Teacher Experience: “Industrial Designer: Skateboard Park” Task for 6th Grade Social Studies Students
A Defined STEM Learning Experience From:
Sixth-Grade Social Studies Teacher
Andrew Jackson Middle School (WV)
Industrial Designer: Skateboard Park
Here’s What We Did:
For this project, students were tasked with designing a skateboard park while learning about the approval process with local government. To start, students watched the videos and took notes on the resources posted on the Defined STEM website. During the skate park design process, students used their math and engineering skills to create the layout and determine the proper incline of ramps, rails, etc. They discovered how much math goes into a design, and new career options having to do with building parks.
To tie in a local social studies angle, students had to find a space within our city to put their skateboard park. Each student wrote a detailed letter to our local government officials laying out their plan for the park and why it would benefit the community. As a class, we walked through each step of the government approval process, from the idea to funding sources to actual construction. Students then had to put their plan into a presentation aimed to convince the city council and mayor to put funding into the skateboard park. Students presented their plan to the class.
Why Defined STEM Was the Perfect Fit:
During this task, students got to experience the true meaning of cross-curricular skills individually. During the design process, they expressed their creativity while using math and engineering skills. During the letter-writing and presentation, they exercised ELA skills, all while tying the lesson into my social studies curriculum. Each student had their own reasoning for bringing a skate park to the city, meaning their letters were different but accomplished the same task. Tasks allow for students to express their individual interests and creativity and arrive at an answer in their own style without being “incorrect.”
As a teacher, I enjoy the tasks because I am able to gear each lesson to my students’ level and my course’s relevancy. For example, a math teacher may have done this same lesson and focused more on the design aspect of the skate park rather than the government approval process.