Science and Music Collide at Propel McKeesport!

Class 3A at Propel McKeesport recently learned that Science and Music have much in common! These students had the opportunity to transfer their Science knowledge into a seasonal music piece!

Science teacher Ms. Cohen joined forces with Music teacher Ms. Rushlander to show students that there is a partnership between the subjects, via a cool teaching experience.

Using ‘boomwhacker’ instruments (plastic tubes of varying length,) the students began by hypothesizing about the pitch that each tube would make when struck on the ground. Using scientific principles, students guessed that the longer tubes would make the lower pitches and the shorter tubes would make a higher pitched sound.

The experiment then began, as students were each given an instrument with which to work. Striking the boomwhackers on the floor in successive patterns, the students then voted on the types of sounds that they heard. Teachers charted the student votes and the eventual outcome of the experiment. It turns out that 3A were some very good guessers!

Ms. Rushlander then showed the students that pitches can be used to make music. With a nod to the season, she showed the students how to play “Jingle Bells” with the boomwhackers!

An attentive and excited class, 3A learned about hypothesizing, charting, scientific principles of sound, musical theory and musical practice — all in one hour! Great job by both teachers and students!…

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Propel Foundation Innovation Grants Inspire Teachers!

Each year, the Propel Schools Foundation accepts grant applications from teachers who seek to do innovative programming that often falls out of budget range. One of the Innovation Grant awardee from 2014 (and 2013!) talks about her experience with the funding and why it is so very important to Propel.

Welcome, guest blogger Heather Harvey, Propel Northside.

The Innovation Grant (via the Propel Schools Foundation) is an amazing opportunity that my students and I have been fortunate enough to benefit from for two consecutive years.

I spend hours over the summer and throughout the school year keeping up with current educational trends and best practices. I am often inspired to bring new concepts and ideas into my classroom from blogs, educational journals, and conferences I attend. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to attend the “National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics” conference in Denver. While there, I learned of the Math and Movement program that is designed specially to help students learn basic math skills through movements on large, room-sized carpet mats. I was so excited to see such a thing, but knew I personally could not afford to bring such a program back to my school. I kept the idea in my back pocket and searched for ways to make it a reality.

The Propel Innovation Grant was just what I needed! After great success with my first Innovation Grant, I left last school year looking for something new so that I could apply for a 2014 Innovation Grant. …

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A ‘Change’ for Propel Hazelwood – Students turn pennies into dollars!

What can you do with a penny? One single cent…1/100th of a dollar…can it really make a difference? At Propel Hazelwood, one single penny (added to many, many other pennies) has made a difference, both to the students as well as the community at-large.


This is a representative sampling of the change that was collected!

This is a representative sampling of the change that was collected!

Propel Hazelwood’s staff developed the idea of having a penny drive (called the “Penny War”) as an inaugural fundraising activity for the school. Students in grades K – 4 were encouraged to bring their pennies (as well as other change) to school to deposit into their classroom penny jars. The response was completely overwhelming!

From the very youngest students to the ‘big kids’ in 4th grade, everyone participated and, perhaps most importantly, understood the reason that they were bringing their change to school – to make a change in their community.

Teaching philanthropy to children can be a challenge. The teachers at Propel Hazelwood met this challenge with simple, yet powerful, language and explanations. Alex Slaughter, Music instructor at Propel Hazelwood, was happily surprised by the enthusiasm and participation of students. “Our students came to this project with such a sense of purpose. They showed character, enthusiasm and friendly competitive spirit. I’m so proud of the entire Propel Hazelwood family!”

Students were excited by both the competition as well as the spirit of giving.

Students were excited by both the competition as well as the spirit of giving.


In total, the school raised over $730 over a period of 2 weeks. The 4th grade class raised the most …

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“What’s A NerdHerd?”

Have you ever asked this question? We bet that you’re curious about it now!

Jaylynn Dunlap and fellow "NerdHerd" member Valencia Medina at Propel McKeesport, in front of the official NerdHerd Bulletin Board.

Jaylynn Dunlap and fellow “NerdHerd” member Valencia Medina at Propel McKeesport, in front of the official NerdHerd Bulletin Board.

Propel McKeesport 7th grade student Jaylynn Dunlap steps in as today’s guest blogger and lets us all know that being a part of McKeesport’s NerdHerd is a GOOD thing!

Soon, students in the “NerdHerd” will be participating in going to the Carnegie Science Center. To be in the “NerdHerd,” you have to have all A’s and B’s in everything. It’s not all about having good grades, you also have to have good behavior and attitude. To stay in the “NerdHerd,” you have to keep those good grades and behavior. At the end of each mid-term, the members of the “NerdHerd” participate in a party. This makes the 7th and 8th grade students want to act better and work even harder.

7th and 8th grade students at Propel McKeesport are also incorporated in Education City. Education City is a school-based program that assigns people who work hard to have a school job. To apply for a job at the school, you must have good behavior. Some of the jobs you can apply for are:

*Teacher Assistant
*Office Runner
*Subject Tutor
*Homework Collector

You will get an application to complete. You’ll be interviewed by someone as if it were a real-life job. Like in real life, you can be fired from your job. If you get into trouble, you …

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Propel Homestead’s American Biography Project

Propel Homestead’s 3rd grade English/Language Arts class immersed themselves (almost literally!) in a biography/history project!

These third grade students spent the first 7 weeks of school learning about how the United States is both similar to and different from other countries. Further, they went on to research how people and events influenced the growth our country.

During the last 3 weeks of the project, students researched famous Americans throughout history. Their assignment? To write a biography about the famous American and to give a speech about him/her.

Students then had the pleasure of presenting those speeches to Mr. Hammond’s 7th and 8th grade classes as the culminating activity for the module! Instructor Jasmine Anderson is proud of the perseverance that the students showed. “Third grade did a wonderful job of putting all of the elements together for a wonderful project!”

The students also had an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding by presenting their speeches as part of a “Wax Museum” during a parent/school meeting as well!

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