Design Thinking & Problem Solving in Spanish Class
by: Alvin Irwin, Upper School Spanish Teacher
Just prior to the start of Distance Learning, the Spanish IV Honors students embarked on a unit of study focused on 21st century inventions and technological advances. The project-based unit has afforded students the opportunity to research a current challenge or problem in a part of the Spanish-speaking world of their choice. Following extensive research, the students were then asked to develop possible solutions for their respective challenges. Finally, the students had to design an original product that could be implemented in the problem-solving process and create a prototype for it.
The non-prescriptive project opened the floodgates for ideas to employ robotics, 3-D printing, graphic design, photography and other forms of engineering to design these prototypes. Some students also relied heavily upon principles of economics, psychology, biology, sociology and more as a basis for their product and presentation.
Topics researched include:
Combatting Chagas disease through the use of alternative housing construction materials (nanotubes) in Central America
Reducing the population of and caring for homeless animals in Puerto Rico
and many, many more topics!
All research was done through the use of authentic audio and print sources (made by and for native speakers of the language) as well as primary sources, including written correspondence with a former colleague who originally hails from Guatemala.
Sharing the projects brought opportunities to learn new vocabulary, expand cultural and historical knowledge and perspectives, and acquire new grammatical structures needed to effectively communicate.
Although the project share was intended to be live in a classroom with actual 3-D printings and more, these students did not let the hurdles we inherited through Distance Learning stop them!
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