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.

Spring Semester UOS Descriptions

Students will be picking classes the week before winter break.

Forensic Science

Students will work a simulated crime scene and use 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 will work in a lab setting to learn about plant growth and management. The labs will promote growing plants in ideal conditions and learning about the structure of plants to find this ideal condition. Students will also design their own plant experiments.

Stock Market Challenge 1.0

Students will be introduced to the basic concepts of the stock market. While working with a team to invest a virtual $100, 000, students will use real-world data to make informed investments. Students will acquire a basic financial vocabulary and develop personal financial literacy.

Stock Market Challenge 2.0

Students will take their knowledge and skills of the stock market to the next level. Students will go deeper into aspects of investing with topics such as mutual funds and bonds. Students will have the opportunity to work with a team to invest a virtual $100, 000 and compete against students from schools in the region.

Kitchen Chemistry

Students will look at cooking from a scientific basis. Students will conduct an edible experiment and look at the science behind how it all works. Not only will chemical principles be examined, but also biochemical, biological, microbiological, and maybe even a little physics.

ADVANCED/Intro Graphic Design

Intro Graphic Design students will learn the basics of graphic design, Adobe Illustrator, and PhotoShop. The advanced course is only for students who have completed the regular graphic design class. In this class, students will develop their own Personal Learning Plan to continue to develop their skills using Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop to create more advanced level projects.

Character Animation

Students will learn about the history of animation and how it has evolved over time. They will also learn about the principles of character design and digital animation, using Adobe PhotoShop and Character Animator, to create their own animated works.

Architectural Design

Students will learn about the design and layouts of buildings, along with the structural and visual components of buildings and structures. Students will explore design processes, career opportunities in architecture, and solve architectural design problems. Students will also use architectural tools such as paper, pencil, and design software to create their own products.


Students will have the opportunity to become an entrepreneur by working together to design a business and use the Fab Lab to create and market products for that business. Students will also adopt a global cause and will support their cause with the proceeds from their business.

Digital Communication

Students will learn a variety of digital communication skills, including filming and editing skills, storyboarding and scripting, special effects techniques, and on camera presentation skills. They will create short films, news stories, personal narrations and commercials using digital film cameras, green screen technology, and Adobe editing software.

Advanced Digital Communication

Students will create their own short films and documentaries, on the topics of their choice, as well as learn to pitch story ideas. They will develop an original idea for a reality show or a documentary; research their topics; then script, film, and edit their final products using digital film cameras, green screen technology, and Adobe editing software.

Future Cities

Students will work together to research the real-world challenges facing the cities of tomorrow. They will use design software to virtually create their own ideal community that provides solutions to today’s problems. Their team designs will be submitted to a national competition where their skills as city planners and managers will be measured.


Students will be using the Epilog Laser Cutter/Etcher, along with Adobe Illustrator, to design and create multiple projects. Some projects may include: a wooden notebook cover, tile coasters, a wooden puzzle, an acrylic charm, and/or repurposed glass jars.

Special Effects

Students will learn how to edit and add effects to film. You will learn how to edit film speed, add transitions and lighting effects, add special effects to make people look like holograms, add light sabers, and much more using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. Filming will be done outside of SAGE time or students will use videos supplied by the teacher.


Students will learn to sew by hand and machine. They will utilize sewing skills to create unique designs using repurposed and new textiles. Advanced students (7th and 8th grade only) will be using a Personal Learning Plan to further develop and refine their textile skills.


Students will extend their understanding of the various systems of the human body, apply their knowledge to construct prosthetics using various tools in the FabLab, and develop various tools necessary to improve various functions of the human body.

What We Are Learning Now

Laser Cutting and Etching

Students are finishing up their puzzles and acrylic keychains. For the puzzles, students drew or traced a picture on paper. Then they took a photo of their picture and transferred it to an SVG file. Next, they imported the SVG file into their Adobe Illustrator file. This is the image for their puzzle. Finally, students used the add anchor points, anchor point, and direction selection tools to manipulate a line into the puzzle pieces. For the acrylic keychains, students used the shape tools and direct selection tool to create an animal face for a small key chain. Overall, students have designed, etched and cut 4 projects.

Big picture


Students are finishing up their final project in the Arduino class. In total, most students completed six Arduino Projects and Challenges. They each designed a Weebly (website) to display all the projects they completed along with basic information about Arduinos. If you missed seeing your child’s Weebly at conferences, ask them to share it at home. The class password for the site is “arduinonkc78” for 7th and 8th graders OR “ardruinonkc6” for 6th graders.

