The most meaningful learning experiences in the Acorn Room are the times when students have an opportunity to build models that reflect core learning objectives. Grade 2 spent time learning about flowers and their pollinators, culminating in an activity where students were asked to create a flower that is designed for a specific pollinator. Using all the parts they learned about, and working with a limited array of materials, students selected colors, shapes, and imagined smells to create flowers adapted for bats, birds, bees, flies, and moths. They were then asked to explain their design and how it attracted their pollinator. It was a chance for students to have fun and be creative, while constructing new knowledge. Their flowers reflect their individuality as students, and help each student travel further along their own path of learning.
There is no teacher like experience. So when we start studying dinosaurs, students do a “real” excavation in the playground sandbox. Since paleontologists look for exposed areas of sedimentary rock, like sandstone, the sandbox seems the right place to start. And since the Stanford Linear Accelerator has a fossilized whale-like creature on display, found during the construction, we have another reason to think fossils might be found nearby- despite the fact that a whale also indicates that this part of California used to be somewhat oceanic. Our excavation makes learning real; it brings the ideas of dinosaurs and the stories they can tell us to our own backyard and with curiosity in tow, students are ready for more!