This past Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in #satchat. Hundreds of educators joined in to discuss redefining college and career readiness in schools. One specific question was directed at engaging students in community service and volunteer projects.
I provided a brief synopsis of a project that students worked on in my previous district.
A3: 4th gr Ss last year worked w/ Ss in India to create/build solar powered light sources to ship to India. Awesome learning exp! #satchat
— Rich Czyz (@RACzyz) October 15, 2016
Several educators retweeted, liked, and asked for more information. So, without further adieu…
Last year, in my previous position working with curriculum, I was approached by one of our district’s G&T teachers. We had been talking about incorporating more engineering and design challenges into the curriculum, and she had learned about a group named Level Up Village. LUV helps schools join up with global partner schools to collaborate on enrichment STEAM projects.
We decided to try the Global Inventors course with our fourth grade G&T students. This course allowed our students to partner with students in India to learn about their culture and environment. They also collaborated to design and create solar powered lights that the students in India could use.
While experiencing some difficulties at first with sharing video messages with the students in India, our G&T teacher was eventually able to figure out the technical glitches. Students were able to ask questions of their counterparts, and share information about their own background and environment.
After learning about who their partner students were and what they were dealing with, our students were able to participate in designing solar powered light sources. Students designed using a CAD program, and were able to 3D print their designs. Students worked through the design process, redesigning and producing multiple versions until their design was able to work.
Overall, the project was a great learning experience for our students. The opportunity gave our students a chance to learn about another culture, and gave them an experience that taught them empathy for others, as well as an understanding of the design loop. Students were able to work through failure, and see things through a different perspective, unlike anything they had ever experienced before.
This type of learning activity is exactly the type of experience that we need to provide for students:
- Service-Based Learning
- Real World Application
- Collaboration and Teaming
- Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
- Design Thinking
Special thanks to Carolann Pfeiffer, the G&T teacher who made this project happen. Her dedication and vision helped to make this an awesome opportunity for the students!