CWLS STEM Newsletter

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Indian Trail Art Museum

By Gage Barringer

Museums, gateways to the souls and minds of those in the past, are now being used as tools of creative expression for the present Indian Trail elementary students, as past artists’ works live on vicariously through their art.

In a project spearheaded by Mrs. Janie Kantner and Mrs. Alyssa Locker, the students of Indian Trail Elementary School have taken part in a school wide PBL focused around picture book museums. The inspiration for this came after Mrs. Kantner visited the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio over the summer as well as after she and Mrs. Locker visited the University of Miami exhibit.

The original plan for the project was to have each class in the school, with guidance from the teachers, create their own art instillation based on a particular picture book and/or illustrator that they admired. From this, students became inspired from the likes of Eric Carle, David Shannon, Jason Tharp, and Jared Lee for just a few of the many projects created. The art was created by the students but reflected that of the illustrator, allowing their art to be recreated as an homage to their works.

First, students were brought in for class meetings where they would, with the help of Mrs. Kantner, make important decisions based on locations for the museum, whether they can help, and when a celebration of literature could be held.

After making these important choices, students were given a taste of adulthood with a classwide contract. The contract asked them to agree that their class would produce one original project to be finished by October 11th, as well as what the exhibit they create would be about.

After this, students and their teachers got hard to work choosing an illustrator, and subsequently creating the collaborative art installation which, as the students decided, would be presented in the gymnasium during Family Literacy Night. This is a yearly educational event centered around the celebration and enjoyment of literature on the same night that the Scholastic Book Fair is held, given the common theme.

Around this time was when the project’s scope grew from just Indian Trail to an international interest in some ways.

About a week before literacy night, the curator of the Miami museum contacted Mrs. Kantner about the idea of the traveling exhibit which was introduced to them on their first visit in the summer. The exhibit is centered around the history of African American illustrations and picture books.

Upon hearing of this Mrs Kantner and companies’ interests were piqued and as soon as possible they made a trip to Miami to get the exhibit.

The importance of this addition is extraordinary. Canal Winchester Indian Trail Elementary School is the first school or institution in general to be allowed these exhibits from Miami University. Essentially we were a test, the success of which could help Miami’s future plans with the exhibit.

These exhibits, in the future, are to have 100 replicas with two being sent to every state for educational purposes. The state then having the power to divy them out as needed to schools or other educational programs/institutions.

At this point the project had reached a scale that no one saw coming previously. It truly was more important than just our school; our project was now a testing ground for a future project the rest of the nation could see in the near future.

Along with this statewide and national importance, this PBL also got outside attention from Saudi Arabian temporary students at Miami. They were both excited about the project and curious about how they could implement something like this. With educators from another nation now connecting with Indian Trail, the project became international. But this international attention did not come until the night of the grand opening, which was a booming success.

On the night of the event, parents and kids alike were amazed by the final products. Children were proud of their work, as were their parents and teachers who were nothing but proud of these students. These people got to view something original, something organic that blossomed in the school from a small seed, and eventually grew its roots into new ideas and new frontiers far bigger than its origin.

Feedback for the project was phenomenal. Mrs Kantner described how, “The kids got excited...they really drove [the project] and we've had multiple parents say, ‘Wow you know my kid was really excited about this.’” She went on to say, “They felt like they'd really done something that was different.”

The parents enjoyed the excitement that their students felt towards the project, while teachers fed off the joy of their classroom. Students at Miami, including those from Saudi Arabia, loved seeing the application of what they were learning in school which is a creative PBL based pedagogy that still has yet to be applied in many areas.

This project, however, was still rooted in the idea of STEM, so ultimately its success was based off how well it taught creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Creatively, the project was a clear success motivating students to design, and form a project that required abstract thinking centered around artwork. They had freedom to make choices, and with it came creativity.

Collaboration was a key aspect to this assignment. Students had to work as a class to pull this exhibit together, and if they didn't the contract would be met. So with the guidance of the teacher the class worked as a cohesive group, teaching the importance of partnership early on.

Students though critically at many points in the project. Who should they base their art off of? What will their project be? How will they accomplish the project? These are all points of thinking that were critical to the overall success of the project, and the kids had to solve them, and that they did.

Finally the idea of communication is the last cornerstone of the stem philosophy. This ties directly in with collaboration, as the students needed to work on communication skills to ultimately bring together the final product and work effectively along the way, given that the project required a classwide effort.

All this would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts put in by Mrs. Kantner, Mrs. Lockner, the Indian Trail Elementary administration, and anyone else involved in allowing this to move forward and take shape.

The project started as a small seed that quickly grew to be of importance to more than just those students and teachers at Canal Winchester, but to us, the learning our students experience is of the utmost importance, and when they can learn learn valuable life skills such such as those taught in STEM (the 4 Cs) and have fun while doing it, then the project has already succeeded in every way, everything else is an amazing bonus to an already fantastic learning opportunity.

Exhibits borrowed from Miami University
Students begin work on their museum exhibit
Students offer suggestions as they plan out their exhibit

Peeps Reading Club

By Michael Hogrell

Books have the ability to transport us to far off lands and the Peeps Club will be utilizing books in the media center this year to learn more about the world around us.

The Peeps Club is a school club that helps high school students with disabilities by holding social events that teach them life lessons, like in the library they learn that it is okay to be different.

The first theme covered by the media center is the circus, and the Peeps Club is reading The One and Only Ivan by K. A. Applegate this month, with the goal being to show how everyone is unique.

To help visualize the various circus animals, the Peeps Club members create art out of Oreos and animal crackers. The works of tasty art also double as a sweet treat for the members.

Mrs. Lehr, one of the high school librarians, said that their goal is to make the Peeps feel welcomed in the library and she hopes to expand the project to many more books.

