TNCS March Madness Continues: Mad Scientists!

As we keep saying, a lot happens at The New Century School in the month of March, but perhaps no event is more anticipated than the annual Science Fair. This year’s presentation of projects by TNCS 3rd- through 8th-graders had to be done a little differently since we can’t gather en masse yet, but the projects themselves were no less remarkable for their creativity and all-around innovation.

The Science Fair is important, explains elementary and middle school science teacher Rob Brosius, because, “It’s challenging and rewarding. [Doing science experiments] teaches you how to approach any problem with a solution-oriented perspective.” Students made their presentations via Zoom, which Mr. Brosius painstakingly stitched together. This way, TNCS parents will be able to view all student projects and presentations at their leisure. Another benefit stemmed from this new approach—TNCS students were more relaxed as they presented and were able to really explain their experiments in a deeper way. You can sense their (well-earned) pride. They demonstrate a thorough understanding of the science underpinning the project as well as the process that got them to their conclusions—the Scientific Method.

Mr. B. said:

I am making sure that all students can present their research even if they have not completed their data collection and analysis. We have highlighted the importance of each step of the scientific method in relation to personal and group projects. I have tried to communicate the idea that even if your project does not prove your hypothesis, it can still be considered a valuable experiment.
When compiling all of the videos took longer than expected, Mr. B. made a preview video as well as a couple other Science Fair–related videos to keep parents in a state of eager anticipation.

Now, let’s get to the real deal!

Third and Fourth Grade Projects

These March-Mad Scientists were clearly inspired by their inventive hypotheses and pursued answers to their problems with tenacity and vim! Mr. B. says that he was very impressed with the 3rd- and 4th-grade projects.

Fifth-Grade Projects

The stand-out in this group was a project on Mask Effectiveness—very topical!

Sixth through Eighth-Grade Projects

The stand-out in this group was the project on Water Filtration.

As the independent and dependent variables varied, and the hypotheses were proved or disproved, in addition to following the tenets of study design, students also had to evaluate their work to determine how they could eliminate any confounders next time around.

As you can see, topics ran the gamut of scientific disciplines, from chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and biology to psychology, ecology, and economics, to robotics and engineering. These students are clearly mad for science, thanks in no small part to Mr. B.’s enthusiasm and commitment to the subject!

We leave you with these two words: Elephant. Toothpaste.

Lessons from the Sandlot: TNCS Middle Schoolers Unplug and Connect!

The month of March is often the busiest at The New Century School—absolutely tons happens. We’re happy to report that this year, despite circumstances, was no different!

A large part of the excitement was the return of Daphnée Hope after maternity leave that began late last fall. Ms. Hope had been the 5th- through 8th-grade English Language Arts and Global Studies teacher, and her students initially had bit of a hard time grasping that she was returning in a whole new role.

TNCS’s First School Counselor

That new role is TNCS School Counselor. While finishing up her graduate degree (with a new baby, no less), she is doing her mandatory internship at TNCS. From now until the end of the school year, she’ll be on campus twice weekly to counsel students, create character-building lessons, and connecting students with resources.

Why counseling? “Since my very first year of teaching, I knew right away that I wanted to be a school counselor because my favorite part of teaching is not actually curriculum—it’s building relationships with students,” she explains.

Being able to help them work through any problems that they’re having having, to think deeper and connect with their feelings, is so important. Especially in middle school, they need to understand how to identify their emotions and connect with them. I was talking to a student yesterday who has been really struggling, and just being able to say, ‘you’re a teenager; everything you’re feeling is very normal,’ and seeing the relief on their face that there’s not something wrong and it’s okay to have strong feelings, was great. I especially love middle school because at that age, everything they feel is felt so deeply, and counselors and teachers have a big hand in shaping how they get through.

Ms. Hope says that she put off her dream for a while to get a few more years of teaching experience under her belt and then realized last year that it was time to go for that degree.

“I’ll be meeting with each level monthly and do a series of counseling lessons dependent on the needs of each group,” said Ms. Hope. “For example, today is 1st-grade’s first lesson, and the teacher shared that they’ve been having some issues with bullying. It’s part of a school counselor’s job to create responsive services, and so I’m going to create lessons for them about bullying—what it looks like at this age. It can be as simple as excluding someone from playground games over and over. So, with that age group, I’m going to be using picture books and drawings to make it clear and age appropriate for them.” She explains that kids often don’t realize that their behaviors rise to the level of bullying and sometimes just need to understand that those behaviors are hurting another in some way. We humans don’t come by our social skills naturally; we have to be taught. Although parents certainly provide a lot of this kind of teaching, school is were students spend most of their time and is also where they most need to apply these skills. “It’s equally our to educate them on how to communicate with each other, such as looking into each other’s eyes when they’re talking, and, if someone is talking to you, turn your body toward them to convey better positive body language,” said Ms. Hope.

