Hundreds of parents, students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Jack Olson ’67 Commons on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 29 to enjoy University School of Milwaukee’s 7th and 8th grade Science Symposium. The theme for this year’s symposium was "Our Changing Planet." Prior to the symposium, guests were welcomed by Nicola De Torre, 8th grade science teacher; and Kip Jacobs ’74, 7th grade science teacher, in the Virginia Henes Young Theatre.
The subjects of the projects ranged from ozone depletion and polar vortexes to forest fires, polar bears, and more. Eighth grade students ended the unit by playing Mussel Madness, a game created by a local Milwaukeean, Michael Timm, which illustrates the environmental and economic impact of invasive species in our Great Lakes. The game offered a fun and educational way to redirect everyone’s individualized focal points from the varied projects about “Our Changing Earth” to a single, local issue. “By the end of this unit, students hopefully recognize the many different directions research can go,” said De Torre.
About the Science Symposium
The science symposium is the first big research project for Middle School students. As 7th graders, they learn to use Noodle Tools, a research app, to record their sources and take notes, and to learn how to navigate online databases with scientific publications. They put their information into a display and write an oral presentation.
When they progress to 8th grade, students use the same research tools but write a full research paper. They follow the design thinking process or the scientific method to complete an accompanying experiment or project, and also create a display to link together their research and their project and present the two components together. The symposium is truly a night of intrigue and learning.