¨The kids from the Peeps Club stop me in the hall and talk to me about the zoo and the animals from the book all the time,” said Mrs. Lehr.

She also said that right now the program goes month by month. The theme changes periodically, this month was a carnival theme and October is planned to be Halloween themed.

To help add to the surprise, the plan is to have teachers from around the school come in as guest speakers to surprise the Peeps.

The library will continue to be a place of adventure with its ever-expanding wealth of stories for the Peeps and anyone ventures to the library.


French Exchange Program

By Dylan Storts

Say, “bonjour,” people of Canal Winchester as we welcomed our French exchange students of the 2018-2019 school year this past month. We were fortunate enough to have 31 exchange students from the Bernay school in Normandy, France!

This exchange program is actually connected through Ms. Aldrich and Mr. Bonnaudet who actually switched jobs for the school year. Ms. Aldrich is currently in France teaching English and Mr. Bonnaudet teaches French here in Canal Winchester.

The students experienced America to the fullest while they were here. They visited Columbus and were able to watch their first American football game as the Indians defeated the Newark Wildcats.

They were very surprised at how much school pride was shown at not only the football game but also with clothing at school. The students were in consensus that this was the biggest difference between American schools and French schools.

The students actually don’t have high school sports at their school. “We don’t have high school sports. We have club teams that students may choose to play for,” said Maelys.

Our French friends were almost overwhelmed with how large America was when they arrived, but they were not afraid of being so far away from their parents.

They absolutely loved Canal Winchester and the people that lived here. Toma, one of the French students, said, “Canal is a very beautiful town. I really like it here,” when asked about how the town has been so far.

All of the exchange students were very excited to visit all of the many restaurants in and around Columbus. They were especially fond of Five Guys Burgers and Fries and the Canal Winchester staple, Shade on the Canal.

They had an absolute blast shadowing their host student. They found it very odd how high school classes in America were so engaged in individual learning rather than the college style learning that they were used to in France.

Our French exchange students loved everything about Canal Winchester and couldn’t wait until they were able to return!

French students say goodbye to Canal Winchester HS
Students working together to pair verbs and DNA strands

English-DNA PBL

By Matthew McKeon

At CWHS, Biology and English students are coming together to work on a project that is designed to teach them about both DNA in science and subject-verb agreement in English.

Mr. Bixler’s English class and Mrs. Collier’s Biology class worked together to add to their depth of knowledge of subject-verb agreement and DNA in a PBL environment. The classes met together in the media center to work on a collaborative project that combined the classes and allow them to work together.

The goal of this PBL was to help students better understand how subjects and verbs pair together just like certain bases in a DNA strand always pair together.

“We think it’s important that students make connections between the different areas of curriculum,” said Mr. Bixler.

The first day students learned lessons on understanding nitrogen bases in DNA and subject verb agreement.

The next day students worked in groups as they solved clues to piece together parts of sentences and then bind the pieces together with a verb. This mirrors how bases in DNA bind together.

“We went through the basics of DNA and how it’s put together and then Mr. Bixler talked about English and the subject-verb agreement,” said Mrs. Collier.

Through a project like this, students are able to develop many new life skills that will help them going forward in their time at CWHS and the rest of their life. Students learn to work together to achieve a goal with individuals they might not have collaborated with otherwise. Students also learn to problem solve and connect curriculum they may not have realized was related before.

One of the main learning objectives in the project was to have students branch out beyond what they are normally comfortable with and think outside the box.

“The overall objective, I think for us, was for students to be engaged and to be drawing connections between different parts of their lives. I think a lot of the times we separate ourselves too much,” said Mr. Bixler.

In addition to being a PBL activity this project also heavily hits on the four C’s of STEM (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical thinking). Students had to utilize critical thinking and creativity to put together their DNA sentences and solve clues. Additionally students also needed communication and collaboration while working together in groups.

The project went very well as students had fun in a new learning environment and were able to have a better understanding of how different curriculums connect. Mrs. Collier and Mr. Bixler have plans to further expand this new collaboration in the future and it is sure to be a success for years to come.

River PBL

By Matthew McKeon

Environmental Science students made a splash in ecology as they explored Walnut Creek looking for aquatic life.

Students in Mr. Cvetanovich’s and Mrs. Fletcher’s environmental science classes explored Walnut Creek near the historic Bergstresser Dietz Covered Bridge at the James H. Kelly III Nature Preserve. With nets and buckets in hand, students waded through the creek in search of a variety of wildlife. The goal was to evaluate the environmental status of the creek.

Students sought out a variety of aquatic life including mayflies, caddisflies, and freshwater mussels.“They are looking for different organisms in the creek, to determine how healthy Walnut creek is,” said Mrs. Fletcher.

The task was to collect and document different types of invertebrates in an effort to gauge how healthy the creek was. A large variety of aquatic invertebrates. would allow students to conclude that the ecosystem was balanced and healthy.

The group was led by Megan Michael, an environmental specialist from the Ohio Department of Transportation. Michael gave a brief lecture to the classes about different types of life found around and in Ohio waterways before leading the kids down to the creek. Michael helped identify and explain different types of organisms that the students discovered. Michael helped students identify Mayfly and Caddisfly larva underneath pieces of shale in the creek. At the end of the day students were able to conclude that the creek and ecosystem were healthy.

Students were able to collaborate and communicate as they attempted to judge the water quality and environmental health of the creek. Students also engaged in critical thinking and creativity as they attempted to identify the many different animals they discovered they had discovered.

This project was an exciting learning environment for students that provided them with an enriching, hands on, learning experience.

Teachers prepare students for PBL activity.
Students and Teachers search for invertebrates in Walnut Creek.