Science & Math

Please note: not all classes are offered every session. WLR varies/rotates the schedule based on teacher availability and interests indicated by participating families.

Some classes may be categorized more than one way. For instance Renaissance Arts may be listed under both “Arts & Crafts” as well as “History / Humanities.”

Every effort is made to keep the Class Description pages up-to-date; if you don’t see something, please ask.

Circuits: Lights, Switches, Buzzers, Motors and More!
Come join Mr. Huff as he leads you in putting together projects using electricity and magnetism. From moving motors to sounding speakers you will create various circuits and learn the how and why of their operation.

Form Drawing & Movement
Form Drawing helps a child grow into a well-rounded human being, by spelling out the incredible range of visual meaning in the world while making visible the beauty and balance that can live within one’s own life and enhancing communication with the world in its many forms.

Form Drawing introduces the young child to the idea that all shapes and all drawing in the world are derived from two types of lines: straight and curved, or a combination of the two. Students will draw and move free-hand linear forms in rhythmic repetition and practice simple linear patterns and designs. Form Drawing helps improve hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and aids in the development of handwriting in addition to promoting sensory integration. The movement portion of this class will focus on healthy gross motor skills that facilitate sensory integration and optimization of children’s learning capacities.

Mirror forms, free-hand circles and running form.

When introducing forms, students may walk the form initially, using the entire body; then draw the form in the air with large arm movements. Alternatively, the teacher may use a simple story to engage the students’ imagination to help them discover the essence of the form. For instance, the class might move in a flowing, serpentine, running river-like form. The children experience the different qualities in a playful, imaginative manner and then draw the forms on paper.

Form Drawing supports at least six areas of education: mathematics (geometry, ratios, fractions); physical education (movement, concentration); humanities/history (forms from various cultures in history); science (patterns from nature, observation skills); moral life/character development (by observing difference between ideas such as “upright” and “bent”, etc. – such gesture-meanings originate in the language of the form and help shape the ethical stature of the child); and arts & crafts (many of the forms, patterns, motifs are articulated in handwork, woodwork, metalwork and more).

From Seconds to Seasons: the Astronomy Behind How We Measure Time, Grades 5-8
Times one of the most elusive concepts in our modern world. Some scientist would say it doesn’t even exist! But we all experience its passage every day. In this class we will explore the history and science of timekeeping and build some simple tools along the way to help us. Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable working independently with scissors, drawing tools and rulers and have ability to measure with a ruler to the nearest ⅛”.

New! Hands-On Geology
In this fun and exciting class, students will learn about the Rock Cycle and rock types: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Using Mohs Hardness kits, students will test various rocks. In addition, they will learn about crystals and geodes, and the earth’s shifting crust. Instructor will lead the class in creating a model volcano and setting if off. Class integrates the arts and science through many hands-on activities, drawing and sculpting.

New! Math: History and Mysteries
“Mathematics is full of ideas that make one’s imagination churn and wonder,” Theoni Pappas, The Magic of Mathematics. Does your student need a little math inspiration?! Join Ms. Audra for a fascinating journey through the mysteries of math to inspire the imagination and ignite or re-ignite a love of learning for all things mathematical.

Students will time travel, exploring how mathematics began in ancient history, including  Egyptian fractions and Arabian negative numbers and will move through time to learn  about Fibonacci’s number sequence in the Middle Ages.  Students will act out the paradox of infinity, and practice non-“base 10” counting systems. Other mysteries may include discovering how honey bees use tesselations and where on earth we see the geometry of fractals.  Just as the early mathematicians solved the mysteries of their time, we will use problem-solving strategies to figure out a new mystery story each week.

“The universe is written in…the language of mathematics.” –Galileo Galilei

Math is Fun! Grades 1-4
Math doesn’t need to be boring! By exploring numbers and their combinations with story and movement children can gain a love of this important area of study. Through hands-on activities, games, movement and social interaction, students will learn basic math facts (addition, subtraction, and, depending on the level of the students, multiplication and division).

