Back to school season. It’s a time that for some triggers a case of the “sunday scaries” — early wakeup alarms, new responsibilities, projects and homework. For others, it’s an exciting time — new subjects, reconnecting with friends and teachers and the start of sports. For some, it’s a bit of both. And for all, it cues the wind-down of long summer days and a revving up of routine, critical thinking and creative energy.
To get the creative, “back to school” juices flowing again, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite place-based projects from our students here in the Tetons and across the country.
Eighth grade students from Place Network school Meadows Valley built an 8 x 24 foot tiny home to raise money for an ADA-compliant playground and raise awareness for the housing crisis that gripped their rural mountain community of New Meadows, Idaho.
Second and third grade students from the independent school of Teton Science Schools took an observation they made on a school field trip–why was the visitor center closed on a day it would normally be open?–and turned it into a full blown investigation into food security in their community.
A Missouri teacher turned her holiday wish of having a beehive in her yard into a buzzing community impact project that had students doing research, conversing with bee experts, experimenting in design and participating in hands-on construction.
When two second grade teachers were presented with the task of designing a phenomenon-based lesson that integrated Place Based Education (PBE) design principles with their state’s science standards, they dove in enthusiastically. But putting together all of the elements presented a challenge that would require some critical and creative thinking.
At Place Network school Koshkonong Trails, student-led projects have always been an important aspect of the school year. So much so, that they even plan an entire Farm Day for students to share their learning with the rest of the Cambridge, WI school district K-2 students. Pretty cool! This year, projects covered a wide-range of topics from body image to bike shops, rotary engines to land regenerations and wildland firefighters.
Amidst the challenges of turnover, time, diverse learning needs, parents and all the other educational demands, 9th & 10th grade faculty at the independent school of Teton Science Schools succeeded in designing a place-based unit around water that checked all of the design principle boxes.
Do you have a place-based project you’d like to have featured on the TSS blog?
Don’t have a project, but want to check out more place-based student projects?