At MCS, learning through direct experiences is intended to inspire life long learning in our students. This week, Día de los Muertos was the focus of our direct experience. After the tour of elaborate altars and interactive art installations at SOMArts, each MCS student discussed the altar that had the most meaning for them. A common interest was a digitally interactive altar that predicted people who would die from cancer, launching a conversation about how and why 25% of the population dies from cancer. Another altar was designed as the inside of a traditional Syrian home, decorated with children’s artwork from Syria, prompting a rich conversation about events in Syria and our connection to them.
We also connected past work with our observations of the Giving Tree Altar, which can be viewed from above and below. It reminded us of last week’s Plant and Carbon lab at the California Academy of Sciences. The roots were ‘giving life’ as the tree breathed to take in carbon dioxide and exhaled the oxygen we breathe. Tying an arts experience to our science learning seemed like a particularly powerful learning moment, where science knowledge can give significance to artistic expression. The students all agreed that the movement of the roots made them visual a lung.
At the Mission Cultural Center our middle school class joined a high school Spanish class for the tour. Our kids engaged in the conversations and answered question from the docents with thoughtful confidence. Incredible mandalas were made out of foods such as lentils, fruits and grains. They learned about the significance of the Marigold and how their scent increases after their death. The docent was amazing as he brought the heavy topics of gentrification, femicide, and the cultural traditions that honor past generations into the realm of understanding for his audience.
We attended a 95 minute single act play, “Underneath the Lintel” where our MCS class truly rose to the occasion with respect and exceptionally mature conduct. Our dramatic arts at ACT ties in with participation as an audience to see professional actors practicing their craft - there is no question our middle schoolers had an appreciation of the quality and skill needed to perform this one act, which was also extraordinarily popular. Our New Conservatory Theater drama teacher made it possible for our students to attend this matinee.
In our science module, students dissected owl pellets to identify prey based on the characteristics of skull fragments. They tested their own hypotheses about what barn owls eat and discussed common prey of barn owls while using a key to identify components of the owl pellets. As part of the EEI science curriculum unit, they explored the resources animals need to survive and the impacts of natural and human activities on animal populations.
Finally, PE this week involved energetic futsal and elegant fencing as well as a new recess favorite: stomp hoop. Kids really enjoyed the new addition where stomp rockets are modified into a group effort - be sure to ask them about it, and if you do be ready to play!