Middle School News


Two Danbury students to head to national history competition

posted May 23, 2016, 7:57 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Two Danbury students to head to national history competition

Westside students earned second place spot in state event

                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Westside Middle School Academy students Maame Obeng and Camilly Aguilar are heading to the National History Day national competition in June.


The two students came in second place at the state National History Day competition in April.

In February, at the Westside middle school, 100 seventh-grade students in the Global Studies program presented topics from propaganda in the Cold War to Civil Rights literature, and Andy Warhol and pop art. There were 65 exhibits in all, including documentaries and websites focusing on the changes in society in the 1950s through the 1980s.


National History Day began in 1974 on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Schools all over the country participate in the event; the year’s theme is “Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in History.”


The History Day project has been a major focus seventh-grade Global Studies academy as it combines research, reading, writing, and technology skills with historical inquiry. This project allowed students to take the theme and develop projects that relate not only to the national theme but the academy’s subthemes (choices available through National History Day Project) of Pop Art: The Exchange of Consumerism and Culture and Civil Rights Stories.


#Danbury Board of Education#

Danbury students send weather balloons into the skies

posted May 19, 2016, 6:44 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Danbury students send weather balloons into the skies

                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Students from Westside Middle School Academy launched two weather balloons on Wednesday that made it all the way to the Rhode Island border.


WSMSA teacher, Jon Neuhausel, said the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students designed and built two payloads for each of the balloons. The payloads carried sensors that took atmospheric pressure and temperature readings recorded on computer chips that may be removed for download and data analysis after retrieval. Neuhausel will attempt to retrieve the balloons Thursday. He said they were tracked somewhere along the Connecticut border with Rhode Island. Last year’s balloons made it as far as Seymour before being stuck in a tree.


“Today was a huge success!” Neuhausel said. “The kids really took this project to the next level.”


There were 100 students from the school’s STEM academy working on the project with 20 working on the actual launch, which took place in the field behind Danbury High School on Wednesday morning. Students were divided into four teams: design, science, weather and public relations. The PR team raised about $1200. The helium was donated by Praxair in Danbury and the balloons from Kaymont.


The first balloon launched was a 600-gram balloon projected to reach 80,000 feet; the second was 1200 grams expected to reach about 100,000 feet. The balloons were in flight for approximately 2.5 hours and landed on the CT/RI border. 


The launches served as a lesson in the tools used to track upper-atmospheric temperature and pressure on a daily basis worldwide. The payloads carried sensors that took atmospheric pressure and temperature readings recorded on computer chips that may be removed for download and data analysis after retrieval. The balloons were equipped with GoPro cameras, GPS tracking devices and sensors to measure temperature, humidity and elevation. The GPS unit enables the students to track the payloads’ flight, descent and landing sites.



#Danbury Board of Education#






Danbury educator earns ‘Excellence in Middle School Science Teaching Award’

posted Apr 1, 2016, 8:54 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Danbury educator earns ‘Excellence in Middle School Science Teaching Award’

                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Westside Middle School Academy’s Beth Manning has been chosen by the Connecticut Science Teachers Association to receive the “Excellence in Middle School Science Teaching Award” for 2015-16.


According to the CSTA, the award is given to a teacher who has not only demonstrated excellence in the classroom, but who has also contributed professionally by providing workshops and/or other support for colleagues and who has demonstrated dedication to personal and professional growth by participating in conferences and workshops and has been a productive participant in extra-curricular activities and community projects. Manning is one of eight teachers in Connecticut to receive this honor.


“Beth stands out even among our most talented science teachers,” Westside principal Dr. Frank LaBanca said. “Her ability to connect with students, mentor teachers and make science accessible and exciting is a model for all educators.”


Manning will receive a commemorative plaque and $500 at the CSTA award banquet May 4.





Broadview Middle School program gets support from Danbury hockey team

posted Mar 24, 2016, 8:18 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Broadview Middle School program gets support from Danbury hockey team  

Principal Robbs to drop the puck at game start

                

DANBURY, CONN. — Broadview Middle School’s Global Endeavors Program will be the beneficiary of “Family Nights” at the Danbury Arena on Saturday, March 26.


The Danbury Titans and area businesses are making donations to support the program with raffle. The evening will also honor Broadview Principal Edward Robbs who is retiring in June after 18 years. Robbs will drop the puck at 7:30 p.m. to start the Titans game against the Brewster Bulldogs. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the arena on Patriot Drive in Danbury.


