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How We Live: An Aha Moment

Feb 14, 2018 | All School, Inquiry, Lower School News

In December, students in fourth grade began a unit titled, “How We Live.” They kicked it off by hosting a group of Mount Vernon Alumni, who shared their personal experiences about moving out of their childhood homes, into dorms and apartments to live on their own. 
The topic intrigued fourth graders who wanted to learn more about small living spaces, square footage, how to calculate area and perimeter, and what one would need versus what one would want. They especially enjoyed learning about tiny studio apartments in New York City, and how that space could be used effectively. External expert and MV parent Michael Bell visited with fourth graders to share his knowledge of off-campus student living, allowing the students to ask follow up questions to add to their “need to know” list.
Deepening their knowledge about use of space, each fourth grade class went on an expedition to IKEA in Atlanta to gain a first-hand perspective of innovative use of space and multi-use furniture. They toured multiple living areas set up for various lifestyles, satisfying both form and function.
Back at school, students selected one of three project tracks:
1) design a 200-square-foot room
2) create/build a multi-functional piece of furniture
3) design a tool for college preparedness
Experts in Residence Jim Tiffin, Chris Andres, and Kat Mattimoe assisted with the projects by providing feedback, asking questions, and helping to build the structures.
Fourth grade teacher Emily Edwards shares, “A week into the build, Mr. Andres, several iDiploma students, and MV seniors toured through the project gallery, providing our learners with feedback. The students were so excited to share their ideas and to pitch their ideas.”
With feedback in tow, the learners made a second iteration to their designs. Using boxes, hot glue guns, box cutters, corks, egg cartons, digital tools, and more, they brought their designs to life!
Finally, the fourth grade team hosted a gallery walk, through which parents, peers, and Upper Schoolers walked. Shout out to Cameron Bennett, Madeline Rappaport, Maquie Weiss, and Gabby Wilson for being the senior class representatives and to Mr. Bell for returning to provide feedback to the students, encouraging one group to patent their idea and complimenting them to create a functional and useful product.