Building learning activities from all subjects into one theme allowed middle school students to go sledding for school credit. Last week Clear Creek Middle School students participated in the Box Sled Challenge, where they went sledding — for credit.
The sixth-graders had completed an interdisciplinary unit, in which a single theme or topic is taught across different subjects. In this case, the Box Sled Challenge was the theme and the subjects taught were math, science, social science and language arts.
The students spent the past several weeks preparing for the activity, said teacher Mike Scarlett. Using what they learned in class, students built sleds of cardboard and duct tape and then entered them into a double-elimination bracketed tournament. On the big day, they raced the sleds down Pole Creek Hill in the Big Horn Mountains.
Students built, planned and even wrote about their sleds and had a blast trying to build the winning sled, Scarlett said.
In Kris Thiele’s math class, the students learned how to calculate the surface area of box sled designs and then designed their own box sleds on graph paper.
In Timothy Brown’s science class, students studied the effects of friction and weight on different types of snow, with aerodynamics playing a role in various sled designs. Using shoeboxes, they built prototypes of their designs from math class.
In Scarlett’s language arts class, students had to write argumentative essays that explained why their sleds should be built.
“In class, the students were grouped into teams of three, and then each team member presented their speech to the others,” Scarlett said.
The students with the best arguments for building their sled advanced to prototype building.
The cross-curricular unit does not just revolve around making sleds, Scarlett said.
“In Trina Johnson’s social studies class, students studied Greece and the ancient Olympics, and then they followed the Winter Olympics and learned about the culture and geography of various countries,” he said.
The end of the unit culminated with race day, and the Gold Medal Grabbers nabbed the championship title. Team members were Kate Norman, who pushed the sled, and Adriann Lausen and Kindel Smith, who rode the sled down Pole Creek Hill.
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