2nd grade is keeping it cool!

Our 2nd graders are wrapping a 9-week unit on the properties of matter. We looked at the three states (solid, liquid, gas), reversibility and irreversibility, and conductors and insulators. We capped off the quarter by designing / building / testing our own coolers made from household items!








Nature In Your Neighborhood

In 2017 I was awarded a grant from the Georgia Science Teachers Association to study wild animals on our school grounds. Using Bushnell trail cameras placed by the students in Green Paws we were able to find a lot: a blue jay in flight, bunny, opossum on the move, grazing deer, lots of raccoons, a coyote drinking water, and a hidden coyote later on!

I can’t wait to keep this up and see what we see!

The 2019 Science Fair

What is it? The Elementary Science Fair is a wonderful way for students to share their STEM-related interests with the school community. What are they most excited about after 6-years of school?! Each project must consist of a student-led investigation and a display to present the results to their peers and judges. Students come up with their own question, an experiment to answer that question, and then share the results. 

How will they be judged? We will use the CCSD Elementary Science Fair Rubric (shown below) to evaluate projects. Students work, both written and oral, will be judged by their peers, teachers and outside judges.

Who participates? All 5th-grade students will be expected to turn in a project, but all other students are welcome to participate. Students will work individually, no teams.

When is the fair? Project displays are due on Monday, December 3rd. Students will present their project throughout the week during their normal Science Lab time. Winners from each class will compete in the school-wide Science Fair on Monday, December 10th. The top five projects from our school will go on to the Cobb County Science Fair on February 9th.

How do you display the results? Each project must include a tri-fold display board, report and journal. The display board must include the: question/problem, 3 research sources, hypothesis, procedure, equipment, data, analysis (including graphs), pictures and conclusions. (The photo below is just an example, examining the top projects from previous years will give your student a better idea of what theirs should look like). The report will mostly consist of the same information on the display board, but with the addition of background information, next steps (think: how would this project be improved?), and any additional information your student wants to share. Though a composition book is more traditional, your student can use their Science Lab 3-ring binder as a journal, and should keep track of all hand-written notes they have along the way (be sure to date them).

Best Practices: Parents are encouraged to guide students, but not to do the project. Models, including volcanoes or robots, and “research only” projects on general interest topics are NOT acceptable projects. Projects should be experiment-based, and results data-driven. All projects mush be approved by Mr. Giunta. Projects involving slime / goo, Mentos & Coke, or paper airplanes will not be approved.

What’s next? Our 5th-graders will spend Science Lab time learning the Scientific Method, and researching and discussing scientific topics that most interest them. By November 5th students must have an approved project by completing this form (time will be given in class to do so). We will continue to work on the Science Fair in the lab through November, but all experiments will be done at home. Your student’s topic may be limited by what they can accomplish at home!

Contact Mr. Giunta at joseph.giunta@cobbk12.org with any questions.

I’ll end with this cute video, even though I know our kids would never wait until the last minute!

RoboPaws: VEX IQ Robotics Competition Team

New this year, 4th and 5th grade students can apply to join Tritt Elementary's VEX IQ Robotics Competition Team. We'll meet every Wednesday after-school to build / drive / program our robots to compete in this year's challenge (see the video below). Students (and parents) should expect to travel to Cumming, GA and Auburn, AL to compete 2-3 times throughout the Fall and Winter. There is a registration fee for each tournament. And of course we'll make t-shirts. Fill out the following form to apply today! APPLY HERE! UPDATE: The boys team is FULL, but there are still open spots for our girls.

Can you hear me now???

Our first graders are studying how light and sound can be used to communicate, demonstrated here by the vibrations on the string of their cup phones. (pictured: Mrs. Paine’s class)

Can you hear me now???

Steady Paws took a shot at bio-engineering their own hearing aids!


Welcome back to school everyone! We've got a fantastic year planned in the Science Lab thanks to the Tritt Tiger Foundation! Okay, one quick plug, please donate :-). I had a pretty quick summer, teaching 4 weeks of Project Lead The Way to other teachers around the country (including Las Vegas), camping / mountain biking / paddling for 1 week, 1 week of Specialist Camp at Tritt with 83 of our awesome students, and 1 week of Space Camp for Educators in Huntsville, AL. Water Wednesday was a success with about 12 kids meeting up every week to harvest from and water / weed the gardens. We'll be spending even more time out there this school-year.

Here is a quick rundown of what to expect the first 9 weeks of Science Lab: 

Kindergarten - Starting with sink/float, we'll be studying the properties of matter using a new Project Lead The Way unit, and then move onto engineering design challenges lifted from fairy tales like Jack & The Beanstalk and The 3 Little Pigs. 

First Grade - If we got lost on the Tritt Nature Trail, how would we communicate over a long distance using only the items in our backpack: magnets, string, flashlights, a tennis ball, and others! Including studying weather (for hiking conditions), this will take the first 18 weeks. It all starts off with sound and making a "frog chorus". 

Second Grade - How can we keep an ice pop from melting in a homemade cooler? We'll study insulation and conduction with experiments on every day items!

Third Grade - There sure is a lot of rain this first week of school! These students will study the affect of erosion on soils and rocks. 

Fourth Grade - 3...2...1... Launch into space. We've got 9 weeks of space units starting with designing our own mission to Mars, and followed by building models of our own landers and rovers! 

