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Eco Hotspot Redesign: An Applied Learning Story


The applied learning department is digging into the new school year. Literally. KIS is rethinking its outdoor spaces to open more learning opportunities to students. The Eco Hotspot is redesigned to include a campfire pit perfect for a circle discussion and an outdoor kitchen for imaginative play.

The Eco Hotspot redesign started in a second grade design class. Last school year, students reimagined the space: groups visited the area, researched outdoor spaces other schools created, interviewed their KIS peers, and created blueprints. After sharing final plans with KIS administrators, the applied learning team joined to help build the elements.

This is a place where you use your natural environment, like the rocks, leaves, acorns, the dirt around you! It’s a creative activity for the students. – Heather Carreiro

Junior kindergarten classes got the first chance to explore the area. They watered the rock fire pit, planted bamboo, picked up dried leaves and acorns. JK student Michael remembers making mud muffins with his classmates, and Ji Woo built a small bamboo tree house. Now the ECE classes have one more spot on campus to enjoy!

The redesign continues as grade six design classes are building stilts for small cisterns to supply water for kitchen play. Before making a cut, students double check the plans and their measurements. So as students learn to use tools they are building a necessary structure. “We’re helping the second grade crew accomplish their goal by using skills built into the design curriculum,” says Robert Donisch, applied learning specialist.

KIS applied learning director Heather Carreiro is excited for more students use the outdoor space. She says, “When you give students a bunch of pieces and they’re allowed to build, they really have endless possibilities.” And elementary design teacher Nikki Vreugdenhil is proud that KIS followed the second grade plans. “We tried to make the dreams these students designed into reality,” Ms. Vreugdenhil says. She is looking forward to when third graders return to campus and see the completion of their design process.

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