Around the District

  • Steger Students Build Models of Closed Ecosystems 
    Steger closed ecosystems Science students at Steger Sixth Grade Center have made self-sustaining, closed ecosystems to study this semester. They've made models, which might remind you of terrariums, and are logging measurements, successes and setbacks throughout the process, as seen in this photo of Chloe Forsee (left) and Lily Wolf.

    For the “ecobottles” – made from two-liter plastic bottles brought from home -- the children used soil, seeds, plants, water, sand, gravel and various invertebrate animals and other organisms in the soil or water.

    The difference between these bottles and a terrarium is that students were demonstrating that all parts of a self-sustaining ecosystem were present and the bottles are permanently sealed for observation, said science teacher Kelly Williams. Before beginning the project, the students watched a video about a man who has an ecobottle that’s over 60 years old. Afterward, they researched the needs of living organisms and decided which ones and how many they thought their system would support.

    Learning goals for the students include analyzing and interpreting data, constructing an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among the living and non-living factors in an ecosystem, developing a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy and coming up with a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis.

    Some surprises occurred along the way. Williams said that the children were amazed at the different plants and insects that showed up in the bottles. She said that in teacher Lisa Picker’s class, one student’s bottle contained mosquitoes, fruit flies and house flies that hatched from the compost inside.

    Williams said she hopes the students come away with an understanding of “the importance of balance and biodiversity in ecosystems.” Everything, she said, has a role to play and “the decisions they make have consequences.”

    High School Echo Named National Finalist
    The Webster Groves High School Echo newspaper website has been named a finalist in the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pacemaker competition. The Echo is one among 44 finalists, all of whom will receive plaques April 25 at the Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Anaheim, Calif. The NSPA describes the Pacemaker as the association’s “preeminent award” that honors “the best of the best.”

    High School Art Students Create Life-Size Self-Portraits 
    WGHS art mannequin High School art students created life-size, three-dimensional WGHS art student & Mannequin self-portraits, based on the work of American sculptor Duane Hanson. The students used pvc pipes for the skeletons, then wrapped themselves in plastic. They wrapped packing tape around the plastic, then slid it all off and stuffed it. They added clothes, painted faces and voila!

    You could see some of the self-portrait mannequins throughout the community in January. This photo shows one mannequin throwing a pot in the window of Krueger's Pottery in Old Orchard. An art student poses with her mannequin at school.

    ERS Students Make Their Own Boxcars 
    ERS Box cars Edgar Road students read the classic children's book "The Boxcar Children,” then brought decorated boxes as their own boxcars and sat in them to watch The Boxcar Children movie. Afterwards, they discussed the differences between the book and movie.

    Hixson Physical Education Students Skate 
    Ice skating One of the advantages of attending school near the Webster Groves Recreation Center is the chance to skate at the ice rink for your physical education class, as shown by a seventh grade student.
    Photo by Emma Binder

    Givens Students Learn More About Volume
    3D sculptures The fifth grade class at Givens Elementary learned about volume by building sculptures this school year. The students were given the task of sketching, planning, and creating a sculpture using only rectangular prisms. Students used their knowledge of volume to create buildings, objects, and toys. Once their sculptures were built, students used the dimensions of each prism to create directions for recreating their sculpture.
    Story and photo by Emma Binder

    Ambrose Preschoolers Help The Needy 
    Sycamore Room students The Sycamore Room at Walter Ambrose Family Center Preschool held a "We Can Share" Drive! After reading "Emma's Poem" as part of a lesson on the different ways people live, discussion sparked in the classroom about people in need. After the children began asking how they could help, the Sycamore Room had the idea for the collection. In this photo, preschoolers sort some of the collected items.
    Story and photo by Emma Binder

    Webster Groves High School Marketing II Travels to New York City 
    Marketing students Webster Groves High School Marketing II students have recently returned from New York City. While there, students met with various businesses, explored the city, and enjoyed a Broadway show. The group of seniors met with companies like Complex Media, BMF Media, Live Nation, MKTG, and Samsung. Marketing II students also had the opportunity to meet with two former Webster Groves High School students, Katie Stack, who is getting a degree in Health Care Marketing from Columbia University, and New York Islanders player Scott Mayfield. Mayfield even showed the class around Barclay Center before students watched the New York Islanders play the St. Louis Blues. The Marketing II New York trip happens each January, and is run by Kara Siebe, the WGHS marketing teacher.
    Photo: Students and chaperones at the rooftop garden of BMF Media in New York City.
    Story by Emma Binder, Photo by Tim Brown of Webster Groves School District

    #TeacherFeature: Jennifer Blumenkemper at Bristol 
    Mrs. Blumenkemper and students Our next #TeacherFeature is Jennifer Blumenkemper! Mrs. Blumenkemper, a fourth-grade teacher, has been at Bristol Elementary for 13 years and in the Webster Groves School District for 25. Her love for Webster comes from its strong sense of community, welcoming nature, and endless activities for families.
    Mrs. Blumenkemper says that in her opinion, the greatest thing that you can teach a student is to have respect for themselves and others. As for the greatest thing her students have taught her, it is that the child that needs her the most is often the hardest to reach.

    When asked what has changed the most since she has been at Bristol, Mrs. Blumenkemper says that more has stayed the same. Leadership changes, families change, lessons change, but the Bristol staff is always pushing forward to better meet the needs of their students. To Mrs. Blumenkemper, the best thing about her classroom is that it’s full of children who are engaged in learning with humor, cooperation, and inquiry.
    Story and photo by Emma Binder