Palestine students connect with Canadians for project

Published on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:25 - Written by Emily Guevara, eguevara@tylerpaper.com

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 Students in Palestine are learning about science and problem-solving through a project involving cutting-edge architecture and art and collaboration with Canadians.

Lisa Covington, Palestine ISD’s Project Lead the Way-STEM coordinator, said the school brought in the Beesley Project, which involved the work of architect and digital media artist Philip Beesley, who is a professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

The district used images and videos of his work to get its seventh-graders involved in solving problems and making designs.

The organizers aligned the project with Texas’ curriculum guidelines and gave the students the opportunity to design levers and other devices using shape memory alloy, which can be molded and formed into different shapes when cool, but returns to its original shape when heated.

The students communicated with professors and scientists in Canada through Skype, an Internet call service, to get help for their projects.

Then last week, Canadian students who were working on the same project, used Skype to talk with the Palestine students, who offered their advice on the project.

“We’re trying to get the kids to be part of the design process (and) critical thinking,” Ms. Covington said.

This is the second year the district has used the project with some of its seventh-graders.

Next year, the district plans to expand it to all seventh-graders, Ms. Covington wrote in an email.

Lucinda Presley, director of the Institute Where Creativity Empowers Education Success, brought the project to Palestine ISD.

Through a partnership with the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada, she tested the program in Palestine, then implemented it in Canadian schools as well.

The project took place in Palestine earlier this month, and Ms. Presley was in Canada working with those students and teachers last week.

Ms. Presley, a Palestine resident, became involved in this project after meeting Beesley and one of his collaborators, Rob Gorbet, in Utah. They asked her if she would develop an education component for Beesley’s work.

“We want them to learn how to think innovatively,” she said, “integrate the innovative thinking with the mandated science and art learning.”

The program is funded in part by Palestine ISD and a Canadian grant.