Mr. Walser's Projects:

Mountain Middle School is a project based learning environment.  Students learn skills and polish multiple drafts with the intention of producing professional and inspirational work.

  1. Blastoff: Rocket Building, Aerodynamics, Engineering, Motion Studies & Scientific Method
    1. Digital design, aerodynamic analysis, efficiency testing
    2. Designing, constructing, assembling & testing miniature rockets
    3. Exploring physics: Newton’s Laws, gravity, wind resistance, acceleration
    4. Experiment design and utilization of the scientific method
  2. Goldilocks Planet: Solar System, Weather/Climate & Lunar Studies
    1. Size, scale & composition of the solar system
    2. Orbits, ellipses, planetary days & years
    3. Seasons, axial tilt, weather & climate
    4. Lunar studies, tides, eclipses
    5. Star formation, the sun, optics
    6. Big Bang Theory, galaxies and cosmology
  3. Fright Fest: Math-O-Lanterns & Dry Ice Chemistry
    1. Coordinate plane, coordinate points, graphing, and area calculations
    2. Collaboration, artistic creativity, and three-dimensional design
    3. Sublimation, phase change, energy transfer, and lab-safety
  4. What's With the Weather?: Weather, Climate & Forecasting
    1. Meteorology, weather, and climate
    2. Jet stream, ocean currents
    3. Glaciers, climate change, global warming
    4. Forecasting, weather maps, data collection
    5. Cape Horn, creative writing, technical writing
  5. A Walk on the Wild Side
    1. Geomorphology & plate tectonics
    2. Physical geographic features & geology
    3. Constructive and deconstructive forces
    4. Volcanoes, mountains, glaciers, canyons & caves
    5. Topography & orientering
    6. Erosion
  6. Rockin' Roller Coasters: Energy Transfer & Structural Design
    1. Potential & Kinetic Energy and energy transfer
    2. Structural design, engineering principles (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
    3. Gravity, momentum and friction
  7. Sounds like a Didgeridoo: Sound, Waves & Instrument Building
    1. Using software to record, analyze and visualize sound frequency & intensity
    2. Examining how shape and size affect pitch (vibrational frequency)
    3. Constructing and decorating a traditional Aboriginal instrument
    4. Exploring instrument building (guest: Andrew Benson, owner of Praxis Guitars)
I incorporate a great deal of student and faculty interests into my projects. Projects adhere to state content standards but remain subject to change depending upon student interest, sequencing concerns, and availability of time & resources.


posted Apr 2, 2014, 9:18 AM by   [ updated Apr 20, 2014, 8:43 PM ]

The following document contains state standards associated with this project.

Best of the Didgeridooers

Example of Exceptional Research: Kaylie Evans, Mattie Stubbe, Savannah Paviglianiti

Didgeridoo Research

Clean last year's didgeridoos for refurbishing.

Start class with the opening clip from "It Might Get Loud" where Jack White builds a makeshift electric guitar.

Sound lab designed by the University of Colorado:  Requires Java and the following application.

Instrument design and construction: brainstorming and materials list. Instrument art (Search Aboriginal Art & Didgeridoo Art on

Making Music Magical

Music as a Language

Dynamic Didgeridoo

Vivacious Violin

Crazy Cool Cellos

Grandiose Guitar

A Power Happy Performance

Star Wars Dueling Cellos

Landfill Harmonic

Landfill Harmonic


posted Feb 20, 2014, 9:50 AM by   [ updated Apr 18, 2014, 1:14 PM ]

Physical Geography

Field Trip - Haviland Lake.  Snowshoeing, snow science, and winter ecology (Durango Nature Studies School Programs)

Planet Earth Episode: Pole to Pole

Learning Target -  I can utilize t-chart note taking strategies to collect information on how climate and physical geographic features differ from pole to pole.

MMS Physical Geography Review Guide

Science:  Physical geography study guide HW - Finish the Mountain and Glacier sections.
Planet Earth Episode: Mountains  

Learning Target - I can explain why tectonic plates move by describing the collision and subduction processes summarized by the theory of plate tectonics.

Learning Target - I can describe the formation process of shield, composite and cinder cone volcanoes.

Homework - Use the Volcano Types & Formation link to write a three paragraph summary of the formation process of shield, composite and cinder cone volcanoes.

Extra Credit - Write a three paragraph essay describing the geological formulation of Laga de Atitlan located in Guatemala.  The formation of this lake is directly related to volcanic activity in the region.  The first paragraph should describe the volcanic history, the second should describe how this led to a lake forming and what specific attributes the lake has, and the third should describe the culture of the region including a focus on the villages surrounding the lake, which host two distinctly different indigenous inhabitants that still retain connections to their Mayan heritage.  Good luck!

Learning Target - I can explain the role tectonic plates play in the formation of mountains, volcanos and earthquakes.


