In January, students at Sora kicked off the start of the new year with a mentor-led project focusing on an incredibly important topic today: climate change.
Our program at Sora Schools is an inquiry-based learning environment. Students choose what they want to learn, and our educators focus on scaffolding projects around those interests and guiding them towards completion and mastery. Every project is first outlined with a guiding question/challenge statement, timeline, deliverables, learning process, and content.
An example template of a project outline is provided below.
Periodically, students take on a project outside of the realm of their expertise to expose them to new fields and topics. This past month, students worked on a project with this guiding prompt: Identify a cause of climate change, big or small, and examine why it’s harmful. Then, propose a creative plan, considering all parties that contribute to it, for how humans could contribute to its solution.
The project was led by a climate scientist
Dr. Jack Scheff of UNC Charlotte kicked off the project with a brief introduction to his background and his important work on the study of the water cycle and its role in the impact of climate change around the world. Then, he quickly explained the project prompt to the students and fielded questions.
For group projects, students are divided into small pods and elect a project manager to head the group. Once given the prompt, groups get to work and periodically check in with faculty to scaffold their thought process and get feedback.
For 2 weeks, the students conducted research and worked on creating their solutions towards different aspects of problems associated with climate change.
The students presented their projects at Friday Showcase
The first group presented on the impact of climate change on coral reefs, a vital element of our global ecosystem. They discussed the phenomena of coral bleaching from increased ocean acidity. Their solution was to create a protective barrier material around coral reefs, inspired by plant cell walls—a permeable membrane supported by a grid-like dome frame would filter out excess sediment and also protect against strong currents and storms.
The second group presented on phytoplankton. They first introduced the species and noted their importance in the production of oxygen: 71% of oxygen on Earth is produced by phytoplankton photosynthesis. But due to climate change and warming oceans, phytoplankton’s numbers have steadily decreased over decades of time. Their solution focused on a call to action for corporations to reduce their use of fossil fuels in order to slow down the rising temperatures of the oceans.
The third group presented on forest fires and their increased prevalence this past decade. As temperatures rise and soil begins to dry out earlier in the year, the probability of forest fires in dry, warm climates increase dramatically. Their group’s solution focused on preventing unnatural forest fires caused by human activity through a call for awareness of fires in the public and the use of synthetic foam to quickly dampen fires over large areas.
Dr. Jack Scheff oversaw the presentations and gave feedback to each group on their assumptions and solutions. Overall, the students performed well. They conducted sound research, made logical assumptions, created proposals for addressing the problem in the prompt, and backed their solutions with evidence.
If you’re interested in learning more about our online, project-based high school, please check our website and reach out to our team to learn more about how Sora can work for your student!