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Here are just a few of the many projects we completed in GATE and enrichment classes!


All GATE students began the year with a project called First Fascination. This project asked students to recall the first thing that ever fascinated them. The spark kindled that day ignited the lifelong desire to learn. Our fascinations ranged from bumblebees to bouncing balls, from numbers to insects.

Kindergarten GATE students experienced two field trips: a puppet workshop at the Children’s Museum, and a musical performance at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. These students also participated in “Cuentos en Espanol,” in which they learn some Spanish vocabulary through fairy tales told in Spanish.

The kindergarten GATE group also learned about Japanese Bunraku puppetry.  They wrote and starred in their very own Bunraku play.
A layered "Grand Canyon"
GATE students in grade 1 learned about three special natural wonders: Kilauea Volcano, the Grand Canyon, and Niagara Falls.  Here is a layered "Grand Canyon."
To share their knowledge, the group designed an interactive exhibit called "The Niagara Falls Experience" that would be equally accessible to both blind and sighted visitors. The exhibit included a relief map labelled in both Braille and printed words, a sound collage, the smell of wildflowers, recorded narration on iPads, and a two-story water drop with spray mist.
 A special thank you to Miss Tumbas, Mrs. Friedrich, and Ms. Hartle for all their technical expertise!

This group also attended the Children’s Museum puppet Workshop and The Wind in the Willows at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.

In grade 2, students studied the digestive system. They tested various foods for starch and fat, constructed a set of teeth, used ice water to “find” their stomachs, and simulated bile breaking up fats. To review and celebrate their learning, the group played the Digestion Game. They had to make their own life-sized game board and follow a sometimes frustrating set of rules.


This group also attended the Children’s Museum puppet Workshop and The Wind in the Willows at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.

Our grade 2 math enrichment group used clay, toothpicks, and pictures to solve and write complicated math problems like this one:

I have five flowers that I will use to make headbands for my birds. Some flowers have five petals and some have six petals. I have 27 petals in all. How many flowers have five petals, and how many have six? Hurry—my birds are getting anxious!

(To find the answer, ask a 2nd grader!)

The grade 3 GATE group learned some of the art and science of musical instruments—how they produce sound, and how to describe the sounds they make. They made french horns, and learned basic counterpoint composition techniques to write pieces for two or three instruments in invented notation.

This group also participated in the puppet workshop, learned about carnivorous plants at Phipps Conservatory, and attended an opera based on Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  Click on the images below to enlarge.

In enrichment, our group read Misty of Chincoteague. We learned about the fragile co-existence between the world of humans and the world of nature. We also explored Marguerite Henry’s colorful use of language by personifying forces of nature.

Grade 4 GATE students wrote stories and graphic novels featuring chemical elements as superheroes. In the process, they learned the principles of change-based narrative. After completing the stories, they learned principles of Islamic geometric design using a compass and straightedge.

Grade 4 also took part in a radio broadcasting workshop at Bricolage Production Company and listened to sections of The War of the Worlds. They participated in an opera workshop, and attended The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

The Grade 4 Enrichment group explored math topics such as patterns inside Pascal’s Triangle, tesselations, and creating systems of numeration.

Students in Grade 5 studied etymology, learning 35 Greco-Roman roots, and writing in ancient Greek and Phoenician. They also explored the world history that led to the evolution of our language. In another unit, the group read an adapted version of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and watched Man of La Mancha. The classic novel has been adapted to a variety of media, and students examined these to evaluate how the story and its interpretation changes with each new medium. 

Click on the images to enlarge.

This group also took part in an opera workshop, attended The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and participated in the North Hills Puzzle-lympics Tournament.

In the enrichment sessions, the grade 5 group considered the puzzles and oddities of Alice in Wonderland. These included parody techniques, concrete poetry, wordplay, paradoxes, conundrums of math and science, and reversals of logic. With an eye toward fraud and forgery, the group used these and other techniques to write “missing chapters” in the style of Lewis Carroll. Perhaps some of the following excerpts are good enough to slip by an unsuspecting auctioneer??

*   *   *

Alice walked through a door and found herself in a garden. But this garden wasn’t normal, it was huge! And not just the grounds, the flowers, too. “Oh! What a beautiful sunflower garden,” Alice exclaimed.

Suddenly, one of the flowers looked down at Alice and said, “Thank you! I just got rid of my dead petals.”

Alice stumbled backwards from surprise and landed on her butt. “Did you just talk to me?” she asked. “B-b-because you can’t talk b-because you’re a f-flower and flowers can’t t-talk. I must have h-hit my head, and n-now I’m hearing things.”

While she was talking to herself, the flower stared down at her. Once Alice was done, the flower replied, “Of course I can talk, and it is extremely offensive for a… what are you?”

“I’m a girl, I suppose.”

“Oh. Well, it is extremely offensive for a girl to walk into my garden and say that I should not be able to talk. Good day.”

And with that, the flower stood up. Or rather straightened her stem and closed her eyes. “How easily creatures become offended in this place,” Alice thought.
*   *   *

It started to get brighter. She was now capable of seeing the other person. Alice and the other person were both wearing the same thing. They looked exactly the same. Their hair, their face, and their clothing were exactly the same. “Oh my goodness!” said Alice. “You look exactly like me!”

“And you look exactly like me!” said the second Alice. Both the Alices paced around in circles studying each other and every few minutes, one of them gasped in disbelief at the sight of the other Alice. Finally Alice stopped.
*   *   *

She walked down the multi-colored bricks that seemed to smile at her in the sunlight. As she walked, she noticed a dog, a ladybug, and a large character with blue eyes that seemed to sparkle. He or she was as tall as a redwood tree. They seemed to be fighting about something. Alice said, "Excuse me, but why are you fighting?”

The dog said, "I think this ladybug is small, but the bug thinks I'm big. It thinks Greg here is huge. "

The redwood-sized giant said "HI". It boomed louder than the kettle at home.

Then the dog said, "But the giant said I am tiny and the bug is miniature. Who is right?"

Alice said, "I do not know." She walked down the brick road.
*   *   *
 Concrete parody in the shape of a chef's toque:

 *   *   *

Alice took a deep breath, straightened her back and put on a polite smile. “Hello good sir, my name is Alice.




                        a hole             and tried to ask a rabbit for help

                                             but that didn’t work so well so I

                                                         started to cry

but crying didn’t help much for I had flooded the place

but I couldn’t help it because I had deeply missed my darling cat Dinah,

so then I tried to take a potion to make me smaller

because I needed to follow the rabbit into a small door,

but I forgot the key so that didn’t help so anyhow I flooded the place

                                 oh golly

I already said that my, things are getting foggy But,”


yelled the little man.
Sixth graders built working radios to learn how radios receive electrical signals and convert them into sounds.

The group also wrote, performed, and produced original radio dramas using a sound editing program called Audacity. 

Click the links below to listen!
Larfie and the Worst Brain Surgeon in the World
Download This Podcast
We're All In This Together
Download This Podcast
A Tale of the Old West
Download This Podcast
Sound Wars
Download This Podcast


In addition to the in-class projects, these students participated in the North Hills Puzzle-lympics Tournament (Rebekah Froehlich was the 2014 Overall Winner), took part in an opera workshop, and attended The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.


For 2007-2008 projects, click here!
For 2008-2009 projects, click here!
For 2009-2010 projects, click here!
For 2010-2011 projects, click here!
For 2011-2012 projects, click here!
For 2012-2013 projects, click here!
For 2014-2015 projects, click here!
For 2015-2016 projects, click here!
For 2016-2017 projects, click here!
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Pittsburgh, PA 15229
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