Big Ideas Week on water

We are getting towards the end of the second Big Ideas Week to be held here at St. John’s.

Big Ideas Week is our innovative program for group-based experiential learning that allows students the space and time to recognize and stretch their innate capabilities and reach their own conclusions about their own performance.  It brings together the 7 competences which underpin our curriculum in middle school; Thinker, Creator, Explorer, Communicator, Collaborator, Contributor and Self assessor.
 
The week kicked off with a collaboration between the St. John’s and the organizations Green Light for Girls and Levi Strauss as well as visits to the local fire station, sewerage plant and swimming pool. Students then worked in groups for the week with teachers helping and guiding their inquiry and discovery.
 
Throughout the week students had access to specially arranged workshops and outside experts which were all linked to the theme water.
 
Some highlights of the week:

  • Levi Strauss presenting on their Water-Less jeans and Green light for Girls running water-related experiments in school
  • Students skyping with Bengali aid workers about water purification projects in rural villages in Bangladesh
  • Conversations and collaborations with Pacific Institute in Hawaii
  • Students accessing advice and support from a network of external experts from across the world including the EU and Cambridge University
  • Students learning about and setting up basic financial accounting systems for fundraising for clean water projects
  • Students negotiating with school administration for access to sponsorship, permissions to adapt school property
  • Farm visit
  • Visit to local restaurants to investigate water
  • Amazing experiments in the Science labs
  • Students making hydro electricity
  •  
    Some insights from the student evaluation give a taste of the benefits:
    “Big Ideas helped me to understand how things work in real life”
    “Working as a group motivated me”
    “They start listening to me by me listening to them”
    “I really didn’t know I was that good in making a website”
    “I can really focus when I need to”
    “I learnt that if I want I can have fun by working”
    “I let things go too easily.”
     


     
    How the students felt THEY could have improved their team’s  performance:
     
    “We should have argued less on the general topic – we had too many on the final project”
    “People should close their netbook when in group discussion and no shouting”
    “I would be more strict”
    “Find a way to make it more interesting for the team”
    “We should have thought of everything more early”
    “I would pay more attention”
    “I would work more instead of planning so much.”
     
    We are all proud (students and staff) to be part of such an exciting and innovative project.