Does Temperature Affect Learning?

Chickering red apple with school mission statement.



Op. Ed.*



We know you to be fair-minded, thoughtful and supportive of student learning. We are convinced, when you consider the facts, you’ll agree that Chickering School needs air conditioning.

Natick Labs’ research titled “Effects of Hot and Cold Temperature Exposure on Performance: a meta-analytical review,” states “… these data suggests that industries requiring workers to perform under either hot or cold temperature conditions should be aware of the potential of negative effects of temperature exposure on performance.” The findings from the Learning Styles Inventory shows “this investigation and a review of the literature indicated that administrators should include thermal preferences as a criterion in facilities utilization, scheduling of major examinations, and planning the instructional environment.”  As shown above, the data supports maintaining temperatures under 80 degrees to enable optimal student learning.

As 4th graders, we experienced the extreme heat in May 2013. Can you imagine being in a classroom with windows, which only open 4 inches at the top and ceiling fans, which are blowing hot, 96 degree air down upon you? We sat in our classroom hot, sweaty, no energy, couldn’t think, and tired. Our teachers looked and felt just  like us. Little to no learning took place in these conditions, which supports the research.

Making decisions on important issues is never easy. But we think, after careful consideration, you’d agree, Chickering School students and teachers need air conditioning in order to facilitate and support learning.

Presented by Jack, Rachel, Lele, Evan and Lena

* Op. Ed. – Opinion Editorial

“The Learning Style Inventory.” Bridges Transitions Incorporated.  2000-2006. Web. 16 May 2014 <>.
Pilcher, June J., Eric Nadler, and Caroline Busch. “Effects of hot and cold temperature exposure on performance: a meta-analytical review.” Ergonomics. 2002 Web. 16 May 2014.<>.
Tina. “Do Classroom Temperatures Affect a Student’s Ability to Learn?” Screenflex Blog. 5 September 2012. Web. 16 May 2014. <>.

Are There Differences Between Kindergarten & 1st Grade?

Do you remember when you were in kindergarten and first grade? Did you have any favorite activities in kindergarten and first grade? Now there are many more differences and we were curious about what they are.

We had chats with Mrs. Delany and Ms Powers about the differences between Kindergarten and 1st grade. These teachers have experience in teaching both grades, so they gave us really good answers. Our first question is: What are the differences between K and 1?

Mrs. Delany answered: The kids learn where all the important places are in the building, such as the nurses office, the cafeteria, and the specials. We teach them numbers, spelling, writing, behavior, and reading.

Image of the classroom sign outside Ms Powers' room.Ms Powers answered: They learn to be more independant; it’s their first year with the Go Binder; they need to sort out their homework and notes; the kids write themselves notes; and they have a lot more responsibility. 1st graders start to read and write in small groups. Kids learn to master reading and they read with a buddy. Ms Powers’ class studies for math, reading, writing, and spelling for homework. They get homework every night. They start to think about reading and writing. They learn why numbers are important. Finally, they learn to count to 100. The kids learn to not get shy around adults or on stage.

The second question to Mrs. Delany is: What are the +s and -s of a full day? Mrs. Delany shared: They have more time to practice what they’re learning and they don’t need to rush out of the door at 12:00. Kids and parents like the full day because students get more work done, and get to be part of the school. Ms Powers answered this question too, she shared: (Except it’s 1st grade, not a full day), They get a solid foundation of skills, and they think about reading. The kids start to learn about numbers. The students start to think about writing, and start to write persuasive, expository, and narrative essays. Those are the +s and -s of first grade and kindergarten.

The next question is: Is kindergarten and first grade hard or easy to teach? Image of classroom sign outside of Mrs. Delaney's room. Mrs. Delany said: I have to teach good citizenship to them, as well as how to line up, how to behave, how to hold a pencil, and how to read and write. For Ms Powers, its a passion for her. She also, like all teachers, loves it. It feels like a non-job. Although its a great job, she  has to work around the clock. She also has to get ready for school, as she has kids herself. The teachers feel like its both “hard and easy”.

