Exploring Rockets & Hidden Figures with 6th Grade
“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” –Scott Belsky
This quote beautifully sums up the driving force between 6th grade’s cross-curricular experiences on Thursday, September 23. Students had been working to prepare for that day in both Science and Communications and Literacy (C&L aka language arts), crafting posters about Hidden Figures and engineering a rocket to be launched.
In Science and C&L, students explored the idea of Hidden Figures from Science, Math and Literature. They read an article explaining how in any field, the culture of the time determines who gets recognition for discoveries, creations and breakthroughs. Students were asked to learn about someone outside of the traditional narrative in order to create a poster. The poster was then used to teach others about that person’s work and contributions to their respective field. They discussed the importance of everyone having someone that they feel represents them and their culture in every career field. In C&L, students also began reading the book Hidden Figures in order to gain more insight into a specific example of people who deserved to be recognized for their work but weren’t at the time of their contribution, for a variety of reasons. This book allowed students to gain a new perspective and flex their empathy muscle in order to take on another person’s point of view. The culmination of this project was a display of all the posters outside so that other classes and families could view them and leave feedback for the creator of each poster; the posters are now on display in the 6th grade classrooms to inspire students and provide a variety of role models for them in each subject area.
Rocketry was the other major event of the day! Students were given the task of creating their own design for rocket fins in order to win an engineering contract by creating the design that allowed the rocket to fly the highest. They worked in their lab groups collaboratively to research aerodynamics, create a blueprint, design the fins in TinkerCAD, and then 3D print them to use on their rocket. The final test for their design occurred at the rocket launch, where students were able to see the outcome of their designs authentically and in person.
Together, the 6th grade teachers created a day where the students were able to complete all their classes outside, invite their families to join in the celebration, and see each other’s work. It was an exciting, fun day that allowed families, students and teachers to connect and celebrate all the hard work that had occurred to bring everyone to that point. The cross-curricular collaboration allowed students to see the connections between subject areas and how they all work together to achieve greater success. Thursday, students didn’t just think of how to do things; they did it and made things happen!