JAITA RICHON and GABBY D’AMBROSIO
A crucial part of the Waring curriculum is hands-on learning. Being able to apply your knowledge to real world situations is what the school hopes to teach every student. In each class taught at Waring, there is some form of experiential learning which helps solidify the material in each student.
The French department promotes experiential learning in 9th grade by sending the students to Angers, France, in an immersion program. Another area where this is prevalent are within the science programs. Students do many of hands-on projects throughout each course. In Core (6-7th grade), the science curriculum alternates between introductory biology and introductory physics. Throughout the latter course, students learn the basic concepts of physics. Part of the course focuses on how things are structurally built, like buildings, bridges, tunnels etc.
In order for students to understand how something stands up they must be able to see the structure, and decidedly bridges are a perfect example of this because they wear their skeleton on the outside. While doing the physics course, students are asked to apply the things they have learned and build a bridge out of popsicle sticks, string and glue. The creator of the project and physics teacher Francis Schaeffer describes the process, “The project gives the ability to really apply through creative action the ideas you learned in class.” The bridge project is a perfect way to mix creativity and classroom concepts. The bridge testing is the perfect mix of drama and learning. Francis goes on to explain the importance of being completely engaged in what you’re teaching. He says that the more engaged the teacher is the better results you get from the students. The bridge project is a perfect opportunity for students to be completely creative and innovative at the same time. Once all the bridges are constructed the kids are completely engaged and truly want their bridges to survive.
When the bridge project was started in 2002 , the rules were that students could use any household objects to create a bridge that was structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. The project has since limited its materials to five hundred popsicle sticks, glue, and string. Using everything they have learned, the bridges are expected to hold a substantial amount of weight.
Francis explains how, “Theater is important when teaching.” There is a two round contest to determine whose bridge will hold the most weight. The finalists bridges are tested in front of the whole school. Many students over the years have created memorable and impressive bridges, many of which withstood up to several hundred of pounds.