The 2nd to last question is: Are they getting used to 1st grade and kindergarten? Ms Powers said “They’re getting used to how the classroom works. They know that if they don’t get their work done, they stay in for recess. Image of rug in library whose design is of the world.She says that if she walked away for a whole day, they wouldn’t know she was gone. Mrs. Delaney gave us her answer. They’re getting to know the teachers. They also know the specials, (P. E, library, technology, art, and music.) and the kids know their schedules. They’re getting used to riding the bus and recess. Students gets into routines for learning. They both think their getting used to 1st grade.

The last question is: Are they ready for 1st and 2nd grade? Ms Powers gave us: She thinks not right now, but probably by the end of the school year. They need to do a good job, or they come in over the summer. Mrs. Delaney gave us this: They have a lot to learn.

There are many differences between these grades, but these are what we did. Ms Powers and Mrs. Delaney gave us great answers. I hope you know the differences between 1st grade and kindergarten!

Reported by Matt, Robert, and Sam

New Science Unit: Engineering Filters

Do you use filters? If you answered no, chances are that you are wrong. Filters are everywhere, from coffee filters to water filters. Filters help remove nasty particles, twigs and leaves from any liquids or gasses. An extraordinary thing about engineering is that it helps humans address problems by designing and developing solutions. Human beings need water to survive. In some areas of the world, water is either scarce, polluted Container of filtered water from first filter design - filtered water the color of sand.or both. Engineering is a science which can be applied to design water filters to clean water.

To begin the science unit we were read a book called Salila. It was about a river in India called Ganga Ma [Ganges River]. It was polluted by bacteria so people who drank from it got sick. One day when Salila was walking home from school she noticed a frog that had been sickened by the oil in the water. She noticed the rainbow sheen of the oil sitting on the water. This made Salila want to design a water filter and to stop the pollution in the river.

Our job was to filter out dirt, tea leaves and cornstarch. We were given these materials: sand, gravel, cotton balls, screens, paper filters, filters holders, and 2 containers. After that we set to work, designing filters. A 5 bottle rating scale going from 5 - drinking water to 1 - the dirtiest water. Some people used only screens, others used all of the materials. To measure the cleanliness of the water from each of our tests we had a rating scale. Our rating scale was comprised of 5 bottles, numbered 1-5,  1 being the dirtiest, 5 being the cleanest (tap water). We all had to use a filter holder, (which is half of a soda bottle with a cap with a hole the diameter of a pencil drilled through it) to hold the different materials used when testing our filters.  Then we tested them.

We collected 2 cups, 1 for dumping the dirty water into the filter and second to collect the clean or dirty water coming from  the filter. Then we started testing the filters by pouring dirty water into the top of the filter. This went through our filter contraption. A first test of a work in progress filterThe filter either cleaned out the major particles or changed the color to look healthier. Some filters got  4’s, some were 3’s and almost none were 2’s. Rarely ever 1’s. Some of the groups had screens on top and cotton balls on the bottom, others had unrolled cotton balls on top and screens scrunched up in the neck. Dr. Reinemann was our mentor making suggestions. Every group had different colored water.

Finally, they came up with some ideas for trying to sell their filter.  Dr. Reinemann did 3 example presentations. One where she was like a hippy, another where she was really silent and scared-looking and third where she talked nice and clear and had a good descriptive poster.

First we made a “Brain Frame” (a graphic organizer) and filled it in with ideas. Then we made a rough draft for our poster. The poster was an assessment, which included a picture, good features and an explanation about the filter to convince people to buy your filter and a business card to take home. Some of the groups names were “Olympus Water Filters” or ” Epic Water Filters”.  Some of the groups were convincing in their presentation. Others were awesome in their speech. Some people acted as if it were a commercial. Others just thought it would be fine to do a normal presentation. At the end of each presentation, each group went up to Dr. Reinemann and gave her their group business card.

Engineering Design Process: Ask - Imagine - Plan - Create - Improve.As engineers, we used the Engineering Design Process in developing our water filter. The first step was “Ask”, in which we asked how to make the best filter. The next step was to “Imagine” what materials would be needed and what the contraption would look like. “Plan” the order for the materials within the filter. The fourth step was to “Create” the filter we had imagined. The final step was to “Improve” the filter we had created in the areas that could be improved.

