Wednesday, September 18, 2019

First attempt at a YouTube channel for math and science


Hi students ... Here's a link to a YouTube channel as a test to see if this might help with clarifying some concepts as we go. 'Good to try new things :-)

Mr. Forbes

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

09.17.2019 - Tuesday -

Science 09.17.2019 – Tuesday –
Study Guide for Thursday’s open-note test

I.  Current Events:
            A.  One note on the busiest airport in the world.
            B.  One more note on hypersonic speed.

II.  Study Guide – Things we’ve covered that will be on Thursday’s test.
            A.  Key vocabulary terms
                        1. Cell
                        2.  Bacteria
                        3.  Cell Membrane
                        4.  Cytoplasm
                        5.  Prokaryote
                        6.  Eukaryote
                        7.  Nucleus
            B.  Elements found in living things.
                        1. Remember our C-H-O-N color-in handout.

            C.  Why is WATER essential (important) for life?
            D.  Characteristics of living things. “How do we know if something is alive?”
            E.  One fact from Current Events.  (Our Current Events always related to something we study this year.)

- Students had time to be sure they’ve completed the text pages 5, 10, 15, 16 and 23 through 26.  We also had a moon observation as our moon is a waning gibbous currently – It was setting around 9:00 am today.

Monday, September 16, 2019

09.16.2019 - Math -

09.16.2019 - Monday - 
Workbook pages - 75 through 84

09.16.2019 - Science -

09.16.2019 – Science –
I.  Current Events:  Two (2) on oil (fossil fuels.)
         A.  Oil comes from the remains of once-living things.
         B. Oil and coal are similar. They are both made, mainly, of Carbon.

II.  Observation:  Seeds
         A.  We added water to seeds last Thursday and today we observed the first stages of germination.
         B.  Students drew a picture of their seeds and described the first stages.
         C. More on water and how essential it is for the chemical reactions of life.

III.  A very brief clip from the beginning of “The Martian” – The fictional story has a stranded astronaut survive on Mars by growing potatoes. 

IV.  Students should continue their moon observations.

V.  Study guide for our first unit test will be on the board tomorrow.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

09.13.2019 - Friday - Math and Science recap

09.13.2019 – Math / Science
I.  Math:  Text – Pages 57 through 74.
         A.  Math Optional Extra Credit is due by Friday.
         B.  Math test on Friday focusing on parallelograms and triangles as well as decomposing figures to determine area and perimeter.

II.  Science
         A.  Lab on using the Triple Beam Balance – Determining MASS.
         B.  Lab on determining the DENSITY OF WATER  (One gram per cubic centimeter.)
         C.  Density and specific gravity are eighth grade standards but we need a basic understanding for cells and earth science in sixth grade as we study;
                  1.  Osmosis
                  2. Diffusion
                  3.  Oceans
                  4. Life on Earth!

         D.  A very brief (12 minute) video clip on the history of our universe. From the Big Bang, 14.5 billion years ago to the formation of Earth 4.5 billion years ago, to the first life on our planet. (About 3.5 to 3.7 billion years ago.)

         E. HOMEWORK: OBSERVE THE MOON! (ongoing for three weeks.)

09.13.2019 - Friday - STEAM

09.13.2019 – Friday
Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math

“Friday light.”

     Hi STEAM students. As we complete the two weeks on Civil Engineering -  focusing on buildings and houses - we will spend some time on aeronautical engineering. Having grown up right here next to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) it seems a natural engineering subject to explore.

     Today we watched a bit of “October Sky.”: Based on the novel “Rocket Boys” by Homer Hickam.  I’ve had the good fortune to visit the area of West Virginia where the novel was based. My father grew up in Charmco, West Virginia and we passed around a sample of coal from the very mine in the movie. We’re only watching a selected piece of the movie but I highly recommend. the novel. The book recounts the efforts of a small group of Coalwood, West Virginia high school students as they attempt to build and fly model rockets to enter a science fair. 

     Homer Hickam was kind enough to respond to a letter and the story is a wonderful example of the scientific method in action.

09.15.2019 Math - Optional extra credit

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

09.11.2019 - Math -

09.11.2019 – Wednesday – Math

I.    Notes on multiplying fractions
a.     Unlike addition or subtraction, there’s no need to find a common denominator when multiplying fractions.
b.    When dividing fractions we take the reciprocal of the second fraction (the DIVISOR) and, then, multiply as usual.
c.     While teaching eight-grade math last year a number of students tried to rely on calculators to convert fractions into decimals before performing arithmetic on the fractions. We will NOT be using calculators to work with fractions. We’ll be practicing working with rational numbers.

