Reflection: Transitions DESIGN LAB: Nitrogen (3 of 4) - Section 6: EXIT: Our prototype focus area is...


The end of this class is a share out about prototypes, but as will be obvious from the video, it is also a moment of continued conversation and chatter.  I think that this is an expression of interest, of intrinsic motivation, of joy.  The design process draws students in and encourages them to try and to fail and to debrief.  Throughout this lesson and throughout the remainder of the school day I encountered a lot of chatter about our work--about prototytpes, the nitrogen cycle, research resources, failure, water pumps, aquaponics, how long fish live, whether or not I have been to Minnesota, if scientists really do this kind of work.

I think this is awesome. My students are engaged and want to know more. And I do beleive that the chatting culture that emerges out of these design challenges is vital. I'm interested in what you have to say. I care about your ideas. I want to learn from you. These dispositions are like an invisible hands that push students into chatting groups, that push students to research how long goldfish live, that push kids to tell me about fish they saw in the supermarket, that push kids to consider, even if only for a moment, a career in STEM, or a project that can change their community.

I love my content, but content alone can't do all this work. Joyful, authentic, caring communication is really what teaching and learning is all about. Chatting may not seem rigorous, but it is, for many students, reveltory. To speak and to listen, and then to do it again and again and again with the people you are with for the rest of your life; this is really what teaching and learning is all about.  So sometimes a hard close with a perfectly compliant audience is appropriate.  In this case, however, I was very happy that the class was what it wanted to be: a community of engaged scholars that took the conversation about class out into their personal worlds.

  Chatter and the soft close
  Transitions: Chatter and the soft close
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DESIGN LAB: Nitrogen (3 of 4)

Unit 5: Food (biosphere and geosphere)
Lesson 17 of 24

Objective: Students will be able to engage in an engineering design thinking cycle to develop a functional nitrogen cycle prototype from unique model ecoystems.

Big Idea: A functional nitrogen cycle is an essential part of healthy agricultural systems. How might we use models to help us understand how the nitrogen cycle becomes disrupted and what might be done to prevent disruption?

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design lab nitrogen
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