ST. Francis of Assisi Catholic School

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Mr. John Sweeney » Grade 8 Physical Science, Grade 7 Project Lead the Way App Creators

Grade 8 Physical Science, Grade 7 Project Lead the Way App Creators

Grade 8 Physical Science Teacher since 2004.     apple teacher
National Presentations:
National Science Teacher Association National Convention, Boston 2008
     "Bubble Gum and the Scientific Method"
National Science Teacher Association National Convention, Nashville 2016
     "Paintballs, Catapults, and Projectile Motion"
National Science Teacher Association National Convention, Los Angeles 2017
     "Introducing Coding into Middle School Curriculum"
Local Presentations:
Catholic Diocese of Memphis Professional Development Day
     Presentations given in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016
CBU/CBHS STEM Co-Lab, 2015
Inovate-Ed at PDS, 2015

Bill Colvard Friend of Education Award for Service to the Shelby County Education Association


Diocese of Memphis St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for Creating and Implementing a Teaching Technique



Just some of the COOL STUFF we do in 8th Grade Science:


Each student read "The Martian" and after I got the chance to have dinner with the author of the book, Andy Weir, he sent our kids this video message: (open in new window)


Four student teams are National Finalists in the NSTA/BrightSchools Light and Sleep Research Competition.


Pringles Chip Competition: Students designed a package to mail me a single Pringles Potato Chip with their grade based on how many pieces the chip was in upon arrival.


We wrote CODE! Students plotted original data from a cholera outbreak in 1854 onto a map of London from the same period to isolate the epicenter of the outbreak and determine the source. They also wrote code to simulate the outbreak, spread, and containment of a virus. Later in the year they also wrote code to simulate a chemical reaction at the molecular level.


Car Crash Physics! Students studied all of the forces and laws of motion involved in crashes between automobiles with other automobiles and with stationary objects. They made an "airbag", conducted experiments in distracted driving, and built cars using only two pieces of paper which held an egg and ran down a 20-foot ramp into a brick wall.


How things fly: Students studied the dynamics of flight and built gliders which were graded based on glide ratio (the relationship between time in the air and distance traveled).


Art and Science: Students used mousetrap catapults to launch paintballs to create a work of art while studying the physics of projectile motion.


We went to Washington D.C.





  • Coordinator of SFA conversion to 1:1 Laptop program including arranging for professional development and introducing our faculty to the Lausanne Learning Institute.
  • Director of SFA Project Lead the Way program
  • Placed 4 student teams as 2017 National Finalists in the National Science Teachers Association Bright Schools annual Light and Sleep Competition.
  • Gravity Cruiser Engineering Challenge.
  • Chairman of the committee for writing technology mission statement.
  • Director of school Science Fair and coordinator of school participation in the Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair.
  • Initiator of school robotics program using Lego NXT Mindstorms robots in grades 5-8.
  • Coordinator of the school Spaghetti Bridge Building Competition.
  • Director of participants in the Memphis Area Joint Engineering Council Annual Student Engineering Competition.
  • Coordinator of "Canstruction" competition and charity food drive.
  • Installed SFA "Weatherbug" weather station seen daily on Channel 3 News and Weather.
  • Coordinator of 8th Grade "Public Art" Project Based Learning Across the Curriculum Project.
  • Director of Science related activities at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum during the 8th Grade Washington D.C. trip for the past 13 years.
  • Teaching supervisor for annual "Oceanography and Underwater Adventure" for our Kindergarten students.
  • Master of Ceremonies for "Q and U Wedding"
 Mr. Sweeney's constructivist approach to education in general and science in particular are one of the reasons why St Francis is the very best school in Memphis.
-- Bill McGregor
 I am so glad that you are doing this! Laura is in the engineering track at her high school. She is one of five girls who have selected this field of study. Every project that she approaches she uses the knowledge gained from your class. Right now her average is a 99% and she attributes a great deal of her strong background knowledge to her time spent in your 8th grade science class. Thank you! -- Vicki Murphy Boyd
This is my 15th  year teaching at SFA.  My wife is the national Director of Finance for Kappa Delta Sorority. Both of my children went to school here.  My son is now in Med School at UTHSC and my daughter who was adopted from Cambodia is a student at Boston Conservatory.  I am also an amateur artist.













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