Now, can you imagine a world without engineers to design water filters?

Reported by Michelangelo, Indy, Calden


Alterations, Modifications, Transitions!

Did you know that teachers don’t teach the same grade every year? Also Chickering has 30 new students in grades 1 – 5? We were interested in how the teachers and the new kids have adapted to their changes; change is never easy.

Several teachers changed their teaching assignments this year. We talked to three teachers, Mrs. Bedell-Healy, Mrs. Gillis, and Mrs. Hart.

Image of classroom sign for Mrs. Bedell-Healy.Mrs. Bedell-Healy talked with us about her move from K to 3rd grade. We were curious about what she likes about 3rd grade. She told us she likes how the 3rd graders understand her jokes, enjoys math – multiplication and division, and is eager to learn about Massachusetts’ history. We also wondered about what she found challenging about 3rd grade. Coming from kindergarten to 3rd grade it took her a week to understand what students were capable of doing. Another challenging thing was learning a whole new curriculum, which is so different from kindergarten.

Mrs. Hart moved from 3rd grade to 4th grade. We wondered what she likes Image of the sign for Mrs. Hart Class roomabout 4th grade. She shared: the high ceiling gives the room an airy feel: the people on the second floor have made her feel welcome: and after six years of teaching 3rd grade, teaching 4th grade is a nice change. Finding her classroom was challenging the first few of weeks of school, she kept going to her old room. She is learning to collaborate with a new team and History and Social Studies now includes North America and with a focus on the 5 regions of the U.S.

Mrs. Gillis moved from Physical Education to the Image of Mrs. Gillis' Learning Center sign.4th grade Learning Center. We asked her what she likes about her move. Her large room allows her to have a lot of students and she has a wealth of materials in the room. She likes sharing the classroom with someone else. We asked her what she found challenging about transferring to the fourth grade Learning Center. Image of the Learning Center - table areaShe described to us that she likes her large room, but sometimes it feels too big. There are too many tables and they are the wrong size for the fourth grade students. Mrs. Gillis would like to add a rug so the students can move around as they learn; not all learning is done by sitting.

In 5th grade, we have six new students. We were curious to know what were the differences between their old school and Chickering. Katherine told us recess is shorter here. Her old school, in Wayland, Illinois, is smaller in population; and Chickering has more classrooms per grade level. Viktor appreciates the students at Chickering. At his old school, in Millis, Massachusetts, students argued and there were bullies. Jack shared that his old school, in Norfolk, Massachusetts, is old and lunch was unappetizing. School uniforms were a part of Benistas old school, in Danvers, Massachusetts. Having a school next to a zoo, must be very exciting, James’ school was located in the city of Chicago, Illinois, with grades K-12. Our last new student, Amelia, from Madison, Wisconsin, said her school was very small compared to Chickering with only 1 classroom per grade level.

We were wondering what they thought about Chickering School. Katherine likes to go to the library whenever she wants and she and Amelia enjoy having lots of equipment on the playground. Nice teachers who make learning very easy and exciting was expressed by Viktor. Jack and Benista both shared that the kids are nicer and they have made friends who have helped them in many different ways. Liking the teachers, having the same school colors, royal blue, white and black, and participating in band were ideas stated by James.

We asked the question: “What do you miss about your old school?” 30 minutes for recess was a big joy that Katherine misses. Viktor missed nothing about his old school. Jack and James miss their classrooms and their best friends. Uniforms made it easy so Benista did not have to think about what to wear each day and she misses her 3 best friends. Amelia also misses her friends and teachers and she had a hard time moving to  a new school because she has only been at one school.

Changes are never easy, especially if you’re changing to a new school or to a new curriculum. The new kids and Mrs. Bedell-Healy, Mrs.Hart, and Mrs. Gillis have certainly experienced a lot of changes this year. Without a doubt, it was gratifying to hear that the students at Chickering School were so helpful and kind to our new students.

Reported by George, Oliver, and Viktor