II. Class work and homework
a.     Goal for the homework is pages 49 through 55. Be sure to arrive at class with any questions you may have on the homework.

III.      Test corrections are due tomorrow.

IV.         Optional Extra Credit is due Friday.

09.11.2019 - Science -

09.11.2019 – Wednesday –

I.    Current Events:
a.     A very brief clip from “Brainpop” and “CNN Student News” (5 minutes) on the events of 9/11 , 2001. 
b.    Current events often has stories of international relations. No notes required for this part of the class.

II. Triple Beam Balance
a.     Brief notes on the three beams of the balance and how to use careful lab procedures to carry, handle, and use the triple beam.
b.    Our triple Beam balances measure the MASS of an object.
c.     The IS a difference between mass and weight.

III.      LAB
a.     Students were asked to find the mass of eight objects.
1.     Paper clip
2.    1 seed
3.    Graduated cylinder
4.    Golf ball
5.    Toy car
6.    Coin
7.    Pencil
8.    Ten seeds

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

09.10.2019 - Tuesday - All classes recap

09.10.2019 – Math / Science / STEAM

I. Math
         A.  We passed back our most recent quiz and reviewed the test correction procedure. Tests are due back by Thursday with corrections.
         B. The question on the recent quiz about how many “small” triangles make one square unit was a bit unclear and answers of 1/16 and 1/32 were both accepted as correct. The grades will be updated Thursday.
         C. Some examples of decomposing figures to determine area and perimeter.
         D. This week’s optional, extra-credit, was made available. It is due Friday.
         E. Homework: Complete he unit on parallelograms.

II. Science
         A.  Current events
                           1.  One note on hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones.
                           2.  One on the Indian mission to our moon.
         B.  Cells
                           1.  Five facts and an overview of the vocabulary terms from “Bill Nye – Cells.”
         A.  Scale model houses should be secured to their “land” and a compass rose should be added.
                           1.  A brief lesson on considerations in building a house, including the height of the sun in the sky at various times of year and the direction the house faces.

                           2.  Five STEAM questions on building your own house.

Monday, September 9, 2019

09.09.2019 - Math

Math - 09.09.2019 - 
Students worked on Unit One, Lesson three in class and are assigned through the end of lesson four for this evening. We had some notes on parallelograms and will correct he homework and our last quiz in class tomorrow.
A quadrilateral flow chart was introduced, like the one below.

Science - 09.09.2019 - Monday -

O9.09.2019 Science – Monday –

I.  Observation: Properties of water.
         A.  We had some drops of water on waxed paper an observed how the water tended to stick together and was repelled by the paper; much like a car after it’s been waxed.
         B.  Wax is very similar to fat or LIPIDS. Cells have a lipid layer that makes them like little “bubbles” of water.
         C.  The water molecule is POLAR – It has a positive and a negative side. Water molecules tend to stick together. Almost like tiny magnets.

II.  The second part of the class had students observe food coloring dropped into water. Students were asked if it was possible to avoid having the food coloring mix with water.
         A.  Atoms and molecules are always moving.
         B.  Water is a SOLVENT.
         C.  The food coloring will eventually mix no matter what – so long as the water is above ABSOLUTE ZERO! (But, that’s for eighth grade chemistry J)

III.  Finally, student used our in-class textbooks to make a list of the similarities and differences between PLANT cells and ANIMAL cells.
         A.  Plant cells have vacuoles to store water.
         B.   Plant cells have cell walls to help the plant stay rigid.

         C.  Animal cells have lysosomes to help remove waste.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Math and Science Notes and Assignments - 09.06.2019

Thursday and Friday update ...
We had Back to School night on Wednesday and our first math quiz on Friday. The math quiz was based on the composing and decomposing of figures that we did both in class and for homework. Students could use their text for the test and the Area and perimeter questions were straight from the homework assigned on Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

09.03.2019 - Tuesday - Math -

09.03.2019 – Tuesday – Math –
I.  Warm up:  A quick, word-problem, challenge to introduce/review the concept of CONVERSION FACTORS. These are important in both math and science.
         A.  Word problem of how long it would take Los Angeles to be next to San Francisco of the San Andreas Fault is moving the cities about two inches closer – on average – each year?

B.    We’ll jump back into “Open Up – 2.2 – Comparing Shapes – “ tomorrow. Students had a bit more practice on area, perimeter, and working backwards (key problem-solving skill) to calculate the length of a side of a square given the area.
C.     Perimeter and area practice work sheet was assigned. Some students completed it in class. If not completed in class it “rolls over” into homework.

