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Spuds and thuds are a part of STEM learning at Shepard

  • Written by By Bob McParland

  When Brian Sievers hit the launch trigger, Page-10-3-col-spudsShepard High School physics teacher Brian Sievers readies one of his homemade potato launchers. Sievers fired potatoes over the softball field to illustrate the various concepts of projectile motion. Submitted photo.his homemade cannon emulated the acoustics of the real thing. The echoes reverberated off the northern face of Shepard High School, returned off surrounding homes, and back.
  Students squinted in the morning sun to catch a glimpse of the potato fired from the launcher. The spud landed with a thud, and everyone smiled and clapped.
  Beyond the visual and audio candy of launching potato-mortars, the activity taught physics concepts and, ideally, opened a few students’ minds to the idea of STEM careers.

  “The demonstration was an exciting way to explore projectile motion,” Sievers said.
  Students watched, share conversations, answer Sievers’ questions, and eventually applauded as the potatoes flew over the softball dugouts.
  “In class it is often difficult to have students observe something like the time a projectile is in the air. With our projectile traveling a couple of hundred feet, it was easier for them to see the difference in time of flight for various angles.”

  Launching from a low angle, students could see the potato travel away but hit the ground quickly. When Sievers raised the angle of the cannon, the class could see that the potato stayed in the air longer.
  “While observing the increase in flight time for an increase in launch angle, students also observed that the reverse was true to the horizontal distance traveled by the potato, or the range. If we tried to use small equipment in class they would not have time to make these observations,” he said.
  Interesting, unconventional experiences like these inspire curiosity and, hopefully, get kids to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
  In recent years, the number of students in the U.S. earning college degrees in STEM areas has decreased. Many who initially declare a major in STEM areas change their course of study once they realize the work involved.
  “Students love to build things and see how they behave. They have an innate curiosity. The potato cannons demonstrate that you can build things to explore science,” Sievers said.
  Such experiences spark creativity in building and testing designs.
  “Then they can form solid conclusions based upon results. This is the core of all science and research. It is a way to develop thinkers, and that is what the American education system must do to regain its prominence in the world,” Sievers said.

Richards football players honor their favorite teachers

  • Written by By Bob McParland

RICHARDSAs part of their annual salute to their favorite faculty members, varsity football players from Richards High School presented jerseys to teachers. Teachers wore them on Friday and to the game. Submitted photo.  High school teachers occupy central roles in the lives of teenagers.
  As role models, educators and coaches, these adults affect students during a time of great personal and social growth. And most students appreciate their influence.
  Each year, varsity football players from Richards High School receive an unusual opportunity to express their gratitude.
  On the day of a game, the players present their jersey to a favorite teacher to wear. The gesture carries great meaning for teachers.
  Rahaf Othman received a jersey from Santiago Calderon. He told Othman that she was one of the best teachers at Richards.
  “It’s a pretty great feeling to be appreciated. It’s an awesome feeling to be referred to as one of the best teachers at Richards,” said Othman.
  When asked to explain why Othman stood apart, Calderon spared no words.

  “I chose Ms. O because I looked at her as a role model. She always made class fun and actually made me look forward to class. She helped me whenever I needed it. She was great. To sum it up, she’s one of the best teachers at Richards,” Calderon said.
  Like Calderon, Andrew Venerable gave his jersey to English teacher Meagan Coleman because of her effectiveness as an educator.
  “He said he picked me because he enjoyed my class his junior year and that we had interesting conversations in the class,” Coleman said.

  Maybe Savon Robinson, who wears jersey number 7, expressed himself clearest in his appreciation for business education teacher Jamie Soderstrom.
  “You have stuck with me through all my smart and not-so-smart decisions. You tell it how it is and don’t yell, because yelling gets toned out. You’re just my guy, Mr. Soderstrom,” Robinson said.

