From neuroscience in Grade 4, the landscape of Georgia 230 Million years ago in Grade 2, and optimizing Santa’s sleigh for inclement weather in Kindergarten, the Lower School has been buzzing with student wonders and rich conversations with MVXperts.

Last week Santa traveled from the North Pole to help Kindergarten students with their weather-resistant sleigh designs. Student wonders included:

  • “Do you need a windshield?” and
  • “Is Rudolf’s nose bright enough in heavy snow and rain?”

Students discovered that Christmas Magic powers Santa’s sleigh, the present sack is in direct contact with the North Pole, Rudolf’s nose is so bright that it helps Santa see through snow, rain, and fog, and that Santa chooses three lucky elves every Christmas to deliver presents with him. With this knowledge, students could iterate their design to incorporate every one of Santa’s likes, wishes, and wonders. We are so grateful for Santa’s visit, as this age-appropriate project-based learning unit helps to build the design thinking muscles among our littlest learners. Make sure to keep an eye out for Santa’s new sleigh designed by Mount Vernon Kindergarten students this Christmas Eve.

To help bring the ‘Then and Now’ Inquiry-based Learning lesson to life in Grade 2, a representative from the Elachee Nature Center visited to share her knowledge about Georgia’s geography throughout the years. Students have been studying the history and geography of our state going all the way back to the Mesozoic Era (about 230 Million years ago). Gray H, Class of 2033 explained, “We learned how the coastal planes used to be covered in water, the earth isn’t solid all the way through, and we got to look at different rocks that she brought.” Students explored these rocks in small groups around the room while writing down the characteristics of each one. Hill L, Class of 2033 said, “I thought it was really fun that we got to touch all of the rocks and I remember when she told us where each rock came from and why they look different.” This week, Grade 2 continued their studies with an expedition to the Harris Homestead Museum and Education Center to learn about the history of homesteaders in Georgia.

Adding expert insights to Grade 4 science, Alan Harris, MV Alumni and Lower Campus Floating Faculty member, shared his knowledge of brain science. Mr. Harris talked about a range of neuroscience-related topics including lobes of the brain, brain matter, neurons, dreaming, spinal cord injuries, and how the left side of your brain controls the right and vice versa. “While I was getting my Masters in Biomedical Science at Duke, I found neuroscience to be one of the most interesting subjects and the kids obviously also found it very interesting.” Mr. Harris explained. “They asked so many questions.” Yohaan S, Class of 2031, asked the question, “Can we survive without some parts of our brains?” “The kids had so many questions we didn’t have time to do the activity I had planned which was making brains out of play dough. We were going to use different colors to label the different parts of the brain and have students talk about the function of each part,” Mr. Harris said.

Eileen Fennelly, Lower School Science Teacher, is looking forward to having Mr. Harris back in her classroom. Ms. Fennelly says, “It was an incredible experience. He’s extremely talented. The best part of this is that the kids are getting to see him as an MV Alumni and college athlete with a Masters in Biomedical Science. The kids can see that there are so many hats you can wear as time goes by and the more time kids get to spend with him as a role model, the more they will see that. He’s an incredible example of everything we try to do around here.”

The MVXpert program is designed to equip this generation of students with the skills needed to be college-ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders. Whether you are a business or civic leader, c-suite executive, entrepreneur, service provider, and/or have experience in a specific industry, field, or hobby, we want to connect you with students. The Mount Vernon community of parents, grandparents, and alumni is uniquely positioned to provide authentic real-world input and feedback to our students by sharing their experiences and expertise. Sign up to engage with students as an MVXpert or to learn more about the program.