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2nd and 3rd Graders Prototype with BCIL in the Idea Lab
by Lauren Weisfeld, BCIL Lower School Curriculum Innovator and Collaborator, Fourth Grade Teaching Associate

Second and 3rd Graders have been hard at work in the new Lower School Idea Lab finding solutions to real world challenges down on Earth and in outer space! 2nd Grade took part in the BCIL Challenge of the Month, which was to “Design an improved space station.” 

The unit launched with a BCIL Speaker Series, led by Upper School science teacher and BCIL Curriculum Innovator and Collaborator, Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez, who shared about her two week experience training in a space station simulation. She motivated the students to think about the challenges of living in space by showing videos of her corridors, explaining the social dynamics of her international team, and sharing her experiments with worms that help fertilize space dirt. 

Using this authentic research and information, the 2nd graders in the Idea Lab practiced ideation and creativity by redesigning one of the four major aspects of space living: hygiene, sleep, food, or exercise. They thought of any possible solutions to create a more comfortable environment for astronauts doing this important research and gave feedback on their peers' ideas.

To prepare for their prototyping, the students learned and practiced paper folding and taping skills that allowed them to transform their ideas into 3D models. Students worked in small groups to fill clear paint cans (representing the space stations) with their creations. Some prototypes included multi-tiered exercise equipment, large hanging beds, and innovative showers and sinks that trapped the gravity defying water for easier use. Second Grader Noa K. shared: “My favorite part was the building because we had to use our imagination and art, and I want to be an artist when I grow up. We were able to help each other with our ideas. We made sure our exercise equipment was built right!” 

All throughout this experience, students practiced the skills of collaboration, perseverance, and empathy.

Meanwhile, 3rd Graders are working with BCIL to solve this real world challenge: How might we design better clothing and protective gear for Antarctica? During the Antarctica unit of their travel curriculum, students learned about the clothing and gear required for people braving the cold and harsh climate of Antarctica from the Kindergarten Associate Teacher, Kylie Prusak, who has traveled to Antarctica herself. Ms. Prusak shared a presentation with 3rd Grade students about what you need to stay warm and healthy, and even tried on all of her gear for the students right in the Great Room. 

Following this speaker, students jumped right into researching the lives of scientists and explorers who trekked through Antarctica in the past. Students identified the improvements and iterations made to the protective gear worn over the last one hundred years. Each student chose to improve a jacket, boots, or a pair of goggles to better fit the needs of explorers and scientists today. Maya B. showed her appreciation for learning some of the BCIL leadership skills: “I get to figure out ways to improve something and make a difference.” 

Moving forward in the Idea Lab, students will practice their ideation and design skills to create their own prototypes too. Ethan S. shared his excitement for the rest of the project: “I’m excited we get to turn our ideas into real life, and it was so much fun. BCIL lessons are somewhere where I can share all my ideas and be creative.” 

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