Posted in BNS love, community, science

Trees of BNS

Posted in field trip, science

Gowanus Betterment Projects

The lovely, long-suffering Gowanus

Earlier this year, we visited the Gowanus Canal with Barbara and thought about how it has changed over the last 400 years. The kids were sad about how dirty, polluted, and downtrodden our local waterway is. After a year of learning about water and environmental issues, they were ready to work on a small part of the solution!

Their year-end science projects are “floating islands” to help the Gowanus. At this year’s Ecorama celebration, our class presented their “floating island” prototypes.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 6.53.29 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-15 at 6.53.47 PM

These projects were inspired by a visit to look at Balmori Architect’s GrowOnUs island in the Gowanus (pictured above, and originally assumed by the kids to be a “trash island”).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Oyster Outhouse, a design by Sebastian and Ezra
Ecorama Floating Island, by Evelyn
Portable Forest, by Max

Thank you Emmy for the Ecorama pictures; thank you Barbara for teaching us science!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in science

Electricity with Emmy

We took a break from studying water to experiment with electricity. How do you make a lightbulb light up? What’s a circuit? Are fingers, popsicle sticks, and thread conductors? These were just some of the questions we explored over three days.

Opening and closing their circuits
Sketch your circuit!
A cool experiment for a hot day



Scissor-switch, by Ben and Nicholas

Look, we made a switch!

Playing around with switches (our classroom light switch, in this case)

Find all the ways to light a bulb!


How many BNS kids does it take to light a lightbulb? Two
Trying to light a bulb using his hand as a conductor
The Bens experiment with conducting electricity through Benster’s thumb


Posted in field trip, science

Ridgewood Reservoir

Better late than never! Early spring trip to the Ridgewood Reservoir. Built in the 1800s, Ridgewood Reservoir still played an important part in keeping Brooklyn residents hydrated as recently as 1959. Originally, water that was stored in the reservoir traveled by aqueduct to steam-powered pumping stations!

Here are teams of engineers trying to design a successful aqueduct using straws and tape.


Lola’s face = the thrill of success!


Once they got their little aqueducts to work, the kids banded together to build a GIGANTIC aqueduct on the stairs.

Continue reading “Ridgewood Reservoir”

Posted in science, time travel

Hard-working water

We have spent the better part of a year learning how we can do things for our waterways. Now we are learning about all the Work (capital W!) that waterways can do for us! This week we experimented with water wheels. Barbara set the challenge of designing an efficient water wheel.

Which design needs the least “water power” to lift a crayon?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our science and social studies work are truly at an intersection now!

Waterwheels were used in colonial mills (sawmills, gristmills, and more). Windmills were some of the early technologies used by the Dutch (and other cultures) to accomplish large-scale projects. In the Netherlands, windmills actually did the work of draining swamps to turn them into usable, stable land. The earliest known drainage mill is from 1414!

Windmills in Amsterdam (source: city archives)

Learn more about