II.  REMINDER: A basic calculator is required for this math class.

09.03.2019 - Science -

09.03.2019 – Tuesday –
I.    Current events:  Student news (8 min.) – Two different science stories.
a.     Hurricane Dorian had the strongest winds ever recorded I an Atlantic hurricane.
b.    The donkey has been used as a work animal for about 5,000 years.

II. Science Notes – Introducing the GRADUATED CYLINDER.
a.     (Student drew the cylinder.) Used to measure LIQUID VOLUME.
b.    Remember, VOLUME is how much space matter takes up.
c.     Students shared 25mL graduated cylinders in their groups.

III.      mL stands for milliliter. 1000 mL = 1 Liter
IV.         Definitions: Students worked in groups – with the class set of textbooks - to define; (In science notebooks.)
a.     Cell
b.    Cytoplasm
c.     Eukaryotic
d.    Prokaryotic
e.    Nucleus
f.     Cell membrane

g.     Bacteria

Thursday, August 29, 2019

08.29.2019 - Thursday

08.29.2019 – Thursday –

Hi Science and Math students. Today we reviewed the grading policy where we have most of the credit (fifty percent) coming from weekly tests and quizzes. We’ve been together in class for a week now and I waited until now to review the grading policy, as I like getting into routines and teaching right away.  In math and science we touched on area and perimeter.  One thing about sixth grade is that many of us have come from different schools and different science subjects may have been gone into more deeply in some places than others so we’re all getting up to speed on these things together! Enjoy the ride through middle school J

I.  Math:  Area, Perimeter, and Volume - 
            A.  Students were given regular prisms, cylinders, and spheres and were asked to share and look at page 126 from their binder reminders and apply the formula for determining volume. It was an introduction to using volume formula.
            B.  For Pi students were asked to use 3.14.  When Pi is involved in the formula you know you’re dealing with a circle. (Cylinder or sphere today.)
            C.  First period was given a few extra challenges to attempt this evening. (First four on either side of the paper only.)  We didn’t get quite that far in third period. 

II. Science:  Elements and life.
            A.  Students are arriving at Taylor with a range of knowledge on the Periodic Table and elements. While we get into chemistry in depth in seventh and eighth grade, we do introduce the concepts of atoms, elements, and compounds.
            B.  The Periodic Table of Elements list the 92 naturally occurring elements plus other that have been produced in labs. We gave a quick introduction to C, H, O, N, Ca, and P.
            C. Plants make their own food through PHOTOSYNTHESIS.
            D.  Photosynthesis takes water and carbon dioxide and makes sugar while releasing oxygen.
            E. Science LAB:  Observation and inference. “Form follows function.”  Students were asked to observe, draw, and make a rubbing of various leaf samples.
                        1.  Why do you think a leaf has the shape it does?
                        2.  What was the approximate area of the leaf in centimeters squared?
                        3.  Name at least five things that look similar to the veins in a leaf. Example: It looks like a map of a river system.

III. STEAM:  Engineering
            A.   A very brief video clip on building skyscrapers.
            B.  Students were asked to answer a few questions on their paper skyscraper build.
                        1.  Why might we want to build high?
                        2.  How do available materials limit how high we can build?
                        3.  What force is constantly trying to pull down structures?

                        4.  Why is it important to build using a plan?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

08.28.2019 - Math / Science / STEAM

08.28.2019 – Wednesday –

     Week 2, Day 5

     Hi sixth graders and parents.  We’re five days into the school year and I’ve been trying to arrange to room and plan the curriculum for a year that prepares each student for middle and high school. In math we’re beginning the curriculum with area, perimeter and volume and in science we’ve touched on cells and the scientific method.


I.  Introduction:  A review of perimeter, area, and volume.
     A.  Perimeter: One-dimensional – example – 12 meters
     B.  Area: Two-dimensional – example – 12 meters squared.

     C.  Volume: Like the volume of or classroom from our lab – 324 meters cubed.

II.  Examples of perimeter, area, and volume from construction and building.

III Math lab – We checked out salt – NaCl – and figured that about 20 salt grains fit across one centimeter.
     A.  So, 400 (20 x 20) salt grains would cover one square centimeter.
     B.  And, in once cubic centimeter, you could fit 8000 salt grains. (20 x 20 x 20)

IV. Volume and perimeter homework was collected and, tomorrow, we’ll use the salt math lab to give an example of how we deal with very large numbers in science and math.
No homework in math this evening.


