Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Visit to local elementary school

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For our project #2, we're designing a hands-on education experience for 4th/5th graders. This time I'm teaming with a 2nd-year business school student and a d.school architecture student. This project is sponsored by RAFFFFT, and we'll talk to their staff tomorrow too.

We visited a local elementary school to talk with one of the teachers and her class. She gave us an overview about the kids' curricula and also told specific stories. There's a strong emphasis on environmentalism, such as the part about John Muir, field trips, and a small farm right on school grounds. There were goats, sheep, many chickens, and a garden filled with many crops! O_O Obviously I've been a city and suburbs person most of my life...

The kids do lots of hands-on stuff, which is really nice. Activities like role-playing, reenactments of historical events, "lab" stuff like basic E&M and circuits. I get the sense that the science and math components are kind of weak, but I'm biased :-P They have many books about art and Shakespeare (!) and some exploratory science subjects.

I chatted with Jamie (sp?), who seemed on the quiet side (though from personal experience, 90% of quiet people I've met turned out to the most interesting). She likes to draw and showed me one of her artworks -- a hummingbird (which was for some reason black, but it was nicely-drawn.) I learned that Jamie's dad works at DreamWorks after one of her friends mentioned their show-and-tell from the other day.

She showed me the cube clock that her teacher randomly found in her closet. The clock tells time by rotation of various slices of a truncated corner. Quite fascinating...

Jamie has two cats, one named Mystery (4-year-old) and one named Bobo (9-month old). Bobo roams around a lot while Mystery just likes to be petted :-)

From what I gather, she would probably enjoy some type of artistic design toy. She was subtly more excited when talking about art class and the activities involved. Watercolor and some kind of marble-textured painting with floating a piece of paper over the medium.

Hmmm... maybe I should read up a little on developmental psychology too, about how children's mind at this stage is like. My own childhood is hardly a typical example...

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