“Kids’ Choice” in Waynflete’s 2-3 program is a thematic study that emerges from students’ suggestions about subjects they would like to explore in greater depth.
There were several highlights! One of the students’ favorite classes was when we studied the early castles, which mostly consisted of a “keep” on a “motte” with a “bailey” surrounded by a “stockade” and “ditch.” After learning these key terms and their functions, we went outside on a beautiful sunny day and built these early fortresses in the snow with partners. They had to build each part and label it.
Another favorite day was learning all about how to attack and defend a castle. We split the class in half—the attacking army and the defending army—and turned tables over to create a castle wall. We acted out using a battering ram, catapult, trebuchet, and siege tower to undermine the castle wall. The defending army acted out using archers, flaming arrows, hot sand and oil, siege towers, and the structural defenses like the drawbridge and the portcullis.
Lastly, we made catapults using tongue depressors, rubber bands, and a plastic spoon. We had a great time using our catapults to launch jumbo marshmallows at block towers to try to knock them down.
We spent the month studying snakes (taxonomy, characteristics of reptiles, snake anatomy) and had several special guest speakers. Kate Ziminsky came in twice, bringing in snake parts from Chewonki to share with us and then returning with Avi’s dad Alex and their pet snake, a Columbian red-tailed boa. We also had Denise Cieri of Herp Haven Reptile Rescue come to show us six different live snakes. We saw a 25-pound blood python, a common boa, a royal python, and three corn snakes in different morphs (colors.)
We learned about the internal and external anatomy of sharks and spent some time talking about the largest living shark (the whale shark) and the smallest shark (the dwarf lantern shark). We also learned more about the now-extinct Megalodon, the highlight of which was measuring it’s length (49 feet), longer than one of the 2-3 classrooms! The culminating event was a trip to the UNE Biddeford Marine Science Center, where graduate students showed us spiny dogfish sharks from the Gulf of Maine. We got to touch a shark —her name was Lynette—and and learn more about them. We also got to see and touch different shark jaws and teeth.
Students were introduced to a brief history of robotics, including what the science is and how robots have been and are being used today. Students practiced using specific command language to guide other students to construct exact copies of simple designs without any visual clues. Next, they explored commanding Sphero robotic balls with iPads; using a coding app, they then programmed their ball to navigate a large floor maze. Finally, everyone designed, built, and operated a simple drawing machine that created various scribble designs on paper.