This year, 6th graders began their project-based learning assignments, which culminated with presentations on Monday. During the 3-day activity, students were asked to create a presentation of their choice around one of three different themes: Design on a Dime, Creating Awareness in St. Louis or TED Talks. This is the School’s second year engaging 6th graders in the intensive project-based learning, where students had the majority of the three days to work autonomously on their projects.
“These projects allow students to make a personal connection to their learning. The supported brain research suggests that, when learning is relevant and can create personal connections, that’s when the brain is growing and developing,” said Mark Duvall, History Teacher and Dean of 6th Grade. “By taking ownership of the project, they are invested personally in something they care about.”
Design on a Dime
With Design on a Dime, students selected one space at MICDS that they would like to redesign for a future and specific purpose. They interviewed various members of the MICDS community, brainstormed their own ideas and drew up plans to design the space. In the end, students came up with some creative new designs for the Lower School courtyard, Middle School dining hall, Extended Day room and others.
Sam Ellenhorn `24 and Ryan Smith `24 chose to redesign the library. They interviewed the librarians and sent out a survey to the Middle School faculty and staff. After tallying the data, they presented several solutions, which included a full itemized budget and involved some shelving upgrades, furniture additions and a few other touch-ups. One of their biggest suggestions was to “add cubicles to the hallway that leads to the fiction room for students to do world languages voice recordings.”
Through Creating Awareness in St. Louis, students chose one social issue or cause in the surrounding community. They researched the issue individually or with a partner and developed a presentation that both raised awareness and proposed a solution. For this theme, students chose to talk about anything from Pollution to Animal Shelters, Opioids and Finding Jobs for People with Disabilities.
Ananya Kamineni `24, Eleanor Vest `24 and Everdine Ferguson `24 chose to present on Homeless Children, where they provided questions and answers around the myths of homelessness and offered a flyer of opportunities for students to get involved to help mitigate the social issue both locally and nationally.
“When we think of a homeless person, we often think about an old man sitting on the street corner. We don’t often think about children. But how many homeless children do you think there are in the United States,” asked Eleanor. Everdine replied, “There are 2.5 million children who are homeless each year.”
Similarly, Mia Krieger `24 and Zoe Zlatic `24 presented on Neglected Children. During their research, they engaged with Epworth Children and Family Services, a nonprofit in Webster Groves that supports at-risk youth and families. Mia and Zoe became so drawn to the social issue that they plan to tour Epworth in the near future and possibly continue a relationship with the organization through volunteering.
“While working with Epworth, my partner Mia and I found that the problem of abused and neglected children needs to be addressed and helped. We learned the many causes of child abuse and neglect, how long these children stay at Epworth, and and why these things are happening,” said Zoe. “In the meantime, we learned so much about how to properly take notes, how to give a good presentation and how to conduct a good interview, whether it’s over the phone or in person.”
Through the TED Talks, students scripted a video about a hobby, passion or skill they care deeply about or that impacts them positively. They created their own TED Talk video sharing their topic. The presentations ranged anywhere from Scuba Diving to Tennis, Cooking, Artificial Intelligence and more.
In one TED Talk, Agatha Curylo `24 described the effects of classical music on study habits when she said, “Most people find it easier to listen to classical music while they work. Research has also confirmed that non-repetitive classical music boosts and individual’s productivity.”