February is Black History Month!


Here are just a few examples of the phenomenal contributions made by black inventors, scientists, and engineers everyday.


Lets start with Mae Carol Jemison (born: October 17, 1956) who  became the first African American woman to travel in space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

However, Mae Jemison is more than an astronaut- she is also a teacher, a medical professional, a Peace Corps volunteer, and founder and president of two tech companies.

On the Endeavor, Mae Jemison conducted medical research while in orbit.  As a mission specialist, and working with a colleague, Mae Jemison co-led two bone cell research experiments aboard the Endeavor ( mission STS-47).


Mae Jemison aboard the Endeavor in 1992.  Credit: NASA


In addition to her scientific contributions, Mae Jemison has been an advocate and mentor for bringing technology to nations around the world as well as inspiring a love of science for youth and minorities.


To learn more about Mae Carol Jemison click here and to learn about other Black Scientists click here.

Speaking about technology…

Every time you PRINT a document or image from your computer feel free to give a virtual high-five to computer engineer Dr. Mark Dean (born: March 2, 1957).


Dr. Dean is a prominent inventor and pioneer of landmark technologies in computer science.  Honored as one of the “50 Most Important African Americans in Technology” in 2000 by the California African-American Museum, Dr. Dean holds more than 20 patents and was instrumental in the invention of the Personal Computer (PC) during his early years of work with IBM.


In addition, Dr. Dean and a colleague developed the first system to enable computers to communicate with other devices- like a printer or speaker- and led a team in inventing the 1-Gigahertz chip (which contains one million transistors, btw,  and has nearly limitless potential).

Thank you Dr. Dean!

To learn more about Dr. Mark Dean click here.

Ok, but what about technology before computers…

Meet the Ishango Bone, a 22,000 yr old baboon fibula found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) near the Uganda border.  Buried in layers of volcanic ash archeologists believe the bone was used as a mathematical computation device by an ancient African civilization.  Sort of looks like a calculator.  Don’t you think?

To learn more about the Ishango Bone click here or watch the videos below.


For more on Black History Month 2018:




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Technology as a Bridge to Cultural Identity: Teotihuacan


The students of Marin Preparatory Lower School Science have been learning how art and technology help shape cultural identity by  investigating the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico.



Clase Chambi (2nd grade) and Clase Picasso (3rd grade) participated  in a special science field trip to the San Francisco De Young Fine Arts Museum to learn about one the earliest and largest cities in the Americas- Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire.  An exhibition organized in collaboration with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH).

Teotihuacan is located approximately 30 miles from Mexico city, in a great valley surrounded by mountains, and is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. Teotihuacan was inhabited between 150 BCE- 600 CE.


Our student investigators researched how art and technology left behind by this ancient culture help to shape our modern day understanding of Teotihuacan as an urban environment.


In doing this, students imagined a day in the life as a Teotihaucano by looking at the natural resources available, technology used,  and ‘reading the art’ of the graphics found on murals and objects.  Clues to the political and spiritual structure of this ancient city were hypothesized and connections were made to current day traditions.



Many mysteries remain of Teotihuacan but one thing is clear from the story left behind by the many murals, artifacts, and structures still standing so many years later: this was a large civilization comprised of immigrants from all over Mesoamerica.



Marin Preparatory 3rd Grader Lila A. dove deep into the meaning and architectural layout of the structures of Teotihuacan.  In particular, Lila found the Pyramid of the Moon fascinating.  This is what Lila learned:

Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacan

by Lila A.  

The Pyramid of the Moon is the second largest pyramid in modern day San Juan Teotihuacan, Mexico after the Pyramid of the Sun.  It is located in the Western part of the ancient city and mimics the contours of the Montaña Cerro Gordo, just North of the site.  

Some have called it Tenan, which in Nahuatl means “Mother of Protetective Stone.”  The Pyramid of the Moon covers a structure even older than the Pyramid of the Sun.  The structure existed prior to 200 CE.

The Construction of Pyramid of the Moon began between 200 and 250 CE and completed the bilateral symmetry of the temple complex.  A slope in front of the staircase gives access to the Avenue of the Dead, a platform atop the pyramid was used to conduct ceremonies in honor of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan. 

Ceremonies were also conducted in honor of the Goddesses of Water, Fertility, The Earth, and even Creation itself.  The platform and the sculpture found at the bottom of the pyramid are thus dedicated to The Great Goddess.


To learn more about the ancient Civilization of Teotihuacan follow these links:



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Let’s Talk Science!

Lets’s Talk Science!

NASA describes a Black Hole as a place where matter is squeezed into a small space and the resulting  pull of gravity is so strong that even light can’t escape .  The fact that light can’t escape renders a Black Hole invisible- only detectable with special instrumentation.

Nash O is a 4th grade student at Marin Preparatory and passionate about Space Science.  Here is what Nash has to say about Black Holes.


How is a Black Hole formed?

We do not know that much about black holes but this is what we do know: a Black Hole is what happens when a star (at least 20 times bigger than our sun) takes about 500 million to 15 billion years to collapses on itself.


What is the biggest Black Hole that we know about?

The biggest Black Hole in history is and was 17,000,000,000 times bigger than our Sun.  Scientists use our sun as a unit of measurement and mass.


Where is the closest Black Hole to Earth?

The closest Black Hole to Earth is 70 million light years away.

