Minnehaha Academy Blog

Bringing Science to Life Outdoors at Minnehaha Academy

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Jan 4, 2019
If you drive by Minnehaha's Lower & Middle School along West River Parkway, you may see Middle School students, a notebook in one hand, binoculars in the other hand, looking up into the trees.
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Topics: Middle School, STEM

Algebra Starts in Kindergarten: Preparing Students for Success Part 3

Posted by Amy Barnard on Nov 27, 2018

How our Singapore Math Curriculum develops flexible thinking and the ability for abstraction

Recap: Why are We Doing This?

If you've read our previous post in this series, The Jobs That Don't Exist, you already know that more than half of the jobs our students will step into don't even exist today, and that so-called "soft" skills ranging from flexible thinking to persistence are equally or even more important than hard skills in the current and coming job market. 

Even in seemingly straightforward courses, like math, our instructors are working to make sure students are prepared with these skills.

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Topics: Lower School, STEM

Preparing Students for Success Part 2: The Innovation Lab

Posted by Amy Barnard on Oct 23, 2018

How the Innovation Lab develops persistence, collaboration, and the ability to critically examine one's own work.

Recap: What's the Why?

If you've read our previous post in this series, The Jobs That Don't Exist, you already know that more than half of the jobs our students will step into don't even exist today.

How do we prepare our students for an environment we can hardly imagine? What skills will translate into roles and technology that we have no way to anticipate?

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Topics: Lower School, STEM

Rebuilding 3100: Improving Sleep, Mood, and Other Things That Never Crossed Your Mind Through Outdoor Learning

Posted by Amy Barnard on Sep 20, 2018

An amazing benefit of building from scratch is that we have the opportunity to look at what science says about learning and design our space accordingly.

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Topics: 3100 Campus, STEM, Upper School

Preschool Butterfly Release [Photos]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on May 24, 2018

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Topics: STEM, Lower School

Student Research Rockets Into Space

Posted by Melissa Mortenson on May 21, 2018

At 3:44 this morning nestled among the 7,400 pounds of equipment, cargo and supplies, an experiment designed to determine if copper crystals grow faster and stronger in space started its journey towards the International Space Station.

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Topics: STEM, Upper School

Teacher Appreciation Tribute, by Nancy Cripe, Upper School Science Teacher

Posted by Melissa Mortenson on May 9, 2018
In 1968, Gordon Corbett began teaching science in my hometown on the coast of Maine. He was a larger-than-life Navy man and oceanographer who had survived two near-sinkings and decided to come ashore to teach sixth grade. That man—champion of space exploration, consummate storyteller, inventor of endless experiments, the embodiment of kindness and goodness—that man shaped my childhood and my future. He is my model and inspiration as a science teacher today. The August 2017 gas explosion at Minnehaha Academy brought Gordon Corbett back into my life, as he shared his own life lessons with me about explosions and tragedy in ways that helped me begin to move forward.

Nearly 50 years ago, Mr. Corbett prepared us like NASA astronauts-in-training for the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing, and took us in tow to marine labs, pipelines, beaches, and the Boston Museum of Science. Gordon Corbett was so innovative, passionate and infectious he couldn’t be contained in one classroom. He received Maine’s 1980 Teacher of the Year Award, saying he “wasn’t the best but represented the best.” When President Reagan announced in 1984 that a teacher would soon travel aboard the Challenger space shuttle in the Teacher in Space program, over 11,000 applied. Gordon Corbett became a finalist with his proposed lessons to teach American schoolchildren the science of the yo-yo in space; NASA selected Christa McAuliffe (“I touch the future: I teach”) instead. Mr. Corbett and other finalists were at Kennedy Space Center that cold January morning in 1986, watching as the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off. I remember seeing him on television that night with tears streaming down his face. “I’ve always taught my students that space is the future. Now what do I teach them?” A new science teacher myself by then, I needed him to answer his own question.

And he did. Gordon Corbett returned to his students with renewed determination: It is man’s destiny to fly. Space exploration—like any worthy enterprise—has no guarantee of safety. To rebuild is essential. Keep pursuing the dream.

In 2007, when Christa McAuliffe’s backup Barbara Morgan finally completed the successful Teacher In Space mission aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, Mr. Corbett wrote to me. "Finally after 22 years a teacher has flown. The dream was and still is alive! It has been a long wait and was an unfinished chapter in aerospace history. Now the torch is passed to a younger generation of astronauts, scientists, educators, students and dreamers."

Gordon Corbett passed the torch to me, and for 20 years I’ve tried my best to pass it to my science students. For three of those years I co-mentored Minnehaha Academy’s International Space Station team designing, building and launching experiments to the I.S.S. We lost our 2015 experiment when the unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying it exploded shortly after launch. Dealing with that disaster, I could hear Mr. Corbett’s voice: “It is our destiny to fly. Space exploration isn’t safe but it’s essential. Rebuild.”

On August 2, 2017, I was in the Minnehaha Academy computer lab when a gas explosion destroyed much of the Upper School and killed two colleagues. In recent months I’ve leaned once again on Gordon Corbett’s hard-won wisdom when facing unexpected tragedies and explosions: Commit to the essential work of rebuilding. Pursue the dream and the destiny.

I had the privilege of welcoming Gordon Corbett to my Minnehaha Academy science classes in April through the generosity of a Schuler Shoes Teacher Appreciation grant. We also gave a chapel message together to the Upper School. He spoke passionately about Christa McAuliffe’s motto, “I touch the future: I teach.” He told the students, “I love these words. I’ve touched the future—she’s sitting right here beside me, and she’s touching all of you. Some of you will go on to become teachers—you just don’t know it yet. You will touch the future. And that’s a very big responsibility and an awesome challenge and a great honor.”

To Gordon Corbett and my teaching colleagues everywhere during this 2018 Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11: Receiving the torch is an awesome challenge and great honor. Let’s pass it on with responsibility, gratitude, and fresh dreams.


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Topics: STEM, Upper School

Second Grade: Extreme Math Makeover!

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 13, 2018

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Topics: Lower School, STEM

Shooting for the Moon: ISS Team and Advisors

Posted by Melissa Mortenson on Apr 13, 2018

Excerpt from Minnehaha Magazine, Spring 2018 Edition

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Topics: Upper School, STEM

Kindergartners Discover the Fun of Planting

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 12, 2018

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Topics: Lower School, STEM

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