Category Archives: Community

NatureBridge Overnight Trip

By Meridian 5th Graders

NatureBridge is a field trip that all of the fifth graders go on at the end of the year. It’s an environmental science camp, and we were there for a whole school week! We went on lots of hikes and we went kayaking on Lake Crescent. We learned  about  forests, watersheds, tidepools, the Elwha River, and water tables in general. There were fun activities with water to cool us off! We played games and stayed up really late (which made getting up in the morning harder). Another school was there there too so we had opportunities to make new friends. This was definitely the longest overnight trip we’ve had, and it was even more fun than we expected!

This trip helped us feel really connected to nature. It’s a science field trip so it is educational, as well as a time to be together as a group one last time before graduation. It makes sense that we would end the year with it because it’s a really big part of our place-based education! Some of our favorite parts of the trip were just being in nature together and talking into the night in our cabins. Everyone was kind of sad because we  are all leaving Meridian soon, and some of us are going to different schools, but it’s also happy and exciting that we’re moving on to a new part of our lives. It’s bittersweet.

For incoming fifth graders, we want to make sure you know that this trip is amazing and so much fun!

Don’t be surprised if everyone starts crying at the last campfire. It’s a little bit emotional. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of our favorite experiences at Meridian!

Spotlight on Service Learning

What is Service Learning?  Service Learning is an approach to teaching and learning that integrates community service with classroom learning. It results in meaningful projects where students’ efforts benefit their community while they gain experience in civic responsibility and teamwork, and deepen their knowledge of core curricular themes.

Each year, grade levels partner with a different , local organization and engage in service learning projects. Last week, students presented their learning to the entire school community.

Kindergarteners worked with Tara, the Good Shepherd Center gardener, to maintain and care for a garden on campus. In connection with Global Studies, students explored ocean pollution and learned how we can protect the planet by reducing, reusing and recycling!

First Graders partnered with local nonprofit organization, City Fruit, to care for the fruit trees in Meridian Park’s orchard.

Second Graders partnered with Mary’s Place, and learned what they can do to raise awareness and support those who are homeless in Seattle. Second graders and their fifth grade buddies also continued their work with Washington Green Schools.

Third Graders coordinated and ran a school-wide community needs project with the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. ACRS is a local organization that promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.

Fourth Graders raised salmon, and learned how environmental factors impact the salmon life cycle and population. They released the salmon in Piper’s Creek, and supported habitat renewal with the Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Fifth Graders completed a project with Washington Green Schools and their second grade buddies, and maintained a year-long partnership with FamilyWorks, volunteering at the local Wallingford food bank each month.


By Meridian K-5th Graders

Service learning is a big project that we do here at Meridian, across all the grades. We learn about people, animals, and places in need and about causes, nonprofits and charities that support them. We learned that some nonprofits help people get the things they need to survive so they can have a better life, not just live from day to day. Service learning is important because we’re actually doing things, not just talking about it.

This year in particular many of our projects tied into Global Studies, so it’s educational and helpful! We as a school like to give back. Our school motto is Meridian Cares–I care for myself, I care for others, I care for my place. Service learning does all three! It improves our place by keeping the environment clean and safe, it helps others when we volunteer with nonprofits that give people safe places to live and things that they need, and it helps ourselves because you feel good when you are learning what you can do to help. Service learning is great because you’re taking care of places and other people, which isn’t something that happens a lot, especially since we’re kids.

We always talk about how where you live affects how you live, and it’s really easy to see that when we are doing service learning. We are looking forward to continuing it at Meridian, but also just in general in our lives. This type of learning helps us be prepared for the future, and not everybody gets those experiences so it’s important to learn how we can help so we can teach others later!

First Grade Overnight at the Woodland Park Zoo

First grade once again had a blast with our annual “First Grade Overnight at Woodland Park Zoo!”

As always, one of the major highlights for our first graders was getting a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo both after it’s closed in the evening and again in the morning before it opens to the public. Not only were a number of the animals more visible in their exhibits, but the first graders had multiple opportunities to interact with zookeepers that taught us all sorts of things about the exhibits that we wouldn’t normally get to learn on a regular zoo trip.

In addition to our time seeing the animals, we also had the opportunity to learn more about Woodland Park Zoo’s dedication to conservation. Thanks to our first graders’ work with our Global Studies curriculum this year (where we made frequent connections to the idea that where you live affects how you live), they were able to make a number of rich connections that helped reinforce the idea that it takes *everyone* working together to keep our environment healthy and happy!


