By the time my students reach 3rd grade, my hope is that they are forming a quality understanding of those single words that are truly complicated like line, shape, color, etc. It is about this time that my lessons start to really open up and allow for student-driven outcomes. CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING! The directions can't be as loose as high school or college projects, but I can start to have them push themselves to reach beyond the standard outcome and go after 3rd grade greatness! By 4th grade they should begin to expect that some freedom lies within most of my projects and that their individual ideas are essential.
Cars of the Future is entering it's ninth or tenth year. It was a way to have the students visually problem solve while having only their imagination to propel them forward. I created the project with a memory from my youth in mind. I will always remember writing to NIKE back in the mid-80's as their brand was beginning to explode. They would send me catalogs of shoes that were not even available in our area yet. It was an awesome experience! Ithas become a project that the whole school knows about. Kids ask me often about, "When do I get to design a car". This is a good sign. They feel like they are somewhere that only a select few get to experience. Cars of the Future attempts to put the students in a "special" situation. That was the goal. I am proud to say that car makers have responded generously on numerous occasions (sadly, not always). Every year, a different major auto manufacturer gets a package from R.B. Walter Elementary with 50-75 independent concepts conjured up by my 4th grade students. These car companies either react and celebrate a possible future car buyer....or they don't! Some companies sadly did nothing. Two years ago I wrote about how amazing Subaru was to R.B. in a previous post.
This year I chose BMW and they responded in a major way...this story could take a while...
When I wrote to BMW (a letter in the box of student artwork pictured below), I explained that the students loved how the i8 looked when I clicked on it as we explored the website (pictured above). "Wows" were heard in all three 4th grade classrooms. The fine people at BMW took that little bit of information and thought it would be cool for the students to see one in person.
I found out that BMW loved the box and was pumped about getting some student designs. They told me that this was the first box they ever received from a school. That was good for us!!! Bring Your Child to Work Day was approaching and they used the designs to line the conference room (picture below) where the employees and their children would have lunch. The children entered the conference room and ran around choosing their favorite designs. Then, like all inspired kids, they asked for paper, pencils and crayons and wanted to design their own ideas for BMW Cars of the Future. That story sure had me beaming with pride. The timing for this package could not have been better.
I received a phone call from Kathryn Vallis, an Executive and Internal Communications Specialist, about the prospect of driving an i8 up from BMW USA's headquarters in New Jersey to visit the students of R.B. Walter. I couldn't say "YES!" fast enough. I had to get the "ok" from our new Principal first, but I was pumped for the students and what could be an amazing experience.
Kathryn Vallis and Rebecca Kiehne, a Product & Technology Spokesperson, planned on driving this hybrid supercar to R.B. early this school year along with some other BMW gear (some of the gear is pictured below) for the kids.
The two ladies and the i8 arrived on a beautiful late summer day. It was a striking machine.
I had called several media outlets and Kathryn and Rebecca had quite a bit of talking to do.
Even the rims looked fast.
The car was impressive from all angles. The students thought the doors were "sick". "Sick" is now a good thing.
Rebecca was very knowledgeable concerning the amazing features and cutting edge design found in the i8.
Kathryn and Rebecca talked briefly about BMW's look toward the future of car design and took many questions from our well behaved students.
Each class was given some time to interact with the car. They were very respectful and careful. A lot of "wow" and "oooh" and "aaah".
I had a large welcome sign set out for the ladies and we all posed for a picture to commemorate the day.
Each student will be getting a copy of the picture below as a bit of memorabilia.
Big thanks go to BMW USA for allowing Rebecca and Kathryn to have the day and come to our school. Big thanks to Rebecca and Kathryn for making the long drive and being so kind to the students. Big thanks to our new Principal, Mrs. Wood, for allowing the day and helping to make it so awesome. Big thanks to Tyler Belz for coming and covering the event for WENY News. Big thanks to John Vogt from Wellsboro Home Page for covering the event and the excellent video that was produced (CHECK OUT THE VIDEO LINK ...it is very good!!!!!).
Big thanks to the hard working 4th graders (now fifth graders) of R. B. Walter for being so creative, so gracious and so well-behaved on what was a great day for all involved.