Friday, January 31, 2014

Hard to Select Winning Projects

So many collective hours go in to scientific research for the Middle School Science Research Competition, which had approximately 320 entries.  The topics were widely varied and expressed a number of student interests.  Overall, the Middle School is seeing a marked decrease in consumer type  projects, such as popcorn popping or paper towel strength, and a move to projects that spark more scientific interest.  This year there were trends toward sports performance--both human body and equipment oriented--as well as nutritional studies, alternative energy sources, botany, engineering, and psychology/sociology projects.  As always, there were many excellent projects, but only 10 could be selected to move on to Chester County’s Science Research competition.  These were hard choices. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Art Students Awarded at Tri-County Exhibit

Seven Owen J. Roberts students won "Awards of Excellence" among high school students from Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties who showcased their artwork at Montgomery County Community College’s first Tri-County High School Art Exhibition and Competition at its Fine Arts Gallery, North Hall, 16 High Street, Pottstown. 

Students from approximately 20 public, parochial and private schools were invited to participate in the exhibition. The artwork features a variety of subjects and styles in an array of media. College art faculty members will be judging the artwork.

Congratulations to all student exhibitors and to the following who received Awards of Excellence:

Julianna Clark (Body of Work)
Oil and
Mixed Media

Ari Ott
"Sea Salt and Caramel"

Lexi Rodriquez

Amanda Ackerman

Kayla Brown

Sarah Berkey

Lexi Lyon
"A Guide to the other side"

Julianna Clark, a junior, strikes a pose beneath "Era", (lion), a mixed media work

Lexi Lyon stands below "A Guide to the Other Side". Her AP Studio portfolio has a focus on mythology. This work captures both the use of incense and the belief by some cultures that the hummingbird possesses spiritual powers and guidance.

Kayla Brown visited Europe this summer and was inspired to create this work of a castle which she experienced during her travels.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Students Captivated by Award-Winning UPenn Instructor

Award-winning University of Pennsylvania physics teacher, Bill Berner, likes to dazzle high school students with PHYSICS and he has the resources available to him through Penn to be able to do so.
On January 14, high school teachers Mary Pandya and Janet Dynarski arranged to take a group of high school physics students to the David Rittenhouse Laboratory, the physics warehouse full of scientific equipment where Mr. Berner works, for a special demonstration with this veteran teacher. Bill Berner walks students through the ideas of charge, electricity, and magnetism using a conceptual approach filled with lots of demonstrations to help students to visualize nature.  Before teaching at the college level, Berner taught high school. When he came to Penn he realized how valuable it would be to high school physics students to actually see and experience science in a way they may relate to throughout their studies.

In a University of Pennsylvania blog post, Mr. Berner explained, “We’ve got [a] laser apparatus that is worth the value of the entire science department of some high schools. So we can have six lasers at once firing into an optical device, and you clap chalk dust and you’ve got this wonderful spider web of light rays in a dark room and they can see exactly how the focal point of a lens works.
We can measure the speed of light right in front of a classroom and have people actually see the amount of time it takes light to cross the room. It’s really expensive to get an oscilloscope that’s that fast, and even more expensive to get one that can project on a screen so the whole room can see it. This is something that’s well within the reach of the mind of a high school student, but not within the reach of the budget of a high school.” 

Many of the demonstrations utilized equipment from well before the students’ parents were even born (WWII era equipment in some cases).  The show culminated with a demonstration of the value and effectiveness of lightning rods, as Mr. Berner blew-up a small wooden house that was not fitted with a lightning rod.  “You should have seen the student’s faces,” offered Mrs. Pandya.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

School Board Recognitions on Monday, January 27

Matt Crider accepts recognition from Superintendent Dr. Michael Christian
At the Owen J. Roberts Board of School Directors Regular Business Meeting on Monday, January 27, high school senior, Matt Crider, was recognized for surpassing 1,000 points in his basketball career with Owen J. Roberts. Matt is the fifth player in Owen J. Roberts Basketball program history to achieve this accomplishment. Thanks was given to coach Kevin Kirby for his dedication to the boys basketball team.

