As part of the Rockets Quest, Acton Middle School learners participate in the Rockets Money Challenge. Learners are separated into groups for quest. To help build teamwork and develop collaborative skills, learners conduct research, complete quest challenges, experiment, and engineer rockets in their groups. Learners are presented with the opportunity to earn “money” in their groups with the Rockets Money Challenge. The Rockets Money Challenge serves as a system of accountability that is integrated into several aspects of studio culture and life.
Alongside the Game Design Quest, Acton Elementary learners take on the Technical Writing Writer’s Workshop. The goals of this workshop are to practice writing clearly, practice organization in writing, educate others on how to complete certain tasks, understand their own approach to using and providing instructions, and practice giving specific and helpful feedback.
During winter, there are new materials for Montessori learners to explore, including some for learning about the different types of snowflakes and the snowflake life cycle. The learners discover snowflake shapes such as a simple star, branched star, stellar dendrite, plate, and hexagonal plate snowflake. In another new material, learners can“fish” for ice in a bowl of water with ice cubes in the shape of stellar dendrite snowflakes. This fun activity is also a challenge requiring concentration, motor control, and coordination.
In the Game Design Quest, Acton Elementary learners step into the shoes of game designers. They explore game design by playing and analyzing games of luck, strategy, and skill. Throughout the quest, learners work in teams to create an original board game, card game, online game, or interactive game.
The Rockets Quest is a session-long project in Acton Middle School. To complement this project, learners simultaneously focus their Genre (writing) theme on science fiction short stories. Learners dive into science fiction by learning about its history, characteristics, and cultural influences. After watching a video detailing the evolution of science fiction, learners are challenged to consider whether “the asking of many questions or the providing of a few great solutions is more valuable from a work of science fiction” as they embark on their sci-fi journey.
In the Montessori studio, learners are introduced to different artists to encourage creativity, self-expression, and imagination as well as to enrich their vocabulary. One such artist is Yayoi Kusama, also known as “the princess of polka dots.” Much of Kusama’s artwork uses polka dots because she believes that polka dots help her art (and herself) become part of the larger universe.
Because learners spend much of the day productive with work and activities, it is important they take the time to nourish and rest their bodies with snacks and breaks throughout the day. During morning circle, two learners are chosen as snack helpers to help prepare and put together snacks for learners to eat during the morning work cycle.
Each session, middle school learners are presented with a writing challenge during Genre, which occurs twice each week during the afternoon. The writing challenge for learners in Session 2 is to complete a work of short fiction.
Every morning in the elementary studio begins with a morning launch, a Socratic discussion that allows learners to practice making critical real-world decisions. In an ideal Socratic discussion, learners practice the Rules of Engagement, make difficult choices, share their ideas, and listen to others’ views.