I teach in a colony of artists. Ours is a public charter school that requires an application and multiple forms of auditions. Not only are there academic requirements, but also some form of performance specific to one of our fourteen artistic conservatories. These students are amazingly talented and also bright, diverse, tolerant, and empathetic. They have often been pushed to the margins of a traditional public school, but here they are accepted and celebrated by other artistic thinkers with high expectations for themselves and their community. They truly want to be here at this school and in my elective course; this makes a huge difference and leads to enormous amounts of effort and drive.
The Next Generation Science Standards are changing how science is taught. Instead of rote memorization of facts that can now easily be “googled”, students are instead utilizing twenty-first century skills: non-routine problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. We are readying them to attack the new types of problems in our changing world. The element of engineering now cuts across all fields of science and students are expected to design and test workable solutions for these problems.
Scientific curiosity drives this engineering practice.
Instead of being given a formulaic lab or worksheet activity, new curricular design taps into innate curiosity and the ability of students to “tinker”. There is not one correct answer or way of doing things and multiple iterations of any project are expected to get to a solid, working design. Students are developing a skill set to attack problems and cultivate a sense of resilience and grit.
In order to facilitate this movement in our classroom, I am hoping to create a “makerspace”—a classified, organized area of materials that can used and manipulated as students see fit to solve a problem. In order to make this feasible in our small, shared classroom, organization is essential. This grant will fund the basic structures, rolling tool box and bin rack storage system, to hold tools and found objects in a clean, clear, manageable way.
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