By Meridian 1st Graders

We just got back from the Woodland Park Zoo today! The trip was based on animals and looking at their different habitats. Most of us stayed overnight so we had a night tour of the zoo, and a day tour this morning! The night tour was really fun because not everyone gets to see the animals at night. There was an interesting camera that takes pictures of all the animals, even at night! You can leave the camera and it takes pictures that people wouldn’t be able to see. We really liked that. The funny thing is that the bats were awake in the morning, and bats don’t normally move around in the daytime because that is when they sleep! There were lots of baby kangaroos, and we got to see them at night which made it seem extra special. We also had pizza for dinner and got to play in the Zoonasium (where there are play structures, and a huge tree we could climb).

The zoo trip was very exciting. It was crowded but we could still get around. It was fun to be around our classmates overnight because it’s not something we do very often. We think that the first graders next year should look forward to it because of how cool it is (even though we are really sleepy after staying up late, but it was worth it!)

Global Studies Museum Day

As global structures and systems evolve due to changes in cultural and social ideologies, politics, the environment and technological growth, teaching and learning about the world also needs to be dynamic and relevant for students. At Meridian, we want our students to gain an understanding of how global social and natural systems interact and progress. We also want our students to realize and act upon the notion that: “Thinking Globally and Acting Locally” impacts and creates change for local and global communities for the betterment for all. Our Global Studies program is one way we engage our students in this level of learning, thinking and doing.

Throughout the year, students across all grade levels participate in an extensive regional study of one of the continents.  This year’s focus was the region of Oceania. Our Global Studies program is enhanced by partnerships with local organizations, visits from local experts, and programming during Friday Morning Meetings and classroom workshops. Classroom studies are celebrated on our much anticipated Global Studies Museum Day. This past Friday, our classrooms transformed into exhibits and students embraced their role as museum docents, eager to share their acquired knowledge and research projects with museum visitors.  One or two representatives from each grade level volunteered to sharing their reflections (included below)!


Kindergarten

Global Studies was SO MUCH FUN! If we had to choose a favorite part, it would probably be the Museum Day at the end and seeing the projects everyone created. Kid museums are the best. It was our first time doing a project like this, which made it kind of hard. But it we were able to do it because we made a group plan.

We learned a lot almost by accident, it felt like we were just building things, writing books and doing activities. One of the most interesting things we learned was about how ocean currents and winds carry seeds all the way to far off places like islands! It makes sense how all the islands have plants growing on them, since seeds can travel without people. We can’t wait to do Global Studies again!

First Grade

In first grade, our big idea is “how does where you live affect how you live?” We studied things like how people can make boats out of the trees in their environment, and we also learned about different problems that people have, and how that affects their lives (like global warming and rising sea levels). One question we talked about the most was how our relationship with the environment here in Seattle impacts our lives, and we thought a lot about how the impacts are different or similar in Oceania.

Some of the favorite things we learned were how to throw a boomerang and how to perform the haka, a traditional Māori dance! We also learned that there’s a type of tree kangaroo that you actually call the cuscus, which we liked a lot, and we got to meet a real, live wallaby!

Second Grade

In second grade, we focused on two different topics. In Ms. White’s class, our topic was how people and cultures share their stories. In Ms. Spring’s class we focused on how where you live tells a story about you as well. It was quite a different process in second grade compared to what we did in Global Studies as first graders. We still built things, but there’s a lot more research involved. We think it’s a good transition. It’s funny, because some of us like making displays and models, and others liked the typing part the best!

There were a lot of specific interesting parts about the projects. We learned that the hula isn’t supposed to be with grass skirts! That was surprising. We also learned that a 15 year old girl designed the flag from Papua New Guinea. It was very inspiring to think that maybe we could do something that important one day!

Third Grade

In third grade, the main focus of Global Studies was finding solutions to climate change, because global warming, pollution, ocean acidification, coral bleaching and rising sea levels are affecting people living on islands in the region of Oceania. All of our projects were around the idea of people getting involved and solving real life issue. Our proposals aren’t real solutions right now, but they could be in the future. We all went through a really long, sometimes pretty hard, design process to come up with our solutions. We used classroom time, did research during library class, and developed, changed and improved our designs in the Creativity Lab! It was a lot of fun.

Some of our favorite parts were the things that we learned. We didn’t realize how quickly global warming actually happens. It is crazy to think how much we can actually do it change it, and how little changes can make a big difference! Some of our favorite parts were making all the models in our presentation. We really got to let our creative side go wild, and were able to take our minds to the limit. This meant we could brainstorm solutions that weren’t necessarily possible for us to create, but could maybe work if we had professionals or more resources, or maybe just made sense. One other favorite part was learning about chemistry. A few of us really enjoyed it, and are excited to learn about it more as we get older!

Fourth Grade

The main focus of Global Studies was understanding the history of Oceania and all the island nations inside of it. Really understanding how they are the same, different, and how they fit together and create an entire region. Our individual projects were about zooming in on one nation, or environmental or cultural aspect. It felt like a natural progression from 3rd grade, doing more research on a different topic, and really getting detailed facts. We had to have more detail than we’ve had in the past, which made it harder to do!

