students showed off their creations and challenged the Duneland School Board
at its meeting Monday night.
Dr. Linda Rugg said fourth-grade teacher Stacy Vesling and kindergarten
teacher Amanda Fronczak attended a summer training session for Project Lead
the Way and returned to train the other teachers on incorporating advanced
learning modules into an elementary curriculum. The modules are designed to
engage children with hands-on activities that require invention and
First up were the
kindergartners. They read from a PowerPoint about how they learned
engineering concepts from reading “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “The Three
Little Pigs.” They also learned that structures with large bases were
strongest, although they held back this advice until after they gave members
10 pipe cleaners and challenged them to build the tallest possible
freestanding structure they could make in under a minute. Board Secretary
Ronald Stone was the winner with the only structure that stood on its own.
Next, two groups of
first graders read from the PowerPoint about working with the Scratch Jr.
app to create animated stories. One group wrote, animated, and did
voiceovers for a story about a trip to the park that turned dramatic when a
cat got stuck in a tree. Never fear--the orange tabby’s beagle friend helped
learned about how animals adapt to their environments. Afterwards, they were
given four shoes and had to optimize them for a traveler in each
environment. Their arctic shoe was covered in feathers for warmth and had
popsicle sticks on the bottom to increase the area of the sole like a
snowshoe. The rain forest shoe was wrapped in plastic to keep out moisture
and had green feathers for jungle camouflage.
learned about the properties of matter, insulation, and conductivity. One
group was tasked with designing coolers that could keep ice cold for at
least an hour. The students picked up a pink prototype cooler that had been
sitting near them the whole meeting and proceeded to hand each of the Board
members a frozen treat.
learned about genes and inherited traits by growing plants. Another group
designed a glider that was supposed to carry water to drought-stricken
areas. They learned about remote areas of southern Sudan, built a cardboard
model for the glider, evaluated it, then worked out the bugs in their
Last up were the
fourth graders. One group was tasked with designing a car with a restraint
system that kept an egg safe when it crashed into a cinder block. Slow
motion video captured one of the designs protecting the egg as it slid down
a ramp and hit the cinder block. The second group used the Hopscotch app to
create a video game where a fish had to weave around other sea creatures to
get to a patch of seaweed. Those in the audience laughed and noted the game
reminded them of Frogger as Assistant Superintendent for Instruction James
Goetz struggled to guide the fish to the seaweed.
To close the
presentation, students from all the grades got up and chanted, “Jackson
Elementary loves Project Lead the Way.”
In closing, Dr.
Rugg said, “As you can see, there’s lots of learning going on, but they’re
having a lot of fun.”