At the same meeting, high school junior, Zach Serbin, reported back from his experience as student delegate at the 43rd annual PSBA Student Delegate Program in conjunction with the 2013 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference. Zach was enthusiastic about his participation and valued the perspectives learned from students across the Commonwealth.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Inspiring Science

Budding young scientists are busy at our elementary schools and middle school this month as they bring their scientific work to the Science Research Competition at their school. Science Research Competitions are a wonderful opportunity for students to apply their skills and deepen learning.

This past summer, district science teachers created a common information packet and judging rubrics for all Owen J. schools. The information source supports students, teachers, and parents in the design of a science experiment, while the judging rubrics help ensure consistency within the district and alignment with the county and regional competitions.  There was also professional development for the teachers who sharpened skills in working with students students to find problems that matter to them and testing ideas and applying the scientific method to research. 

On October 16, there was a well-attended, district-wide parent workshop to introduce the info packet and teach parents how to help their children with their science experiments. The Science Seminar provided helpful suggestions and resources to parents for supporting students though the Science Research Competitions in local, regional, and national events.    Parents received information from three of the building science competition coordinators: Mary Rita Bonner of East Coventry,  Margie Jardine of West Vincent, Christy Palmerio of French Creek, and Heidi Lehmann- District Science Curriculum Supervisor.   Parents received contact information for each building and a student handbook outlining the competition process, required paperwork, project rubrics, curricular connections, and hints for assisting students at home.    Electronic copies of the presentation notes, as well as the student handbook, are now available on the district curriculum page under, "Science Topics". 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Middle School Spelling Bee

A group of talented middle school students tested their nerves and spelling capabilities by competing in the Owen J. Roberts Middle School Spelling Bee on Thursday, January 16. The event was an official Scripps competition and the winner, Jonathan Arditi, will move on to the Chester County Spelling Bee.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Robotics News

On Saturday, January 18, 2014, two teams from East Vincent Elementary and one team from North Coventry competed in the Delaware State University First Lego League Regional Qualifier Tournament.  All three teams did an amazing job displaying exemplary character, creativity, public speaking, and problem solving skills!

The North Coventry Fist of Fury team, coached by Patrice Reiche, was awarded the first place trophy in Teamwork. 

The East Vincent rookie team, the Gear Gurus, placed second in the Robot Game and received the first place trophy for Robot Design Innovation and Strategy.

The East Vincent veteran team, the GaliLegos, placed first in the Robot Game and was awarded the first place overall Champions’ trophy. 

Both the Gear Gurus and the GaliLegos will advance to the First State FLL Champions’ Tournament, which will be held at the Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Delaware, on February 15, 2014.
Congratulations to team members on all three teams, and good luck to the Gear Gurus and the GaliLegos at the Champions’ tournament next month!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Owen J. Students to be Featured in MCCC Art Exhibition

"Poppies" by Lexi Lyon, Owen J. Roberts High School, will be on exhibit

The following Owen J. Roberts High School students will join other students from Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties in showcasing their artwork at Montgomery County Community College’s first Tri-County High School Art Exhibition and Competition at its Fine Arts Gallery, North Hall, 16 High Street, Pottstown:

Amanda Ackerman
Sarah Berkey
Kayla Brown
Mikayla Chippari
Julianna Clark
Claire Dawkins
Alexandra Lyon
Madison Matarazzo
Fiona McLaughlin
Alyssa Ott
Caroline Rajtik
Ashley Raser
Lexi Ridriguez
Tess Vanderwerff

The exhibition opens Monday, Jan. 13, and will continue through Friday, Feb. 21. The artists’ reception will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 5-7 p.m. with the awards presentation at 6 p.m. Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the community.

Students from approximately 20 public, parochial and private schools were invited to participate in the exhibition. The artwork features a variety of subjects and styles in an array of media. College art faculty members will be judging the artwork.

Lexi Lyon, Owen J. Roberts High School student, will be exhibiting her watercolor painting, “Poppies”, which was selected for the exhibit’s promotional materials - poster and post card.

Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Closed weekends.

For more information about the exhibition, contact Gallery Director Holly Cairns at 215-619-7349 or