In the chill of winter, innovative interdisciplinary collaborations sprout!

Working with creative colleagues to try new interdisciplinary curriculum is a delight. This past month I’ve been excited to be involved with two innovations.

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Second graders test a distance sensor.

In a second grade Science class, Ben Horner and I are piloting a unit that combines K’NEX, WeDo Sensors and the Scratch programming language. As second graders study simple machines, they build catapults with K’NEX. Then with Scratch, the students created program that causes a Scratch “sprite” to change color and size when the program receives an input. The next step will be making sure balls those catapult launch set off the action in Scratch

Stay tuned for movies of the K’NEX catapult – distance sensor – Scratch connection in action!

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Antonia Daly and Second Graders explore the life cycle of the paper we use.

Another exciting new unit grew out of the curriculum development work of the Digital Citizenship Task Force. Back in July, this group of faculty realized that careful attention to resources when we use computers and iPads is essential to digital citizenship or “stewardship,” one of our Quaker testimonies. With Melissa’s guidance, second grade digital stewards are now investigating how paper is wasted at Friends. From Anotonia Daly, our Sustainability Coordinator and faculty emeritus, they learned about the resources used to create paper and how this process changes when we recycle. With, Kelly, our librarian, they explored resources for discovering more factual information and infographics about the paper making and paper recycling process and its impact on the environment.

For a month, the children carefully counted the discarded print-outs from the library printer and the second and third floor hallway printers. Once they had collected paper for several weeks, the young investigators and I examined the online data about the actual number of pages printed. The students used their burgeoning math skills to compare the total number of pages printed to all the sheets that no one had retrieved.

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This past week, art teacher Isabel joined the class. While some formed “new” paper  from the discarded print-outs, others used it to fold “new” envelopes. Second graders will use the hand-made paper and the hand-folded envelopes for letters that they mail at the First Grade Post Office.

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Second graders creating envelopes from discarded printer paper

In upcoming weeks, the second graders will share their experiences and discoveries with the rest of the school.

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