Global Endeavors in an educational program led by Broadview teachers Doug Mottola and Dallas Moore. It brings together students from across the country to attend classes in Florida that focus on space exploration, physics of space, conservation, ecology and world cultures. This year’s seventh-grade students are participating.


Tickets can be purchased through the school through Friday. For ticket information, send an email to: globalendeavors2016@gmail.com or call 203-792-3322. If tickets are purchased at the arena, make sure to mention Global Endeavors.


Westside Middle School students get ready for districtwide Invention Convention

posted Mar 24, 2016, 8:09 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Westside Middle School students get ready for districtwide Invention Convention

    

DANBURY, CONN. — Westside Middle School Academy students displayed their inventions on March 22 at the school’s “Invention Convention.” There were 130 students – 100 in sixth grade and 30 from seventh grade - showing off their projects in the school’s cafeteria.


WSMSA sixth-grade student Michaela Quinn said her idea came from her grandfather who suffers from kidney failure and is on dialysis. Michaela said he often falls asleep before the process is over and then has to take the steps over again. “Stop! Wake and clamp” is a scale system that sounds an alarm when the dialysis process is over.


Cassandra Plank Pinto had her grandmother in mind when she came up with “Fantastic Fish 5000.” The remote control fish feeding system means that her grandmother doesn’t have to walk up a flight of stairs to feed the fish. Once activated, a conveyer belt delivers the food right into the fish bowl.


“I learned how to work with wires, both live and not live,” Cassandra said.


A surplus of snow last year and a shortage of time led to Drew Talarico’s invention: “The Super Shovel.” He and his brother are charged with plowing their long driveway in addition to an already busy schedule. The Super Shovel is three shovels attached to make a plow that can be pushed through the snow, rather than lifted.


On Thursday, WSMSA students will have their projects judged at the districtwide Invention Convention at Western Connecticut State University. Winners will head to the 33rd annual

Connecticut Invention Convention on Saturday, April 30, at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. More than 130 Connecticut schools and thousands of young inventors participate every year. On Wednesday, March 23, the hundreds of the district’s elementary school students will compete at WestConn for a chance at the state competition.


The Invention Convention is part of the science curriculum. For three weeks students engage in coming up with ideas and putting them into motion. One of the crucial learning curves for students is to figure out how to solve problems with their inventions and tweak them to perfection. The invention convention fosters interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning for students from kindergarten through eighth grade.


Westside Middle School ‘most successful’ at CT Science & Engineering Fair

posted Mar 24, 2016, 8:06 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Westside Middle School ‘most successful’ at CT Science & Engineering Fair

                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Eight of 10 projects submitted by Westside Middle School Academy students at the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair held last week at Quinnipiac University were selected as finalists, making it the most successful middle school in the state competition.


WSMSA seventh- and eighth-grade students placed as follows:

Sarah Johnson and Angeli Joseph placed second in both Life Sciences Team and Biotechnology; Ben Laham placed 5th in the Urban School Challenge; Nick Raslavsky was a finalist in both Life Sciences and Environmental Sciences as well as winning as special award from Turnkey Environmental; Sanjana Shririm placed 2nd in the Physical Science for the Petit Family Foundation Women in Science and Engineering and won multiple special awards; Gryffin Syme placed 3rd in Physical Science and won several special awards; Jeff Osborne placed 2nd in Physical Sciences, 3rd in Sustainable Resources, and 2nd in the Urban School Challenge.  Jeff was the highest placed 8th grade student in Urban School Challenge and won a trip to the Genius Olympiad this summer; and Lasya Josyula placed 1st in Life Sciences, 1st place in Biotechnology, 2nd in the Life Science for the Petit Family Foundation Women in Science and Engineering 2nd Place in Sustainable Resources, and 1st Place in the Urban School Challenge.  Lasya was the highest placed 7th grade student in Urban School Challenge and won a week at Ocean Camp.

In total, the students won more than $5,000 in awards, both checks and trips.


Sarah, Angjeli, Lasya, Jeff, and Griffyn all received invitations to compete in the Broadcom Masters for a potential trip to Washington, D.C. and up to a $50,000 college scholarship.  The Broadcom Masters is the middle school equivalent to the Intel (formerly Westinghouse) Science Talent Search.



Danbury middle-school students celebrate history

posted Feb 29, 2016, 6:38 AM by Alexa Schlechter   [ updated Feb 29, 2016, 6:39 AM ]

Danbury middle-school students celebrate history

National History Day inspires exhibits, documentaries

                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Students at Westside Middle School Academy researched pieces of history to come up with an entire room of exhibits and documentaries for National History Day on Friday, Feb. 12.


