Two student submissions to the “Designing Westerville” initiative focused on ways residents could help build a thriving local bee population. Designing Westerville participants use Project Based Learning to identify potential improvements to their community, design unique solutions, and then share their concepts during showcase event, which this year is being held virtually.
Last fall, Alcott Elementary students conducted a community survey of those who live, work, and/or play in the City of Westerville. Students then analyzed and used the results of their research to identify potential ways to improve their city.
Dubbed “Designing Westerville,” students work on the initiative individually, in pairs, or in small groups to identify solutions for improvement that met the following project criteria:
- The idea must be related in some way to science,
- The idea needs to be replicable in other communities,
- The design must build connections within our community, and
- The innovation must address more than one authentic issue or challenge.
“Students used Project Based Learning to design unique solutions, and then each group determined what to share to a virtual showcase event that began last Friday night,” said Alcott Fifth-Grade Teacher Linda Amici. “The COSI Science Festival event happened live and drew over 400 guests to our school last year, including community and education leaders, who came to see the design ideas of the young innovators.”
Amici said even though there’s a lack of instant feedback for students in this virtual environment as compared to them presenting live at the showcase, the need to modify this year’s event to a digital format includes the silver-lining of expanding student voice to a broader audience.
“Students have really enjoyed the feedback videos that virtual showcase visitors have recorded,” Amici added. “They love hearing about how their ideas have inspired positive changes in local and global community members, and we even had a response all the way from Vietnam!”
Feedback videos are moderated so they don’t go directly to students. Anyone interested in viewing students’ ideas and leaving a video comment on their work may do so via the virtual showcase event.