Continuing students will look more closely at the structure on the times tables and simple tricks to ease computation in the four processes. Games, movement and social interaction will be used to help the students deepen their understanding of math facts.

Prerequisites: Students should have the ability to count and write the numbers from 0 to 100. Basic understanding of math facts and the ability to work independently and focus.

Math, Puzzles & Games — Grades 1-4

Solve problems that are meaningful, interesting and challenging. Step-by-step, students will use story, clues and acting out situations in large and small groups. Students will learn to use patterns, deductive reasoning and models to solve problems and record results.  In this engaging class, students will play strategy games with partners and use hands-on materials such as tangrams, graph paper, number cards, and household objects (toothpicks, beans, coins.)

Math & Logic  — Grades 4-8
Students will solve problems that are meaningful, interesting and challenging.  Students will engage in multiple-step problem solving, using story, clues and acting out situations in large and small groups. Students will learn to use patterns, deductive reasoning and models to solve problems and record results. In this engaging class, students will play strategy games with partners and use hands-on materials such as tangrams, graph paper, number cards, and household objects (toothpicks, beans, popcorn, coins.)  Students will apply what they have learned to identify the number and/or identify the rule.  Knowledge will be expanded by exploring how many combinations can be made. Students will learn number and logic tricks to play on friends and family, extending their learning in fun, informal settings.

Math & Movement
There is a deep connection between moving our bodies and mathematical thinking. Using movement to learn math is not only fun, but also an effective pedagogical tool. Through hands-on activities, games, movement and social interaction, students will learn math facts of the four processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) along with simple concepts from geometry, pattern recognition, and sequencing.

This course will introduce students to the concepts behind mechanics. Through a
combination of lectures, demonstrations, and in-class projects, the students will gain an
understanding of mechanics in this phenomenologically-based course. Students will examine and work with the concepts of force, effort, and work. The students will gain an understanding of the six simple machines and construct card stock models of each one. In  addition, time allowing, we will construct more complicated machines.

New! Meteorology — Study of the Weather Grades 4-8
What causes the weather? Can you tell if rain is coming just by looking at the sky? Why are there so many different kinds of clouds? If you have ever wondered about what’s going on in the sky above you, then this is the class for you! in addition to learning to observe and predict the weather, the students will build and use various tools to aid their study of the causes and effects of the weather around us. Hands-on, interactive learning enlivens the study of meteorology!

New! Nature Connections: Outdoor Education Program – Grades 1-8
This outdoor educational program is designed to foster future stewards of our natural resources through hands-on experiences that awaken the senses and lead students to deeper understanding of our local geography while gently awakening their intrinsic love of the land.

As an inter-disciplinary program, students will engage not only in science but also art, public speaking, local history, some writing (nature journals) and technology (Google maps and iNaturalist). Learning will be facilitated through the use of “Core Routines” such as Sit Spot, Expanding Sensory Awareness, Questioning and Tracking, Animal Forms, Wandering, Mapping, Exploring Field Guides, Journaling, Minds-eye Imagining, Listening for Bird Language, Gratitude, and Story of the Day. From Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature:

“The Core Routines of Nature Connection are things people do to learn nature’s ways. They aren’t lessons. They aren’t knowledge. They are learning habits. Luckily for us as nature guides, shifting our mental habits into these Core Routines of Nature Connection comes as second nature to all human beings. This way of knowing was not born a few hundred years ago, or even with the rise of civilization thousands of years ago. Rather than informing, our teaching job educates ourselves and those we mentor to discover what the Haudenosaunee people call our ‘original instructions.’ Humans evolved with original instructions designed for dynamic awareness of nature. If we can inspire practice of these Core Routines, remembering our original instructions will happen on its own.”


