Middle School

Children are naturally eager to question, develop their own theories — even change a point of view.

Projects Lab

The projects lab instills a passion for problem solving through creativity, tinkering and exploration. Students from junior kindergarten through eighth grade imagine, design, and create projects using a range of materials, technology, and other resources.

Goals and Objectives:

  • Instilling confidence in students to be creative and innovative
  • Developing skills and confidence in the use of tools, technology, and materials
  • Applying practical applications and integration of other conent areas, especially math, science, and art
  • Understanding the creative process through idea, design, building, testing, learning from mistakes and revising

The projects lab integrates students’ learning in a range of content areas, especially math and the physical sciences, and applies this learning in real world applications. As an example, students utilize their understanding of fractions and then understand why, in a practical sense, they might need to reduce the common denominator to add them. Or students might use a compass to extrapolate how to create angles and arcs. In the end, students combine ideas with materials to present fully realized concepts.

Marin Primary & Middle School teachers strive to develop confidence and interest in all areas, including those in which young children may be initially reluctant to take risks and explore, such as math, science, technology, and engineering. The projects lab has long been a center for the creative extension and integration of curriculum in these areas, and it remains central to our program. Even our youngest students learn to use all the tools in the lab, including hammers, saws, and tri-squares, through careful instruction with a major emphasis on safety. As their skills grow, they develop the understanding and confidence necessary to safety use these tools as they creatively design projects, learn from their mistakes, and extend their creative design and problem solving skills.

Students in the fifth grade conceive and create their own individual and small group projects, as appropriate to their skill level. Projects include everything from stools and tables to musical instruments and gravity carts. Students are expected to plan, design and draw their projects using precise measurements, and refer back to their plans as they build. Mistakes are embraced as necessary part of creating, encouraging students to learn from their errors and improve their designs.

Our sixth graders take on a year-long project building American mountain dulcimers. Students learn to use a logarithmic formula to determine fret placement which requires converting fractions to decimals and measuring to 1/64ths of an inch. This program is designed to integrate math with music, history, and art and culminates in an activity that utilizes skills students have learned in the projects lab over the years.

Seventh and eighth grade students use the projects lab as a space to work on geometric, biology, and physics models as a part of their core academic program. Seventh graders build to scale medieval-era castles as a part of their history and math program, and eighth graders build simple machines as a part of their physics program. 

The projects lab is also open during our middle school elective period for more specific explorations in mechanical problem solving and “tinkering,” and is available for flexible use by teachers and students. The projects lab is open two days a week for the MP&MS Aftercare Program, with one class for sixth grade students.

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