GHS Innovation Lab November News
Fall 2020 - Deeper Learning in and for the real world.
Dear GHS InLab Students, Parents, Colleagues and Community Partners:
It's that special time of year when all of us in the Greenwich High School Innovation Lab (InLab) stop to reflect, give thanks, and celebrate the accomplishments of our amazingly resilient students. We continue to be inspired by their perseverance and grit in light of our new learning environment.
Recently, InLab Junior Angie Zarilli captured many feelings of our GHS students, faculty, and staff in her Design Studio Blog:
"Of course, I wish we could go back to “normal” but the truth is, if we are being rational, that is probably not the case. So, to make light of this, I will continue to pursue school just as passionately as I would during normal circumstances. It will definitely be more difficult but there is no easy way of getting around this pandemic. As much as I love short cuts, there are no short cuts in a pandemic and I will continue to do my part as long as it is needed."
In this Newsletter, we highlight and celebrate the work of our students and congratulate them on completing the first quarter in this new hybrid learning experience. We hope you enjoy!
Whether you are celebrating Shabbat, Dwali, Thanksgiving, or getting ready for the upcoming holiday season, we want to give special shout out to all of the families, administrators and support staff who have helped our students in this hybrid and remote-learning journey. We are so grateful we are for your support and wish you all the nourishing joy and relaxation the holidays provide.
The GHS InLab Crew
Ben, Brian, Courtney, Kathy, Joe, Jess, Mike, and Rick
Humanities 9 is a freshman level course that explores literature and the social sciences through the lens of Global Studies. Innovation Lab’s project-based learning, interdisciplinary and co-taught approach allows students to engage creatively and to study concepts deeply. This fall, students explored complex themes of loss of innocence, human nature, and civility through the groundbreaking novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding and studied Enlightenment philosophies. Then, they were tasked with researching, curating, designing, and presenting a memorial park for Berlin to mark the triumphs and tragedies of German history from 1870-today. As a team of artists, authors, historians, and urban planners, students worked collaboratively, despite remote and hybrid learning constraints. Through the symbolism of this memorial park the world can learn the lessons of our past as we fight to find the light, even through the darkest of times. Below is a sampling of projects. Enjoy!
- Ms. Mendez & Ms. Hawes
In this project, framed around the study of the Civil War and Reconstruction, students read about important individuals who fought for racial justice. Students then wrote an acrostic poem honoring their achievements and created a timeline of their life. Today, these posters stand as reminders of the importance of confidence, determination, persistence, and perseverance. We hope you find them as inspiring as our young scholars did when they created them.
Juniors in the Humanities 11 class began the year by exploring ethical dilemmas, social justice and current events. Media consumption has been a common daily fixture, particularly in light of the 2020 Presidential Election. After studying rhetorical devices and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn as a lens to apply the art of social commentary, students chose a local issue, investigated the current role of government in ameliorating the problem. They wrote Op-Ed pieces on various dilemmas facing our communities and created a public service announcement in order to inspire change. Using ethos, pathos, and logos in order to demand a call to action, these tough topics reflect the strong and inspiring voices of our empathetic students! Check out their PSAs on the Google Slideshow below that cover the following topics:
- The Opioid Crisis
- Campaign Finance Reform
- Voting rights
- Elderly Abuse on the Rise
- Immigration and Building1Community
- SNAP Reform (Food Stamps)
- The Digital Divide during Covid-19
- Avoiding Scams
- The Benefits of Social-Emotional Learning
- Childhood Vaccinations
- Why PBL Works
- School Shootings in America
- Transgender rights in the workplace
- FEMA's response to Natural Disasters
- Jennifer's Law for Domestic Violence Victims
As we began school in this new hybrid learning environment, our Civics students dove right in to the "State of Our Union" through the lens of social justice and increased their literacy around race, media bias, reform movements, and citizenship. After analyzing Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy" and watching the Ava DuVernay documentary "13th", students investigated the historical context of voting rights in America. They have uncovered the hard-hitting truths about systemic and institutional racism, ranging from topics like mass incarceration, eugenics, Redlining and segregated housing, healthcare, criminal justice reform, and the school-to-prison pipeline through the text "So You Want to Talk about Race?" by Ijeoma Oluo. Students also followed the 2020 Presidential and Congressional races quite closely, watching the historic debates and making predictions on the website 270toWin.
