Big Idea Projects
All students, in all core classes, across all grade levels participate in quarterly culminating “Big Idea” Projects. These projects pull together all core-area standards learned from that particular quarter. The students use our IDEAS Design Thinking Process, to problem-solve through the STEM-based challenge. The focus of the Big Idea Projects help students build comfort and proficiency in utilizing a design-thinking process in their approach to innovation and problem solving, taking risks, and “failing forward.”
Examples of Big Idea Week Projects
- Humpty Dumpty Egg Drop- Kindergarteners studied properties in science and nursery rhymes in literacy. They were required to show their understanding of comparable words in math and were given a set of 12 snap cubes. They created a device to protect humpty dumpty during his big fall. The device could not be any taller than the 12 snap cubes. After studying community helpers in social studies, our local fire fighters came out and took the devices and eggs to the top of their ladder and dropped the devices. Students reflected on what worked well and what ways they could improve and went back through the design cycle.
- Ozobot Robotic Snow Plows- After studying positional words and shapes, the students were challenged to convert ozobot robots into a snow plow. They coded a math for the bear to get over the mountain to retrieve a jar of honey. They reflected through the design cycle on which shape did the best job of clearing the snow (cotton ball) path for the bear.
- Sun Protective Structure- After studying the sun and moon, we discussed our playgrounds here at our temporary home and how we could use shaded areas to protect us from UV rays during recess. The students build protective playground coverings out of recyclable materials. We made people out of pipe cleaners and UV color changing beads. They put the "people" under their structure outside. They watched and compared to see how long it took the person to change color when exposed to the sun.
- Stepping Stones- After studying rocks, the students discuss the "problem" on our temporary site is all the rocks being kicked on the side walk. They determined the solution would be to make stepping stones to put in the corners of the sidewalk and rocks. We mixed cement and the students design stepping stones and decorated our campus and put them in locations so that they students would stay on the side walk.
- Constructed School Around the World- After studying schools around the world in the EL curriculum and matter in science, students designed and constructed a new school. After learning about government and laws in social studies, they created 3 laws for the new school community to follow.
- Sound Mazes with Sphero Robots- Students used the Goose Chase app and went on a scavenger hunt around campus. They had been studying sound. During their scavenger hunt, they collected materials to make various sounds. They then designed a sound maze and had to make 4 different sounds. They coded the Sphero robots and moved them through the maze making different sounds.
- Biblioburros and Boats- Students studied libraries around the world in EL and human body in science. They were made the designers of a team who were challenged to build a boat that could transport books to various school village libraries around the world. They had to determine whats bones and muscles of the human body would be used to load the books in the boat. Once they built boats out of recyclable materials, they loaded it with books (1 unifix cube=10 books). They then put the boats in a tub of water and tested their boat. They had studied graphing math. They recorded the times of the boats on a bar graph and pictograph while comparing their data to different groups.
- Bee Pollinator Hotels- Students had studied pollinators and animals needs. They built pollinator hotels using a variety of materials. After reading Day Glo Brothers, the students painted their pollinator hotels using Day Glo paint based on what they learning about specific colors attracting different animals.
- Moon Launch Nutrition/Exercise Plans- Students studied exercise and nutrition, the moon and area and perimeter. The student groups were challenged to make an exercise and meal plan for an astronaut in space. They came to the idea factory which we had lined in rope lights to look like the moon. Around the moon were various phases of the moon on the floor. The group had to put their exercise and meal plan in a postal box. Using resistance bands they had to figure out how to launch their box form the center of the moon and land on a specific phase of the moon. Before they launched, they built a landing pad out of a specific area and perimeter.
- Extinction Minecraft Edu- Explore a rollercoaster around the most charismatic extinct species, investigate the causes and what we can do to stop the biodiversity crisis.
- 3D Human Body Amusement Park- Students were put in groups, using Google Classroom and Google Slides they researched and jig sawed out and taught their classmates about the different human body systems. Each group focused on the specifically assigned human body system. Each group then made an amusement park attraction themed around their human body system. When the whole class combined them, it made a human body 3D amusement park system.
- Biodiversity Minecraft Edu- Explore the lab to learn core concepts of biodiversity then apply your knowledge to reveal the processes behind the five threatened species biomes.