Sample Project Sketches

Sample Project Sketches

The Monster Project
Driving Question -
Does communication always work?
Project Sketch - Classes sign up for the monster project and each is assigned a body part. Each draws and then describes their part as accurately as possible so other classes can recreate it perfectly. Their descriptions are put in a shared table in a wiki so everyone can see all the parts. Each class constructs the entire monster as well as they can based on the descriptions. It turns out writing precisely and interpreting what others write are hard! And making a head that matches a neck that matches a body requires cooperation! Once the monsters are created they are photographed and the photos are uploaded to a gallery for all to enjoy. Along the way kids learn to read and write for a purpose, make learn to work cooperatively, and make new friends.

Mingling at the Renaissance Ball

Driving Question - Does "greatness" endure?
Project Sketch - After a brief overview of the Renaissance Period, students form affinity groups based on different fields that advanced during the period (medicine, architecture, science, arts, etc.) Each group determines who the greats were in their area and then each student studies one. Next, they pool their understanding and the team writes an operational definition of "greatness." They write a justification for their definition and present it to an expert for vetting or improvement. Once the definition is solid each student makes a case for why his or her notable figure best exemplifies the definition. Ultimately they rank the figures and design an award to be presented to the top figures at a Renaissance Ball.

What this Town Needs Is another Shopping Mall
Driving Question - What is geometry's role in the designed world?
Project Sketch - In high school geometry class 10th grade students take the role of architects and design a shopping mall. In teams students research the design of malls by looking at blueprints made available by an architecture firm. They use use Google Sketchup to render their plans. They also research cost of designing and building the mall. The end product is a presentation to a panel of adults (or students) who serve as a city planning board who will give a thumbs up or thumbs down to their proposals.

It's All about the Benjamins
Driving Question: 
Does money make the world 'round?

Project Sketch: Starting with the story of Argentina's currency collapse in 2002 we'll explore how people get along without money. After a currency collapse students come up with alternative methods of trade (these may include bartering, gift economics, time banks) and test them for feasibility and fairness. Next, in teams they design their own national currencies and then establish an exchange rate with other "countries'" currencies by calibrating against the value of a common basic good, such as a loaf of bread. Tariffs, embargoes and other mitigating factors are introduced during a final trade simulation.

Arkansas: The Shape of Things to Come
Essential Question - Is our presence here inevitable?
Students learn about Arkansas geography, people, and pivotal turns in history up to statehood through two related projects. The first has them working from a landforms map and examining political maps from different periods prior to statehood to document the role of geography on human settlement and to show document over time. They tag major developments in cultural geography and history on a timeline and make judgments about which developments have had the greatest influence on society as we know it today. They look at factors that led to key events, the impact of those events, and write scripts for historic reenactments that are vetted by historians and history enthusiasts. Their reenactments demonstrate understanding of the causal nature and dynamism of history.

Japan-USA Tree Watch
Driving Question - Is it the same everywhere?
Project Sketch - Students in grades 4 and 5 in the US and Japan observe the role of trees in their communities. They do tree surveys to identify the numbers and kinds of native and cultivated trees, and show how their trees change with the seasons. Students exchange photos, artistic renderings, Haiku poetry, and descriptions that help them compare trees, geography, and climate in the two countries. They each find a tree that can be grown in the other school's environment and send them to the other and hold Planting Day ceremonies.

The Most Amazing Race - Folktales From Around the World
Driving Question - Why do stories travel across space and time?
Project Sketch - Students explore the transmission of folktales over time and continents to evaluate their validity as a literary genre. By reading and analyzing a variety of folktales, students come to realize the cultural implications of the genre. Students create a script and perform their own original folktales, combining and modernizing enduring tales that they read.

Granny Em on the Move
Driving Question -
How can everyone get where they need to go?
Recently, a student's grandparent fell on a broken sidewalk and fractured her hip. Kids expressed concern about mobility and safety in the community. Groups craft "need to know" questions and investigate the needs of different citizen constituencies (elderly, disabled, bike commuters, parents with strollers, joggers, young pedestrians, etc.), develop reasoned solutions to mobility concerns for those groups, develop an action plan and campaign for change.