"Making" An Impact

Our partnership with the Institute for School Partnerships at Washington University is starting to pick up steam as students at Brittany Woods Middle School in University City and Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls in St. Louis are “making” incredible learning opportunities this school year.

The Institute for School Partnerships, with support from the Josh Seidel Memorial Foundation, worked with the sixth grade teachers at Brittany Woods to introduce their students to maker education at a kickoff event for their “Back to the Future” project. This project is a quarter-long cross-curricular problem-based learning experience designed by the teachers at Brittany Woods. Their objective was to challenge their students to create a city plan for the ideal University City of the future informed by their study of the city’s past. In social studies, students learned about different population demographics. They followed up that topic in math class by looking at trends in U City’s population from the past 100 years and made projections for its future. Students studied the local ecosystem in science class. And in English/Language Arts, students are writing a persuasive plan for a city leader to shape U City’s future. On September 6, the Institute for School Partnerships was able to join them for their kickoff event for this project. Following a Q&A session with the City Manager, they lead the students through a design challenge where they used maker materials to prototype 2 ideal cities. The day was filled with energy and excitement as students worked in teams to build their assigned location. View the video below to see the students in action.

In addition to working with the Brittany Woods team, the Institute for School Partnerships also helped the 8th grade teachers at Hawthorn implement a Maker class. They are providing the curriculum for the teachers to use in this semester-long course. In Unit 1, the students used basic maker materials to design a mechanical sculpture. Students then studied basic circuitry and learned how to create a circuit using simple materials. Next, they combined their understanding of simple machines and circuitry by creating carnival games out of cardboard. Each game was required to include a circuit that was completed at the outcome of the game - i.e. a light, buzzer, or motor is activated when the game is either won or lost. The students showcased their games at a recent carnival. They were impressive. The next unit of the curriculum introduces 3D printing and challenges students to combine that method with the prototypes they build using the maker kits. We are excited to see what they build.

Support from the Josh Seidel Memorial Foundation has provided these opportunities for the students at Brittany Woods and Hawthorn. Both schools were provided with maker materials in the form of kits. The kits include the Basic Maker Kits assembled by volunteers from the Foundation at an event in May, along with a Classroom Kit of additional materials to be shared by the class. In addition to providing the materials, our support has also gone to curriculum development and professional development for the teachers at these schools.

To learn more about this and other STEM initiatives the Foundation is working on, click here.

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