Bulletin Board from 10-10-13

Chicago Christian H.S.
  Chicago Christian High School will host an Open House on Sunday. Registration begins at 1:45 p.m. and the program starts at 2 p.m. Anyone who may be interested in learning more about academic and co-curricular opportunities at CCHS are encouraged to attend. Current students, parents, and faculty will be on hand to answer any questions and lead sessions. For further information, call 708-388-7656.
Chicago Ridge
  The Veterans Of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary No. 177 of Chicago Ridge is sponsoring a poster contest for first through third grade students and an essay contest for fourth and fifth graders.
  The fourth and fifth graders graders will write on the topic “How do our veterans serve America?” The essay should be no longer than 200 words and should be typed or neatly handwritten in black ink.
  The cover sheet for the essay should contain: student’s name, school, age of student and grade. The deadline is Nov. 6.
  The theme for the poster for first, second and third graders is “I am a proud American.”
  The poster should be no larger than 14 by 22 inches. Students may use any type coloring agents like crayons, paints, markers, etc.
  On the back of the poster please include: the student’s name, the age of the students and the grade.
  The deadline is Nov. 6. For more information on either contest, contact Renee at 630-452-9447.
Mount Assisi
  The Mount Assis Booster Club presents its 10th annual Comedy Night Saturday, Nov. 2, at the school, 13860 Main St. in Lemont.
  Doors open 6:15 p.m., dinner 7:15 p.m., show 8:30 p.m.
  Featuring a night of comedy and dinner by Uncle Bub’s.
  Tickets cost $35 and include buffet dinner, beer, wine, pop, water, and comedy show. Must be 21 or over to attend.
  To register, contact Gail Andjulis This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call 224-9922.
Oak Lawn
  Thanks to Oak Lawn Community High School, the Oak Lawn Public Library reported a recording-breaking 92 high school students participated in its summer reading program, with 47 teens meeting their goal of reading 1,800 pages in the three months. The top 15 readers read over 166,200 pages. The public library hopes to continue to break summer reading records with next year’s science-themed program, “Spark a Reaction.”
  The Oak Lawn Public Library also reports that its Required Reading Shelf was very successful. OLCHS joined other area schools, such as Simmons Middle School and Richards High School, in submitting required reading lists to the public library. These books were then available in multiple copies at the public library. The public library hopes to expand the collection to include audio and e-book versions as options in 2014.
  The OLCHS Media Center works closely with the public library. To celebrate Teen Read Week, both groups will be hosting a joint library craft at the OLCHS Media Center from 3 to 4 p.m. Oct. 17. Students in grades 7-12 are invited to create an out of this world craft & enjoy free pizza. This year’s theme is “Seek the Unknown.”
***
  Oak Lawn Community High School performances of “Beauty and the Beast” will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 through Oct. 27. A special children’s matinee will also take place at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 where children will have the opportunity to be a part of the show and get their picture taken and receive autographs with Belle, the Beast, and the other enchanted objects. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through the ticket hotline at 424-5200 ext. 5920.
Queen of Peace
  Queen of Peace and St. Laurence high schools will be hosting a Mass for first responders at 10 a.m. Oct. 20. Family, friends and the community are invited to honor all active and retired police officers, firefighters/EMS and all branches of the military.
  Queen of Peace High School is located at 7659 S. Linder Ave. in Burbank. Refreshments will be served immediately following Mass. RSVP by Oct. 18 to 708-458-7600 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

EP teacher earns a grand for the school

  OfficeMax associates surprised 1,000 teachers in their classrooms with $1,000 each worth of school supplies on Oct. 1 and Mike Gallagher, social studies teacher at Evergreen Park Community High School, was nominated by EPCHS principal Mr. Bill Sanderson, and selected to represent the south region covered by Office Max.

  The national initiative aims to relieve and support teachers who spend their own money on much-needed classroom supplies. OfficeMax consumers and business clients contributed nearly $700,000 in additional school supplies through this summer’s in-store supply drive held at OfficeMax stores across the country. These additional supplies were donated Oct. 1 to the schools where teachers were honored through OfficeMax’s A Day Made Better program.
  “Teachers and education are a part of the crucial infrastructure necessary to build a promising future for our children, and yet many teachers and schools face significant challenges to make ends meet in the classroom due to budget shortfalls,” said Carolynn Brooks, vice president, chief diversity officer and president of OfficeMax Charitable Foundation. “OfficeMax is proud to be hosting its seventh year of A Day Made Better, where we join our customers in helping teachers and schools secure the supplies they need to succeed.”
  To the average American teacher, back to school means spending $1,000 out of pocket on classroom supplies. The OfficeMax A Day Made Better program, in partnership with its non-profit partner AdoptAClassroom.org, aims to help end the need for teacher-funded classrooms. Since 2007, A Day Made Better and other OfficeMax Goodworks programs have contributed more than $25 million in grants and supplies to support more than 31,000 teachers and their classrooms. Additionally, through the annual event, OfficeMax has helped its nonprofit partner AdoptAClassroom.org secure funding for more than 100,000 classrooms nationwide.

