Acera and Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach Work Together Teaching Innovation in the Classroom
Do you remember finishing a book in school and then writing a book report summarizing the plot? Or filling out a worksheet with questions—like stating the main character and main idea of the story? This spring at Acera, students engaged in something different in their book group project. Zooming in on ocean related literature linking to an environmental science theme for the classroom, book group teams defined an engineering challenge that the characters in the book faced and then they built the solutions they imaged! This is innovation in action: Giving students access to knowledge, and then supporting them as they apply what they have learned to solving problems creatively, using a blend of subjects and a holistic, cross disciplinary approach.
Observing the classroom, it was like lighting a match to kindling, igniting creativity and expanding Acera students’ already robust talents in problem solving. This project is one of many examples of how learning occurs differently at Acera School, which is designed to focus on building core capacities in systems thinking, creative problem solving, and perspective taking. Launching a new partnership with Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach CEEO program manager Elissa Milto sees the Acera School as a phenomenal place to bring their National Science Foundation project to life, since engineering and STEM topics are such a core part of all the learning at Acera and since the school already focuses on project based, inter-disciplinary learning.
The Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach’s project, Integrating Engineering and Literacy (IEL), is currently in action in several schools. The project is to research what the beginnings of engineering look like in elementary-aged children. The focus is listening to kids’ ideas and seeing how their ideas play out in their designs. Says Manager Elissa Milto:
“We really value creative solutions, and failure. We’ve seen great results in the schools we’ve been working with, but are curious about what the engineering will look like in a school like Acera— that is not bound by MCAs and the schedule and goals it imposes. Acera seems like a good fit since their core beliefs of creativity, innovation and inquiry are similar to the CEEO’s and they have a strong science foundation. We’d like to see what happens when students are able to build on their experiences with open-ended design projects and have access to strong science teaching and an existing base of inquiry.”
This is what happens when you take the limits out of learning. The partnership with Tufts is just another example of what we can accomplish together when we strengthen the relationship between higher education institutions and their K- 12 counterparts to forge a path for the next generation of young minds driven by curiosity and wonder.
We agree with Elissa: We can’t wait to see what happens too!