Freshman World History I taught by Ms. Allison Duffy recently explored aspects of paleolithic life, including how humanity started, living in small isolated tribes. All freshmen taking the World History class participated in a boat building exercise designed to show how humans began to expand their horizons by working together through innovation and among diverse peoples.
The goal of the project was for students to design and build a boat with one local resource from options such as paper, wood, or aluminum. Boats were then scored based on the amount of “cargo” (presented as pennies) it could carry and the wellness of how they harnessed wind (provided by a mini fan). The lesson learned later in the assignment was on how they could trade resources with other groups and innovate further upon their designs. Therefore, they were able to experience first-hand communication, along with the aspects of trade and collective learning, and how they were all essential in the development of early human societies and communities.
Duffy believes the assignment is beneficial for young students because it teaches them a sense of leadership and teamwork. “Everyone cooperated and participated with each other. It was nice seeing them do hands-on learning and be proactive in sharing their ideas with one another,” said Duffy. Some understood the concept more than others, but it was a valuable exercise for the freshman. “They were able to build and expand on their creativity and thinking skills,” noted Duffy.
Duffy was happy with the initial outcome of the assignment. She was encouraged to see her students so engaged and involved in the activity, and for them to be so selfless in building a collective sense of creativity and thinking. “Seeing my students do the exercise and truly dive into the concept and furthering their understanding was truly amazing,” said Duffy. The freshman worked hard and put forward their best effort at transforming their learning into something physical.
Duffy is eager to implement more hands-on projects in the future with her students on different historical aspects. She is confident that her students will continue to evolve as critical thinkers as they continue their high school experience at De La Salle.