Planet Earth Episode: Fresh Water HW - Students should continue to work on their Physical Geography Study Guides (all sections prior to glaciers).

Project's Final Product: Introduce rubric from last year's Physical Geography Road Trip paper and brainstorm ideas for possible final products for this year.  

Physical Geography Field Trip Paper 2013

Emily V, Emily W, Mikayla W & Brynn N created a collaborative piece that exemplified both content standards and creative components.

four corners trip final ‎(Emily, Emily, Mikayla, and Brynn)‎

Links to other excellent papers from last year!

Excellent example of the Four Corners Road Trip essay from MMS's first 8th grade class:

Kaylie Evans_Four Corners Essay Final Draft

Fossil Fuel Formation

Please Watch
Coal, Oil & Natural Gas Formation:

Please Read

What's With the Weather?

posted Jan 28, 2014, 2:52 PM by   [ updated Apr 20, 2014, 9:15 PM ]

What's With The Weather?

The following document contains state standards connected to this project.



Helpful Links

Rounding the Horn - Sailing Expedition

Example of "Rounding the Horn" by Cameron Cunningham.

Cameron C Cape Horn Story

Preparation for Climate Change Debate

Learning Target - "I can articulate an educated opinion as to whether climate change and global warming 
are human-induced, naturally occurring, or a combination of both."

Climate Graphs & Data

These videos feature renowned climatologists & glaciologists using data driven methods to investigate climate change.  Each of these scientists use their research to support the hypothesis that humans are both directly and indirectly impacting climates and ecosystems by burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases.

A reading on climate change from Deep Truth by Gregg Braden is used to provide a hypothesis that attributes global warming and climate change almost exclusively to cyclic fluctuations of the sun's solar output and cyclic variations in Earth's orbital eccentricity and axial tilt.

Cookie Coal Mining mini-project!  Project overview:  Students in the Four Corners region should also read the following article on the Navajo coal-powered power plant and discuss the article in a Socratic Seminar.

A component of the activity is set up to mimic the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (in days of old prior to computerized trading).  Coal prices fluctuated and students have to decide when to sell their product.  Teachers assess fines and adjust to the imposed political climate that fluctuates throughout the course of the class period, making the project feel authentic and relevant.

Fossil Fuel Formation

Please Watch
Coal, Oil & Natural Gas Formation:

Please Read
National Geographic Article on Coal: (more difficult)
Readworks Article on Coal and Non-renewables: (easier w/. questions)

Climate Change and Energy Consumption Resources

Binder Check
  1. KWL Weather Chart
  2. National Geographic's "Weather Gone Wild"
  3. Big Thompson Flood Notes
  4. A By the Numbers Look at All That Water Worksheet
  5. Chasing Water Movie Notes
  6. Hurricane Development Worksheet
  7. Equinox Reading and Notes
  8. Equinox Paragraphs/Summary
  9. Effects of Heat on the Atmosphere (Lesson 47)
  10. Conduction, Convection, Sea Breeze, Land Breeze, Global Wind Notes
  11. Air Pressure Reading 
  12. Air Pressure Notes (and notes on straw/beaker mini-lab)
  13. Rounding the Horn (Wind - Chapter 3)
  14. Antarctica & Cape Horn Notes
  15. Rounding the Horn (Sea-Struck - Chapter 2)
  16. Sailing Notes & Wind Belt Notes
  17. Rounding The Horn Creative Writing Assignment
  18. Making and Reading Weather Maps (Lesson 48)
  19. Using Weather Data to Predict Weather (Lesson 49)
  20. TED Talk Observations, Questions, Inferences Note Catcher
  21. Paragraphs for TED Talk
  22. Coal Cookie Mining Worksheet
  23. Navajo (Coal Power) vs. Ute (Natural Gas) Paragraphs
Bold Text indicate important homework assignments

Weather Data

I can keep a weather journal that collects data and explains how variables cause certain weather patterns in Durango, CO and a second location outside of the United States.  I can write an expository essay comparing and contrasting my local and international weather data.

Weather Data

Climate Change Debate

Debate Target - I can articulate an educated opinion on whether climate change is human-induced, naturally occurring, or a combination of both.

Students should use readings, notes and graphs to support their claims.

Tips on how to be a Great Debater!  

Participate in and support Black History Month by watching The Great Debaters!

The Great Debaters

Climate Change Guiding Questions

Practice Debates

Debate 1 - Naturally Occurring   vs    Combination of Both (25 minutes)
Debate 2 - Human Induced        vs    Combination of Both (25 minutes)

Debate Structure:
              • Each group has five minutes to state and justify their position.
              • Each group has five minutes to rebut their opponent's position.
              • Each group has 2.5 minutes to share their closing remarks.
Debate Observers:
              • Each student will observe one peer who is participating in the debate.
              • Students will use the following two documents to assess performance.

