I love seeing Wildwood students in the thick of the creative process, applying what they’re learning in class in novel ways. This week, in Jane Kaufmam’s 7th grade Life Sciences class, I get to watch a group of middle schoolers produce their own short, stop-action animated videos to illustrate their understanding of mitosis.
“This is how life works; it’s how we began and how we grow,” says 7th grader Felix S., explaining the process by which cells divide and duplicate themselves.
Jane’s students began studying plant and animal cell life before winter break. Now they are working in teams of two or three on this culminating project—re-creating the various stages of cell division in different colored clays on a white background. Then, using either a smartphone and tripod, or a laptop camera, they photograph each stage, and edit the pictures together to produce their film.
Felix and his partner Ferdi A. are believers in the project-based approach to learning about this key biological process. “When you can build a cell in clay, with all of its parts, and then show how it divides, you’ll never forget it; it’s fun.” Felix adds, “seeing it in a book is one thing, but it’s easier for me to see and understand mitosis this way.” See Felix and Ferdi’s video below.
Next up for these 7th graders? Jane fills me in: “The poison picnic,” she says. “We’ll be studying single cell bacteria next, and the kids get to do a CSI-like project where they apply their knowledge to solve a mystery about what causes a hypothetical group of Wildwood teachers to get food poisoning.”
Already hoping I’m not invited to that picnic.
~ By Steve Barrett, Director of Outreach, Teaching, and Learning