For the culmination of a month-long 3rd and 4th grade expedition on Natural Occurrences, Maker VISTA member Anna Grossi developed making projects based on Housing and Civil Engineering. Along with two classroom teachers, Anna created two design challenges relevant to the Bay Area and to the state of California for the students to explore, with a focus around earthquakes and tsunamis.
The first project, on earthquakes, took place across a couple of sessions during one week. The students were introduced to the professions of civil engineers and architects, and were shown real-life examples of earthquake-proof structures (a little visual inspiration goes a long way!). They were then prompted to create their own buildings out of cardboard, and to test them on small “shake-tables.”
The second project, on tsunamis, was a bit shorter, but the students still showed their enthusiasm and resourcefulness in the amount of time provided. After the projects were completed, they were given design reflection-sheets to document their thought processes and choices when constructing their buildings.
This project was a first attempt at lesson planning with a 3rd-4th grade class, and helped set expectations and learning outcomes for a making project. Maker VISTA member Claire Tiffany-Appleton will reprise this activity later on this year for a Science Expedition at Lodestar, and will tailor it to a 7th grade class, who can then expand and elaborate on it. Together, these two Maker VISTAs will create a comprehensive project guide on sustainable housing, which can hopefully be used by other teachers interested in making in their classes. These efforts by Anna and Claire convey how it is possible to support learning with an integrated activity that both empowers students and makes real-life, relevant connections.
Three adjectives or adverbs that describe making at Lighthouse & Lodestar this month: