Third Graders Study Lost Cities as Part of Remote Learning

As soon as stay-at-home orders switched daily school to remote education from home, Kathleen Shook, third grade teacher at The Learning Center Charter School, immediately switched gears on how to continue enriching E-STEAM and PBL projects for her remote class.  As a result, students embarked on an extensive project based on lost cities of the world.

A targeted E-STEAM education approach ensures students engage in science, technology, engineering and math regularly. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, complex question, problem, or challenge.

The premise of the lost cities project came from a book the class read together about cities in history that are no longer inhabited either by means of disappearance, natural disaster, or mysterious episode.  Students researched lost cities and chose ones to focus on depending on their interests.  Petra, Atlantis and Great Zimbabwe were popular choices.

At the conclusion of the project, students designed and built models of their chosen lost city.  Many used recycled materials while others used both technology and materials found in nature to build outside forts.

“Not being able to be in the same room with my students is challenging to be able to gauge how my students are delving into a subject,” said Shook.  “However, I know from experience that PBL projects like this harness student curiosity and allow a deeper exploration and understanding of studies.”

The lost cities project included science, reading, writing and social studies components.

“What we could have learned about lost cities in one lesson on one day is nothing compared to the deeply engaged learning that we participated in during our PBL unit with lost cities as our overall theme,” said Shook.

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“Makers Challenges” During Remote Learning

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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PBL Math – Geometic 3D Shapes During Remote Learning

Sixth grade students were tasked with creating 3D spaceships using geometric shapes as part of a larger PBL (Project Based Learning) project during the last several weeks of remote learning. Students had to research spaceships in order to be able to create an accurate model. Additionally, they had to find the area, perimeter, and surface area of each shape on their spaceship.

6th Grade Science – Earth Structures

Sixth grade students learned about Earth structures, natural disasters and layers of the Earth recently. As a final project for the unit of study, students worked with partners and chose to make, among others things, a video, a children’s book, a 3D model, a Google slide, and a crossword puzzle in order to show understanding of the science standards. They then presented to class what they learned and what their project was about. 

1st Grade Explores Dyeing Fabrics

As part of an ongoing exploration of science in first grade, students experimented with dyeing different types of fibers with both artificial and natural dyes.

They dyed wool fiber and cotton string and were very surprised by some of the results. They hypothisized that the Kool-Aid dye would result in brighter colors than it actual did. They also thought that the purple cabbage would result in a similar purple dye when, in fact, it did not.

All of their findings were on display in the classroom at our annual School Maker Faire in March.

1st & 2nd Grade Language Arts & School Maker Faire Project

First and second grade students worked collaboratively on a project that was displayed at our annual School Maker Faire in March. After reading “Charlie Needs A Cloak” by Tomie dePaola, students made sculptures from recycled objects.

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4th Grade Makes Famous People for School Maker Faire

Fourth grade students had an incredible display of the famous people in history sculptures that they made at our annual School Maker Faire in March.

Students researched famous people in history and then recreated them as seen here. The photos do not do them justice. They were incredible to see in person.

These sculptures, of course, allowed the students to experiment with a new form of art but also required them to delve into history, sharpen their research skills, practice their writing skills in a written report, and dive deep into their studies.