Science & Engineering Fair Participation Surges

Photo: 2017 2017 HHS Science & Engineering Fair Winner Himanshu Minocha

This week, the library hosted the annual high school science and engineering fair. This year’s fair grew markedly in both size and scope from the previous year.

The total number of projects rose to 28 this year with 13 from freshmen, one of the highest totals of recent memory. Even more exciting for the participants, 12 projects will continue on to the regional science fair March 10. Of that total, half of the projects advancing are the products of underclassmen.

Photo: Participants in 2017 Regional Science & Engineering Fair

Students advancing to
the regional science & engineering fair.

Principal Evan Bishop noted the level of achievement on display, “The quality and amount of the projects is impressive considering the students do this work outside of class. We have double the amount of projects this year.”

The growth and success of the program continued to include some of the high school’s best and brightest students. It even brings back a number of past students.

“I am just so impressed and proud of these projects and the communication skills of these students, solving real world problems. It’s exciting. It’s also exciting to see the number of former graduates come back and participate as judges. I think it really speaks to the kind of community we have here,” said Principal Bishop.

Included in the group advancing will be this year’s top finishers which look similar to last year. First through third place proved a shuffled version of last year’s places with an added team.

Photo: Top Three Places for 2017 HHS Science & Engineering Fair

Top three placed project winners
(From left to right)  Kate Woelflein,
Emma Beale, Himanshu Minocha,
Freya Proudman, and Brian Best.


In first place, Himanshu Minocha developed a software application as part of his project Campus Safety Warning and Notification System Using 3D Geofencing.

In second place, Brian Best built upon his project from last year with Music Math: Does Music Follow a Zipfan Distribution?

In third place, the spoils were split. Tied were Freya Proudman continuing her work in the behavioral sciences with her project Young Women’s Optimism for Their Futures and the team of Kate Woelflein and Emma Beale who investigated The Effect of Global Warming in Spider Silk Proteins.

After finishing second as a sophomore, Minocha continued his evolution as a software developer, “I have been building applications since seventh grade. This year I wanted to build a heavier application that would do more complex computations and build upon the computer science knowledge I have gained,” Minocha said.

Last year’s winner and this year’s third-place finisher, Proudman captured the spirit of all the participants, “I think science fair is so special. It’s such a joy to share your research with others. It allows you to explore what you’re passionate about in science. It’s a really wonderful opportunity.”

Photo: 2017 HHS Science & Engineering Fair Mentors

Some of this year’s mentors
(From right to left) Tricia Noblett,
Kristen Baldiga, and Val Lechtanski.

High school chemistry teacher and mentor, Kristen Baldiga celebrated both the students and those involved in making the fair reality. “People have been able to dedicate their time and really step up. It really makes me proud to be in this department,” said Baldiga. “This is really a testament to the work Devon Grilly has done the last few years.”

The science and engineering fair would not be possible without contributions from the science department, the generous support from the Hopkinton Parent Teacher Association, Bose Corporation, Perkins Elmer, as well as the many individuals willing to donate their time and energy to helping the students explore science regardless of economic status.

First Graders Take a Leap with BrainPOP Jr-Come Join Them!

BrainPOP Jr. has been a big hit recently as teachers and students have discovered and explored its newest features.  Perhaps the greatest discovery has been seeing the power in handing BrainPOP Jr. to some of our youngest students.  Now for the first time ever, BrainPOP Jr. is accessible as a mobile site on the iPad and several first grade classrooms have been taking advantage.

For Room 11, it has become part of their learning routine and culture.  These six and seven year olds (and their amazing teachers) are setting an example for what digital and 21st century learning looks like.   Check out the video below.

Students are eager to try the new Draw About It, Write About It, and Word Play.  Before the new interface, Draw About It allowed students to draw a picture in order to show their thinking.  Now, students can also add images and shapes as well as change pencil colors and width.  These exciting updates have pushed students to show what they know in a variety of ways.  Below, students were able to creatively capture their knowledge about the five food groups based on a given prompt.  They were then able to submit their drawings right to their teachers with just two taps!

Write About It once asked students to communicate their thinking by typing their thoughts based on a given prompt.  Now, students are able to tap on key words that exist on the side of the screen.  When doing so, the definition for each word is revealed.  When students tap a speaker icon, Annie reads every word, definition, and prompt out loud.  There is great potential here for incorporating vocabulary using the new Write About It as students are pushed to think about the most important words from the movie, what they mean, and how they can be used.

Taking it a step further with vocabulary is a feature that teachers are thrilled with, Word Play.  Here, students are able to select a key vocabulary word from the movie, draw a picture to show their understanding, apply the word in a sentence, as well as create a script with different characters using the the word they have chosen.  Students as well love this tool as they have a chance to then act out their script.

How is all of this BrainPOP Jr. magic happening?  With My BrainPOP, students can log on with their own unique credentials.  When their teacher sets up a class and creates a code, students then use this code to join their class.  Once in a class (and students can join several), each of the new features mentioned as well as Make-A-Map, Talk About It,  Activities, both quizzes, and several games can be submitted to their teacher/class.

The teacher can view each item as well as view class summaries based on quizzes and games submitted and type feedback students can read immediately.  In addition, teachers can now create quizzes on BrainPOP Jr. through the Quiz Mixer feature as well as create assignments for students as a class, individually, or in small groups.

