One of the benefits of starting any new program is, after planting a seed, observing how it grows. While we do have predetermined outcomes and expectations for this year's PIRL project to create new, innovative learning spaces for our students and teachers, it is incredible to see how once given the resources, our stakeholders branch out, generate ideas and create new, purposeful uses for the space and the tools.
Just before the winter break, two students approached me about working on a project in history. As part of their project, they need to design a dragon's head for printing in 3D that will become a centerpiece for their dragon boat. Another student in this same class hopes to build workable wooden stamps with Chinese characters. They are studying inventions of Imperial China. As I am currently without a teaching load, I see myself serving as coach or mentor during times such as these, working with small groups of students to enrich the quality of their projects in other classes.
Today, our first day back to school, two 7th grade students approached me about laser cutting the pieces necessary for a rocket launcher they are building in science. We quickly delved into a discussion about using Illustrator to design the parts, verified size limitations on the laser cutter, debated the ideal medium, a thin composite wood or balsa. One of these students participated in the fall Creator's Studio class, so his use of appropriate terminology was familiar, even fluent. This conversation simply would not have taken place a year ago.
In TLC today, a science teacher shared the idea of students using PIRL to design and build their seismometers as part of a unit on earthquakes and plate tectonics. In years past, the teacher would break out the materials and tools and find a safe place to work outside. Now, we can accommodate a project of this type in an environment built for this purpose. Our 6th grade history teacher added that her Egypt and China unit involving the creation of some historical structure of student's choice (a pyramid, great wall, etc.) formerly completed at home, can now be done on campus with students working collaboratively in PIRL. We even discussed the option of using Minecraft as a creative venue, albeit with virtual structures.
Thus we begin the second half of this school year with new energy and fresh ideas, stemming from the original seeds planted in the fall.
"Plant the seed, water it to give nourishment, stand back and marvel at what comes." Umekubo