PS.  A  light year is NOT a real year but is a distance.


Let’s dive deep…


Wow.  What else…

What if two Black Holes collide?

Of the little information that we do have, this is what we know: when two black holes collide that are the same size they will commonly turn into a Super Black Hole.  If one Black Hole is bigger than the other, then it is possible that the bigger one will fling the smaller one away.


Where can we find out more about Black Holes?

1- NASA- What is a Black Hole?

2- Check out this video by Naked Science.

Thanks, Nash!




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Global Citizenship, Disaster Relief, & Symmetry

Global Citizenship

Hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires… the headlines in the news during the last several months have been filled with natural disasters and… heartbreak.  

In an era of a rapidly changing climate and an unprecedented frequency and intensity of climate related weather anomalies across the globe our conversations in the MPS Science lab have turned towards Global Citizenship. 

We know that we can’t turn back time or reverse the damage already done to our stratosphere (yes, that ‘onion skin’ deep layer of atmosphere around our earth ‘onion’ that protects us from solar radiation) but we can change the choices we make going forward, as Global Citizens, to help mitigate future damage to our environment and our delicate stratosphere. 

Global Citizenship is the idea that everyone, no matter where they live, are part of a worldwide community.  Global Citizens have multi-cultural awareness, fight for sustainability, are service oriented, and understand the importance of communicating across cultures- often speaking another language, and they have a sense of civic duty.

Global Citizenship begins at home, in our community, and with our children.   

Makers & Disaster Relief

As Global Citizens we can share our knowledge and resources with others to develop solutions to a better way of life, environmental sustainability, economic security, and disaster relief across the globe.  

Calling all Makers… the Maker non-profit Field Ready has made a list of top-priority challenges in hopes that innovators across the globe will contribute solutions to problems faced by communities in the Caribbean affected by the 2017 Hurricane season.  The Field Ready mission is time sensitive and they aim to begin implementation of proposed solutions by November 8th, 2017 in areas of need. 

Are you game?  This week, our 4th grade student investigators will be going over this Field Ready list that includes needs as varied as water desalination, replacement parts, and traffic control strategies.   You can find the needs list here:  FIELD READY- Call to Action

Symmetry in Nature

Finally, our students have been observing symmetry in nature, under the microscope, and- because we are a STEAM science lab- in art and culture.  Last week, we learned about an extraordinary fish who is an expert in symmetry.  Enjoy!

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Let’s Talk Science!


After 20 years and billion miles from planet Earth, the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft completed its last mission today (September 15th, 2017) at 4:55 am.  It’s mission was to fly into the atmosphere of Saturn and burn up into a cloud of tiny particles- sending info back to the Earth right up until the moment it detonated.  Cassini taught us a lot about planet Saturn, and its moons, and will be missed by many.  Mission complete!

The Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft- a joint effort between NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and the Italian Space agency- has been known simply as Cassini and was the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn.  Marin Preparatory School 3rd grader, Zachary, Talks Science with us and breaks down the importance of Cassini to space research.

To learn more about the important research done with the help of Cassini click here.  To see some amazing photography taken by Cassini click here. Happy Friday!




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September is National Hispanic Heritage Month!

Our students are learning about Science through the Technology and Engineering lens.  Since the first time a Neanderthal took a stick to dig up a root for dinner-  technology has been around.


Technology is how we investigate the scientific world around us.  Technology is how we improve our lives, improve the environment, win a war, make peace, create beautiful things, and break things down.


The how and why of technology in our lives as a society is endless.  One thing is certain, technology is developed through a combination of creative thought, asking many questions,  and using mathematical principles.


September is National Hispanic Heritage Month!  


We would to take a moment to honor the contributions made by Hispanic scientists, engineers, poets, artists, medical professionals, educators, and community activists to our world.


Below you will find links to several cool websites honoring some important Hispanic contributions made by a Pre-Incan civilization, the first Latina Astronaut- Ellen Ochoa, and Mario Ochoa who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.  Enjoy!


Click on the links below:

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017

Engineering the Incan World

How Stuff Works-10 Hispanic Scientists You Should Know


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Summer 2017- Science Around the World

We would like to dedicate our first blog entry to an exciting summer of science around the world!


People from all over the world flocked to San Francisco this summer to celebrate the 50th year anniversary of the Summer of Love.  ‘Is this science?’, one may ask.  In fact, the social change that took place in 1967 is a great example of our human race adapting as a society to a new way of thinking in a modern world.   What are some other examples of human, or animal, adaptation?


In July, one of the largest icebergs ever recorded broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica.  A barometer of our changing climate, perhaps, but what does this really mean?


The world witnessed North Korea testing their capabilities to launch a missile after many years of learning the science and engineering behind a missile launch.  They were successful this summer.  What exactly is the science behind a missile launch?  How do ethics play a role in scientific experimentation of this magnitude?


On August 21st, North America experienced a Total Solar Eclipse!  Our very own MPS Faculty took a break from organizational meetings to catch a glimpse of the eclipse through the San Francisco fog.  The next Total Solar Eclipse visible from North America will be April 8, 2024… how old will you be then?


Finally, the science faculty at MPS have been busy organizing the new STEAM Science Laboratory.  An exciting 2017/18 academic year is planned  to include a Makers Lab, ‘Break It Down’ Science, and working with our scientific community in the classroom.


It is going to be a great year in science!



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