One of the best ways to engage lifelong learners is to give their education real-world context and authentic purpose.
Throughout the Park journey, children get opportunities to use their skills and understanding in ways that reflect and impact the world. Whether students are solving a real problem, engaging a real audience, or creating a product that addresses a real need, they come to understand the value of knowledge and how to apply that knowledge to a meaningful end. With applied learning, students acquire the essential skills needed to ask thoughtful questions, consider multiple perspectives, and communicate and collaborate effectively.
Here at Park, we’re preparing students to not only be successful students, but to be the innovative and intellectual leaders of the future, ready to employ the skills they’ve developed to better themselves and their communities. Following are just a few of the Park projects that put learning into action.
- Ice Cream Shop (Kindergarten)
- Native American Studies (Grade 3)
- House Project (Grade 6)
- Model UN Water Conference (Grade 8)
One Park Kindergarten class came up with the exciting idea of creating their own ice cream shop. And with teacher support and direction, they made it happen. The students found out how make outstanding ice cream and sell it to their families and the faculty. They learned about branding, marketing, and selling; and how to ask for feedback to make improvements. Ultimately, the kindergarteners got to turn their dream into a reality, and they enjoyed the sweet taste of entrepreneurial success.
In the fall, third graders begin their yearlong study of the Native Peoples of North America with a field trip to the Wampanoag Village at Plimoth Plantation. There, students have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the Wampanoag culture from members of the Wampanoag people. The year ends with a visit to Harvard’s Peabody Museum, where students can see artifacts from the Native cultures they have studied.
Sixth graders use their understanding of climate, measurement, and design to create detailed scale models of original homes that would work well in particular regions of the world. This three-day undertaking entails budgeting, planning, calculating, and careful construction. It requires forethought, patience, and tenacity to take this project through to completion, when the students incorporate LED lights and circuitry as the finishing touches on their homes.
Approximately 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. Park eighth graders examine the right to clean water as part of their focus on human rights in social studies. And in science, they learn about various technologies that capture and purify water. The entire eighth grade, representing 26 countries from all five continents, engages in a mock United Nations conference with the goal of rallying the world to action so that all people have access to clean water.