Look at the Week- October 29

This week we continued our unit on Matter and its Interactions. This involved an investigation on “if we can’t see particles, how do we know we are there?” Last week we proved particles through weighing water before and after adding soluble and insoluble substances. This week, we applied the same question to gases by weighing a balloon before and after filling it with air. We learned, to the surprise of many, air has weight! We also developed vocabulary through a foldable and completing cloze notes in our ISN.

We ended the week by introducing our new concept, elements and compounds. We will continue developing our knowledge on how to distinguish between elements and compounds.

Bellwork Quiz Friday

Look at the Week- October 22

This week we will be continuing our unit on Matter and its Interactions. We will be working in the lab and consider the question, if I can’t see it how do I know its there? This relates to our investigation of particles making up matter. It is sometimes difficult to understand something we can’t see. The goal of this lab is to find ways to ‘prove’ the existence of particles despite not being able to see them.

A general reminder, students should be bringing all required materials to class with them. This includes the bellwork notebook, composition notebook, and something to write with. We use these materials everyday and it is important to come prepared.


I plan to collect ISN’s this Thursday. I will be checking for completion of labs and organization of the notebook.


NO BELLWORK QUIZ this week!!!!

Look at the Week- October 15

Our new unit, Matter and its Interactions, is well underway. This week we will be completing the Properties of Water article we began last week. Students will complete a Tree Map to compare the properties of water molecules in their different states.

We will begin a lab on the properties of water. This includes solubility, density, cohesion, and capillary action. The students have enjoyed investigations in the lab so far, so it should be a fun week.

Please remind your students to participate during class bellwork. This is their study guide for the bi-weekly quizzes. There will be a bellwork quiz this Friday. I encourage students to review their bellwork at home so I can make any clarification in class before the quiz.

Let’s make it a great week!

Look at the Week- October 8

This week we will complete our first unit, Thinking Like an Engineer. Over the course of this unit students have participated in the lab to create their own circuits and flashlights! It was a lot of fun to see them working together. They DID the engineering design process by creating their own models, building prototypes, and making observations and revisions until they had a functioning device. We learned a lot. The unit will conclude with a written CER summarizing their understanding of how energy flows in a circuit.

Now we are on to the next unit, Matter and Its Interactions. In this unit we will explore water molecules, phase changes, and the properties of water. This week we will participate in our lab groups to observe what happens to an ice cube over time when left out at room temperature.

This week we will also me implementing class jobs. It is my hope that students will enjoy having specific roles in the classroom, giving them a sense of ownership over their learning.

Looking forward to another great week!

Look at the Week- October 1

Happy Monday!

We are ready to set off on another week of growing and learning in science. Last week was a little thrown off with all of the NWEA testing. Testing took a lot longer than anticipated, resulting in students being pulled from class to get caught up. Thankfully, this week is a regular school week. I am eager to get everyone back on track. Our focus this week is to complete our summative assessment for the Thinking like an Engineer unit, and to kick off our new unit, Water; A Mighty Molecule.

Instead of giving students a traditional written assessment, we will be completing a lab in groups. Students will work together to create a flashlight. This task builds on the lab students already completed, where they created a circuit. I am excited to see students collaborating together and applying their knowledge to complete this task. I know the students are excited to be back in the lab after a long week of testing.

Things to take note of, we will have our second bellwork quiz this Friday, October 5. Students can prepare for this by taking notes during bellwork in class and reviewing their notes at home. I have decided that from now on bellwork quizzes will not be open note. There was too much confusion and dependence on the notes during the quiz. It is my hope that this will motivate students to pay close attention during bellwork review in class.

Keep a look out for progress reports. They should be coming in the mail within the next week or so. If you have any questions for me regarding grades, please reach out. I am noticing a trend in students not turning in assignments. I am going to start requiring that students write down homework and important dates in their planners.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have!

Look at the Week- September 24

This week in class we will be continuing our unit “Thinking like an Engineer.” Last week, students worked in groups to create a light circuit using provided materials. We will conclude the unit this week with a summative assessment, requiring students to apply what they learned from building a circuit to building a new prototype.

Science NWEA testing begins tomorrow, September 25.