Final Debate

Driving Question - Is climate change primarily naturally occurring or human induced?

Primarily Naturally Occurring   -vs-   Primarily Human Induced
Debate Structure:
  • Opening Presentations (10 minutes for each team)
  • Socratic Dialogue (open floor for all team members at the inner table with Mr. Walser as moderator)
    • Focus 1 - Naturally Occurring (15 minutes with main points and rebuttals)
    • Focus 2 - Human Induced (15 minutes with main points and rebuttals)
  • Closing Statements (5 minutes for each team)
Final Question - Do increasing levels of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere pose a clear and present danger to mankind and biodiversity on our planet?

Mini Socratic Seminar

Learning Target - I can use quotes, notes and graphs to support my claims during the seminar.

Socratic Question - Do human carbon dioxide emissions pose a clear and present threat to humanity or other eco-systems and species on Planet Earth?

If they do...

What should humanity do to efficiently reduce worldwide carbon emissions?

Clouds, Humidity & Precipitation

Weather Forecast Exhibition

Todd's Forecast

Weather Forecast Rubric

Weather Forecast Preparation Worksheet

Schedule: To see what day you will be presenting your forecast, click on the following 


posted Sep 11, 2012, 9:03 AM by   [ updated Jun 13, 2014, 3:10 PM ]

Rocket Design

Bastoff 2013

3, 2, 1, Blastoff

The following document summarizes state standards connected to this project.

Blastoff 2012

For more examples of experiments designed by the graduating Class of 2013 please click on the following link.
For more examples of experiments designed by the graduating Class of 2014 please click on the following link.

Rocket Experiment Lilah Slaughter

MMS 8th Grade Class of 2011 - 2012

Animas High School Rocket Launch

Rockin' Roller Coasters

posted Jan 5, 2012, 8:46 AM by   [ updated May 2, 2014, 9:08 AM ]

Rockin' Roller Coasters

The following document contains state standards connected to this project.
The following website contains excellent resources that correspond directly to the Rockin' Roller Coasters project.

Rockin' Roller Coasters

Important Concepts
  1. Forces (mechanical, gravitational, electrical & magnetic)
  2. Motion - One of the most important fields of study in physics is the study of motion.
  3. Energy - Potential & Kinetic Energy, Energy Sources, Renewables vs Nonrenewable Energy
  4. Mechanical vs. Chemical Energy
  5. Inertia, Momentum, Energy Transfer
  1. Space Rail Coasters
  2. Momentum & Collision Lab
  3. Personal Interest Labs (individual or small groups)
  4. Mini Rockets: elastic potential energy, pressure based potential energy, chemical potential energy (See 3, 2, 1, Blastoff)
    1. Trebuchet
    2. Potato Cannon
  1. James Prescott Joule article, 9 reflection questions, energy notes, energy problems
  2. Conceptual Physics worksheets: weight & mass worksheet, potential & kinetic energy worksheet, acceleration due to gravity worksheet
  3. Roller Coaster design (with Potential Energy & Kinetic Energy calculations)
  4. Space Rail Paragraphs: energy transfer, design principles, using algebraic equations to predict motion
  5. Space Rail Velocity & Energy Lab
Quizzes & Tests
  1. Kinetic & Potential Energy, Mass & Weight Quiz
  2. Test
Important Scientists
  • Galileo Galilei
  • Isaac Newton
  • James Prescott Joule
Corresponding Khan Academy Concepts

     Expressions, Variables & Equations
    **note: bold indicates exercises to be completed by all 8th grade students**

    The Goldilocks Planet

    posted Jan 5, 2012, 8:36 AM by   [ updated Apr 20, 2014, 9:03 PM ]

    Exploring our Solar System

    Modeling Our Solar System

    • Gravity
    • Distance
    • Scientific Notation
    • Speed of Light
    • Elliptical Orbits
    • Axial Tilt & Rotation
    • Earth's planetary motion affects climate, weather & seasons
    • Galileo Galilei
    • Copernicus & Kepler
    • Sir Isaac Newton

    The Goldilocks Planet: Studying our Solar System

    The following document summarizes state standards connected to this project.

    The Fathers of Modern Science: Galileo Galilei & Sir Isaac Newton

    Pythagorean 1 String Guitars

    posted Jan 4, 2012, 5:00 PM by   [ updated May 16, 2012, 6:58 AM ]

    Pythagorean Tuning: A music/fractions lesson  by Kalle V. Jorgensen

    Student Deliverables: Link to Brandon's Video

    One String Guitars

    Fright Fest: Math-O-Lanterns and Dry Ice Chemistry

    posted Jan 4, 2012, 4:40 PM by   [ updated Nov 12, 2013, 1:51 PM ]

    Math-O-Lantern's 2013


    Halloween 2012

    Dry Ice Lab Experiment

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