Chesterton Tribune



Jackson students show off creativity at School Board

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Jackson Elementary students showed off their creations and challenged the Duneland School Board at its meeting Monday night.

Jackson Principal 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 collaboration.

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 him down.

Another group 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.

Second graders 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.

Third graders 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 design.

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.”


Posted 3.6.2018




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