My classroom, part of a large urban high school in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, is extraordinarily diverse. I serve a student population from all over the globe. A large number of my students have emigrated with their families as refugees from countries like Nepal, Iran, the Philippines, and Syria. Most of my students are growing up in households that experience economic hardship. Our district and school is 100 % free lunch, and considered high needs; an indication of the challenges my learners face even before they begin their adult lives.
Despite all of these challenges, my scholars are generally inquisitive, and truly want to understand how the world works and how they can make a positive impact.
One way that my scholars can explore these concepts is through hands-on inquiry and project based learning. However, funding for supplies and equipment to facilitate these endeavors is often in short supply. I am continuously seeking new ways to creatively offer authentic real-world scientific investigations so that Hoami can explore alloy production, and eventually, apply this to her future in chemical engineering and Bryan can finally achieve "alchemist level 10". My students truly have so much to offer!
My students are driven by creative and engaging exploration. Creating and designing unique paper roller coasters will help them explore physics concepts like work, conservation of energy and engineering considerations in a meaningful, project-based way. The students will spend several days designing, building and modifying their coasters. They will then pit their coasters against their classmates in a competition that will motivate them to build the highest, fastest, and most exhilarating coasters for their marbles. They will also earn extra points for creativity and aesthetics!
Consumables like cardstock, tape, glue and markers are costly and can really add up.
These items are often not considered because many classrooms provide these materials; however, in our high needs district these normal supplies are often unavailable. Furthermore, all of our students are low-income and parents are unable to provide extra supplies for the classroom. A project like this requires a large amount of these consumables as well as enough scissors for students to all be working in their teams to build their coasters. Giving the students a lot of color options will help them "buy in" to the project as they apply their own unique twists to their designs. Any materials that are not used by this years students will be invested into next years budding engineers and scientists.
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