Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Experiential Learning Week continues to inspire MHHS students

Chris Davis - Experiential Learning Week (ELW) returned to Matthew Halton High School (MHHS) October 23-27. It's year five for the program, which engages students with hands-on learning experiences that are in part chosen by themselves. The courses were chosen by the students, narrowed down by their choices from an extensive list of possibilities. All grades at MHHS participated, and high school students were graded on their efforts. Regular educational programming is suspended at the school while ELW is ongoing.

^ Mad Max - Zombie Car Challenge

Course description - Your Mission: As a team you will be creating a vehicle in one week that is capable of transporting you safely through the “Zombie Contamination Zone”.  You will use your creativity and problem solving skills by engaging in a hands on experience using various tools and materials in order to solve several challenges with surviving in a zombie populated area. You will have to address many issues throughout the week such as personal and vehicular safety and defense, on board water collection and supply, navigation systems, camouflage and many others. Two teams will be competing for bragging rights as the ultimate survivor.

MHHS has been regularly presenting its students with outside-the-box educational opportunities. Vice Principal Greg Freer said "That's what education is about, breaking down the traditional barriers in the confines of the classroom and getting out and experiencing in the real world."

^ Exploring Classic Horror Movies

Course description - In this course students will explore the films of some of the godfathers of the horror genre.  Before the days of gory slasher flicks these filmmakers created suspense and terror using only shadow, sound and imagination.  
Not only will students watch and analyze these techniques but they will then have the opportunity to create a work of horror of their own.  Students will write, film and edit short works using techniques gleaned from these horror masters.

^ Telling the Story Through the Art of Digital Photography

Course description - What’s the story? A great picture supports the cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We are often drawn to different pictures, magazine layouts and other visual presentations without truly understanding what “it” is about the image that draws us in. Discover the “tricks” behind a great picture and visual presentations. Students will learn how to employ fundamental elements and principles of design for various media. Using various digital programs, students will create layouts using learned principles. Students will develop essential skills in camera use with a focus on basic composition, set-up and examination of exposure. Students will operate a camera to capture images and produce final display proofs. 

Students were first asked to choose from a variety of options, identifying their first, second, and third choice preferences. From that data a focused list of courses was decided upon. Some of the courses were free and some required addition fees.

This time around students made custom barbeques and 'Mad Max' zombie cars. They learned the basics of movie making and editing, photography and layout, rocketry, math enrichment, and comedy a-la Saturday Night Live. They studied classic horror movies and produced their own clips. Some students worked on improving Pincher Creek's bike park. Some made an historically based board game. Others learned soap and candle making. Some studied geneology. This author's favourite, Dinner Party Wars, returned. The Booster Club purchased Adobe Premiere for student use, allowing them to familiarize themselves with one of the industry standards of the digital production age.

The multitude of skills involved in the many courses is difficult to catalogue. A sampling: welding, acting, audio production, life skills, videography and editing, photography and editing, journalism, teamwork and cooperation, mechanics, innovation, a variety of science and mathematical applications, cooking, planning, history, project management, traditional crafts with a modern twist, service, script writing, carpentry, rocketry, graphic arts, sculpting, physical endurance, nature studies, sociology, cultural studies, driver training, business management, and much more. 

Dinner Party Wars

Course description - In the spirt of competition and good eats Mr. Robertson proudly presents: Dinner Party Wars.  Over the course of the week your team will compete to be the best culinary artists at Matthew Halton, as you plan, prepare and preset a three course meal for 20 people.  Students will develop creatively and flair while learning the techniques of tempting and artistic food presentations.  The competition is sure to be cut-throat as two team’s battle head-to–head for supremacy in the kitchen.

Dinner Party Wars involved 25 students under the direction of Mr. Robertson, divided into two groups, each under a student Head Chef. Each team made a high end meal and dessert and served them to lucky customers such as myself. Critically marking one of the best meals I've had all year was difficult. I think I need more practice, so I hope students sign up for it again next May when ELW is slated to return.

The Art of Soap and Candle Making

Course description - Are you tired of spending high prices for soap or for candles that often disappoint you anyways?  If so, sign up for this course.  Learn how to make different types of your own soap and learn how to make both soy and beeswax candles yourself. During the course students will learn how to make a variety of soaps, as well learn how to craft both soy and beeswax candles.  A small amount of time will be spent learning about the history of both soap and candle making, while learning about different methods, researching recipes, sourcing supplies and comparing market prices.  The remainder of the time will be spent “crafting” or “making” soap and candles.  At the end of the week, students will take home a variety of products made.

ELW was conceived and implemented by MHHS five years ago, and the level of student engagement and the valuable lessons learned inspired the school to continue with the program. It has significant support and involvement from partners Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge, and has garnered attention from various school boards as well. Palliser Regional Schools has also expressed an interest in it. In many ways it's a re-imagined and expanded version of the traditional science fair. The level of student engagement it inspires is remarkable.

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