Last night was a great night for CJ and I to aimlessly stroll around the Philadelphia Flower Show and admire the creative vignettes of Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan and many other Disney favorites. The sensory overload was quite welcome after hours upon hours of cabin fever. Tucked in the back corner, behind the Jurassic Park and the Parent Trap, Frozen and Elsa, were the high school and college exhibitors. These exhibits were not a floral version of an iconic Disney film but rather practical takes on real-life, practical problems.
Delaware Valley College (soon to be University) students pondered how people might live in the future, when polar ice caps have melted and land would be at a premium. The solution? A Rooftop Urban Oasis. The students created an enchanting roof deck with lush gardens, recycled materials and an irrigation system to help manage all of the additional water produced from ice melt.
The University of Delaware created an exhibit which demonstrates how Forest Flora can be used as medicine. The exhibit focused on the Amazon Rainforest, and explained how vital these plants are for pharmaceutical purposes.
The “A Walk to Remember” vignette developed by high school students, is an Alzheimer’s Garden. The students designed a garden for Alzheimer’s patients so that they could enjoy nature, flowers and fresh air in a calm, gated, safe environment.
I was so inspired by each project. So much time, research, thought, creativity and collaboration was put into each student exhibit. The students took ownership of their work and were so knowledgeable about the topic. They were not memorizing plant names because they had to know them for a test, but rather they were curious about why they were important. Inevitably, each project required students to research and study geometry, biology, literature and medicine not because they had to, but because they wanted to. They were curious and inspired to create a solution for the question given to them. By definition, this is what Project Based Learning achieves. Instead of being given answers and told to memorize them for future use, students are given real world questions and challenged to create solutions.
As a Project Based Learning school, Mi Casita Preschool will do the same. We will challenge our students with questions each month and guide their curiosity as they create solutions. Students will be given the resources in their play and learning centers so that they can explore, ponder and develop ideas. Students may end up creating a grocery store, a farm in the classroom, a yoga class for the 2 year olds, a mini city…. the options are truly endless. Regardless of what we create, we will use math, science, literature, art, play, history and music as tools for creating solutions to real world problems. Mi Casita is not just a Spanish immersion preschool, it is a place where children learn how to be thoughtful, curious and life long learners. Let the adventures begin!