6th Grade Studies Urban Growth and the Human Impact
As a capstone project for their Fall Trimester studying Urban Growth and the Human Impact, 6th grade scientists completed a three-part team project exploring how green storm water infrastructure (GSI) can be incorporated into new construction projects to improve Seattle's storm water quality. This offered students an opportunity to explore and present real-world solutions to the environmental problem they learned about in the first half of the trimester: non-point source pollutants in Seattle's rainwater are threatening the survival of local coho populations.
Specifically, students were asked to research the materials, function, and cost of an assigned GSI technology, build a 12" x 12" realistic 3-D model of the technology, and present a three-minute pitch to their class and members of the SAAS administration focusing on why SAAS should consider building their group's GSI for future school construction projects. GSI topics included: permeable pavement, living roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, rain barrels/cisterns, and constructed wetlands. Students were challenged to utilize materials from home and school to build their projects and were not permitted to purchase project materials.
In this four-week collaborative endeavor, students learned to conduct organized research, practiced delegating and executing team responsibilities, planned and built creative, detailed realistic models, honed their argumentative writing skills, and prepared thoughtful individual reflections. With projects ranging from a 3-D printed bioswale to a living roof with removable layers to a tiered rain garden with a plexiglass viewer, students showcased their impressive creativity. Some groups even managed to run water through their models to demonstrate how the technology, cleaned, slowed, and infiltrated storm water.
Come presentation day, students successfully presented their models and delivered their pitches to SAAS Administrators, convincing their adult audiences of the value of investing in their GSI projects. Students fielded challenging questions with an impressive level of confidence and the ability to embrace risk head-on, which is a hallmark trait of SAAS students. When students delivered their pitches, they demonstrated how the SAAS Culture of Performance comes alive in the classroom.
Sixth grade Science teachers Emma Glinsmann and Hillary Ethe teach from an interdisciplinary approach that challenges students to examine and engage with the complex nature of environmental issues. By considering the economic, engineering, and biological aspects of green stormwater infrastructure, for example, students will be more effectual critical thinkers and problem solvers.