Tag Archives: Tesseract School

Sustainable inventions from Tesseract 7th graders

From apps to clothes to organizational tools, seventh graders at Tesseract School have thought of and created sustainable inventions that can make life easier and better while also helping the planet.

On top of writing a persuasive letter in English class that was directed toward a company or someone who might distribute the inventions, students designed models and samples of their ideas. When they first started their projects eight weeks ago, they spent about the first month brainstorming and working on a packet to help decide what their projects would be.

“At first I was a little freaked out because I didn’t know what I was going to do, and it seemed kind of hard,” said seventh grader Max Whooley. But he said “eventually everyone got a good idea; even if it wasn’t 100 percent an invention no one had done before, they all had something unique.”

One student, inspired by a trip to Cambodia, constructed shoes from bike tires. Another created a Drive-In that goes into businesses so people can order food, leave and then drive back to find their food in a nice container ready to be picked up.

Jessica Wilder decided organization was a big problem, especially for her sister. So she devised a backpack with folders already attached for organizing papers, as well as a planner and notebook that attaches handily with Velcro to the outside of the “Pack Back.”

For virtual organizing, Landon Nutt created the app iBackpack which allows students to access a dictionary, Spanish website, grades, math books and notes that can be uploaded if they were taken online. He doesn’t like carrying all his books in his backpack, so this would be a lot easier and also save paper, Nutt said.

Biosoilable bags are handy for planting without doing a lot of the work or harming the environment, said Ariana Lesniak. The bag is made from potato starch, glycerin, vinegar, water and baking soda, and “it looks like you poured the soil in and did all the hard work, when you really didn’t do any of it,” Lesniak said.

For pet lovers, Lea Byrnes came up with the Green Pet, Pet Bed, a doggy bed made out of recycled pajamas. Because her dog continuously ruins his plastic bed, Byrnes decided to make a washable bed that wouldn’t waste materials, she said.

For campers as well as Third World countries that don’t have electricity, Gabby Vatistas created a light using zinc and copper in potatoes, an idea started because of her pet peeve of people leaving lights on. Another student, Lisa Lewson, is bothered when people leave a public restroom without washing their hands, so she made a model of her idea to have a voice asking, “Did you remember to wash your hands?” when the bathroom door opens.

Devin Gillis, wanting to do something with designing and photography, decided to create economy friendly shirts that are displayed online in pictures she took. Whenever someone buys a shirt, another shirt with a logo she designed is sent to a child in need. Her company, Sublime, means “of such excellence and grace,” Gillis said. She wants to open the idea of good karma and inspire people to “do something good just to do something good.”

 “The students demonstrated remarkable enthusiasm, ingenuity and resourcefulness from beginning to end for this project,” said middle school science teacher Andrew Martin in a press release.

The students will be presenting their inventions at Tesseract’s Celebration of Innovation Thursday, March 22 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the middle and high school campus, 3939 East Shea Blvd in Phoenix. tesseractschool.org.

Story and photos by Amy Vogelsang

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Tesseract launches first senior class

Back-to-school time had added meaning for the Tesseract School’s seniors, who will be the first graduating class since the school expanded in 2008 to include a middle and upper school campus.

Tesseract’s seniors will start the year with their “All Work and All Play College Prep Retreat,” hosted by Prescott College. During the retreat students will participate in events designed to strengthen their senior-class bond and guide them through some final steps in the college admissions process, such as writing college essays, refining résumés, checking the status of college applications and continuing to work toward their senior-year goals.

“Being part of the inaugural high school class has been a powerful experience, especially looking back and seeing all we have accomplished,” said Sam Anderson, a 12th grader who has attended Tesseract since preschool. “During my entire experience at Tesseract I have learned what it means to truly be a part of, and participate in, a unique and caring community with an amazing global perspective.”

“It is a wonderful experience to see the board’s vision of offering a preschool through 12th-grade program come to fruition,” said Nigel Taplin, head of school. He credited trustees, parents, donors, volunteers, faculty and staff for seeing that vision through.

Tesseract has been educating Valley students in preschool through eighth grade since 1988. The high school was part of the school’s strategic plan and a response to Tesseract families wishing the school’s innovative curriculum and student-centered approach could extend through high school.

In early 2007, the capital campaign to raise funds to build a new campus for Tesseract’s middle school and the new high school was launched and Chris LaBonte, Tesseract’s founding director of high school, was brought on board to lead the high school and develop a curriculum that was a natural extension of the school’s mission and philosophy to prepare students for the challenges of a more interconnected and complex world.

“It has been, and continues to be, an amazing experience to be involved from the ground up in developing a high school program for Tesseract,” said LaBonte. “Tesseract has such a strong curricular foundation; we all wanted to create a rich, deep program that further promoted the development of intellectual curiosity and critical thinking, as well as prepared students to excel in college and beyond, in a thoughtful and meaningful way that the students could truly connect with as individuals.”

Tesseract School is a non-profit, independent private school for students in preschool through grade 12. Campuses are located in Phoenix and Paradise Valley. 480-991-1770 or tesseractschool.org.