Sixth grade students returned to school triumphant this week after completing the Food Bowl build on Friday night.
Food Bowl, (formerly Canstruction) which I have blogged about before, has become an integrated and robust part of the sixth grade program over the span of the past four years. The list of benefits to learning and the community is long: it benefits the food bank, allows students to join with other schools at the Galleria, it gives learning about math, engineering, art, and society a targeted goal. The grade jells as a class over the course of the months they work together. I even see parents enjoy each others company while at the build!
This year’s installation was ambitious. The students had the idea of a city early on in the process. They played with that idea for a while. They considered making just a skyline– but wanted to take advantage of the 360 degree view that the public at the mall would have. They considered making the Empire State Building the only building in the structure– but to keep the recognizable proportions, the structure would have needed to be much,much taller- and stability, not to mention the contest rules, became a factor. Not wanting to have only a one “small” building, they added four other iconic buildings from New York. We are incredibly grateful to Goya for sponsoring the students once again and our final request to Goya was for 2,000 cans, and included a wider variety of food stuffs than has been the case in the past.
The structure was also ambitious with regard to its electronic, or tinkering, components. Every building has a digital sign with its name. Every building is illuminate with lights that evoke its real New York counterpart.
Having five buildings meant that students worked on five different teams– and that five different structures had to be practiced. This was a new challenge for the teaching team! The evening of the build though, the teachers faded far to the background as students industriously got to work on each component of the installation. It takes skilled teaching and planning, as well as strong confidence and believe in students, to step out of the picture as a teacher, when the final culmination arrives.
Throughout this week, various classes will visit the mall to see the work. Today, grades 7-8 went to see the project. When they returned, they found the sixth graders and gave them a huge round of applause.
The final installation: Empire State in the center, with the Flatiron Building, the UN, Madison Square Garden and Grand Central Station around it, won Best Structural Integrity Award, (“The students were not afraid to go vertical,” stated the judges) and the Jurors Award. The Peoples’ Choice Award will be decided at the end of the week by counting donations left in the bins by the two entries.
We hope many in the PDS community will be able to visit the structures at one point during the week. If you can’t, support for this project CAN happen anyway– just bring CANS (or other non-perishable items) to school and we’ll make sure we get them to the mall.