2015-16 PBL Project

In 2015 our community participated in our first-ever project-based learning unit. Our staff developed the following question to guide the first project of the school:

  • What makes a healthy community?

As Explorers worked to answer this question, they developed an understanding of the elements of healthy communities. Through this unit of study Explorers investigated recycling of materials, growing food and healthy cooking, the way water moves, and the importance of clean water. Explorers created a tippy tap to wash their hands outside in the garden. Finally, the unit culminated in a public exhibition where Explorers shared models of healthy communities creating a model East Nashville community, a model rainforest and a model futuristic society!

Also, in 2015 our founding class embarked on a journey of creative problem solving through our inventors and entrepreneurs unit. Through this unit students learned from inventors and entrepreneurs throughout history as well as in their communities. Explorers learned that when someone brings a solution to a problem, they are an inventor. Inventors practiced being curious, tinkering with ideas, and engaging in craftsmanship. Once they identified their problem and created an invention to solve it, they got to work marketing their plan. The final exhibition for this unit was a community panel of experts who participated in a “Shark Tank” process of feedback! We loved seeing our Explorers’ interpretation to the question:

  • What is innovation and how does it help healthy communities thrive?

Explorers finished out their founding year by working to answer the following question:

  • How can we recognize and contribute to the positive work of others in our community?

In order to answer this question they spent time learning from Pixar writer and director Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “WALL-E”). Explorers viewed Andrew’s Ted Talk and listened carefully to his steps for telling a great story including: make me care, take me with you, be intentional, let me like you, and, delight me. Once our Explorers understood the framework for a great story, they partnered with different non-profit organizations in our community. At Explore, we want to teach our Explorers to recognize the amazing work already happening in our city. In this unit Explorers interviewed non-profit organizations, completed a service project and then worked to tell the story of their partner organization. They also created art to sell to benefit the organizations. The project culminated with the Explorers showing the story they created and then selling their work at an art auction. This is a popular unit and one that has been returned to several times. Throughout this project Explores have learned about the following local and global organizations: Soles for Souls, Nashville Pittie, Second Harvest, The Martha O’Bryan Center, The Shine Project, Play Like a Girl, and Walk Bike Nashville.