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Cabrillo engineering student, Eric Wells, met with Mount Madonna School (MMS) math and science teacher PD Rohan and MMS 6th grade students and their families at the Watsonville Wetlands Watch Open House on Sunday, Nov. 4. Wells shared with the MMS group about building burrowing owl nests as part of his Eagle Scout project.. The students who attended were reminded of the Western Burrowing Owl, a bird which their class focused on for their award-winning "Give A Hoot" project last year.
Below a canopy of majestic, towering redwoods, some 40 middle school students gathered with teachers and school alumni earlier this month for an annual Mount Madonna School (MMS) tradition: a four-day outdoor kick-off to the school year – complete with tents, friends, and the wafting smell of campfires.
The trip for sixth through eighth graders incorporated hiking, swimming, science studies and camping at Big Basin, California’s very first state park.
On a recent sunny morning at Santa Cruz’s Natural Bridges State Beach, some 30 visitors to the beach were Mount Madonna School (MMS) students and parents taking part in LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students), an environmental monitoring and education program that encourages participation by ‘citizen scientists.'
“I want the kids to see that they can do ‘real’ science,” says James “PD” Rohan, MMS middle school math and science teacher, “that they can contribute useful data and have fun doing it.” The event represented Mount Madonna’s third year participating in this long-term monitoring study (now in its tenth year).
Standing in front of the class, the sandy-haired boy shuffles his feet, avoiding eye contact with the middle school students seated before him. He looks up, shyly meets his classmates’ gaze, and takes a deep breath. Exhaling, he begins telling a story in Spanish. The words come haltingly at first, then, as his confidence improves, he relaxes and expands his vocabulary, exploring different sentence structures and verb conjugations.
“Okay, let’s be honest. We’re in middle school, so we’re not adults and we’re not little kids either. By term, we’re somewhere in between. That can be annoying.”
“I’m in no hurry to grow up. Seeing adults all stressed out is no big temptation to join your team. I’m fine to skateboard around…play video games, hang out with friends, and stay out of trouble.”
Sitting near containers filled with assorted plastic K’Nex and Lego Mindstorm pieces, two seventh grade girls laugh as they put the finishing touches on their robot creation, and joke about what to name it. Nearby, other students concentrate on working with the program software and syncing it to correctly control their robot.