Students in first grade worked together on a School Maker Faire project all about birds. They had been learning about the building and nesting of Cardinals and Vogelkop Bower birds and took what they learned and ran!
First, students each build a cardinal nest. They learned that the birds use pine needles, weeds, twigs, tree bark, and roots to make their nests. They collected nesting material outdoors and used their engineering skills to build replica nests.
The second project was Vogelkop Bower bird nests. Students learned that this bird uses sticks for the nest roof and moss for the floor. The male bird collects colorful and shiny items to present on the “bower”, or stage, to attract females.
This is a reminder that our 6th Annual School Maker Faire is going on now through March 17th via our Facebook page. Anyone that wants to participate is welcome! Share your project and tag us using BOTH @TLCGrowZonePage AND #TLCSchoolMakerFaire. Then be sure to stop by on March 17th to view all the projects and share encouraging words with our fellow makers. W cannot wait to see how YOU help us make this online School Maker Faire a success!
Each Halloween students at The Learning Center Charter School participate in the school’s annual Makers Mash. Students make decorated or carved pumpkins and create “monsters” from up cycled materials. Judges are always on hand to pick winners in a wide variety of categories and award prizes.
“Our Makers Mash is a natural extension of the Maker spirit on our campus,” said Ryan Bender, head of school. Bender explained that the school emphasizes an E-STEAM environment and teaches students that the science, math, and technology skills that are essential for modern life are deeply integrated within the activities of entrepreneurship and agriculture, as well as language, music, and visual arts.
E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, agriculture and arts, and math.
“Our philosophy of education is built upon the idea that young learners need to be exposed to a broad array of rich learning experiences. Our Makers Mash event allows students to celebrate the holiday and learn, design, build, and create cool things as they do so,” added Bender.
The school became a certified OWL Academy earlier this year. OWL stands for Open Way Learning and the designation is only extended to schools that have shown dedication toward building a culture of innovation through collective leadership, systemic collaboration, open sharing, and a willingness to adopt and sustain innovative teaching and learning practices.
“Everything we do at The Learning Center from garden based learning, art education, an emphasis on health and wellness, E-STEAM, project based learning, experiential outdoor education, and more falls squarely under the Open Way Learning umbrella,” said Bender. “Our Monster Maker event is just one example!”
Kindergarten students loved using recycled objects to make Halloween monsters and zombies. It allowed students to not only celebrate the holiday but to also design, engineer, troubleshoot, and create unique and scary art!
Students at The Learning Center Charter School are outside a portion of each school day. The school has an official screened room dubbed The Outdoor Learning Center as well as numerous gardens and trails.
Students regularly can be found doing art, reading, learning science, participating in PE, learning math, gardening, or having recess outdoors.
“Having our students outside is just what we’ve always done,” said Shelley Farmer, physical education staff and STEM coordinator at the school. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.
“Our campus sits right near the river and Cherokee elders have told us that it would have been prized Cherokee land,” said Farmer. “That in addition to the Cherokee people and culture so prevalent in our region, we make it a point to study the tribe, their language, culture, and traditions each school year.”
Farmer added that students are learning new Cherokee words each week. Students recently learned that osiyo means hello in Cherokee.
The school also includes traditional crafts in their studies. Students recently made Dream Catchers from natural materials found around the school’s Outdoor Learning Center.
“Being outside engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn,” said Farmer. “Layering on the culture of the Cherokee Nation enriches those experiences.”
Charter school continues “Maker Challenges” during remote learning
The Learning Center Charter School has a history of STEM education and cultivating a “maker” environment on campus. In fact, back in March before stay-at-home orders were issued for the state, the school hosted its fifth annual School Maker Faire.
A School Maker Faire is a celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s a place to show what you’ve made and to share what you’ve learned with others. Schools host Maker Faires because they are a perfect combination of part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. School Maker Faire exhibitors, or “makers,” are primarily students—either as individuals, clubs, classes or groups. And Maker Faire exhibits can be from any discipline — from science to art to gardening to engineering to craft.
Despite students being at home and completing the school year remotely, Head of School, Ryan Bender, has been sure to continue encouraging the maker spirit among students.
Each school day, Bender posts video morning announcements on the school’s Facebook page. On Mondays his announcements include the week’s “Makers Challenge” along with inspiration and encouragement on how to participate and share what students make.
“Students have made everything from catapults to animal habitats and innovative footwear as part of the Maker Challenges since remote learning began,” said Bender.
Bender added that parents have communicated their appreciation for the Maker Challenges as a means to keep their students engaged in their remote studies and excited about each school week.
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