Skip To Main Content

Genoa Middle School students make personal connections with science lessons

Genoa Middle School students make personal connections with science lessons

For Genoa Middle School eighth-grader Kylei Pinckney, wind power wasn’t just a science term she was assigned to study in class. She wondered if the renewable energy source could be used as a way to de-escalate hurricanes or create early warning alerts to those impacted by natural disasters.

As part of a lesson in Tina Bardwell’s Advanced Science class, she dove into how wind energy works, its purpose and how it’s created. Her research led to wind turbines — what they do, how they work and how they could be used to help people. 

“I feel like I got a better understanding of wind power,” she said. “I don’t think I would have used my free time to try to learn about wind power if it wasn’t for this project.”

This week, eighth-graders in Bardwell’s Advanced Science and Science classes have been learning about various forms of energy, building a foundation for their upcoming Future City projects. They are taking concepts such as energy, motors and solar power and connecting them with something meaningful in their lives to understand the terms and what it means to them.

“It’s one thing to memorize a definition, but when learners can connect that definition with their own interests and experiences and create personal meaning using that definition, they are then able to  remember it  for application later,” said Linda Amici, a middle school instructional coach collaborating with Bardwell. 

The approach is part of the Designed inGenuity learning framework Bardwell and several teachers across the district started integrating in their classes last year. The district received a grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation to provide training and resources to support teachers interested in bringing this agile framework into their lessons and classrooms.

Under the framework, students are driving their learning through inquiry, hands-on experiences and reflection. They are defining their plans and what success looks like. They are executing their plans and reflecting on their experiences to understand what they have learned. 

And through this approach, they can better connect what they learn to their own life experiences and curiosity, Amici said.

Westerville middle school students and community members experienced the learning framework in action during the district’s first-ever Make-A-Thon design challenge at Otterbein University in May. As part of the event, students worked in teams with help from experts and volunteers to research, design, prototype and build a new solution addressing a real-life challenge in the City of Westerville. Afterwards, they shared their experiences and the impact of their work as part of a Celebration of Learning.

At Genoa, Bardwell is embedding the framework by integrating her lessons with the Future City competition. As part of the project-based learning experience, students are imagining, researching, designing and building cities at least 100 years in the future. Students will spend months completing multiple deliverables for the competition: a 1,500-word city essay, a scale model of their city built from recycled materials, a four-part project plan, a 7-minute team presentation and a Q&A session with industry professionals who serve as judges.

This week’s assignment — learning about various forms of energy and how it connects to them — sets a foundation for the concepts they’ll need to know for this year’s “Electrify Your Future” Future City competition. 

As part of the contest, students will design an electrically-powered futuristic city with energy generated from sources that keep their citizens and the environment healthy and safe.

On Tuesday, students presented their work to their peers in the style of a science fair. They created displays and presentation materials to explain different forms of energy and how their discoveries relate to their life and interests. 

Haley Hickok thought about how her assigned word, motors, can be used to improve health. She considered her encounters with motors as a softball player and one device came to mind: the treadmill.

Julian Bradley looked at various forms of energy — light, heat, kinetic — through the lens of a football. His research led him to dig into how kinetic energy is used in football and how to make more effective energy-absorbing helmets to protect football players from head injuries. 

“The project helped me understand more about kinetic energy and how the energy in motion can impact what it touches,” he said.

Most Recent News