Laying the blueprint for MYP projects

As the institution I work in transitions to an MYP approach to curriculum, the challenge looms to create meaningful contexts in which students can design projects with an interdisciplinary component.

Remarking that when a research project combines the three sciences, that also counts as interdisciplinary, as long as the links between these fields are implicitly drawn upon in the investigation; a team of science professors took the a generation of students to the city aquarium.

Then we also took in the waxwork museum, and the giant ferris wheel, for good measure. After all, half the reason for planning these kinds of experiences is to create memorable moments for students, where they can bond, think outside the normal parameters of learning, and strengthen their social and academic relationships.

There is always a magic moment in such field visitations in education, and it is never at the beginning. The logistics and meticulous planning that leads up to the start often builds a pressure head of stress that is only relieved when the trip is finally underway.

After the ferris wheel, it suddenly happened. Circles of students sat in circles, animatedly talking to their teachers, their relaxed faces shining with new ideas and possibilities. For a moment, we weren´t even teachers and students anymore. We were simply all passionate learners. I allowed myself to wander carefully between the groups, evesdropping but taking care not to break the spell.

One group talked about the possibility of sharks or marine life suffering from depression, and if anything could be done to treat them. Another group was dreaming of one day sailing from Rio to Cape Town together. Someone else was discussing if surfers could be trained to collect data on marine life, supported by digital data sharing platforms.

A member of our security team edged up to me, enquiring if we should move the group back to the bus.

-Not yet, I replied. Smiling at the wonderful scene around me.

Back in the classrooms, the teams are working on creating research questions that can lead to an interdisciplinary project that may fit MYP criteria. May or may not, as this is the dry run. This starts with reflection and then leads to synthesis, as experiential learning theory prescribes.

I am excited to see what they come up with.