For many of the older students, teachers have reported common themes, like needing social and emotional connection. “Some of our students are withdrawing and showing signs of depression,” she said. This is not surprising given that they crave connection and have been largely denied it for the past year. Also, especially in middle school, students’ emotional lives expand, and they have questions and may struggle to deal with all the new “feels,” as Ms. Hope described Fortunately, TNCS now has a dedicated staff member to address some of these normal but important challenges. “My goal for the older students is to give them opportunities to see each other, to get them playing with each other and having fun games and competitions. Finding ways to allow them to connect with each other outside of the classroom is so important.”

And on that note, to The Sandlot we go!

Heads Out of, Feet in the Sand

The Sandlot, also known as “Baltimore’s Beach,” is a 10-minute walk from TNCS and empty this time of year. Earlier this month, on a beautiful sunny day, TNCS middle schoolers headed over with Ms. Hope for some of that social interaction she describes as so important. Even some students who still attend school virtually were able to join, and Ms. Hope was pleased with the turnout. “The goal of the event was to interact in a positive way before we even talked about feelings or anything. Also, I wanted to start off with something fun and lighthearted to get them used to seeing me in my new role.”

She divided them into partners based on people they wouldn’t naturally gravitate to, to build camaraderie. They did an egg race over an obstacle course with one partner carrying an egg on a spoon blindfolded, and the other calling out directions. They had to trust each other as well as communicate effectively to make it through the obstacle course. They also played handball with girls against boys, and the girls were pleased to learn that they could hold their own.

“We concluded with a lesson about relationships and how it’s different now after a year of everything being closed. How have our relationships with friends changed? Some of the kids said that their relationships actually improved and got stronger, and then a lot of them said they really struggle with their friendships. I asked them to think about how they can continue to build trust. The whole theme of it was trust and communication—ways you can lose trust with your friends and then also ways that you can continue building it.” She pointed out the irony of being “connected” yet so alienated. “It’s just so strange—they’re connected to each other in a way they probably never were before virtually, but at the same time it’s the loneliest time ever, which is why I want to get them in person and seeing each other and putting away the technology,” she said.

Ms. Hope thoroughly enjoyed the day, as did students, who begged to know when they’d be able to do it again. She says she will definitely continue planning such activities, even though this one was not without it’s challenges. “They hated my music choices,” she laughed. “They’re pretty hard to impress.” Then, too, it’s hard to find relationship-building exercises that allow for social distancing. In years past, TNCS students took various trips that were designed to develop their relationships with each other. There was Echo Hill Outdoor School starting in 5th grade and the capstone international service-learning trips for outgoing graduates. Ms. Hope chaperoned one of those trips and saw for herself how deep of an impact they had on students’ lives. She will continue to search for meaningful ways to engage and connect them.

“Let’s have fun and do things that make you laugh, because when you laugh, your stress level goes down, and your neurons are firing. Then you’re having positive experiences with other people. That’s my goal with them.”

Hope springs eternal, thank goodness.

TNCS’s First-Ever Silent Auction Opens March 17th!

The New Century School prides itself on keeping things fresh and finding creative ways to overcome obstacles. When school closed down exactly 1 year ago to the day, plans for TNCS’s first silent auction had to be shelved. Originally slated for April of 2020, the silent auction was the brainchild of the TNCS Parent Council’s Fundraising Committee. Here we are in 2021, and the Fundraising Committee has not only revived the Silent Auction, they’ve expanded the available items to bid on and have put the whole shebang online, so participation is virtual! The committee has truly done an outstanding job from gathering the lots to be bid on to photographing them for your viewing pleasure. Special thanks go to Fundraising Committee Co-Chairs Lauren Davino and Sarah Andrews as well as equally hard-working committee members Sarah Cornblath and Jessica Leonard.

This blog is, in fact, guest written by Ms. Leonard!

Grab Your Paddles!

TNCS’s Parent Council’s Fundraising Committee presents its first annual Silent Auction from 12 pm on March 17th through 8 pm on March 24th. Don’t think you can participate because the kids go to bed late? Looking for a break during the work day? We got you! The auction is completely virtual so you can bid whenever you want! 

We have some great items waiting for your bids, such as a signed Baltimore Ravens photo, local restaurant gift certificates, swim lessons for your kids, custom portraits, artwork from our very own TNCS community, and more!  Check it out for a full items of available so far…and we’re adding more!

(Here’s a sneak peek!)

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The goal of the Silent Auction is to support the TNCS community with 100% of raised funds to benefit TNCS students and staff. The Parent Council seeks to create education enrichment opportunities by bringing in guest speakers and performers as well as exploring playground and garden/greenhouse improvements. With the challenging academic year created by the pandemic TNCS’ Parent Council used funds from the Land of Kush fundraiser to show TNCS staff how appreciated they are by purchasing individually wrapped cookies for the whole staff this past November.

The TNCS Fundraising Committee always welcomes additional donations. If you have something you would like to donate for the Silent Auction please contact Sarah Andrews ( or Lauren Davino ( by March 15th.

One of two pieces of artwork made by Ms. Tanelle and Kindergarten Aftercare. Value = priceless (obviously).

Going once, going twice—let the bidding war commence!