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 JK through first grade learn to use basic carpentry tools as they build their first “sanding blocks” and projects such as small wooden boats. Floatation testing takes place in the beautiful pond in our school garden. Building boats and airplanes leads to discussions of fluid and aerodynamics, history, and an introduction to measurement and fractions.
Second grade students build their own box guitars in a long term project that can extend up to four months. Students make the initial box shapes and use fractions up to 1/8th of an inch to place the frets on the necks of their guitars. They learn about acoustics, vibrations, and the cultural history of the Sho-Be box guitars. After learning to play their box guitars, their culminating performance becomes a highlight of our year end Stepping Up ceremony.
Students in third through fourth 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.
In addition to regularly scheduled class time, the projects lab is open two days a week for the MP&MS After School program, with one class for junior kindergarten and kindergarten, and another class for first through sixth grade students.