Our elementary school is currently raising money to add a track. Since my 2nd graders are studying Structures, I invited one of the stakeholders to speak to the class about the process of coming up with an idea and following it through.
After our guest left and we debriefed, I asked the class to brainstorm some other structures they think would enhance our school.
“An ice cream shop.”
“A swimming pool!”
“A Large Hadron Collider!”
Confused faces turned to the last speaker. And, yes, my face was included in that crowd.
Everything I know about the Hadron Collider, I learned from Big Bang Theory, and I was fairly certain that my 2nd grader didn’t want to add one to school property so Leonard Hofstadter could bring Penny to Texas for a romantic weekend.
“Maybe you should explain to the class (and me) what that is,” I said hesitantly.
“It throws beams of protons at each other. I watched a special on it last night,” was the proud response.
This resulted in another student declaring that he would like to see a chemistry lab on campus – one that would allow him to “deconstruct dangerous acids.” (This was the same young man who asked our guest if he had considered the “ethics” of adding a track to our campus.)
May I remind you that these are second graders?
After watching a TEDEd video about an incredibly unique rooftop kindergarten in Japan (embedded below), the students drew their own ideas for school additions.
The Hadron Collider morphed into a “Black Hole Room” with the purpose of helping you to “see and feel what a black hole is like.” My future self-proclaimed geneticist drew a “Biomimicry and Invention Test Center.” One young lady redesigned the room next door (our Maker Studio), specifying it as a Robot Lab instead. She meticulously drew every robot we have and included a child and an iPad as well.
I think more school districts and architects should consult young students on their designs. Maybe adding a Hadron Collider to the blueprint isn’t very practical – but neither is building a school where the only place our students can run is the parking lot.