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Eighth-graders Trey Creamer, Sawyer Lewis and Aaron Weekly had sketched a picture of a superhero, featuring a flat-top haircut, thick arm muscles and a lightning background.
Now they were trying to decide what emblem to sketch for the cape of their superhero, named Boron Man.
But the cape that the three students were creating wasn’t for them.
Math and science classes at Central Middle School have been combining their efforts in a hands-on assignment that combines an understanding of the periodic table of elements with the creation of student-designed capes that they will donate to the “Capes for Kids” campaign.
“Capes for Kids” makes sure that every child who is discharged from the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis gets a cape to signify the determination they used to recover from whatever health challenges they faced.
“Our students are so excited about this idea,” math teacher Trish Burns said.
Central students learn compassion for those children, while at the same time developing skills for creativity, collaboration, science, math and more through project-based learning.
Project-based learning is used widely in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. to help students learn through hands-on experiences, which leads to a deeper understanding than what is possible from sitting passively in a classroom, district officials have said.
Kate Edgren, the science teacher who is partnering with Burns, came up with the idea to combine science and math lessons with creating capes for children after seeing a similar concept during an educational trip to California.
A total of 104 eighth-graders between the two teachers’ classes are involved.
On a recent Monday, students in the science class learned about the properties of the elements they chose for cape emblems. Students in the math class began brainstorming possible superpowers their superheroes would have, as related to those elements, and played with emblem designs that tied those qualities together.
Once students settle on designs, they will make them out of felt and iron them in colored layers onto fleece material they will cut into capes.
The two teachers said they want their students to produce 50 capes to donate to the children’s hospital.
Creamer, Lewis and Weekly said they like the idea of a strong superhero to illustrate the strength of boron. In its crystalline form, boron is hard, lustrous but brittle. They proposed that in addition to the image of their hero, their emblem would say, “I’m Strong Like Boron Man” and have electric bolts around it to indicate boron’s electrical conductivity.
The team of Heaven Wood, Abigail Brown, Alexia Stevens and Paige Graham chose krypton as their element. Graham said they learned from research that krypton, a noble gas, has a high light output. She said the trick would be to think of how to transfer that light-creating property to the special abilities of their superhero.
In Edgren’s science class, the team of Jalen Allen, Claudia Sims and Nick Booth studied the properties of earth metals, even though they had chosen the gas helium as their element.
That’s because Edgren wants her students to learn about all of the periodic table’s categories, not just the properties of the one element they chose for their assignment.
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