In her ongoing quest to help support interdisciplinary learning that aligns with global education, BB&N’s director of Global Education Karina Baum has been very busy this year. Overseeing various programs across all three campuses, Baum’s recent fourth grade project has been a beautiful culmination of her efforts for students in Louisa Connaughton’s and Christina Dello Russo’s fourth-grade classes.
Collaborating with the nonprofit World Leadership School—an organization that partners with K-12 schools in order to reimagine learning and create next-generation leaders—Baum has watched BB&N students engage meaningfully with professionals around the world to connect about important global issues.
Focusing on “their spark,” or what interests them, the recent fourth grade collaboration focused on how kids can help achieve the UN sustainability goals in their own communities and lives. To that end, students Zoomed with experts in Tanzania, Morocco, Belize, and Costa Rica to learn about efforts in those countries surrounding community building, hunger, and life on land and sea.
“The kids were really taken by an activist from Morocco who is involved in a movement to plant 1-million trees in the country!” says Lower School Librarian Lynda Dugas who has been helping out in the classroom along with science teacher Lizzie Rosenberger and intern Amy Rosten.
A recent visit to Connaughton’s classroom found Alex Berk ’29, August Scanlon ’29, and Finley Hassell ’29 busy diagramming a schematic rendering of a machine that will help clean the ocean. It falls squarely under the category of “inventing", one of three action steps (Invent, Innovate, and Campaign/Advocate) that students are encouraged to use in order to help advance the UN’s sustainability goals.
Meanwhile, Caroline Bresler ’29, James Wong ’29, and Rami Hafez ’29 are deep into a plan for an environmentally friendly hotel (built to the scale of rubber ducks for design purposes).
“The roof will have solar panels,” Bresler notes. “And the food area will be free to guests to help with hunger.”
“And it will have a garden to help make the food sustainable!” pipes in Hafez.
These examples were only two of many exciting projects that the collaboration spawned, a collaboration that impressed both Connaughton and Dello Russo.
“The project was a great culmination to our year of work studying sustainability, climate change, and renewable energy,” says Connaughton. “Many of the students' prototypes, campaigns, and inventions included some form of renewable technology…I’m glad they had an opportunity to showcase their knowledge in this kind of way.”
The end results were just the icing on the cake according to Dello Russo, who viewed the interactive piece as equally rewarding.
“I particularly enjoyed the immersion experiences, where the students had the opportunity to interact with people from around the globe. It was a fantastic chance for the students to see people using their knowledge and expertise to make a positive environmental impact.”
To no one’s surprise, Baum reports that the World Leadership School’s director of professional learning, Jessica Catoggio, had nothing but excellent things to say about BB&N students.
“I found the fourth-grade group to be laser-focused during every step of the Virtual Immersion and SPARK programs. They had a mature depth of knowledge about sustainability that came from a year-long study of the topic,” Catoggio says. “The students were willing and able to stretch their thinking and to use their knowledge and creativity to create and build ideas.”
Baum’s hope is that projects such as this will encourage students to think globally and act locally around sustainability issues—as future leaders, improving local communities with an eye to larger global issues will be an essential piece of ensuring a brighter tomorrow for BB&N students.