Classroom experiences


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Midland School

"Learning outside the boundaries of school walls, provides us with the tools to succeed in them and anywhere! Enjoy seeing us 
at work!" Barbara Purcell, G.A.T.E. Midland School

Riddles that were shared by the Midland School students:

Submitted By: Yuna C. G.A.T.E. 6
I have snow white fur, maroon hair, and a prehensile tail. 
These characteristics help me to camouflage with the tall, cappuccino brown trees and hang upside down.
I live in Barro Colorado Island, Panama.
I eat primarily insects such as katydids.
I get my food by leaping quietly in the high canopy.
I can give birth to twins, weigh to six pounds, and have sharp teeth.
I can be killed or eaten by large, viscous snakes.
Some special things I can do are call alarm signals to warn other groups and chirp  bird-like calls when I see a human.
Who am I?

Submitted By: Lauren A. G.A.T.E. 6
I have a long, skinny body, long skimpy legs, and tiny little ears for hearing my relatives.
I am a herbivore.
I feel soft because of my creamy mocha brown fur and strong because of my tense muscles.
I eat crunchy leaves, juicy fruit and delectable flowers. 
If I don’t want to be killed I have to watch out for scary jaguars, vicious pumas and worst of all, humans. 
Can you guess who I am???

Email for the answer

West Orange

Visiting student from West Orange, Zach shares his experiences in Panama at
Also see the press release about the visit.

International Squirrel Day

Rainforest Connection Videoconference
Midland Elementary School #1 (Rochelle Park, NJ)
March 1st, 2012

  Squirrel‌           We may think of them only as the little grey animals running around our backyards, but squirrels come in many different varieties and live all over the world! In honor of International Squirrel Appreciation (an extended celebration of National Squirrel Appreciation Day, 1/21) Ms. Franko’s 6th grade science students at Midland School participated in a video conference on March 1st, 2012 with squirrel expert Dr. Jackie Willis over 2,000 miles away in the Panamanian rainforest.

           Ms. Jessica Franko, an avid squirrel enthusiast, was able to arrange the Rainforest Connection video conference through PRISM, a science and mathematics professional development program based at Montclair State University in which several Midland teachers participate.

           What constitutes a ‘squirrel’ anyway? Dr. Willis taught us that a key squirrel feature is its gnawing teeth, and talked about different kinds of squirrels, specifically flying squirrels native to the rainforest.  

           After discussing rainforest squirrel habitats, behavior, diet, and ecological importance,   the audience was able to pick Dr. Willis’ brain, asking many interesting questions such as how flying squirrels fly and if the black squirrels we see in the city are the same species as the grey variety. Students learned that flying squirrels do not actually fly, but use flaps of skin like parachutes to glide through the air. The black squirrels we see in urban areas are, in fact, the same species as our backyard grey squirrels, but have a gene mutation that causes them to be less afraid of humans in addition to their shiny, black fur. Another noteworthy question was if squirrels can have rabies. Dr. Willis informed us that although as mammals squirrels can pick up rabies, they generally do not carry the virus.

           The session ran smoothly with technology assistance from Ms. Tatyana Budanskaya (IT), as well as help from several teachers—Mrs. Sue Carney, Mrs. Jennifer O’Brien, and Mrs. Barbara Weiner, and of course the enthusiasm of Midland’s 6th graders. Count the International Squirrel Appreciation video connection a success!

By appointment: Send email requests for topics, dates, grade level, and suggested times to Dot Stradford at