The next bellwork quiz will be October 5. From now on bellwork quizzes will be every other Friday. I have also decided not to make the quiz open note. It caused too much confusion among the students and led to distractions during the quiz.

Grades have been posted for bellwork quiz 1. This is the first quiz, so this grade tells us if students have been keeping up on their bellwork. If your student received a low score, encourage them to pay close attention and take good notes when we do bellwork at the beginning of each hour.

Lets make it a great week!

Look at the Week- September 17

This week in class we are diving in to unit one, Thinking like an Engineer. This unit involves learning how to collaborate well with others in order to solve problems. Students will be faced with the challenge of creating a circuit using wires, batteries, and a light bulb. They will create models on paper then create prototypes with the materials. Through this process they will become familiar with how the design process works.

We will have our second bellwork quiz this Friday. This quiz will be open note, so as long as students are doing their bellwork and recording correct answers in their notebooks they will be successful.

Looking forward to another great week!

Look at the Week- September 10

This week in class we will continue to reflect on the cube activity we began last week. As we move through this activity we will be developing our understanding of some new vocabulary. The vocabulary includes observation, inference, claim, evidence, and reasoning. These are all involved in our cube activity, and will also be applicable in our upcoming unit, Thinking Like an Engineer, which we will begin next week.

We will also get started setting up our Interactive Science Notebooks. This requires a composition notebook. Our ISN will be used daily in class for note taking, keeping data, and reflecting on learning.

This Friday will be the first Bellwork quiz. This quiz is open note and will go over Bellwork 1-4.

I hope to meet many of you Wednesday at Open House from 6-7:30.

Questions you can ask your student:

What is the difference between an inference and an observation?

Look at the Week- September 4

This week, our focus will be on having a growth mindset. Students will read about the work of psychologist Carol Dweck, and her research on children with growth and fixed mindset. A growth mindset is a mindset in which you believe you can become smarter through hard work and practice. A fixed mindset is a mindset in which you believe your level of intelligence is fixed or something that cannot grow. Students will reflect on these ideas by brainstorming ways they can apply a growth mindset to our learning in science class. Finally, we will apply this idea of growth mindset to a challenging cube activity. In this activity students will be challenged to observe patterns on a cube in order to make a claim of what should be on the blank side of the cube. The patterns are difficult and will require students to work hard and think deeply.

In addition, students have been sent home with a syllabus. The signed syllabus as well as required class materials are due by Friday September 7.

Let’s make it a great week!

About Mrs. Vander Laan

Dear Parents,


Welcome to Seventh Grade Science! My name is Natalie Vander Laan and this is my first year teaching. I am so excited to be beginning my career in Dearborn Schools. You are part of a supportive and welcoming community and I am thrilled to be a part of it.


To start off I would like to tell you a little bit about myself both personally and professionally. My husband and I recently moved from Grand Rapids to Livonia. My husband, Jonathon, works at Livonia Chrysler Jeep. We got married in June 2017, and are enjoying settling into sharing our life together. We purchased our first home and have spent the past six months making it our own. My family and friends are very important to me and I love spending time with them any chance I can.


I graduated from Calvin College in December 2017 with a degree in Elementary Education, a major in Integrated Science, and a minor in Language Arts. Following my graduation I filled multiple long term substitute teaching positions. One of these positions was a seventh grade science class in Belleville. My education and substitute teaching experience has prepared me well to teach your student.


Science has always been a favorite subject of mine. I like that in science there isn’t always a right or a wrong answer. Science is exploratory in nature, and requires problem solving. Learning takes place when we have genuine curiosity, and this happens a lot when tackling science topics! I hope that my passion for the subject will be contagious so that we can all come to class excited to expand our knowledge.


Due to the exploratory nature of science, some of our learning will take place in the science lab. For the safety of everyone it is extremely important that students abide by the safety protocol in place. Please talk to your student about the importance of making safe choices in the lab. I will do my part by setting clear expectations and holding students to those expectations. I am confident that we can have a great year if we can all agree to follow rules and procedures.


Please feel free to contact me at any point during the school year. I am here for you and your student. Together we can find the best ways to support your child so that they are able to find success in my class.


I consider it a great privilege and responsibility to be your students teacher this year, and look forward to meeting each of you.



Natalie Vander Laan

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