Summers-Knoll Middle School
Balancing an increasing depth of study with students’ growing need for independent exploration, Summers-Knoll Middle School leverages a strong core curriculum and flexible lesson planning to provide students with the creative problem-solving skills that are essential to success in high school. Project-focused field trips to historical sites, research opportunities, and community events put students in touch with real-world problems, empowering them to build–individually and collectively–a set of practical, impactful solutions.
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Community-Building and Personal Empowerment: Food Issues
Students examine the subject of food in as many different ways as possible. Sub-projects include learning about bread-making and baking their own loaves; studying seed saving with the owner of the Ann Arbor Seed Company; and practicing community building with Bee from Beezy’s Café. The last example included planning and producing a fundraising dinner with Bee for Freedom House, a shelter in Detroit that provides critical services to refugees seeking asylum.
Elements of the 7th-8th grade food project helped students apply and practice a range of skills including understanding nutritional information; collaborating effectively; organizing data; following through on commitments; and time management.
Real-World Science: Collecting Data
Students participate annually in an in-depth study of monarch butterfly life cycles where middle schoolers make qualitative observation of the butterflies’ development stages and attach identifying tags to track their movement. The project is done in collaboration with the Monarch Watch program at the University of Kansas.
Researching the butterflies themselves allows students to formulate their own questions about how butterflies, eat, move, and behave and then to satisfy those curiosities. Data collection demystifies the caterpillar’s transformation stages and cycles and amplifies essential scientific skill-building.