At the Experimentory, we believe that hands-on learning is impactful, informative, and fun! We don’t just want to teach our students about the world: we want to let them be in the world. We want to make sure they can put to use all of the things they’re learning in the classroom, but we also want to make sure that the classroom isn’t just limited to the four walls of their cluster room in the library. Every space our students move through has boundless opportunities for learning, and most times, learning by doing helps the lesson stick. But sometimes learning by doing can get a bit too sticky and things don’t always go the way we planned. Media Manager Kayla Corcoran shares below why these moments sometimes make for the most memorable.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! The distinct ringing of the fire alarm sounded, along with flashing lights that made it seem as if an artificial thunder and lightning storm was sweeping through the dining hall. “Okay,” Ms. Sherburne announced calmly, “everyone shut their stoves off and move outside quickly.” She, along with Mr. Payne, Ms. Insuik, and me, helped corral students out of the back door into the sunny morning, where we waited for campus security to check out the space and give us the go ahead to return.
There had been no visible smoke, but according to the students, Jayson’s pasta pot had been giving off too much steam and was likely responsible for the fire alarm going off. “What?” Jayson exclaimed, “no way! It was definitely Kevin’s steak that did it.” Even though we knew there had been no real danger, safety always comes first, and so we had evacuated the dining hall as per protocol in the middle of the Architecture + Culture cluster’s cooking project.
What was responsible for the fire alarm going off? Jayson's noodles or Kevin L.'s steak? We're not exactly sure, but we do know that both dishes turned out to be delicious!
Making mistakes is a good lesson in the importance of practicing and redoing. The students will have another chance to cook their same dishes during the final showcase: next time, Amelie said, they’ll be sure to dry their chickpeas sufficiently, since canned, wet chickpeas were the reason their falafel batter was so sticky.The students, undaunted by the interruption of their dishes, continued on al fresco, returning to their pasta and their falafel and their rice outdoors. It wasn’t all smooth sailing from there, though: there was some burning during the frying process and some burgers that took much longer to cook than imagined and some chicken wings that never materialized since the chicken was left off of the ingredients list. But, said Jack, who made a shrimp and scallop tomato pasta with Megan: “This is awesome. I don’t usually get to do things like this in school and it’s really fun. I’m learning so much more, and now I can cook!” “Watch out!” I laughed: “Now your parents are going to expect you to make fancy pasta for them when you get home!”
|Megan and Jack get to work doing a rough chop of their parsley, which they'll use to plate their pasta after cooking it al fresco post-fire alarm!|
There have been some other mishaps, like this morning, when Peter accidentally knocked over the film light and its lamp shade. “Well, there goes that scene,” he said. When I asked him what they would do, he replied: “We’ll move on and figure out another scene to film.” Director Alexandra remained unfazed, calling out the shots as best as she could without the light they were expecting.
Making mistakes, or encountering problems we didn’t imagine we would have faced, leads us to innovative solutions and for memorable learning moments. All of that happens behind the scenes. You won’t get to see the ninety-nine takes that came before the hundredth take where the students in Film + Music felt that they finally nailed it. You won’t get to see the fallen chimneys and misplaced windows in early sketches from Architecture + Culture or the LED malfunctioning in some of the early superhero skits from Theater + Electronics. But all of those moments will help guide our students towards more delicious dishes, final compositions, and perfected poems. Along the way, you can bet they had fun figuring it all out.