I.  Introduction: Current events. Two notes on weather predictions for the US for this winter.  Notes might include;
     A.  Winter begins on December 21st
     B.  The “Old Farmers Almanac: uses a complicated – and not, particularly scientific, method to predict the weather.

II.  Notes: Elements and living things. We do not get far into the Periodic Table of Elements in sixth grade, but we do need a background on elements to understand some of the concepts in biology. Living things are, mostly, composed of the elements;
     A.  C – Carbon
     B.  H – Hydrogen
     C.  O – Oxygen
     D.  N – Nitrogen
     E.  Ca – Calcium
     F.  P – Phosphorus

III.  Activity:
     A.  Student placed, into their science notebooks, a color-in sheet hat visually represents the percentage of each element in a plant or animal. (By mass, we’re mostly Oxygen!)


I.  In our introduction to engineering we did not add to our paper skyscraper today because of time constraints but we did complete the “Imagineering” video clip and draw a first-draft design of a house. The ultimate goal is to build a small model of a small home. Beginning with plans, estimating costs, and considering materials and aesthetics.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

08.27.2019 - Tuesday -

08.27.2019 – Science / Math / STEAM / Blog

Week 2 – Day 4 –

I.  Math – Perimeter, Area, Volume.
A.  Perimeter:  The distance around a two-dimensional geometric figure.
     B.  Area: Of a square or rectangle – length x width.
     C.  Student worked with their table group and shared strategies for pages seven and eight:  tiling patterns.  A key strategy was to break the pattern into smaller pieces – “simpler” shapes.

II.  Notes – the coordinate system.
     A.  “X” and “Y” Axis.
     B.  The origin – The point (0,0) where the axis’ (two number lines) cross at a right angle.
     C. Quadrants – Four quadrants traditionally written with roman numerals – I, II, III, and IV.

III.  Homework –
     A.  The first three questions on area and perimeter from the worksheet. Remember to use the strategy of breaking the figure into simpler shapes.

I.  Science - Life and current events.
     A.  The Amazon is important for;
          1. Medicines.
          2. Biodiversity
          3. Releasing oxygen and curbing human-caused global climate change.

     B.  Life – Characteristics of;
          1.  Reproduction.
          2. Metabolism.
          3.  Makes / consumes food.

          4.  Responds to stimuli.

Monday, August 26, 2019

08.26.2019 - Monday -

Monday – 08.26.2019 –

    HI sixth graders and welcome to Taylor Middle School.  Thanks for visiting this site where you can find a recap of what we did in class, the assignments, and an outline of our journey so far …

     Middle school is the twenty-seven school months we have to prepare for high school.  I’m privileged to be your teacher and am excited to begin a new school year in the city where I grew up.

     Millbrae is a special place not only for it’s location in the vibrant Bay Area but also as wonderful environment to explore and create and discover your unique interests as we prepare, together, for the adventure of middle and high school.


I.           Introduction: (Daily math review/preview) – Today we reviewer the ideas of SCIENTIFIC NOTATION. 
a.  In out galaxy, there are about 200 billion stars.
b.  Astronomers estimate there are about 200 billion galaxies in or universe.
c.  That means the total number of stars in our universe is about 4.0 x 10^22 – or 40 sextillion. That’s a four with twenty-two zeros after it!

II.        “Math Lab”
a.  In our math lab today we continued with finding the length, width, and average height of this classroom.  (The “average height” is tricky because ceiling is not a uniform height.

III.    Math homework / assignment –
a.  Textbooks were distributed and our homework is page seven and to “flip-a-coin” and chose one of the figures from page eight. No more than one-half hour on the homework please. If it takes longer than that set it aside as we’ll review it in class tomorrow. Homework is meant to be practice, not a burden.


I.  Introduction: Current events:
a.  Two notes on the current fired burring in the Amazon rain forest.
                                           i.     Farmers are setting fires to clear land for cattle.
                                       ii.     About one fifth of the oxygen on our atmosphere comes from the rain forest.

II.        Notes – LIFE
a.  A review of the Viking landers which reached Mars on the 1970’s
                                           i.     Students were in table groups and asked that, if they were on the engineering team for the Mars landers, what TESTS could you do to determine of there was LIFE on Mars.
                                       ii.     In other words, how can we determine of something is ALIVE?

III.    HOMEWORK – (To be completed on notebooks.) – Observation skills –

a.  Image you go back in time 100 years and find yourself among people who believe our Earth is as flat as a pancake.  Assuming you can communicate with them, what evidence could you use to try to show that or EARTH is, really, a sphere?