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Partnered Applied Learning Engages All Ages


high school boy helping kindergarten boy screw together birdhouse


The KIS applied learning team partners with classroom teachers to create authentic student-centered learning experiences. This school year Applied Learning Specialist Jeanetta Murray and Seoul campus Kindergarten Teacher Aine Deasy developed Junior Ranger lessons around the kindergarteners’ fascination with birds. 

KIS also values multigrade collaboration. Ms. Murray reached out to Secondary Design Teacher Carla Staffa to help the kindergarten class with a building project. Could the high school engineering, design, and fabrication students work with kindergarteners to build birdhouses? Yes! They set a date. But before meeting in the makerspace, both groups prepared.


high school girl helping kindergarten girl hammer nail into birdhouse

At Seoul campus, Ms. Deasy encouraged her kindergarteners to play with building toys that develop fine and gross motor skills. They practiced thinking through a process and trying again. In their design class, kindergarteners learned how to use tools safely. Ms. Staffa’s class was a little nervous about what to expect from the young builders. Ms. Murray spoke with the high schoolers about the tools skills the kindergarteners were learning and how to interact within small groups. The important thing, they all agreed, was to be safe and have fun. 

And they did! The kindergarteners arrived at Pangyo campus for a tour of the makerspace machines and tools before moving to tables. Each birdhouse began as a stack of cut wood and a kit of nails and glue. Small groups figured out the pattern and building steps. 


small boy looking through hole cut out of a block of wood

When students work with people who are older or younger, everyone learns in a new way. You may go slowly through a new process or ask a lot of questions – this is wonderful! An unhurried pace gives everyone a chance to observe or wonder. Or you may bring surprising expertise to your collaboration. You may not know what you know until asked to teach or show!


group photo of high schoolers and kindergartners showing completed birdhouses

Projects like this birdhouse building inspire more collaboration. The applied learning team is excited to bring together more multigrade, multidisciplinary groups who can learn from each other. 

Thank you to the high school engineering class for sharing this story! Also thanks to Justin Marslender and Erin Poulin for their project participation.