Students in Room 11 make it look easy, but a lot of thought goes into their lessons.  Mrs. Kane has not only created a class for her students, but students know that the first place they navigate to is My BrainPOP where they will find their new assignments.  In the lesson above, the whole class was assigned the movie on food groups.  Half of the class was assigned Draw About It and half of the class was assigned Write About It as their teachers find importance in students expressing their thinking in more than one way.  Both features will help students work their way to Word Play in the near future!  

After completing their assignments, Mrs. Kane and Mrs. Farquharson brought the class together in the front of the room to complete the Talk About It which asked students to name foods for each of the food groups.  To say that energy was in the air is an understatement.  Students felt confident in sharing information they had just learned and their teachers could easily see that they had a deeper understanding for the topic.

I look forward to watching Room 11 and other classrooms learning from them grow with BrainPOP Jr.  Please reach out to your building technology integration specialist for assistance in putting BrainPOP Jr. or BrainPOP into action.








Rising to the Design Challenge

Picture a group of individuals gathered around a table trying to solve a problem under a tight deadline while using limited resources. Sound familiar? How did your envisioned scenario turn out? At Hopkins School, students were placed in teams and given a 45-minute class period to solve a design challenge. The result was a messy mixture of creativity, teamwork, learning, leadership, frustration, and triumph. Translation: it was a beautiful process to behold!

Challenge 1: Makey a Music Video

For this challenge, students worked with Ms. Doty to produce a 30-second music-jam video featuring a Makey Makey piano.

The Process

The Product

Challenge 2: Shifting Sculptures

For this challenge, students worked with Mrs. Weldon to create a sculpture that moves featuring LittleBits circuits.

The Process

The Product


By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to


See your document in a new way with this Chrome extension! Once enabled the draftback extension let’s you watch your document being written from beginning to end. It will also allow you to see when by date and pause to view your draft history. You can see the activity from beginning to end. This is also a handy tool to see if you copied an pasted a section at what time and where. Learn about your or a student’s writing process with this. Great for essays, term papers especially in ELA or World Language classes!

See how it works here:

Review and find your challenges and your writing process with draftback. If your document is public, you can even download and embed a video of the draft on your blog or website.

By Chrystal Hoe, Secondary Technology Integration Coordinator, GET & GCI

Catching the Hype!

A powerhouse month when it comes to digital learning, students at Elmwood School have been catching the hype.


“How do you SHINE?”  This is a question many third graders have been pondering as they’ve launched into a series of self paced lessons through Thrively.  An online platform designed to unleash students’ strengths and passions, Thrively is exploding with new features, one being lesson packs called courses.  “Ignite Your SHINE” is a brand new course students have embraced.  One lesson at a time, they are asked to think deeply about who they are, what they love, and what they have to offer.  From internalizing the SHINE acronym to creating their own unique avatar, these third graders are catching the Thrively hype and believe they can shine a light in their own unique way.

Google Classroom

Third graders have also zoned in on their superpowers and passions through Google Classroom.  Often after watching an inspirational video, students reflect on how they can make an impact.  This month, they created a comic using a Google Drawing template to show off who they are.


Mrs. Newton’s second graders hopped on Seesaw this week and captured their thinking in a variety of ways.  With their class QR code in hand, students were almost jumping out of their seats with anticipation.  Once on, Mrs. Newton asked them to practice typing a note and sending it off to her with a simple tap. She then had students take a picture of the book they are reading, touch the microphone icon, and record themselves explaining their favorite part of the story.

The class was completely engaged and empowered to show what they know.  Not only would Mrs. Newton immediately see their thinking come to life on her own screen, but students’ parents will soon have an opportunity to see it as well.  A mobile site with classroom and parent apps, classrooms across the country have been catching the Seesaw hype and now Mrs. Newton’s class is one of them.  We can learn from this amazing teacher, who spent her own time embracing Seesaw’s PD in PJ’s!









BrainPOP Jr

What’s different about BrainPOP Jr?  A new interface is cause for a lot of hype and Elmwood students aren’t missing a beat!  Second and third graders have been taking advantage of concept mapping as well as the updated “Draw About It” and “Write About it.”  Students have been able to express their knowledge in unique ways, discover which features fit their learning style, as well as push themselves out of their comfort zone in trying those that don’t.  And now for the first time ever, BrainPOP Jr. is available on the iPads as a mobile site!


Students continue to feel empowered with coding.  Launching a coding mission with videos from “Hour of Code,” students started their journey last month with Code Monkey.  One third grade class has continued their mission with Lightbot  and they are surpassing our expectations.  Students now realize coding is something they can in fact do.  They also feel safe in improving their skills with help from their classmates.  The coding hype is certainly spreading around school!

Google Hangout

From interviewing Broadway stars to running a student led “Mystery Hangout” teachers and students are understanding the potential role video calls can play in student learning and classroom culture.  Why not learn levels of questioning in asking actors how they achieved their dreams? Why not tap into geography skills with intense motivation in order to determine where in the world the other class is?  Google Hangouts bring engagement and empowerment to new levels and students are catching the hype.

We will continue to catch the digital learning hype here at Elmwood School and if you have any questions about any of the spotlighted tools and approaches above, please contact your building technology integration specialist.