Clear Sky Elementary students create ancient civilization exhibit
CASTLE ROCK – Students at Clear Sky Elementary got the chance to venture into the civilizations of the Maya, Inca and Aztec cultures through a project based learning unit designed to incorporate multiple disciplines into their experience.
“We are a project based learning school and that means we do projects where we integrate science, mathematics, and literacy into projects that we do all together. so they’re not always taught separate from each other. That’s what we’ve done here–create a museum project based on our research and our knowledge of the Aztecs and how they lived,” said Clear Sky Elementary Teacher Lynese Zukowski.
And for students at Clear Sky Elementary, this integrated learning project about the lost civilizations of Central and South America was an “eye-opening” learning experience which exhibited how a journey into the past can help students learn about the present and the future.
“We usually just to go to the supermarket and buy what we need, but they actually grew it and made all their meals. The Aztec farmed a lot different than we do. They farmed on the water on a wooden dock,” commented Clear Sky Elementary Student Shaelyn Claypool.
She added that this project was also a natural process in incorporating the 4Cs. “We collaborated, because we kind of each had our own part, and then communication played a big part because some of this presentation we had to do at home, so we had to communicate on what to add and everything.”
Douglas County School District Board Director Judith Reynolds echoed those sentiments. “We want kids to be creative in their learning. We want them to work together and be collaborative. We want them to explore things and put their knowledge to use, in a way they can share with other people, so I think they’re doing a great job.”
Some of the kids were amazed at the diversity that they discovered and the harsh and extreme conditions in which these societies existed. They pointed out that during a sporting event known as Tlachtli, the losing team was sacrificed to the winning team’s gods.
But regardless of the subject matter or content of a lesson, educators say this project demonstrates that project based learning is very effective in engaging the students, all while integrating multiple disciplines.
“It shows me that kids are learning based on not just sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher speak, but getting out there and understanding for themselves what’s going on with their particular subject matter, so I think that’s great. Kids need to have a deeper understanding than just sitting there being told information. They get in there and can explain to another kid, or an adult, and that really shows that they have learned,” concluded DCSD Board Director Meghann Silverthorn.