013 - Solar Ovens - 3rd grade

3rd grade teachers dressed up as solar ovens for our Halloween parade. They won the "Best Group"

3rd grade teachers dressed up as solar ovens for our Halloween parade. They won the "Best Group"

Driving Question: How can we use our knowledge of thermal properties, the Engineering Design Process, and our creativity to design a solar oven with minimal environmental impact?

Starting off the school year with a weather-related project was a big gamble. What if it rained? What if it were cloudy? Well, when it came time to testing out 3rd grade's solar ovens, it was a bright and sunny afternoon - even though it was a bit cold. After sessions of research, prototyping, testing, and retesting, our 3rd grade boys build great solar ovens. A few carefully engineered solar ovens even melted enough cheese for nachos!

Solar Ovens, ready to cook some nachos!

One of our many successful solar oven!

Showing some originality in a chip toaster, with separate cheese warmer.

Solar ovens lined up on the roof to collect solar energy!

012 - Colorful plants - 2nd grade

Kicking off a huge unit about access to quality foods, students are sharing that they know about plants. What are the parts of a plant? What parts of plants do humans eat? What does a plant need to grow and thrive?

Look at these cool cabbage leaved that were drinking up the colored water. Students made predictions and documented the color change over time. Do you notice which parts of the cabbage leaf absorbed the most water?

Here is a top-view of the four cabbage leaves, showing off their newly absorbed colors.

In a blast from the past, students observed the plant lifecycle through our classic Chia-pet.


After observing bean, sunflower, and pea seeds with a magnifying lens, we planted them to document their growth.  


011 - Healthy Teeth, Healthy Bodies - 1st grade

How can we learn healthy habits? 1st grade boys are learning all about staying healthy. First we studied teeth, then germs, and now we are studying bones. We are practicing our predicting and observation skills.


Here, hardboiled eggs are soaked for 24-hours in various liquids - mouthwash, milk, coke, coffee, tea, and apple-grape juice. Look at how much the egg shells stained. Then we used and electric toothbrush loaded with tooth paste to see of we how well we can clean our shells. 


Everyone is so excited about sharing their tips for healthy teeth and smiles.


After looking at germs collected from teachers' teeth, boys were inspired to swab areas around the science room, their classroom, and around the school. Look at what grew!

Feeling inspired, boys observed their germ collection under a microscope then learned how to draw bacteria and viruses.

Bonus 02: 8th grade STEM

As 8th grade boys learn about forces, motion, and gravity, they are also learning about exponential graphing. This sounds like a STEM project!!! Through careful prototyping and collecting data, teams of 8th grade boys created a bungee cord system - at the correct length - for a jumper (action figure) to jump from the roof of the school building into the pool on the sidewalk. It was a splashing success!

Bonus 01: Ms. Boualavong visits - a monarch butterfly sanctuary

A little known fact about Ms. Boualavong is that she spent 5th-8th grade living in the Monterey Bay Area. One of the things she remembers fondly is the annual monarch butterfly migration. Each fall, monarch butterflies return to Pacific Grove and other sanctuaries along the coast between Canada and Mexico. This year, Ms. Boualavong was luck enough to spend a weekend in Big Sur, and visit the monarch sanctuary during migration season.

010 - 5 Senses Olympics - kindergarten

Kindergarten boys got in the spirit of Fall through the 5 senses. Testing their sense of smell through fall candle scents. Sorting Halloween candies by color. Tasting spooky themed flavors. And more!


Here, boys are testing their sense of smell and matching them against pictures. Cinnamon buns, pumpkin spice, apple cider, evergreen forest, and vanilla scented "ghosts."


Boys created their own colored goggles to see if it makes it harder for them to sort their colored candies.


What's that taste: sour witch's brew (lemon juice), Skeleton (pretzel) bones, graveyard grass (kale), or a trick-or-treat candy?


What does it feel like? A spider's web? Goblin eyeballs (aqua balls)? Slime? Brains (cauliflower and jello)? A pumpkin?

Even the older boys want to touch the goblin eyeballs!

009 - Egg Drop Challenge - 1st grade

First Grade Engineering Design Process

  • Research (check!)
  • Prototype (check!)
  • Test (check!)
  • Analyze results (check!)
  • Discuss strategies for improvement (check!)

