Learning Gate prides itself on challenging our students to learn how to think rather than what to think. Our STEAM education model (Science, Technology. Engineering, The Arts and Mathematics) prepares our students to be the leaders needed to solve the multifaceted problems in our ever-changing world. Our lessons drive innovation and collaboration by focusing on building the following 21st century skills
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
All Learning Gate students should expect to be challenged with real-world problems on a daily basis and they quickly learn which tools or resources they need to solve those problems. Whether it be a Kindergartner in an outdoor classroom registering a banded bird with an iPad or a 7th grader using an iMac to dissect the demographics of their district to develop their mayoral platform, our STEAM focus prepares our students to go into the world eager to learn, excited to be challenged and ready to thrive.
One of the highlights of 8th grade is The Recycle Regatta. This project challenges our students to create a raft capable of carrying 2 students down a 200 meter stretch of the Hillsborough River as a method to promote recycling awareness. The students must design a buoyant vessel that is at least 80% recyclable and must contain at least four different categories of items that are recycled in Hillsborough County. Students design, collect materials, and then construct, test and adjust their vessel until it is finally cleared for the race.
To raise awareness about recycling issues the students create PSA videos for each category of recyclable content on their boat and then link the videos to their vessel using the augmented reality application Aurasma.
It was a great experience to get the students to work together and to let them know that things can be made of recycled and reused materials. Looks are definitely deceiving as some of the more glamorous boats aren’t always the most functional. It is a wonderful opportunity for parents to be involved in their student’s middle school experience. My daughter is graduating this year and still talks about this project.
Stacie Grizaffe (Parent class of 2018 and 2020)
Students investigate the daily hardships that the people of Sudan deal with by reading the true story of Nya, and the 2-hour walk she must endure each day to fetch water in A Long Walk To Water. Upon completing the story students are provided with scrap materials that would be available to a Sudanese teenager and are challenged to design and create a functional shoe out of those materials. They then create a diary reflecting on their lifestyle differences and how the simplest things to someone can mean the world to another. The sole of the shoe becomes the cover for this diary as they bind the pages directly to it.
I had no idea how long it would take to make your own shoes, especially when you could only use your surroundings. I thought homework was hard, but this gave me a new appreciation for how hard life can be.
Hailey (class of 2023)
It was frustrating, but in a good way because once you perfected your design you had to replicate it for the other shoe. The time spent was well worth it, I still have my pair!
Anastacija (class of 2023)
Students study force and projectile motion through the design and creation of various styles of catapults and trebuchets. After multiple tests and redesigns the catapults compete in a speed competition to launch paintballs at a blank version of their house banner in order to color in their mascot.
It was a challenge to see what we could create with basically unlimited options. My team decided on the traditional trebuchet route and we had pretty decent results. Interesting to see machines that looked impressive but didn’t do much and those that looked poorly designed that had awesome results.
Jake (class of 2023)
In preparation for Ocean Biome students study Ocean creatures and the pollutants that are responsible for killing those organisms. They then create scale models of those organisms out of those materials to show the community the negative impact that specific pollutants have on sea life. Students may create an albatross out of bottle caps or a sea turtle out of plastic bags.
Students are actively immersed into Florida’s origins by reenacting the battle between Juan Ponce de Leon’s group of missionaries and the indigenous group. Students map out the battle terrain, strategize and calculate losses based on the gear available to each side of the conflict during that time period. Students are then tasked with rewriting history if the battle would have swayed the other way.
Students learn about human impact on our Oceans by studying nurdles. Students learn about products that are made from nurdles and alternatives that are much safer for our environment. They calculate the decomposition time of these products and then design and create innovative solutions to remove nurdles from our Oceans and beaches. The students present their nurdle removing models and their “nurdle alternatives” advertisements to the community at our Biome presentation.
Students “adopt” an animal that lives with a gopher tortoise and research the niche of that animal. They design and create a model of their animal and its environment to display the vital role it plays in the ecosystem. They then create a folktale with their animal as the main character and share their stories/models with the community during their biome community presentation.
Our students investigate bird diversity on the elementary campus by taking pictures of our avian friends and documenting their location on campus. They identify nests and assist Mr. Jim with checking the mist nets on campus. They graph and map their findings and use this information to help Mr. Jim collect his bird banding data.
Students create a science journal to document their observations on sunflower growth. Children use standard and non-standard units of measurement to measure the height of the plants over an extended period of time and graph their data in their journals. The take pictures at each stage of growth and post these in their journals as visual evidence to support their measurements. They complete this investigation by predicting the height of the plants in the future and then sketching and painting a mock Van Gogh Sunflower painting of the sunflower.