Feature Stories

Tonka Online Sixth Graders Explore Coding and Computing in STEM Elective

During the first quarter, Tonka Online sixth graders had the opportunity to explore everything from outer space to physical computing and coding programs through their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) elective course. 

“STEM is a great opportunity for our online students to gain a curiosity for the world around us,” shared Lisa Reed, STEM teacher at Tonka Online and Minnetonka Middle School West. “Students in this class have shown great growth both in the knowledge they have gained as well as their ability to work collaboratively and persevere.”

Students began the year by learning about the space and the international space station. Some of their projects in the unit included imaging what they would bring to space (and designing that item to fit the size specifications of an astronaut’s very limited luggage) and tracking the International Space Station (ISS) . 

Sixth graders used media literacy skills to interpret a website and determine when they would be able to see the ISS pass by, depending on their geographic location. The project has become a favorite for students and families, shared Reed. Many students enjoyed being the first one in their family to spot the ISS and pointing it out to the rest of their viewing group.

The class also touched on the engineering design process using microBit fidget cubes. Students created the cubes with target audiences in mind, using elements of human-centered design to meet the needs of their intended users.

Students ended the quarter by working on coding projects using Scratch and Python. In their collaborative zoo projects in Scratch, they created animals and then had their animals interact with the creations of classmates. The Tonka Doodle project is another perennial favorite, Reed noted. Students chose holidays to represent through animations using the letters TONKA, similar to the “Google Doodles” that are featured daily on the search engine’s main page. This doodle, developed by students Molly and Codi, celebrates World Radiography Day on November 8.

The sixth grade STEM elective can be a turning point for students to discover and develop their interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and in all of their projects, Tonka Online students demonstrated their curiosity and skills in collaboration. 

Girls smiling

In this Section

Read More

Radiating Joyful Brilliance

A new, student-created mural at Excelsior Elementary celebrates community and connection. “I hope the mosaic inspires everyone,” said visiting artist Lisa Arnold. “I hope it makes people wonder what more they themselves are capable of.”

School Board Discusses Preliminary 2024-25 Goals

The Minnetonka School Board held a planning meeting to discuss preliminary goals for the 2024-25 school year. The Board will revisit the proposed goals at a planning session this spring and will discuss input it has received on the draft goals at that time.

Celebrating National School Counseling Week

During the week of February 5-9, Minnetonka joins school districts around the country in celebrating National School Counseling Week. Throughout a student’s journey in our District, school counselors provide irreplaceable support and guidance to ensure each student achieves personal and academic success.

Celebrating Black History Month 2024

Each of our District’s schools will have unique opportunities for students to participate and celebrate. This will include a variety of learning and engagement experiences to recognize and honor the achievements and contributions of Black Americans throughout history and to celebrate leaders in our local community. 

Celebrating Paraprofessional Appreciation Week 2024

Paraprofessionals play an important role in supporting students, from helping teachers in the classroom to providing additional help to individual students. This week, make sure to thank your paraprofessionals for their incredible dedication to creating positive learning experiences for students around the District!

IB Diploma Candidates Celebrate Extended Essay Milestone

“I could rave about the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme all day. It has helped me determine what I want out of my future college,” shared Erika Daniels '24. “It blends subjects and promotes discussions about ethics and deeper thinking ... These lessons shaped me into the student I am now.”