One of the highlights of our year in 2-3 is the “Kids’ Choice” study in January. After brainstorming ideas, students vote for the topics they would like to study. This allows us to narrow down the list to four choices—one to be taught by each 2-3 home station teacher. This year’s topics were astronomy, big cats, cartooning, and cooking.
The astronomy class was busy learning about the Solar System. Ask any of them about the Sun, eight planets, and our moon—they possess impressive amounts of information! Upper School science teacher Wendy Curtis visited to talk about the International Space Station and how astronauts live in a weightless environment. She showed a video that demonstrated how one astronaut washes her hair and answered very important questions, including “How does someone pee in space?”
The class visited the Southworth Planetarium at USM to learn about the Hubble Telescope and its images of deep space. The group also hiked down Spring Street to gain an understanding of relative sizes and distances of the solar system. If the Sun were the size of a soccer ball, the Earth would be the size of a peppercorn in an orbit 78 feet away. At this scale, Neptune is the size of a coffee bean in an orbit 2,331 feet away—the same distance from Thomas House heading east to the side entrance of Mercy Hospital. Imagine traveling an additional four thousand miles to reach the next nearest star, Proxima Centauri!
Big cat enthusiasts learned about the characteristics of various species, their scientific names, and their habitat locations around the world (fun fact: did you know that there is actually no such species as a black panther?). A video by Big Cat Rescue illustrated some of the challenges that big cats are facing and what is being done to help. Perhaps most exciting was their behind-the-scenes trip to Maine Wildlife Park to see some big cats—bobcats, lynxes, and mountain lions—up close!
Our cartooning class was quickly off and running. They watched some classic Looney Tunes shorts and learning about PIE from a video by cartoon artist David McDonald. PIE? Pencil, Ink, and Erase—the steps to making a comic, of course! Students learned about character and plot development, as well as panels, gutters, and speech bubbles. Storyboard artist and Waynflete parent Jason Parker spoke to students about his job (Jason makes drawings of animated stories so that the people making the cartoons can see how characters will move). By the end of the cartooning class, each student was able to create and ink their own comic.
Our cooking class began with basic kitchen, knife, and food safety before diving right into recipes. Some of our favorite recipes were pan-fried dumplings, homemade mac-n-cheese, and a strawberry/blueberry icebox cake. Students learned how to measure, pour, whip, grate, slice, flip, bake, fry, and steam. They also went on field trips to Figgy’s and Zu Bakery to learn firsthand from a real chef and baker. In the end, each child had a recipe book that included the recipes they did did together as well as a favorite family recipe from each member of the class.