Our new Science Club sucks the air of out of a sphere

New this academic year is the Science Club!

This week, the students engaged with Dr. Vince Gutschick, teacher and Board Chair, who (literally) rolled out our vacuum pump, along with a large bell jar, several balloons, and a small Magdeburg sphere.  We watched as a balloon suspended in the bell jar expanded to fill the volume as its internal pressure pushed out its membrane against the rapidly decreasing pressure in the bell jar.

We also boiled water at low temperature! Students learned that boiling means that the vapor pressure of water (set by its temperature) matches the air pressure on the water. There’s a lot of history of early exploring that used this fact to estimate land elevation.

Students had a ton of fun with the Magdeburg sphere – a split cast-iron sphere sealed against air leaks by a greased rubber ring.  With normal air pressure inside and out, it’s easily pulled apart with little force- just enough to overcome the grease film.

A very simple way to demonstrate the effects of air pressure is the suck out the air and close the valve.  A person can suck out about 1/3 of ambient air- at our elevation (1200 meters) that results in a closure force equivalent to weight of a 26 kg mass.  Students tugged in pairs to split the sphere and eventually succeeded.

When we connected the vacuum pump to suck out all the air from the sphere, the force holding it together tripled.  No team was able to part it, but they had great fun trying! Imagine the reaction of crowds to the original full-sized Magdeburg sphere demonstrated in 1654 by Count Otto von Guericke in the town from which it took its name; two teams of fifteen horses each could not pull it apart against the force about equal to the weight of a good-sized car.


The Science Club will be meeting Wednesdays right after classes end at 4:10 PM.

The Kids Are Not Alright: the LCA Difference

A recent opinion piece published in the New York Times lamented the lack of “free play and childhood independence” critical for unstructured growth and overall happiness of students in most schools.

“For youngsters these days, an hour of free play is like a drop of water in the desert. Of course they’re miserable… And so for many children, when the school day is over, it hardly matters; the hours outside school are more like school than ever. Children spend afternoons, weekends and summers in aftercare and camps while their parents work. The areas where children once congregated for unstructured, unsupervised play are now often off limits.”

Here at LCA, students have unstructured, self-organized free play for at least an hour at the start and end of the day- giving students plenty of time to build social skills while having fun. Additionally, we have multiple recess periods, art classes, and music classes.


“[kids today] have fewer opportunities to practice social-emotional skills, whether it’s because they live in a violent community where they can’t go outside, or whether it’s because there’s over protection of kids and they don’t get the independence to walk down to the corner store. They don’t learn how to start a friendship, how to start a relationship, what to do when someone’s bothering you, how to solve a problem.”

Standardized testing is limited to the Iowa Assessment given in April. This helps us understand the efficacy of out teaching and is not used to rank students or teachers. And even though we don’t teach to the test, our students enjoy the experience and score spectacularly!

The 2019-2020 year is just around the corner!

How did LCA students wrap up 2019?

Our students shone in the Iowa Assessments, averaging individually in the 88th percentile nationally.  LCA students who tested in both 2018 and 2019 showed an average gain of 1.7 grades per year. We also had 7 students in grades 2-7 take the national HSK test in Chinese, a high-school test for Mandarin as a second language; they all scored 100% in one or both segments! We can’t wait to see what accomplishments the new academic year holds!


So what’s in store for 2020?

High-quality education at the level that is both supportive and challenging.

Individualized assessment for each student, to determine placement at the appropriate level based on their subject-specific competency.

Small class sizes with lots of individual attention for each student.

Frequent mental breaks for recess, PE, and snacks to encourage better attention spans and quality learning time when in class.  They are also are emotionally supported by caring teachers and our strong anti-bullying policy.

Bonus! LCA students can arrive as early as 7:30 AM and stay as late as 5:30 PM, both for the convenience of working parents and for the students’ enrichment in after-school clubs and in socialization: win-win!

Join us for 2020!

If you have a child who will thrive in a challenging (but not overwhelming!) environment- we encourage you to explore the rest of our website and schedule a LCA visit to experience our school, meet with our Head of School, Lou Ellen Kay (Ph.D., Biology) and get to know our wonderful teachers!

Please note: there are still openings in kindergarten & grades 3-8, however grades 1 & 2 are projected to be nearly full!