6th Grade Creates Outdoor Science Lab

by Michael Porter
The 6th grade has been busy adding special features to the garden area outside the Tech Lab and MakerSpace. As part of their recent Deep Dive, they designed and built some spectacular observation points for both plants and animals.
"The students created an entire outdoor science lab," said science specialist Deborah Landon. She explained the 6th-graders brainstormed about what kind of things the younger students would like to see and explore outside when they're at recess or just walking by.
"They believed the idea of a butterfly garden would especially be exciting," said Ms. Landon.

The 6th grade split into groups, and set about designing and building the outdoor science attractions. When their work was complete, the components were installed as permanent displays.
"Miss Landon, they're chrysalizing!," exclaimed 1st-grader Benji as he burst into the door of the MakerSpace.
Indeed, some of the caterpillars in the butterfly garden had gone into the chysalis stage -- on their way to becoming monarch butterflies.
"The most challenging part of this project for the students would be building up their confidence for the project," said Cristina Knodel, computer science specialist. "The students were scared to use things like the saws and the drills and the hammers, but after encouraging them to try, at the end they felt really empowered that they were able to."

Sometimes it takes a village to bring something this elaborate together. With Brendan Haney and Nathan Renstrom lending their expertise, the students were able to accomplish bigger things.
"We could not have done this project without Mr. Renstrom. He really was our project leader on this," said Ms. Knodel. "He really encouraged the kids to take risks, to try, even if they were hesitant to use some of the tools. He was really reassuring them that we were being safe."
As the week progressed, the teachers noted the students did become more confident.

Watch a video of the 6th graders presenting their projects: https://youtu.be/7-MGuL4xCFo