By: Stephanie Derammelaere of the Community Voice newspaper
November 23, 2018
On Dec. 4 University Elementary School at La Fiesta students will have an opportunity to showcase their project-based learning skills at Maker World, a free, family-friendly event held at, and in collaboration with, Sonoma State University. The event also hopes to educate the public about the importance of project-based learning.
“Since our school, University Elementary, is an emerging project-based learning school, all the teachers would like to showcase their projects both to the families and also to the community to show what this new, innovative education looks like,” says Ryan Kurada, kindergarten and first grade teacher at University Elementary and one of the organizers of the event. “Part of this exhibit is to show what young kids are capable of. When we think of project based learning, so much of what we see in the media is focused on high school and middle school but to show what young kids are capable of is really powerful.”
The event will feature STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) focused projects done by students in all the grades at University Elementary, from transitional kindergarten through fifth grade.
“All teachers at our site will be showcasing a STEAM project,” says Kurada. “It’s really an innovate way for students to use their critical thinking skills, collaborative skills, and team work skills to create a product that answers a question.”
The event will also offer hands-on, interactive maker demonstrations and activities from a variety of organizations and event partners including the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, the Sonoma County Office of Education, the Sonoma State Maker Lab, Ryan Jenkins, co-founder of the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio, Play-Well Engineering, the Sonoma State Physics and Engineering Clubs and Henry Kaku, an origami master. Sonoma State University will also set up their “Starlab” in an adjoining ballroom, an inflatable, portable planetarium.
“We’ll also have Stephen Kent, a didgeridoo musician, who will be providing live music,” says Kurada. “He has come to our school when our class learned about light and sound and we felt the sound vibrations from the didgeridoo.”
The event will be held in the Sonoma State University Student Center 3rd floor ballroom from 6 to 8 p.m. Free parking passes will be offered to attendees which can be obtained at the main entrance information booth.
“We want the whole community to come together and celebrate this learning that young kids can do,” says Kurada. “It’s definitely a community-wide event for all. We do so much and it shouldn’t just be contained in four walls. We want to open it up and make learning visible to all.”