathaniel Rupp, Zac Simon, and Brielle Taluba achieved an outstanding individual score of 20 out of 20 on the challenge. Nationally, only 101 students achieved this score! Additionally, Jack Caffrey, Vanessa Dangallo, Sorrento Esposito, Reese Resnick, Nathan Smith, and Liam Villamor scored 19/20, and Stella Barilotti, Priya Bhagat, Tyler Chubb, Isabella Gutierrez, Alexandra Hernon, Addison McColligan, Ava Puggi, Owen Renaud, and Sophia Villanueva scored 18/20.

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In the photo above are 4th graders Kora Bair, Dante Olivieri, and Brielle Taluba. On screen, top left to right are Sandhana Rajesh and Zac Simon, and bottom left to right are Elias Person and Nathaniel Rupp.

The 5th grade team also competes in the Gold Division and were led by Sierra Morton (photo below) who was one of only 50 5th graders in the country who scored a perfect 20. Additionally, Shreevas Arun Prasad, Emma Flynn, and Aiden Phruksaraj achieved 19/20 and Elizabeth Chait, Abigail DeCosta, Ashling Dollard, Elaina Kraybill, Shreyansh Nandi, Preston Pahang, Tyler Straup, and Brayden Widas scored 18/20.

The students were coached in preparation for the WordMasters Challenge™ by Miss Kelly Hunt, teacher of Gifted and Talented for grades 4 and 5.

The WordMasters Challenge™ is an exercise in critical thinking that first encourages students to become familiar with a set of interesting new words (considerably harder than grade level), and then challenges them to use those words to complete analogies expressing various kinds of logical relationships. According to their website, “the competition is purposefully designed to be very difficult, and student scores do not usually reflect typical classroom achievement. Only a small percentage of participants earn scores over 15 (which correlates to 75% correct).” Working to solve the analogies helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically. Although most vocabulary enrichment and analogy-solving programs are designed for use by high school students, WordMasters Challenge™ materials have been specifically created for younger students in grades three through eight. They are particularly well-suited for children who are motivated by the challenge of learning new words and enjoy the logical puzzles posed by analogies.

The WordMasters Challenge™ program is administered by a company based in New Jersey, which is dedicated to inspiring high achievement in American schools. Further information is available at the company’s website:

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Just What Is An Owl Pellet?

Recently, the 4th grade GT students dissected owl pellets as part of a larger study unit on birds of prey. So, what is an owl pellet? Well, it is what remains after an owl eats. Many birds cannot chew their food, and owls are one of them. Instead, they swallow it whole. Certain parts like bones, teeth and fur are difficult for it to digest, so those materials are formed into a pellet and regurgitated by the bird. This happens generally twice per day.

On dissection day, each student received their own pellet, along with dissection tools and charts to help them identify what they found. After measuring their pellet, they began to pull the pellet apart and see what it contained.

Though many were nervous in the beginning, once they began to find things like jaw bones, skulls, pelvic bones, and rib bones, the excitement grew!

After nearly an hour, student scientists had pulled out the bones, separated them from the fur and other items like grass and twigs, and identified and categorized them. By doing this, they were able, in many cases, to definitively identify what their owl ate.

Scientists study these pellets to learn more about the habits of the bird. Its like looking at a record of information about the bird such as where the owl lives and what small prey lives in that area. Through this dissection, our students were also able to take a brief glimpse into the life of an owl, learning about the owl's diet and its place in the food web.
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Zoo On Wheels Goes Virtual!

The 4th Grade GT students have recently completed a study unit about birds and birds of prey. As a culminating activity, they had the opportunity to speak with education specialists from the Philadelphia Zoo. Normally, the Philadelphia Zoo's "Zoo On Wheels" comes to the Miller School so the students can meet and interact with live birds of prey. However, this year, they met them virtually!

After meeting Education Specialist and Zoo Keeper, Miss Giana, the students met their first bird, Piccu, a blue and yellow macaw. By learning about Piccu, students were able to see the differences between birds of prey and other birds. Piccu has specific adaptations that make it easier for him to eat his favorite foods such as seed and nuts. However, his other adaptations, like his curved claws, help him to hold on, unlike the raptors who have talons to grasp and tear.

The next bird they met was Maverick, an American Kestrel. It was easy for the students to see the adaptations of this raptor in comparison to Piccu. Maverick is part of the falcon family and is the smallest bird of prey in North America.

In-between, students were able to ask questions about the birds as well as about what the zoo keepers do. Ahead of the meet, students had the opportunity to write down their questions. Then, Miss Hunt compiled them and sent them to the keepers so they could answer them during the presentation. Students also got to demonstrate their bird of prey knowledge to Miss Giana, discussing things like nictitating membranes (which they got to see in action!), as well as crepuscular and nocturnal birds. At one point, they were asked the technical term for birds that hunt during the day. Without missing a beat, they were all typing the correct answer in the comments for Miss Giana to see! Needless to say, the zoo personnel were very impressed with the students' bird of prey knowledge!

Lastly, the students met Oberon, a Barred Owl. This name has its roots in Shakespearean literature. As a writer, William Shakespeare was nicknamed "The Bard", and the Zoo named Oberon (a Barred Owl) for the Shakespearian character of the same name from "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

Though they did not get to see these birds in person, everyone agreed that it was an awesome experience and a great way to reinforce their knowledge, as well as learning a few new things, about birds and birds of prey!

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Fourth Grade Students Share Video Lab Reports From Owl Pellet Dissection

After completing their owl pellet dissection, the 4th graders were tasked with creating a short video about the lab and their findings.

They had to include the following:

▶Introduction - First and Last name
▶Show and talk about three things they found
▶Be sure to properly identify them (names of the bones)
▶Tell me one thing that surprised them about or during the dissection.
▶Tell their favorite part of the dissection.

Check out a sampling of their videos below!

Ava G. - Owl Pellet Dissection Lab Video
Xian P. - Owl Pellet Dissection Lab
Sophia V. - Owl Pellet Dissection Lab
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Newton's Third!

The 5th grade GT students have embarked on a new unit of study...aviation! After mastering the four forces of flight...lift, drag, thrust, and weight (gravity), they had to go back and review Newton's Laws. Though all three of the laws are important, number three is key, especially with aviation and rockets!

Newton's third law states: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." The most difficult concept here is to remember that each object in the demonstration applies and equal force to the other. For example, if you are in a boat and you are rowing across the lake, when you push the oar back, the oar applies a force on the water. In return, the water applies a force back onto the oar...equal and opposite reaction. When you blow up a balloon and then let it go, equal force is applied. The air rushes out of the balloon, and the balloon flies in the opposite direction.

To make sure that the students understood this, each was tasked with creating a demonstration to show it. They had to explain Newton's Third Law in detail and include a demonstration or experiment to show it.

After the first video, click on the buttons with student's name to view their video demonstrations showing Newton's third!

Newton's Third Law
Newton's Third Law of Motion Explained!
Newton's 3rd Law of Motion!
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Upcoming Events!

Spring break begins Thursday, April 1st, which is a half day. See you back on April 12th!
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