iProject Mini is off to an impressive start. Since the last update, Grades 3 – 5 students have formed groups based on their expressed interests and have progressed into the individual steps in completing their group objectives.

On Thursday, topic teams chatted with an MVXpert – parent, grandparent, alum, or other connection brought in to engage students on their experience and expertise. Our students started with questions. Over the previous two sessions, topic teams worked together to cultivate open-ended, rich questions for our MVXPerts. Their preparation led to in-depth question-and-answer sessions targeted at our students’ wonders.

Mr. Aaron Hawkins, Upper School E-Sports Coach, and Game Club Facilitator visited a group of students that are interested in video game creation. Luca L, Class of 2031, and Hazel H, Class of 2032 were interested in learning how to create games like Minecraft and Fortnite. But the overarching question was, “Where do you start with any video game?” This launched a conversation on Binary Code, computer processing instructions. Mr. Hawkins explained that “After video game designers plan their vision, coders start with simple mathematical phrases that the computer can understand as one’s and zeroes.” The group will continue to explore how to code through instructional videos and testing their knowledge on a beginner’s site called Hour of Code.

Mr. Tim Hall, Upper School Film Instructor, visited the MV Stars, a group of Grade 3 – 5 students interested in Movie Making. Each student in the group has a talent: dance, design, acting, etc. Mr. Hall explained, “We spitballed ideas on how to create a sizzle reel to showcase each of their artistic talents. We came up with the idea that they could shoot A and B-roll footage and add voiceovers of each student explaining how they developed those talents and more. They seem excited about creating something all about them. I would be happy to visit again to help them with their next steps.”

Group Platoon, a student group interested in learning about WWII, brought in Mr. Kerry Frederick, the father of Julia Leech, Grade 3 Learning Coach, and Lauren Thomas, Grade 4 teacher who learned about WWII from both of his grandparents that fought in the war. During their meeting, students and Mr. Frederick sat at a large round table where, instead of only answering student questions, they had a conversation. Some students were interested in military tactics while others were interested in the weaponry used by individual countries. With this gained knowledge, the students will continue to investigate specific battles or armed force divisions.

Mr. Tarrik Mabon, Upper School Director of Spiritual Life and Varisty Basketball Coach, and Laney Whiting, Class of 2024, and Swim and Dive Team member visited the Basketball and Swim group. Liam D, Class of 2031 is interested in joining a swim team next summer, “If I needed to practice only one stroke what should it be?” Laney explained, “My favorite stroke is freestyle. There are some coaches out there that want you to practice freestyle every time you practice even if it’s not your best stroke. But some coaches only want you to practice your best strokes, I guess it’s convenient that I like freestyle!” With this gained knowledge, the group plans to create specific incremental goals to enhance their own basketball or swimming skills.

The baseball and softball group invited Patt Malloy, Wake Forest centerfielder. They asked him questions about what they could do now to prepare to play basketball or softball in college. Mr. Malloy suggested they play multiple sports until late high school. “Kids start playing just one sport too early. A college scouting coach is only thinking about your potential on the team. If you are really good at one sport but don’t focus all of your time on it, once you get into college and do focus all of your time on it, you have the potential to get much better.” The group’s main focus is to investigate different types of bat swings to develop the most powerful option for their sport. Along with an inside look at what worked for him, students are creating and watching videos of their own swings to test out what works best for them.

Among other in-person MVXperts, some joined via Zoom. The cooking group invited Mr. Bernie Kida, a self-taught Italian chef. Next week, more MVXperts will be coming like Lanier Fairchild, a zookeeper at the Monterey Zoo in Salinas, California for the Animal Experts group, Scott Fujita, a former NFL player, for the football group, Scott Verble, a Roller Coaster designer, for our Fast and Furious group, and Matt Capps, a former MLB player, for our baseball and softball group. All touchpoints will bring each group closer to reaching their goals.

Are you interested in providing authentic real-world input and feedback to our students by sharing your experience and expertise? Sign up to engage with students as an MVXpert or to get in touch with us to learn more.