Fifth Grade - We are studying the scientific method through inherited traits as we prepare for the Science Fair in December (more information to follow, but you can get a pretty good idea on this blog under the, wait for it.... Science Fair tab). 

That is about it! Oh yeah, if you misread one 1/2" binder as a 1 1/2" binder, that is probably my fault. That said, storage space is limited, and if you can track down a thinner 3-ring binder, that would just be, the best.

Steady Paws / Green Paws / Green Paws Jr are FULL!

It is already time to sign-up for FAST classes! Use the links below to enroll your student today! Cost for each class is $200, payable by check to "Blue Jay Education, LLC" before the first class. 

Steady Paws MD, a biomedical science and engineering class for 4th/5th graders, on Mondays from 2:30-3:30. Activities include making fake snot, studying bacteria and infections, using 3D printing to solve problems, and dissection! 

Green Paws, an environmental science and gardening class for 2nd/3rd graders, Thursdays from 2:30-3:30. Activities include nature hikes, stream studies, crafts (eg pine cone bird feeders), games (eg camouflage), and opportunities to grow / harvest / and eat food from the garden.

Green Paws Junior, an environmental science and gardening class for K/1st graders, on Fridays from 2:30-3:30. Activities include nature hikes, stream studies, crafts (eg pine cone bird feeders), games (eg camouflage), and opportunities to grow / harvest / and eat food from the garden. 

Email Mr. Giunta at Joseph.Giunta@cobbk12.org (or text at 772-532-3928) with any questions. 

Space Camp!!!

This summer I signed up for Space Camp for Educators at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It was amazing!

We used equipment that showed us some of what astronauts go through: a 1/6th gravity chair to simulate lunar gravity, a Multiple Axis Trainer that the original Mercury 7 Astronauts used to simulate a spinning rocket, we had to exit a simulated helicopter crash into water, and we zip-lined into a pond simulating parachuting into the ocean. If I go again in the future, then I'll get use the Underwater Astronaut Trainer to experience neutral buoyancy.

Next up we got to do two hour-long mission simulations. For the first one I was a Flight Engineer on the International Space Station. We had to preform experiments all while communicating with mission control and the arriving space shuttle and its astronauts. For the second one I was in mission control as the GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Controls System Engineer) as we helped our fellow astronauts on a mission to Mars. There other missions taking place around us on the life-sized models of retired and future shuttles and bases. A lot of the time my 10-person team of fellow teachers were just being silly (posing in the cuploa or pretending to sleep on the ISS - see how our arms are floating?!). 

One of the most fun things we did was build and launch our own rockets. I added a monkeynaut to mine :-)

We were exposed to so much science this week: a fuel burn demonstration, a Mars landing challenge with parachute and rover, growing crystals and creating slime, making a deployable solar sail, using Spheros to simulate Martian rovers, and making our own heat shields to protect "egg-stronauts". 

Water Wednesdays, all summer long.

Every Wednesday this summer I'll be at the school gardens from 11AM-Noon watering, weeding, and harvesting. Everyone is welcome to come! Here are some pics of our summer so far: 

What's on your mind?

The 4th and 5th grade students in Steady Paws MD got to dissect sheep brains as a culmination of all their studies this semester! A big thank you to Opal Patel (Krish and Anya's mom), without her expertise we never could have done it! 

First Grade ISN'T Getting Their Hands Dirty

First grade has been studying the basic needs of plants & animals. Combining shapes & types of plants & animals with the Engineering Design Process lead us to biomimicry, or engineered products inspired by nature. The students design and created their own garden tools and tested them by planting sunflower seeds in the Nature Nook.







Friend: We got rained out of planting, but still had fun building and sharing our designs!

We Can Do It!

Kindergarten has been studying a Project Lead The Way lesson on Structure & Function using human body. Following the story of a fictional character who broke her arm, our students created "x-rays" of their hands, did an experiment demonstrating how our fingers work using peg boards, and then designed, built and tested their own casts out of classroom materials. 








Here comes the sun!

Second grade is wrapping up a Project Lead The Way STEM project on how our sun moves through the sky! Students built shadow sticks (sundials), tracked the direction of sunlight using the Skyview app on our iPads, studied the effects of UV light (and made fun color changing bracelets), and then designed, built, tested and evaluated models of different ways to shade our playground from the midday sun. 









Snakes On A Trail!

Our 3rd Graders saw the snake below, a Dekay's Brown Snake (below, right), on our Nature Trail on Wednesday this week. This pencil sized snake is harmless, but is often confused with the venomous Copperhead (below, left). Snakes ARE a reality in the summertime in GA, and while it is important for us to keep safe, snakes are a very important and valuable part of the ecosystem, the web of life. Most snake bites occur on peoples hands as they try to remove or investigate a snake. 

UGA's Herpetology website is a great resource for snake ID: https://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/index.htm

Here’s a great story on snakes in the area: https://365atlantafamily.com/snakes-in-georgia/#.WSwZCYjyuM9

GA DNR Poster Contest Winner

Congratulations to Kate Bezpatchenko from Mrs. Bosma's class! Kate's drawing of a Barn Owl at sunset won Tritt's first year of participation in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources "Give Wildlife a Chance" poster contest. Kate's work will go one to participate against other elementary school's throughout the state.