"The Plastic Problem"

Emily Miller, Head of Lower School
Near the end of last year, Ms. Wyllie participated in a Global Think Tank through Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Similar to her passionate approach to our social-emotional learning curriculum, she returned from this outstanding professional development opportunity with great excitement and wonderings about how the program connected with Brimmer’s mission: Brimmer and May is a PK-Grade 12 all gender school that upholds high academic standards while implementing innovative ideas in a supportive and student-centered community. We develop lifelong learners who are informed, engaged, and ethical citizens and leaders in our diverse world.
 
Over the summer, Ms. Wyllie spent time studying the 17 Global Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, collaborating with our Director of Teaching and Learning Ms. Patel, researching materials and resources to support Lower School students in learning more about the goals, and narrowing the focus to three that the Lower School could work on together: Life Below Water, Life on Land, and Climate Action.
 
After presenting her work to the Lower School faculty in the fall, each grade received a copy of the following books: Old Enough to Save the Planet and How to Make a Better World: For Every Kid Who Wants to Make a Difference. We looked to connect the global initiatives not only to our mission, but also to other aspects of Brimmer’s Lower School program. How could Share be used to learn more about Life Below Water, Life on Land, and Climate Action? What resources were available in our library? How did this work connect with the Lower School’s existing community service efforts, it’s STEAM program, and focus on the design process? How could Buddy Groups come together in a meaningful way to address a global challenge?
 
This week we did exactly that. Thanks to Lower School families for sending in recyclable materials, students were able to team up with their buddies to address “The Plastic Problem.” Their goal was to design a device that would pick-up or filter plastic waste from the ocean without disturbing the natural ecosystem. Hopefully, this fall’s STEAM-focused parent coffees offered a crisp picture of what this process might look like for students. In addition to developing an innovative solution to a real-world challenge, students must also find comfort with trial and error, failed or imperfect designs, collaboration with peers, and negotiation of different ideas. Many thanks to Ms. Wyllie for sparking such excitement throughout the Lower School. We hope you will participate in a plastics audit at home and talk with your student about what you can do as a family to help address “The Plastic Problem.”
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