When the second grade learns about Mesoamerica, a stretch of countries that extend from central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, they don’t just read about it, they create Aztec-inspired, floating gardens in technology class that mirror those that were built in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan. And when their studies take them to North America and the Inuit people, they design snowshoes to understand how the natural environment influences culture.
One of the primary goals of technology classes at St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's is to integrate technology instruction into the classroom curriculum. The second grade does a year-long study of the seven continents, their geography, native animals as well as the cultures of the people who live there. Ms. Blake has aligned her curriculum to include technologies from around the world.
The second grade’s most recent studies took them to Antarctica where they studied penguins. Working in tandem with this unit, Ms. Blake’s technology class designed penguin egg carriers. “Technology doesn't just mean electronics, but all tools that inspire and serve,” said Ms. Blake.
For this project, students worked in pairs and were only allowed to use rope to build their egg carriers. Special attention was paid to keeping the eggs warm and secure, while allowing penguins greater mobility. Students then tested their designs on a model penguin –- a 3D replica printed in the lab, then placed on a shake table which was designed to simulate waddling.
The shake table was designed and built last February by a 7th grade student who documented his work in a film called “What is a Shake Table?” Second graders watched the video carefully and then constructed one for themselves. “This was one of these brilliant instances of cross-collaboration between the upper and lower divisions that happens organically at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s,” said Ms. Blake.
Ultimately, students tested their designs with real eggs and had a messy good time!
When asked about the importance of cross-curricular studies, Ms. Blake responded, “We work with teachers to learn more about what they are teaching so that the technology curriculum can mirror their studies and reinforce and support what they are learning in the classroom. Providing students hands-on experience and transferable problem solving skills lies at the heart of what we hope to achieve in our technology lessons.”