Middle School Special Projects
|Round the World|
Class VI (Seventh Grade)
The Class V students design and construct model solar cars as part of a national engineering competition called the Junior Solar Sprint. This program was started in 1990 by the United States Department of Energy as a way to encourage young people to explore the field of engineering as well as environmentally friendly alternative energy sources.
At Nobles, the students learn the basic scientific principles relating to Newton's laws of motion, work, energy, and simple machines. They also gain first-hand experience with the Design process of Engineering as they build prototypes and test their ideas.
Students work cooperatively in teams of two or three. They problem solve as they work to create a reliable solar powered car that can complete the 20 meter race course. The top seven teams in the categories of speed, creativity, craftsmanship, and technical merit compete against other top cars from Boston area middle schools in the Eastern Massachusetts Regional Race held at M.I.T.
The “RTW” project has been a hallmark of the Class VI experience for over a decade. This project which provides middle schoolers the chance to plan a comprehensive trip around the world, is an interdisciplinary effort between math, English, science and geography classes.
Students must adhere to a strict time line and budget while they explore the cultures and traditions of far-flung worlds. They research and implement a service project in at least one of the developing nations that they visit.
The project culminates with a community celebration where each student presents their work to their families and the full faculty of the Middle School.
In the spring, Class V Civics students complete a rigorous research paper project. Each student is given a set of three or four supreme court cases all dealing with the same constitutional topic. Issues include affirmative action, the death penalty, hate crimes, reproductive rights, teaching evolution in schools, and free speech.
Students begin by researching each case, using print and electronic sources, to find the basic facts of the cases, how each reached the Supreme Court, the arguments made in front of the high court, and the Supreme Court's decision. They fully explore the majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions written by the justices.
After clearly articulating the facts, students step back and look at their findings as a whole to determine the evolution of the court's thinking over time. This project helps students to learn and hone various research, time management, organization and writing skills.
In the fall, Class VI students create a short (60-90 second) presentation about themselves. After considering their genealogy, family history, and various modes of self-expression (visual art, writing, and storytelling) students choose a theme and create a storyboard and a script. They then use iMovie software to record the audio, select and arrange photos, maps, and other visuals to complement the audio. Finally, they choose background music and add titles and transitions.
The finished pieces are as wonderfully eclectic as the students themselves! Students enjoy themselves while creating something unique and personal, and also learn important skills that will enable them to be knowledgeable consumers and producers of multimedia. Click here to watch a sample of "Who Am I?" videos.
While the "Who Am I?" project asks students to think deeply about themselves, in the spring we ask the same students to consider the plight of others.
During Empathy Week, Class VI students spend a portion of each day examining issues of hunger and poverty, both global and local. We tee up their experiences during Hunger Week with a speaker from a local Shelter, who debunks many of the stereotypes about homeless people and helps students to gain a more realistic appreciation of the basic needs of all people, including issues of nutrition. The Empathy Week curriculum includes films, field trips, faculty sharing, speakers, service trips to organizations addressing poverty, and a variety of group activities to develop students’ understanding.
Just after Civics students have completed study of the the three branches of the United States Government, Class V students spend three days and two nights in Washington, D.C.
National monuments and museums serve as the backdrop for a hands-on exploration of our government system and our nation’s history.
Highlights include the Holocaust Museum, The Newseum, The Smithsonian Museum, and a visit with a Massachusetts Congressman.
Pictured Above: Former members of Class V pose with Senator Ted Kennedy
The Sludge Test is a lab practical and a “right of passage” for Class V scientists. Working in groups, students are charged with separating and identifying the components of an unknown mixture without guidance or instruction from their teacher. Students showcase their lab skills, teamwork, ability to plan, problem solving strategies, and intellectual horsepower.
In January, Class VI students study one of the thousands of endangered species in the world and create two products: a research paper modeled after an article in Science World magazine and a Public Service Announcement (PSA) using iMovie.
Students work in pairs to create a PSA using persuasive techniques common in advertising. They begin to appreciate the complex relationship between humans and the environment as they identify the causes for the population decline, explore ways in which people are working to restore the population, and learn about the cultural impacts and hurdles. Students also develop time management skills as they create calendars and monitor their progress.