PEYTON, Colo. – Students at Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs set a new standard as International Baccalaureate learners Dec. 11, while exhibiting innovative ways to impact their world.
Now in its third year as an International Baccalaureate world school, Sand Creek High School in Falcon School District 49 has enhanced its Middle Years Program, tailored for sixth through tenth grade students, by adopting an inspiring project-based curriculum.
Dozens of personal projects, a sample of more than 100 student-selected topics, culminating more than three months of research, were organized across a classroom for community members to evaluate during the Tuesday night exhibit.
Divided between the school year’s two semesters, tenth graders are expanding their knowledge in a personal interest area, by gaining proficiency in using a design cycle with Sheree Lynn, technology teacher for the International Baccalaureate MYP.
“The personal project is the best part of the International Baccalaureate – it’s when you get to focus on your desires for a school assignment,” said Lynn, now in her fifth year as an International Baccalaureate teacher, second at Sand Creek High School.
“The personal project is the best part of the International Baccalaureate – it’s when you get to focus on your desires for a school assignment.”
The MYP encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers, according to Brett Derickson, International Baccalaureate MYP coordinator for the high school. Teachers emphasize intellectual challenge, encouraging real world connections.
The students tackled topics based on their interests, including music video production, sports car creation, e-commerce solutions, as well as teaching autistic children to ride horses and coordinating a book drive to put Chinese-language literature in their library.
“We’re asking you to take a community objective approach and really ask the students tough questions,” said Derickson, while welcoming community members to the school’s first personal project night. “These are designs of their own curiosities and passions.”
“I like running track but the spikes are dangerous,” said tenth grader Naquion Pollard, 17, a strong sprinter who’s ran track since first grade. “When I first went into my research, I thought I’d find ways to use gel … to surround the entire foot from inside the shoe.”
Pollard’s project evolved into creating a fashion shoe, due to material availability. However, she’s determined to eventually invent the perfect track shoe. When struck with setbacks, students either altered their focus or found effective mitigation tactics.Tenth grader Phillip Dupree, 15, studied electronic music, which led him to form an Electro Music Club. To purchase a full version of FL Studio music production software and computer peripherals, Dupree raised more than $200 selling donuts.
“I wanted a way for me and my friends, and other people who like this type of music, to learn how to make it,” said Dupree. As far as creating songs and remixes in Techno, House and Dubstep, he’s now at “a master level,” said classmate Brandon McAuliffe-Bevevino, 16.
“He could go anywhere with his talent and musical ability,” said McAuliffe-Bevevino, about Dupree. “He’s still learning but he’s teaching everyone the beginners’ stuff.”
Tenth grader Cassidy Bradley, 16, taught taco-making skills to a group of students with special needs, some had severe needs and limited communication abilities. Despite the challenges, everyone, she says, completed the project and achieved the same standard.
“We didn’t burn any meat, break any shells, and they all enjoyed their tacos – they still talk about it today,” said Bradley, who’s now researching special education college programs with a concentration on low incidence disabilities.
“I’ve learned a lot about helping others,” said Bradley, whose interest in special education began last school year during a health class. After noticing a student with obsessive-compulsive disorder struggling to understand an assignment, she intervened.“I want to learn more about severe needs, like autism, deaf and blind, Down syndrome,” she said. “I have a passion for working with them; they teach me a lot about patience. I want to adopt a special needs child one day.”
“It’s admirable to say the least,” said Scott Arnold, after hearing Bradley present her project. “For high school students, it’s sometimes hard to work with kids that are different. It shows a lot of character and this was more than just a project to Cassidy.”
“It’s so much fun to watch them each focus on their own passion, break it wide open,” said Lynn. “I guided them through the infrastructure … helped them when things went poorly and with writing their reflection papers.
“We’re teaching the kids the process of innovation, which includes brainstorming, researching, designing and sometimes failing and recreating,” she said.
“It’s about inquiry-based learning, not regurgitation. It’s about application, creating and the synthesis of information – turning information into knowledge. How do you prove something? How do you really follow the logic and prove something?”
Founded in 1968, International Baccalaureate is a non-profit foundation creating a better world through the education of 21st century skills, according to its mission statement at http://www.ibo.org. It offers challenging programs to more than 1 million students, aged 3 to 19 years, at more than 3,400 schools around the world.