The 7th and 8th graders immersed themselves in relevant, hands-on, problem solving and collaboration during their first project week this year. If you are wondering why we are so excited about project-based learning as an approach, please see the attached top ten list or go to http://bie.org/
for more information.
7/8 Project Week: October 23 – 29
This week we set out to find answers to the questions: What is journalism? What is the duty of a journalist? As a journalist, what actions should I take to tell my story? We traveled to CU Boulder to meet with a professor of digital media, Pat Ferrucci. We participated in the national #whyiwrite campaign by adding our individual reasons for writing to a national conversation board. We identified a community to which we belong, then wrote an opinion article that shares a “truth” about that community. We set out as photojournalists to document small truths of Boulder that disrupt common stereotypes, and completed a My Hometown photo essay.
Garden as Classroom:
In this project we looked at the following big questions: Why do people garden? What are the benefits of accessible local and healthy food? What does it mean to live in a food desert and how does this compare to our situation in Boulder? And finally: What does it take to design and build a garden? We took a few walking field trips to neighboring schools to get some ideas. We traveled to a non-profit indoor farm in Denver to get some insight on just what it means to live in a food desert and how communities are coming together to tackle the issue. We visited another non-profit in Denver that, among other things, provides opportunities for people who are homeless to become actively engaged in their community through gardening. FInally, we designed and built a four raised bed garden inthe courtyard on the west side of the building.
In this project, we set out to explore the questions: Does life exist elsewhere in the universe? What conditions would life elsewhere in the universe require? How can we identify and learn about other planets in the universe? What is the value of searching for life beyond Earth? We had guest speakers from the Southwest Research Institute share about requirements for life and exoplanet detection. In addition, we visited Fiske Planetarium and had an engineer from Ball Aerospace present details about his work on the Kepler Mission. Throughout the week, we had discussions about the implications of searching for life on exoplanets and created our own light curves as we modeled planet transits. At the end of the week, we participated in a “Pitch Summit” with scientists from our community as judges. In our pitches, we presented the value of investing in research in search of habitable exoplanets.
In this project we investigated these questions: What are the purposes of building bridges? How do science, math, engineering, safety, and aesthetics combine when designing and building a bridge? How can I apply the learning I have been doing in school to solve real-world problems. During the week, we investigated the type of bridge designs and the forces that need to be accounted for in the design. We walked to nearby bridges, took measurements and drew sketches of them to help in our design process. We took a trip to CU and talked with engineering students to be inspired by what problems they were tackling. As a culminating project, students worked in teams to design and build a model bridge that would solve an engineering problem somewhere in the world.
This week we sought to answer the essential questions,“How does a person’s life experiences impact the way they look at the world?” and “How can we ‘map’ our life experiences?”. We were fortunate enough to have Kara working with us, so we were able to combine an investigation of cartography and human perspective, with mixed-media art. Throughout the week, we explored the history of cartography and various forms of mapping, viewed case studies of multiple people with unique life perspectives, visited a map store where we saw and learned about maps through time, visited “Two-Hands Paperie” on Pearl Street to select paper for our own maps, and spent many hours crafting multiple mixed-media personal maps. Students created abstract route maps, showing the route from home to a place of personal significance; “maps” of their hearts, which expressed personal loves and values; and our week culminated in the creation of personal utopias, which allowed students to fully express their perspectives and experiences in a mixed media map.