Sunday, February 8, 2009

'Feed a Country' Advisory Project

As I was driving down the interstate today I thought of an advisory class project that involves planting seeds (carrots, peas, tomatoes) and then watering each of them based on the current daily rain fall in the country represented by the different pots. I am sure a project like this has been done a hundred times in schools around the world, but it was a new idea for me. I swung by a store on my way home and bought a bag of soil, 15 clay pots and the seeds as you see in this picture. We will start preparing to feed the world tomorrow.

We are currently building a nine hole mini-golf course in advisory, but after about five days of working on it the students started murmuring about my advisory being "boring" and saying "we want to do something fun like the other advisories." So, we had a little impromptu advisory group discussion and I asked them for some ideas that would be fun. The only thing they, or at least their spokespeople, could come up with was playing hide and seek through out the school for twenty minutes. I entertained the idea for a few moments, made some comments, asked some questions and soon the class discussion burned up the 25 minute advisory period for that day. (This would count as a team building day, I guess.)

I believe that in order to get the students to finish the nine-hole mini golf course project I will have to divide the holes and the students. I will then assign one hole to each set of partners. We will try this approach instead of the group project concept where we all work together as one big happy class (which is not happening) in assembly line fashion. I am going to give them a simple one hole project that they can visualize, work on and see instant progress. Plus, the competition between groups and the individual responsibility will be helpful. The students could not see the course coming together so they lost interest and stopped engaging. I hope that they will be able to engage and visualize the single hole concept. They could surprise me and not like that either.

But, while I was thinking about this advisory class issue as I drove cross-country on the interstate today, I thought it would be interesting to give each student a clay pot, some seeds and the name of a country. They will plant their seeds and then check the daily rain fall for that country or region on the Internet or in a newspaper each day . (It would also be cool to link up to an online live webcam from that country with an outside view that shows the weather, etc.) We will then form some way of transferring the actual amount of rainfall into some equivalent measure of water in our shop. In theory some clay pots (countries) will flourish and produce the beginnings of tomato, peas or carrot plants and others may not.

I am not so foolish to think that the students are going to be excited about this project either since it is a long way from running up and down the hallways playing hide and seek. We have to finish the golf course, feed the world and then make marshmallow launchers out of PVC pipe. I do understand, though, that none of these are as much fun as running up and down the hallways screaming and hiding.

I will let you know if any of the countries get fed. If not, we may be looking at a case of world famine caused by my advisory class.

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