One hundred seventh-grade students in the Global Studies program presented topics from propaganda in the Cold War to Civil Rights literature, and Andy Warhol and pop art. All of the students are encouraged to take their projects to the NHD state level competition in New Haven at the end of March.


National History Day began in 1974 on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Schools all over the country participate in the event; the year’s theme is “Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in History.”


“I think it is essential for our kids to be learning with a ‘real-world’ focus, to solve problems, conduct investigations and be a part of the larger community,” said Dawn Bartz, WSMSA Global Studies theme coach. “While this project has been extremely challenging, our students have developed approximately 65 exhibits, documentaries and websites focusing on the changes in society in the 1950s through the 1980s.”


Students Dominic Chrostowski and Connor Magyar compiled a documentary focused on Civil Rights literature with information on authors such as James Baldwin and Booker T. Washington. The purpose is “How literature impacted the Civil Rights movement and still is relevant today. They shared ideas and perspectives through literature.”


The History Day project has been a major focus seventh-grade Global Studies academy as it combines research, reading, writing, and technology skills with historical inquiry. This project allowed students to take the theme and develop projects that relate not only to the national theme but the academy’s subthemes (choices available through National History Day Project) of Pop Art: The Exchange of Consumerism and Culture and Civil Rights Stories.


A panel of 15 judges from the community, school district and school with backgrounds in inquiry, history and technology evaluated the projects using NHD rubrics, and the main categories were: historical analysis and interpretation; relationship to the theme; clarity of presentation and originality; and rules of compliance.


Student Ryan Wunsch created a website “How Did Pop Art Propaganda Affect the Cold War,” whose purpose was to inform people about how people were informed during this time period.

“I hope they learn how big the Cold War was. It could have destroyed the world,” he said.


Nick Seiler whose documentary focused on spy planes during the Vietnam War said that National History Day is important because “not a lot of people understand points of history in-depth. A project like this helps students understand how history evolved.”


Of the many colorful exhibits displayed in the school’s cafeteria was student Priscilla George’s, which was an informative poster display outlining the impact that the Kennedy sibling had on mental health facilities.


“This is an issue that people can still see the impact they had today,” Priscilla said. “The Kennedys are the reason for things like Special Olympics and (updated) mental health facilities.”


Following the regional competition in March, the state competition will be held in April. National History Day is in June.


#Danbury Board of Education#




Eleven WSMSA students head to Connecticut Science Fair

posted Feb 1, 2016, 6:27 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Eleven WSMSA students head to Connecticut Science Fair

                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Eleven seventh- and eighth-grade students from the Westside Middle School Academy STEM program have been chosen to represent their school at the 68th annual Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair in March.


At WSMSA on Wednesday, 146 students had the chance to show off their projects at the Science Fair held in the school’s main hallway and cafeteria while 22 judges, including scientists, engineers and teachers, viewed their projects and asked questions. Started in October, the projects had to involved physical or life science, or engineering.


The following students were selected as winners of the WSMSA competition: Sarah Johnson and Anjeli Joseph “Mutagenesis in Bacteriophage Phi X174 to Induce a Target Host of Escherichia Vulneris via Natural Selection”; Sarah Barta : “Can A Mineral Based Water Filtration System Eliminate Daphnia, Preventing Dracunculiasis”; Gryffin Syme: “Maximizing altitude with water rockets”: Lasya Josula: "Study of Various Starch-based Biopolymers”; Sanjana Shiram: “How does the amount of water in bio plastic affect its strength”; Jeff Osborne: “Harvesting Wind From City Street Canyons Using A Double Helix Wind Turbine Design”; Ben Laham: “Effect of Watering Bean Plants with Chlorophyll Solutions To Increase Chlorophyll Content”; Nick Raslavsky:  “Ozone in Danbury”; Connor Barrigas: “How does angle and distance effect splatter?”; Luke Hickey: “From Clean to Dirty.”


Last year five of ten WSMSA students were selected as finalists in the state competition.


Eighth-grade students Anjeli Joseph and Sarah Johnson chose to explore anti-bacterial resistance, hence “superbugs,” and researched the possibility of employing a bacteriophage, or virus, that targets bacteria. They discovered that the bacteriophage can mutate in order to be effective.


“It’s a pretty high-level topic,” said WSMSA teacher Jon Neuhausel, who orchestrated the school’s second annual science fair. He said the girls worked with E.coli bacteria that they had to order online under strict conditions.


