From the Principal's Desk

Featuring: Academic Programming from a variety of classrooms

Masterman is involved in a variety of familiar and new educational partnerships that enhance our curriculum. Our Masterman community may not be aware of these partnerships as well as some of the innovative projects that are integrated into our school curriculum. This edition of the Principal's Blog hopes to inform parents and students about some of the pedagogic connections of our robust curriculum as well as showcase some of our teachers' coursework. Please feel free to contact Ms. Brown if you have any ideas or partnerships that fit our vision of academic excellence and intellectual curiosity. We are always looking to enhance our curriculum. Thank you for your continued support.

Drexel Stem Partnership

New Spring High School Enrichment Workshop

Dr. Ahmad Najafi, Asst. Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics

There are two subject ideas for the spring enrichment classes: Human Biomechanics and Bio-inspired Design! We are leaning towards the latter because it encompasses elements of general science, design, and math. The field started about 25 years ago, and has a long ways to go before more practical implications occur for everyday life. Masterman will work with Dr. Najafi to ensure the difficulty level is congruent with high school level math and science.

Times and dates for this spring course are to be determined. This will be facilitated by Dr. Najafi and some of his graduate students.

Possible Mentorship Program

Dr. Najafi will be identifying some of his PH.D. students who will take on 3-4 “mentees” from Masterman. (This may or may not be part of the Senior Seminar). Our students will observe and assist with graduate research.

“Cutting Edge” Enrichment Workshop Presentation

We would like to host Dr. Najafi or a graduate student as the first speaker of the winter term’s “Cutting Edge” workshop. This program encompasses new developments and hot topics within STEM fields.

Drexel’s STEM summer camp - Ongoing programs

This summer opportunity offers transferable credits.We will be promoting the summer camps in the Spring.

In addition to conveying a practical curriculum for enrichment, Dr. Najafi is passionate about increasing minority presence in STEM fields, whether at the university or professional level. He hopes that these projects will be of interest to all of our students and, in turn, contribute to a more diverse and vibrant STEM community in the future.

Character Education Classes at Masterman: 6th & 7th grade

We want Masterman students to be successful in school and in life, and that means going beyond the basics. Excelling in academic classes is important, but students also need to know how to learn, make good decisions, handle strong emotions, and get along with others.

Therefore, we recently started the Second Step Middle School Program at Masterman. The lessons are taught by each sixth grade homeroom teacher and in the seventh grade Seminar classes. Second Step focuses on skills and concepts that are designed to help students both in and out of school. These include:

Mindsets and Goals: Students learn research-based strategies for achieving goals and handling difficult situations.

Values and Friendships: Students learn to identify their personal values and use those values to make good decisions and build strong, positive relationships.

Thoughts, Emotions, and Decisions: Students learn the positive role emotions play in their lives, how to handle unhelpful thoughts and strong emotions, and specific strategies for calming down.

Serious Peer Conflicts: Students learn how to identify and avoid serious conflicts, resolve conflicts that can't be avoided, think about other people's perspectives, and help stop bullying and harassment at school.

The Second Step Middle School Program is fully funded by the School District of Philadelphia. Information about Second Step can be found at: Thank you for supporting your child in learning the skills and concepts that lead to success in school and in life.

Masterman's Writing Center

For one and a half years, the Writing Center has provided Masterman students assistance with research, grammar, syntax, and breaking through writers block. This year’s twelve eleventh and twelfth grade mentees, or “Writing Fellows,” attended three comprehensive training sessions prior to opening our doors mid-September, preparing them for a wide range of issues we might expect from our visitors from 5th all the way to 12th grade.

In this second full year, we have addressed helpful feedback from faculty and are revitalizing our efforts. The Writing Center is prepared to provide individualized attention to the unique needs of each student who comes through so that teachers can capitalize on valuable class time without repeatedly addressing technical issues. We are logging mentor/mentee pairings so that we can develop relationships between students of different ages and interest, and so that we can help our visitors progress with their writing skills throughout the year. We are giving students a chance to explore their own voices as we help them prepare high school application essays, personal narratives, and discover which topics they are passionate about.

Librarian Bernadette Kearney and English teacher Heidi Hoskins continue as the main advisers for the project. Peter Ott, who is pursuing his masters in Education at Temple University and has an extensive background in creative writing, has also joined as an integral mentor and facilitator.

10th grade Media Arts

Ms. Neu's 10th grade media class started off the year learning imovie. Students created a picture movie using Van Gogh paintings in order to demonstrate knowledge of basic skills such as titles, transitions, Ken Burns effects, etc. Students were then given raw footage with which to make a movie that challenged them to edit smoothly. Lastly, they worked on compositing using the green screen and a green screen suit in order to see what imovie can and cannot do when it comes to layering video and audio. Students will next start FinalCut Pro. This software will allow them to layer multiple movies, make cinemagraphs and do more refined editing. Future projects will include a camera angle demo, a 48 hour film competition and stop animation.

5th Grade Science in Room 203

In room 203 with Ms. Romeo, students are working on their second investigation in the Force and Motion Unit. They are using steel spheres and ramps to learn about kinetic and potential energy, work, and momentum. They will begin by changing the variable of sphere size and then ramp position to determine if each variable separately affects the distance the sphere travels in two seconds. They will then collect data on how spheres transfer energy to an object, such as a cork, when rolling down a ramp. Lastly, they will get the spheres rolling over a hump in the runway in order to determine the sphere's momentum.
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6th grade Science in Room 302

In room 302 Science with Mrs. Fox, students are discovering the possibilities of 3-d printing. They are learning a program called TinkerCad and will begin to build and design a printable object. Eventually, they will go through the entire design process where they will create objects to solve real-world problems. Along with 3d printing, there is a "robotics buzz" in room 302. Students are gathering at lunch to build and program Mbots and Lego Ev3 bots. From the build, to the programming, to the important "problem-solving phase" the possibilities are endless since the students are driving this discovery.

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10th Grade English

This summer, Ms. Waber had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador as a Fulbright-Hays teaching fellow with the purpose of examining the impact of Ecuador’s history, biodiversity, and cultural diversity. Ms. Waber returned excited to share what she learned with her students and is in the process of creating a curriculum unit inspired by her experiences. The unit will ask the students in her 10th grade global literature course to study and compare Western philosophy to Andean philosophy and draw upon the work of Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín, who believed in making art that creates empathy for oppressed populations. Students that partake in this unit will be asked to identify crises within Philadelphia that might be caused by Western thinking and act as changemakers by using their own original art to create “a prayer and a cry” for a group of people or aspect of nature that is troubled. Students will read philosophy, apply their new knowledge of philosophy to the texts that they study, acknowledge the different realities in our city and around the world, examine their own assumptions about other cultures, become creators of original art, and engage in discussion that will hopefully lead to more compassion and understanding of societies and ways of thinking that are different than their own.

Artwork below: Oswaldo Guayasamín

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