A Day in Nature

Cicadas! Cicadas! Learners have spent a lot of time focusing on bugs in Session 6. They have been learning about butterflies, ladybugs, and cicadas for the past 5 weeks. This new found information has fostered into a life of its own and learners have turned into real life scientists as they actively explore in nature. This week, Spark learners had the advantage of going on a field trip to the park where their inquisitive minds ultimately took over.

At the beginning of the field trip, learners were asked what they already knew about insects. Hands were raised swiftly in the cool refreshing air. Learners attentively modulated their voices sharing that “some insects have wings and some don’t”. Each reply led to more questions and more questions led to more excitement.This engaging discussion gave our learners the opportunity to showcase the skills that they have steadily worked to equip themselves with. Leadership, confidence, and the ability to remain calm in challenging environments highlighted just how the Spark community fosters a sense of collaboration.

Working together to roll over logs and look for bugs was a joy to watch. Arms hugged the bulky piece of a tree as it slowly moved from its place. Afterwards, a learner was asked to showcase their bravery as they stood and modeled how a sweet-gum ball might feel on their back if it landed on their back. The learner stood peacefully without moving.

Along with cicadas, we discussed the beetle family, butterflies, and antennae. This learning experience will continue to nurture their love for nature and keep their spark as they discover new insects.

Problem Solving in the Spark Studio

Our morning started with a short video about volcanoes and how they erupt. They were riveted. Before the video was even over, learners shouted out their ideas for their morning project. Without prompting, they started suggesting ways they could make a volcano with the materials they had brought from home. They agreed that they were up for the challenge!  

The materials were simple: each table held recyclables, water, baking soda, tape, and ketchup. They quickly formed groups and got right to work. One group used a milk jug, tissue roll, shoe box, and a piece of cardboard. Another group picked out a yogurt container, plastic, a fruit cup container, and scissors. Other learners decided to go solo, and experiment with the magic for themselves.

An amazing thing happened. Without instruction on what proportions of ingredients to use for lava, learners started experimenting and problem-solving. When the first round of plain ketchup and baking soda did not work, learners added water, then more water, then hot water, then vinegar. They changed the size of containers and cut them into different shapes. They punched holes in the middle of containers and solutions poured out like waterfalls. They excitedly stood around their potions, waiting for the solutions to bubble and erupt. They experimented and experimented while never giving up.  

“It’s about to explode, I just know it!

“Oh, yay!”

“Ketchup is lava.”

“Oh, I see the problem. It’s stuck”

“Can we just make a normal one?”

“We made snow.”

“Ours exploded on the bottom, not the top.”

Although water flowed from every container and box on the table–and the Spark studio was a bit of a mess–the learners had a chance to work in teams, think scientifically, and have a rollicking good time. Naturally, the wonder, discovery skills, and exploration occurred through their eagerness to dig in.

The ability to get messy means that learners can think messy, which translates to creative problem-solving down the road. That is one of the major goals in Spark Studio, to get learners thinking outside the box. This profound effect will keep learners open to new ideas, experiments, and solutions in our ever-changing world.