Monthly Archives: January 2016

Hooray for Launchpad Montessori Guides!


Eagles run most of our Learner Driven Community at Acton Academy.

Whether it’s studio self-governance and maintenance; Middle Schoolers shepherding Elementary Studio Eagles as Eagle Buddies; or Launchpadders leading Middle School Squads and creating Middle School Quests, there’s a constant stream of Eagles moving from one studio to another throughout the day.

Now Eagles have introduced Launchpad Montessori Quest Guides, where Launchpadders have taken complete responsibility for equipping our youngest Eagles with the tools and habits they need to become independent learners.

How is it working?  Here’s one parent’s take:

“Something has clicked for our son.  He’s feeling so positive about the Montessori Quest.  He begged me to take him to get donuts to bring to school tomorrow for his fellow questers. I asked him why and he said: “it’s because of the new Launchpad Guides.”  I hope they know their kindness is paying dividends already.”

Leading through serving.  Learning through real world responsibility.  Congratulations to our Launchpad Montessori Guides for helping those just starting their Hero’s Journeys.

We know it’s a kindness that will be paid forward for years to come.

Periodic Table Bingo


We aren’t fans of memorization at Acton Academy.  Einstein’s advice: “Never memorize anything you can look up in a book” is even better counsel in the Internet Age, when world’s of information is a click away.

That said, some information is elemental, so Middle School Eagles jumped at the chance to dive deeply into the Periodic Table, as preparation for this week’s Chemistry and Cooking Challenge.

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In Periodic Table Bingo, teams of Eagles competed to cite the atomic number and atomic mass; describe an element as a solid, liquid or gas at room temperature; name common characteristics of the Period and Group where an element was found; give an example of a chemical reaction involving the element; name who discovered it; describe real world uses and draw or create of model of the electron shells and electrons.  Whew!   That’s a lot of information to digest.

The amount of learning and comprehension was beyond belief.  One group of Eagles petitioned to have the next day’s round delayed, so they could spend the even at home preparing.

Useless memorization?  Not at all. All of this work will come in handy when it’s time to compete in the final Chemistry and Cooking Exhibition.

Choosing a Path


There are few decisions more daunting than purposefully choosing a path in life.

Making a choice means accepting responsibility for your actions.  Just “letting life happen to you” seems far easier.

So this week each Launchpadder took a courageous step in imagining “for real” what he or she would choose as a vocation at age 25.   Each chose a job that could be landed just after college.

Some of the early picks:

  • An Art Director Creating Video Games
  • A Political Campaign Staffer
  • A Pre-K Teacher
  • A Marriage and Family Counselor
  • A Biotech Scientist
  • A  Program Director for a non-Profit designed to stop the Animal Abuse
  • A Photographer.

In each case, Launchpadders had to pitch the job, providing proof of talents and passions and explaining which apprenticeships and college degrees had prepared them for the position.  In doing so, the twists and turns and path dependencies of early choices became clearer.

Each Launchpadder also presented a salary distribution from for his or her position, and the audience acted as employers conducting a job interview, ultimately deciding to make an offer or not.  Those with no offers would start the Personal Finance Quest as a Gap employee at the mall or flipping burgers at McDonalds.

Thankfully, everyone eventually received an offer.  Final salaries ranged from $28,000 a year to $70,000.  Many were surprised that society values video game designers more highly than teachers.

Next Launchpadders will make decisions about houses, apartments and insurance, so to better understand the expenses of real life, and what you can afford on a teacher’s salary.  Money isn’t everything; but it does clarify hard choices.

One thing is for sure.  Our Launchpadders are far ahead of most college graduates in finding a calling, and will be making far more informed trade-offs and decisions, as they compare one path to another.


Chemistry and Cooking

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The sweet smell of success at Acton Academy’s state-of-the-art Chemistry Lab – freshly baked bread.

Middle Schoolers this session are immersed in a Chemistry and Cooking Quest, largely designed by Launchpadders.  Each week MS Eagles dive into atoms, electron orbitals and reactions, while at the same time learning to apply science to the kitchen.  Every Friday, Eagles roll up their sleeves and take part in a cooking contest.  To win ingredients or utensils, you have to solve a scavenger hunt full of Chemistry riddles and equations.


Week One on Friday,  Eagles solved puzzles and answered questions to win the right to cook omelets.  It turns out that the chemistry of eggs is a bit more complex than you might imagine.


Week Two on Friday was all about making Ice Cream.   Phase changes and foams seem a bit more intriguing when covered with chocolate.

Week Three this Friday was even a more complex logistical challenge, with four contests evolving simultaneously:

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Making Bread

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Making Cheese

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Making Jam; and

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Making Butter

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Of course,  our Safety and Health Inspectors were hard at work too.

The Final Exhibition will be a giant Chopped episode, where Eagle teams will have to solve a Chemistry Scavenger Hunt to earn ingredients to cook the perfect meal.

Stay tuned!



A Great Awakening?


Requests from parent-entrepreneurs to open an Acton Academy continue to arrive from  around the world.

new schools

We expect to have forty Acton Academies by September, 2016, including new launches in Irving and Weatherford, Texas;  Atlanta, Georgia;  Jacksonville, Florida;  Raleigh and Durham North Carolina;  Washington D.C.;  Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor Michigan;  Chicago, Illinois;  Sacramento, California;  Phoenix, Arizona;  Albuquerque, New Mexico;  San Pedro Sula, Honduras;  San Salvador, El Salvador;  Panama City, Panama and Budapest, Hungary.


Equally as exciting, we expect up to forty Acton Children’s Business Fairs around the world in 2016, including another Guatemala Acton Children’s Business Fair, which recently attracted over 6,000 visitors.

Word continues to spread.  This week we received 64 applications to start an Acton Academy and 13 Children’s Business Fair applications.

Young heroes and parents seem to be answering a call.  Our charge is to translate the lessons emerging from existing Acton Academies into a kit that will allow our spontaneously emerging network to build even more powerful Learner Driven Communities.


A 007 Spy Puzzle



Our Launchpadders have worked hard this year.

As a final Negotiation Project, we created a new, more ambitious Launchpad Agreement to take learning and fun to new levels in 2016.  Here’s a copy of that agreement.

So for one last December activity, we decided to take on a lighter task, the Spy Challenge at the Perplexium Puzzle Room.

A Puzzle Room is a new form of entertainment, where a team is locked into a room, assigned roles and a compelling narrative, and given difficult series of puzzles to solve within sixty minutes.

Our team was tasked with finding the location of a dangerous secret agent.  As the minutes ticked by, puzzles were solved but tension rose.  It all came down to defusing a ticking time bomb.

Were the Launchpadders successful?  Let’s just say it was an explosive – though not completely successful end to a great first term.