Perseverance, empathy, curiosity, and creativity are alive and well in seventh-grade science!
Recently, a ‘Research and Innovation project’ (otherwise known as ‘Shark Tank’) challenged the students to practice these mission skills every day. Students began by choosing environmental science, ecology or sustainability topics to learn about. Student-selected topics included ocean ecology, oil spills, alternative energy, air pollution, water pollution, climate change, recycling, GMO foods, and integrated pest management this year.
Our research began in the student center under the direction of Librarian & Media Services Director Mrs. Emig, who helped the students to review the use of research tools, library databases, and NoodleTools. Over the next several weeks, students investigated the causes, effects on the environment, history, legislation, prominent people and social actions related to their topics. Along the way, students created notes, cited sources and outlined their research papers. Each student then wrote a digital ‘Enviropedia’ (in the style of ‘Wikipedia’) overview of his or her topic. Their articles concluded with self-identified problems related to their research. As a result of their research, students realized that these problems are substantial and require ‘out of the box’ thinking to one day solve!
Let the design thinking process begin! After identifying the problems and determining their target audiences, students were then charged with designing and digitally implementing their solutions. Some students used the 3D modeling TinkerCad application, other students made engineering drawings and blueprints, while some solutions were envisioned as smart device apps. Students bounced ideas off each other during class and then refined and iterated their solutions until they presented their prototype designs to our seventh-grade shark tank! Similar to the TV show Shark Tank, students and guest sharks listened to each ‘pitch’ and then had a Q and A session with the presenter. Sharks then provided written feedback to every presenter who then wrote a brief reflection on their time in the seventh-grade shark tank!
Now, the final phase is underway. New this year, students are moving on to the ‘marketing’ phase for their shark tank products. Students are using the csdiscoveries curriculum through code.org to learn HTML and CSS to create web pages to imagine that they are marketing their products. Students are getting a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how all web pages are coded by web developers. Students are surely displaying their perseverance and creativity sides as they learn HTML and CSS and create their own product web pages.