As one of the only schools in Houston to have this unique partnership with MIT and to offer a program like this, students in grades PreK – 12 are offered the opportunity to work collaboratively with their teachers and peers to create projects focused on extreme weather, something Houstonians know all too well.
The MIT Challenge is a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Nord Anglia Education, which serves as the parent organization of The Village School. The goal of the challenge is to enhance the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) by connecting MIT innovation and culture to Nord Anglia schools globally through project-based challenges.
“The STEAM curriculum is integrated into everything we do here at The Village School,” said Bill Delbrugge, head of school at Village. “When students are immersed in STEAM education, there are no silos. Teachers take an integrated approach to the curriculum, enabling students, regardless of their affinities for math, science or fine arts, to come together and solve a relevant problem. Sharing STEAM and this cutting-edge collaboration with a renowned institution such as MIT is a truly stimulating experience for us at The Village School.”
Students were asked to focus their projects on extreme weather to help answer why, in recent years, we are experiencing an increase in hurricanes, floods, droughts, cyclones, wildfires and other types of severe weather events.
MIT posed the challenge to students at The Village School, citing climate change and warming ocean temperatures for wreaking havoc on Earth. Scientists at MIT are determined to help find ways to save our planet and are researching past and present weather events to explore solutions for changing weather patterns.
“I have really enjoyed working with the teachers and students this year on the extreme weather challenge,” said Angel Bradford, Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning and the MIT/Global Campus Lead at Village. “I am so impressed by the creativity and dedication of our students. The cross-functional approach used in the MIT challenge exemplifies how we can help students adapt their skills and make connections across different fields in an ever-changing world. But more importantly, it illustrates the need to properly equip our students for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”
Students’ projects include:
- Pre-K students learned about hurricanes and made preparedness materials
- First graders made weather newscasts while second grade students coded robots to find the best routes to school on flooded streets
- Third graders made hurricane proof shelters and tested them using various wind speeds
- The fourth graders conducted research and gave a “press conference” on whether the Astros should play in the World Series game during a hurricane
- Middle school students worked on testing scientific hypotheses relating to weather elements, analyzing mathematical weather data, researching historical weather events to create original music and films, and wrote poetry and narratives about their personal experiences with hurricanes.
- PE classes played a hurricane “grab what you can in an evacuation” game
- High School and IB English classes analyzed non-fiction vs emotional texts about Hurricane Katrina in the lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans
- World Language classes used virtual reality technology to experience hurricanes and recorded descriptive/emotional audio and filmed newscasts in their target language
- High school classes researched tropical cyclones from many perspectives, including the effects of hurricanes on local economies and personal finances; the exposure of inland plants to saltwater from flooding, and the Coriolis Effect during hurricanes in the Earth’s different regions.
- Fine arts, technology and other creative classes designed original works including music/sound, dance interpretations, works of art, public service announcements and technology applications
One of the most ambitious projects came from Village’s “Our Engineer Your World” class who built a wind tunnel with the goal of achieving hurricane speeds in a shipping container to test out student projects made in other classes. Students and teachers collaborated with a community expert on the design and were able to apply mathematical and engineering principles to a real-life scenario on a large scale. The project also provides a future learning space for science classrooms from across the elementary to high school divisions as a place to test wind, projectile, and other physics experiments.
The Village School has been participating in MIT challenges each year since 2016. The MIT Challenges provide a unique chance for every teacher and student to experience MIT. Each challenge embodies the teaching and learning culture of MIT, is rooted in the research of MIT faculty and makes that research relevant and accessible to participating students.
“Our mission is to create and share high quality resources to facilitate digital and non-digital learning for PreK-12 and lifelong learners,” adds Delbrugge. “By providing STEAM-based instructional materials and an open forum for users to share insights, we aim to inspire a diverse global community of educators, students, and parents to find innovative and humanistic solutions to real-world challenges.”
For more information about The Village School, a Nord Anglia Education School, visit thevillageschool.com.