We learned a lot together when we were doing this research, and it was pretty cool to see everyone’s interactions and what they chose to focus on. One class made videos, while the other wrote non-fiction books, but we all accomplished similar things. A few of us came up with some strategies to get more people interested in our topics right off the bat. One strategy that was successful was finding a few awesome facts to get people hooked. We think we might use that in other projects later on! We were surprised to learn how quickly many of the islands changed and developed. The scale of Australia also surprised us. It’s so much larger than the other islands in Oceania, which we didn’t realize because Australia is the smallest continent.

Fifth Grade

In fifth grade, we are focusing on the history of island nations in Oceania. It’s the most in depth type of research we’ve ever done, and definitely felt like a step up compared to past years. Throughout the year we visited different museums and cultural centers to learn more about communities and traditions in Oceania, and to get a real life interaction and perspective on some of the things we learned about in the classroom. We visited the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, and we even made our own paddles at the Center for Wooden Boats. We decorated our paddles to express our identity, and got to use them in canoes on Lake Union. It was one of the most engaging Global Studies projects!

During Global Studies, we learn how different but also similar cultures are even when they are so far away from us. For example, there is a type of storytelling dance called Fāgogo in the Samoa Islands, and it is a way to tell a story through movement. We learned that they are trying to preserve it, so it’s emphasized to the youth to keep it alive. It seems really different from what we do at first, but if you think about it, it’s really like our families telling stories to each other. It’s just a different way of doing it. When studying the history of islands in Oceania, we also learned about colonization, which can be difficult to think about because some people made awful choices. Sometimes you want to avoid hard topics like slavery, but it is important to realize they are difficult and to have discussions about them anyway.

Overall, it really feels like Global Studies has a good progression throughout the 6 years at Meridian. We feel like every year built on each other, and hope we will continue other forms of Global Studies when we move on to middle school!

Young Designers’ Conference

By Meridian Students (representing all grade levels!)

Young Designers’ Conference was a day filled with “maker” activities. It started off with an all-school presentation by a keynote speaker, and they we go to attend two different workshops, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Everything looked really interesting. There were science classes, technology classes, art classes and more! We didn’t all get to attend our top choices, but we ended up really liking the workshops anyway.

The conference was fun, but also hard work. Some workshops were challenging because we didn’t have teams or groups, but working independently was fun too! We learned a lot more than we thought we were going to. The keynote speaker (Rick Hartman, “Gears of Invention”) was amazing, and his presentation was interesting and insightful!

We loved becoming designers for a day because we like to be creative thinkers and use our imagination. We think it is important to try things that you’ve never tried before. You are allowed to fail when you are designing, which is a good thing! It’s good to fail because it lets you see how difficult some things can be, and helps you discover and learn new approaches. Young Designers’ Conference is also a great way to explore jobs that parents and adults might have to see if we would enjoy that as a career.

It was a really hands on experience, so we got to dig deep into different activities and topics. We loved the whole conference and are excited to learn what the workshops will be next year!

Experimenting in the Science Lab!

By Meridian 4th Graders

The science room is an actual lab  that we all get to visit every week. There is a lot of space. It helps that we can see the projects that other classes are doing, instead of just seeing your own experiments. It’s really cool to see what everyone is working on. It’s also great to have Kelsey as a teacher, because she’s really nice and knows so much about science. She talks to you like an individual and an equal, rather than a kid scientist, which is really refreshing!

We do lots of experiments in the science lab (which are really fun). We do water tests, collision examples, erosion, pollution and more. There are experiments related to our Global Studies focus, Oceania, like detecting acidity in water and earthquake/flood demonstrations. The learning tools that we have in the lab like microscopes and all the large tools aren’t in our regular classrooms so it’s awesome we get to do more engaging experiments now that there is a dedicated space for it!

A big focus in the lab this year is studying the life cycle of salmon. We got salmon eggs from a hatchery, and we are raising them right now. We went to Carkeek Park to observe salmon and understand them. We got to see them hatch and move around. Then we got salmon eggs of our own to raise and observe in the science lab. One salmon fry had two heads, which was amazing to see! We are giving the salmon a better chance to survive when we release them because there are no predators in our tank. We are protecting them when they are most vulnerable. Out of about 300 salmon, only two will return to spawn!

Twice a week we test chemical levels in our salmon habitat. We make sure the levels are good for the salmon to live. The chemicals were fine in the beginning but lately they have been kind of high, we
are trying to figure out why (which is a fun experiment itself). It is rewarding, but a big responsibility, because if we make one mistake the salmon could die. We are excited to go back to Carkeek Park to release the salmon this spring. We are hopeful that some of our salmon spawn will be the salmon that the fourth graders get to observe next year!