On Egg Drop Day the enthusiasm was so powerful, we had on-lookers peering through the fence from recess, through the windows during lunch, and through the library door. In true engineer spirit, we celebrated the eggs that survived the 1.5 story descent and celebrated the eggs that had an epic wipe-out. 

Their conclusion:

  1. Cotton balls are excellent padding.
  2. Parachutes are always good.
  3. A strong capsule is preferred.


  1. Will they survive a drop for a taller height?
  2. What if we only used straws? (See video: https://youtu.be/nsnyl8llfH4)
  3. How can we do this with less materials?

007 - Here comes the Sun - 3rd grade

Volunteers are sharing their facts about the Sun.

Even though the San Francisco weather is being unpredictable this month, 3rd grade is getting ready for this first engineering challenge through some Sun exploration. How will learning about the Sun, weather, and timezones lead us to an engineering experience?

As boys become experts on these topics through reading articles and using BrainPop, they are creating posters so that they may teach their fellow peers.

In groups, boys are gathering more information from selected reading and videos.

006 - Tinker Choice - kindergarten

In our first tinkering experience with kindergarten, we started mimicking a routine they were already familiar with: Learning Choice. In Tinker Choice, the kindergarten team and I gathered materials that will help spark the tinkering experience. Boys self-selected and rotated through 3 of the 7 kits we had available. While this session was all about the hands-on maker experience, next time, it will be about making observations with science tools.

Kindergarten Crowd Favorites:

  • Marble rollercoaster set
  • Skeleton puzzle
  • Lincoln logs
  • Magnatiles

005 - Tinkering Air - 1st grade

Parachute testing.

In 1st grade, we are super excited to start our egg drop. To begin we are exploring aspects of gravity and air. We started with a practice on balance and center of gravity, investigated feathers and bubbles. Here, boys have designed, tested, and redesigned parachutes and paper whirly-chopters.

Parachute designing.

Visiting the testing zones and sharing our parachute techniques.

Oh course, hard work makes us hungry.

004 - Funny Fruits - 2nd grade

In 2nd Grade STEM we are practicing our science process skills of observation, documentation, and generating questions. Here we are investigating some exotic fruits. While some boys have seen these fruits in the market, and some have even tasted them, this is their first opportunity to look closely at these fruits.

  • What does it look like?
  • How does it feel?
  • Does it have a scent?
  • What do we predict the inside will look like?
  • How do we think it will taste?

003 - Tower Power - ENI

In our first Explore New Ideas selective session, we discuss engineers. What are engineers and what do they do?

In this engineering challenge students are shown sample techniques for their limited supplies and are asked to collaborate with their teams to produce a tall and sturdy tower - at least 10 inches tall and able to support a toy octopus. How do you think they did?

Visit our gallery page for more project photos.

002 - Cool Times in the STEM Lab - 4th grade

4B deep into their Ice Globes investigation.

This week, as we simmer in 90*F temperatures, 4th grade is staying cool by investigating Ice Globes. In one of their first experiences in the STEM Lab, we are deepening our science skills of documenting observations and developing questions. Students eagerly explored by touching, lifting orbs into the light to see some unique features - areas of clarity, areas that were cloudy, and areas with "strange spikes." We experimented with additional variables - salt, sugar, baking soda, colored water, and colored vinegar. 

Post-lab ice globes. Look at those shapes, textures, and translucency. 

Student Generated Questions:

001 - First Day of School

8:00 am

Welcome back to school! This morning we arrived to school to a big surprise - a traffic jam. Just kidding, we were welcomed with a crowd of lovely families sending off their boys to their first day at school. Many in this photo are parents with their kindergarteners, joining the Town family for the first time. What a delight. 

It was a day of meeting new teachers, new students, new families, and reuniting with old friends.

Welcoming assembly with 3rd & 4th graders.

Of course, the highlight of any first day is LUNCH! Here is lunch with kindergarten. Pizza & watermelon.

Sign language applause to show our appreciation to the kitchen staff and parent volunteers.

The STEM 1 lab saw lots of action from the older boys today. Exploring, making messes, asking questions, drawing conclusions, and cleaning up. 

5th grade boys investigating a magical sand-like material.