“We learned that antibiotic resistance is a huge problem,” said Sarah Johnson, “but there is a way to combat that.”


Nicholas Raslvasky, seventh-grade, explored “Ground Level Ozone in Danbury” by making homemade strips that detect ozone suing potassium iodine and corn starch. He said he was interested in the project after learning that there is no such data in the global data set and that high levels of ozone can be dangerous.


Seventh-grader Gryffin Syme said he said a great time researching and testing his project: “Maximizing altitude with water rockets” by shooting off “rockets” using 9 mm and 22 mm nozzle to determine why the smaller nozzle didn’t produce enough thrust.


Gryffin said that the competition among his peers inspired him to be even more competitive.


The Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair will be held March 15-19 at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.


#Danbury Board of Education#


Danbury LEGO robotics teams qualify for state competition

posted Dec 3, 2015, 8:25 AM by Alexa Schlechter

Danbury LEGO robotics teams qualify for state competition        

           

Three of five LEGO robotics teams from Danbury are moving on to the state championships on Dec. 5.

 

“The Danbury teams are getting a reputation that they are the teams to beat,” said coach and volunteer Ellen Bell.

 

Some 30 students, many from Westside Middle School Academy and Rogers Park with a few from district elementary schools and neighboring districts, have met two evenings week since August to work on LEGO Mind Storm Robots EB3 to compete in the three-pronged STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competition. There are competitions for the robot mission game, project presentation and core values. The latter is where judges watch to see how students act and look for good sportsmanship, values, grace and professionalism. Students are presented with “tasks” that involve coming up with a solution.

 

The robot mission game is based on robot design, programming and how the robot performs on a thematic playing field.

 

“They learn to program a robot, teamwork and life skills,” Bell said. “It gives them confidence and the ability to feel comfortable when they know what they are doing.”

 

Bell said that students are asked to complete as many missions as they can in two minutes and 30 seconds. There are 12 missions on the field, and Bell said it’s impossible to do all in the time allotted. Therefore, the students strategize which missions they are going to do. If they don’t do well, they evaluate their mistakes and learn what they need to do next time.

 

The Danbury teams competed at the end of the November to qualify for the state championships, where they will compete against the top 50 teams from Connecticut. The World Championship is scheduled for mid-April.

 

“They are getting exposed to technology and they are making friends. They are learning how to be professional and work together as a team,” Bell said. “This world is going more toward technology and if you don’t know about it, you’re going to get left behind. Because of all they learn by doing this, they will be able to accomplish their goals and their dreams.”

 

For more information, visit Danbury Lego Robotics at www.danburylegorobotics.org.

 

#Danbury Board of Education#

Peace Poster Contest

posted Nov 5, 2015, 7:47 AM by Alexa Schlechter



WSMSA student wins Danbury Lion’s Club International Peace Poster contest

Winner chosen from 100 posters from middle school

                 

DANBURY, CONN. — Westside Middle School Academy sixth-grade student Kate Ernst’s design was chosen as her school’s winner of the Danbury Lion’s Club International Peace Poster contest on Oct. 29. Her poster will now compete at the regional level of the Lion’s Club contest.

One hundred six-grade students in the magnet middle school’s Global Studies Exploration program participated in the “International Peace Poster” contest sponsored by the Danbury Lion’s Club. The contest runs through January with the final tier of the contest at a United Nations conference. Each year, Lions clubs around the world sponsor the Lions International Peace Poster Contest in local schools and youth groups. This art contest for middle-school students encourages young people worldwide to express their visions of peace. For more than 25 years, millions of children from nearly 100 countries have participated in the contest.


Kate said drawing the poster was a challenge, and after going back and forth over the main concept, she finally concluded on a tree with the branches bending to form a peace sign.


“I didn’t want to make the (peace) sign so bright that it would be the first thing people saw,” said Kate. “I was trying to get their eyes to work their way up the tree and slowly discover the peace sign.”

 

For several weeks in November, the school’s hallways will be lined with posters: some with hearts and doves; others with images of globes and national flags. They all signify the unified message to “share peace.”

 

The school’s participation, led by Dawn Bartz, WSMSA Global Studies theme coach, ties in themes of communication, diplomacy, understanding and forming an appreciation of cultural diversity.


All students will receive recognition from the Lion's Club for participation. If chosen, a winning poster moves from regional to state and national levels and eventually worldwide. The winner of the final United Nations tier will be announced in late January or early February.


#Danbury Board of Education#


    



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