Political tensions continue across the country but we strive to create classroom environments where students are safe, strong, free, and make good choices. All views are respected and diversity is embraced. Students continue to become more informed, empathetic problem solvers and life-long learners with growth mindsets. As we move into Quarter 2, students will continue to apply the framework of United States Constitution and the question "What does it mean to be ethically responsible?" to guide their inquiry. We can't wait to see what the future holds for our students.
- Ms. Mendez and Ms. Hawes
Wow, what a great beginning to such a strange and challenging year. Our class quickly agreed that the course question, “How can we learn the truth?” It certainly resonates this year even more than usual.
After deciding that our working definition of learning would be “The gaining and communicating of understanding that changes behavior,” we dove right into of 1st quarter project on Race in America. Click here to read more about this project as well as the creative ways our students have "searched for truth" during such a contentious time.
I am proud of their persistent intellectual curiosity, seeking of feedback, and growing understanding of research and how to present it. There is always room for individual and collaborative growth and we will be focusing on building stronger narratives to improve communication of our research.
Quentin Compare clearly summed up the powerful collaborative and growth mindset of InLab that I see everyday: When working with others, I have found that being able to bounce ideas off each other and provide support to each other helps to boost the quality of work..the final product will be better!"
Looking forward to growing together throughout the year! - Mr. Baske
Divergent Thinking & Inquiring Minds
As a creative, reflective lesson, InLab students applied divergent thinking to find an image that reflects their research struggles. The prompt? “Searching for truth is like ___________________.” As Veronica Paez-Deggeller’s example proves, this chasing of the truth can be stated and illustrated in profound and entertaining ways.
The idea of "the truth" can vary depending on the circumstances. The truth may be close to you, or in a completely different realm of understanding. More importantly, there could be one singular truth, or more likely, multiple sides. If you continue chasing after a singular truth without letting yourself observe your environment or other sides, you'll never truly find, or catch, what you are looking for, and may end up tangled in a unique situation.
Time to Check in on STEM 11 with Mr. Walach & Mr. Gawle
A vector problem with a complicated solution and a motivated Gillian.
This is Intense
The STEM 11 students completed a tension lab and then modeled the situation using vectors. Students then solved for the tension in the structure. Even though they must practice social distancing while in the classroom, it hasn’t stopped them from getting hands-on with their learning!
The 3D printers are still working hard! Students can work on their designs in school or at home and can print whether they’re in school or learning remotely.
This is Intense
Though the pandemic reduced the number of labs and projects we can do in STEM class, we’ve spent the time bringing together Physics and Precalculus to more closely align. Writing on separate tablets in a shared class notebook means students in the classroom and at home can engage in the same lessons in real-time and refer to the class notebook whenever they need to!
We are excited for more exploration in Quarter 2!
- Mr. Walach and Mr. Gawle
What have our 12th Graders been doing in Mr. Baxley's class?
Click here to read more about these self-designed projects!
- Mr. Baxley
Martina Phelan is building runoff catching bags that contain white-rot fungus in an attempt to break down an herbicide called 2,4-D that is commonly used in lawn care. She hopes the white-rot fungus will reduce the levels of 2,4-D measurably in controlled samples and then suggest a cheap and effective design that organizations that may want to use to help reduce the herbicide in high runoff areas (like Greenwich Parks and Rec).
Francesco Violanti is planning on teaching himself CAD design and engineering skills through the process of making a prosthetic arm, hopefully using a volunteer from a local veterans organization. He plans to make sensors that read muscle contraction signals that will close individual fingers on the arm made from motors and 3D printed parts.
Our Greenwich High School Innovation Lab teachers are passionate about their content and implement cutting-edge learning strategies. Organized into two areas, Humanities and STEM, co-teaching is common and both areas are linked closely to a year-long thematic arc. Teachers also share responsibility for the Design Studio elective. Greenwich High School's Innovation Lab offers a project-based, interdisciplinary option for English and social studies (as Humanities) and/or STEM (science and math). Ninth, tenth and eleventh graders are eligible.
Click here to find out more about our program's philosophy and approach.