One of the aspects of teaching at Tulip Tree that I appreciate the most is following the children’s lead to develop further curriculum. One day during lunch after returning from winter break, SH asked me how our micro greens were doing. SH was remembering that we had planted these greens before winter break, and checked on them often, but she had forgotten that we in fact ate our micro greens during lunch right before winter break. “Do you think our greens would still be growing today even if we were not at school for two weeks?”, KM and SH looked at each other with hope and nodded their heads vigorously. “Hmm, really? Do you think they would still be getting bigger even if there was no one here to water them?” I asked. KM and SH thought for a minute, rethinking their initial idea. SH excitedly waved her finger in the air and exclaimed that our greens would definitely be able to keep growing if there was a robot that could water them for us while we were on vacation! The excitement of this possibility spread through the whole table and suddenly NC, KM, SH, and NCC were brainstorming a plethora of ideas for this robot. They discussed in detail how the buttons would work, how the robot would move, where the buttons would be, what it would be made out of, etc. I sat back and listened as they continued to imagine the possibilities of our indoor garden growing without our help. The final vision for this machine was a robot inside a rocket ship. The purpose of the rocket ship was so the robot could move around and get to the windowsill where our greens are. I asked the table if they wanted to make this robot and rocket ship someday soon. They all look at each other and nodded their heads with huge smiles and endless imaginations.
Lo and behold, a week later, the children decided to build the rocket ship for the robot to use. Instead of building a robot, the children acted as the robot after the ship was built. They climbed inside and tested out the buttons. The ship was even complete with a cradle for a baby robot! (Their interest in babies is seeping out in all kinds of ways). We spent an entire afternoon constructing the rocket ship, out of recycled materials, and every piece that was added to the vehicle was done so with intention and care. Every time a child made a piece they wanted to add to the rocket ship, I asked where and what that part of the rocket ship did. They all had such thoughtful ideas for the different pieces that needed to fit together to make the ship move. At the end they were all thrilled to test out their creation by stepping inside and imagining how a robot might interact with the different elements. At the end, much to my surprise, everyone was okay with the fact that this creation was impermanent. We looked at it, took pictures, climbed inside, and then everyone worked together to take the pieces apart. The photos below show the progression of the rocket ship.
**All of the reuse materials for this project were borrowed from the Inventing Remida Portland Project at Helen Gordon Child Development Center.**