—Submitted by Evergreen Park Community High School

Bulletin Board from 10-3-13

Chicago Ridge
  The Veterans Of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary No. 177 of Chicago Ridge is sponsoring a poster contest for first through third grade students and an essay contest for fourth and fifth graders.
  The fourth and fifth graders graders will write on the topic “How do our veterans serve America?” The essay should be no longer than 200 words and should be typed or neatly handwritten in black ink.
  The cover sheet for the essay should contain: student’s name, school, age of student and grade. The deadline is Nov. 6.
  The theme for the poster for first, second and third graders is “I am a proud American.”
  The poster should be no larger than 14 by 22 inches. Students may use any type coloring agents like crayons, paints, markers, etc.
  On the back of the poster please include: the student’s name, the age of the students and the grade.
  The deadline is Nov. 6. For more information on either contest, contact Renee at 630-452-9447

Evergreen Park Dist. 124
  School District 124 provides free vision, hearing, speech, language, basic concepts knowledge, and fine and gross motor skills screenings for children 3 to 5 years old who are not yet in kindergarten. Children eligible can qualify for special programs. For more information call Jean Hector at 423-0951, Ext. 2140.

Moraine Valley
  Volunteers for Moraine Valley Community College’s Literacy Program are currently being recruited to tutor adults who read, write or compute math at or below a ninth-grade level or who need additional help in learning English.
  Tutors commit to teaching basic reading, math, computer, or English skills to an assigned student for two hours each week for one year. Regular meeting days and times are decided by the tutor and the student. The literacy program offers tutoring at local libraries, the main campus in Palos Hills and college extension centers in Blue Island and Tinley Park. Tutors can choose a location close to their work or home.
  Volunteers should be high school graduates over the age of 18. Teaching experience is not required. Volunteers must complete 12 hours of mandatory training, which can be completed online at cyberdriveillinois.com or at the college in September.
  To volunteer or for more information, call 608-4151.

Oak Lawn
  Oak Lawn Community High School performances of “Beauty and the Beast” will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 through Oct. 27. A special children’s matinee will also take place at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 where children will have the opportunity to be a part of the show and get their picture taken and receive autographs with Belle, the Beast, and the other enchanted objects. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through the ticket hotline at 424-5200 ext. 5920.

Queen of Peace
  Queen of Peace and St. Laurence high schools will be hosting a Mass for first responders at 10 a.m. Oct. 20. Family, friends and the community are invited to honor all active and retired police officers, firefighters/EMS and all branches of the military.
  Queen of Peace High School is located at 7659 S. Linder Ave. in Burbank. Refreshments will be served immediately following Mass. RSVP by Oct. 18 to 708-458-7600 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Saint Xavier
  Saint Xavier University will host the 13th Annual Cougar 5K Run/Walk during its 2013 Homecoming Week at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The race begins and ends at SXU’s Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St, and travels through Evergreen Park.
  Pre-registration is $30 for runners/walkers and $25 for SXU students. Prices increase to $35 for runners/walkers and $30 for SXU students from Mon., Sept. 30 to Fri., Oct. 4. On race day, registration is $40 for runners/walkers and $35 for SXU students. The Cougar 5K is bringing back the family rate which costs $75 for two adults and one child age 17 or under from the same immediate family. Each additional child is $20. Family rate registration is not available on race day. Visit www.sxu.edu, keyword: cougar 5k to register.
  All participants will receive a white cotton long-sleeve Cougar 5K shirt. Participants that register before Sun., Sept. 15 have the option to purchase a black dry-tech long-sleeve Cougar 5K shirt for an additional $5 instead of the white cotton shirt. Exclusive Cougar 5K charcoal grey quarter-zip jackets also are on sale for $30 through the online registration form or in the Shannon Center at the Chicago campus.
  For more information or to register, visit the Cougar 5K Run/Walk website at www.sxu.edu, keyword: cougar 5k or call the race hotline at 773-298-3592.