Big picture

Digital Communication

Digital Communications students are working on finishing their final video projects for the semester. They have completed public service announcements and commercials in December.

Future Cities

Future Cities students are finalizing their city designs and analyzing how their designs succeeded and what they would improve on in the future.

Graphic Design

Graphic Design students have been working on completing their badges for this semester. Students have 2 badges to complete, using Adobe Illustrator, after completing their flat design work. Students are also able to earn five badges creating various projects using Adobe PhotoShop, that includes choice projects and animations.

Textile Studio

Most Textile students are completing their tenth and final badge, using the design process to create a unique product. Some examples of what students are working on include stockings, dog collars, pillows, ornaments, bows, embellished shirts, and the list goes on. Students have grown in many ways, especially in their ability to develop and follow multi-step directions, approaching textile work with confidence, and creating unique work they take pride in. It has been a rewarding semester.


Photography students are finishing up their coursework this semester by using the images taken during the Plaza field trip to complete the work for their remaining badges. Their goal is to finish their badges with manipulating settings for aperture and shutter speed, learning different lighting principles, and then completing 3 out of 8 choice assignments for photographic art work.

Kitchen Chemistry

Students have been busy in the lab. They worked hard on their Fun with Fats lab by separating eggs and making Meringue Cookies, as well as, testing the fat content of a few every day lunch items. Students have also completed their Saucy Science badge by studying polar and non-polar molecules in creating salad dressing emulsions. The final project for the students will be a "Chopped" style competition including a scientific explanation of their food creation.

SAGE Startup

Our SAGE Startup classes are hosting market days to sell their product and raise money for a nonprofit organization of each classes choice. They have worked really hard this year to develop their businesses.

Each business has created logos, marketing materials, websites, and more. Here is the list of each market.

Friday December 7th (11-11:30 only) and 14th – (11-12) The Bee’s Knee’s- Lip balm

Monday December 10th and 17th (11-12) PAX bracelets-paracord and washer bracelets

Tuesday December 11th and 18th (11-12) Just a Coaster 3D printed coasters

Wednesday December 12th and 19th - Startup Stickers – Vinyl Stickers

Thursday December 13th and 20th Express 10 – Vinyl Stickers

Big picture

Interior Design

After a semester of learning about interior design, the students are presenting their design for their clients. They have listened to client needs, developed a two and three dimensional digital plan, selected furniture and a design aesthetic. They will be presenting their ideas during their last day of SAGE before winter break.

Biomedical Engineering

We are beginning our work on the final badge for this class: the ethics badge. Students will spend time researching a chosen topic, such as bionic bodies, elective amputation, or affordability and access to prosthetics. After analyzing the research and data, they will articulate their opinion on the topic. In order to engage with their peers, students will have to formulate two questions to ask the class regarding their topic and host a class conversation. Depending on time, students may be expected to create a model to express their research and opinion.

Forensic Science

In Forensic Science, students have been working on their last two badges for the class. For the Cyber Badge, students learned to use software from the FBI to analyze a cell phone to gather evidence on a case. For the last and final badge, Forensic Footwear, students learned the distinction between prints and impressions by using photography and casting materials.

First Lego League

FLL teams have been very busy working towards their goals for the Northland Innovation Center Pre-Qualifier Tournament. The top 2 teams will be moving on to the First Lego League Qualifiers in Lawrence, KS Saturday, December 15

First Lego Teams please be at the Northland Innovation Center by 4:50 Wednesday, December 12th.

2018-2019 FLL Challenge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY1Z9kK71jQ

Big picture

First Tech Challenge

Both Northland Innovation SAGE teams participated in their first FTC meet this past week. The Junkers and The Hawks finished top 7! The teams will be preparing for the Qualifer Tournament on January 19th.


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.

Guest Speaker

Our 6th graders were able to meet Chiefs Kicker Harrison Butker's agent, Jordan Hagedorn, from New York. He spoke about the importance of working hard at a young age to find your purpose.
Big picture

7th and 8th Grade Field Experience

7th and 8th grade students will be attending a field experience at Weber Inc. after winter break. They will have the opportunity to see how a business is run and how science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics are incorporated in different jobs within the company. Additional details are provided in the linked permission form. Please either print and send in with your student next week or email to Melissa.torres@nkcschools.org

Big picture
Big picture

Northland Innovation SAGE Center

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