The program covers topics such as:

  • Hiking Basics: the 10 Essentials and Leave No Trace principles; appropriate clothing, footwear, and foot travel techniques.
  • Native Plants and Habitat Restoration: edible and medicinal plants, California Native Plant Society, Invasive plant removal, and native planting processes including seed collecting.
  • Watersheds and Water Conservation: macro invertebrates, water quality and water safety.
  • Stewardship: trash cleanup, parkway etiquette, plant restoration and maintenance.
  • Primitive skills: shelter building, introduction to friction fire, cordage and bush craft
  • Wildlife: tracking and identification, including bird language, field guides, and ecosystems
  • Parkway Stakeholders: meet and work with others who strive to protect the land and people (e.g. rangers, other naturalists, plant specialists, maintenance staff, farmers, water conservationist)

The mixed-age program for Grades 1-8 provides opportunities to cultivate leadership and mentoring skills as well as promoting community.

Students will need to wear appropriate clothing (sturdy shoes or boots) and may need to bring minimal supplies such as water bottle, notepad, pencil and colored pencils. See Schedule Page for class location.

Nature Notebooks
Nature journaling offers many benefits including coverage of core curriculum areas such as Nature notebook picscience, art, math, language arts, and social studies; growth in appreciation and observance of nature; and curiosity and independence in personal study. Students will discover new facts and skills in their study of nature. Students read and discuss information, observe photographs or examples, share what they know, then move into new knowledge and guided drawing.

This class also offers a platform for children to communicate their experiences and prioritizes a time for drawing and notating details. Students will concentrate on a variety of topics ranging from detailed studies of flowers, insects, sea animals, birds, weather, or topics of their choice. The students learn specific techniques in the classroom and are encouraged to expand their work on family nature outings, resulting in a journal filled with, “what cannot be bought or sold — personal experience in the happy world of the out-of-doors.” — Anna Botsford Comstock

Please note: although the instructor may occasionally take the students outside, this is primarily an indoor class where students learn drawing techniques; they are encouraged to take their notebooks on family outings so that they can continue to enjoy drawing in a natural setting, further applying their lessons. 

Supplies: Students bring their own Canson Sketch Journal 5.5 X 8.5 or similar quality notebook; available at Michael’s. Also recommended: Prisma Color colored pencils, but Instructor can provide if needed.

The Nature of Sound: From Noise to Music, Grades 4-8
What is sound? What are its qualities? Why are some sounds “noise” and others “music?” Through lecture, hands-on exploration, and musical instruments made in class we will explore the world and physics of sound.

New! Nature Stories & Crafts
In this lively class, students will engage the imagination through storytelling and crafts. Stories will focus on the seasons, Native American tales and the natural environment. Each story will be paired with a craft such as making seed balls for birds, stringing “Indian Corn,” and making an ornament out of wheat. Although not ingested, crafts will include exposure to flour, oats, millet, birdseed, honey and corn. Class integrates language arts, science, arts and crafts.

Patterns in Nature
Numbers and patterns are all around us. From the smallest grain of sand to the stars and galaxies, these patterns express the order and wonder of the universe. Join us as we explore these patterns through microscopes, drawing, measurement and models.

Physics, Grades 4-8
This class will introduce five aspects of the physical sciences: Thermodynamics (heat energy), Magnetism, Electricity, Acoustics, Light. Through an experiential approach, students will be actively engaged in the process of discovery. Each subject will be carried for two class periods. Through demonstrations, class discussions, and individual explorations this class will provide a foundation for further studies in physics.

New!  Rockets, Grades 5-8

“Two-Liter Pop Bottle Rockets may well be the GREATEST PHYSICAL SCIENCE TEACHING TOOL EVER CREATED!!” ~ NASA water bottle rocket information page.

In this class students will work in teams to design and launch a pressurized water bottle rocket. Class will cover:
• Newton’s 1st and 3rd laws of motion
• Forming hypotheses and testing them
• Problem solving through brainstorming, evaluation, and testing of possible solutions
• Principles of propulsion and flight

Launches will take place the last two or three class sessions.

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