If you listened to the podcast conversation we had back in February with our third grade team, Mrs. Slavin and Mrs. Gilpin, you may have been intrigued by a brief example of a bridge building activity they were about to launch.
This third grade bridge project was inspired by the Learning and the Brain® Conference sponsored by Harvard University. The theme of the conference centered on creating a learning environment that promotes the six C’s; creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, cooperation, communication, and choice. The third grade team used a focal point of bridges to weave these elements into a child centered multi dimensional project. The study began with using research materials to gain background knowledge of the types of bridges, as well as the engineering behind them. Ms. Coutts, our lower school science teacher, designed hands on experiments that illustrated the science behind bridge making. From there the students were given an opportunity to put their knowledge to the test by building their own bridge. After setting certain parameters, the students worked collaboratively planning, sketching, and constructing various types of bridges that could withstand a certain weight. Along the way, the students had various check ins and tasks to complete. After testing the strength and structural integrity of the bridges, we put them on display in the library.
The second component of this project involved a written expression of understanding. Mrs. Gilpin’s class created non-fiction flip books about a real life bridge, and Mrs. Slavin’s class designed a narrative e-book on famous bridges. This cross curricular project touched upon all the skills a twenty first century student will need for success in the future, by engaging them in meaningful, personal activities to build their knowledge base.
Podcast: Bridges & the Brain
Learning & the Brain® Conference: Engaged, Empowered Minds: Using Brain Science to Educate Ethical 21st Century Citizens & Problem Solvers