The Kids’ Biomimicry Living Lab at Savin Hill Cove

The model that we entered into the Mayor’s Our Boston competition was selected to be on display at City Hall from April 23-May 1. Parents: please take your children and family to see the exhibit before May 1st. The Our Boston competition engaged Kindergarten students across the city in an authentic construction process to envision, plan, research, execute and revise a model that answers the question: What suggestions do you have about construction in our city to make Boston a fairer and more interesting place for children?

This ends our construction unit, and has launched our next unit, Our Earth. We will be researching, conducting experiments, and learning about the Biomimicry Living Lab at Savin Hill Cove.


Dr. Peter Kiang and Dr. Anamarija Frankic from Umass Boston came to talk to our class about our outdoor classroom, which is now called “The Kids’ Biomimicry Living Lab at Savin Hill Cove”.


Dr. Peter shared a photograph of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial with our class. His college students also learn about this important place, which is next door to the Kids Biomimicry Living Lab.


Dr. F brought a slice of the cove with her.


Students observed shells that belong to different animals, including clams, oysters and mussels.


Dr. F also brought some water snails for us to observe and touch.


Students were fascinated by the opening and closing of the clam’s shell and by how the snails come out of their shells.


Some kids were hesitant to hold the living animals, but warmed up to the idea.

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Our next science unit is Animals Two by Two. We will be looking at living and non-living things at the biomimicry living lab (i.e. land snails and water snails, goldfish and guppies, animals that live in shells, water quality, pollution in the ocean, and how to test water quality at home and at school).

Our guiding question for this unit is “How can we adapt and care for both the people and natural community in a long term approach?”
Our big engineering challenge will be for students are going to build water filters so they can test the water quality at home. We will also be doing experiments around water quality at school. In the dramatic play area, we are creating a Biomimicry Lab where students can observe and touch, research and document what it means to step into the shoes of an oceanographer.

We are going to study artist Eric Carl, the author of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, who has a museum in Western Massachusetts. This would be a great place to bring kids. We are also going to study artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Jason founded and created the world’s first underwater sculpture park. Jason designs and builds underwater sculptures that serve as reefs to to protect the coastline. You can see pictures of his work on his website.

It is important to have a curriculum that is culturally competent and connects to their lives and teaches them about role models who look like them and whose stories are hidden. These are the stories that will help our students know who they are and what they can accomplish.

With this in mind, we are going to talk about Carl Brashear, who was the first African American to become a US Navy Master Diver, earning this title in 1970. There is a children’s book we will be reading called How They Got Over (African Americans and the Call of the Sea) by Eloise Greenfield. The movie Men of Honor also tells the story of his life.

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“It’s not a sin to get knocked down. It’s a sin to stay down.” -Carl Brashear

Connecting Classroom and Community

This week we took a field trip to the Makerbot store to learn more about 3D printing and how it works. Kids were fascinated with how you could take a picture and turn it into an actual object. When Eva showed us the file of the 3 little pigs, we connected it to the pigs and wolves that we printed at the South End Technology Center. The kids were enamored by a video of a spider that was made of 3D printed parts and wanted to know how it works. They were very surprised that 3D printers print so slowly and recognized that we have 3D objects in our classroom too and that we have been talking about 3D objects in our construction and math units.We also were able to touch some of the objects in the store and they gave us a parting gift. Just as exciting for most kids was the bus ride. Some of them had never been on a school bus before, so they felt very empowered.


Watching a 3D printer in action


Wondering about how the 3D printer works and listening to Ms. Alex explain


Looking at some of the objects made by the 3D printers


Playing with some of the cool puzzle piece toys they had at the store


They had a lot of really awesome dragons!


We thought the castle was really awesome!


Looking at the different 3D printed creatures

On Friday, Sensei Marvin Harris came to visit our school. He attended the PA Shaw as a Kindergartener and now lives 3 streets away from the school. He teaches at the YMCA in Dorchester and at the Curley and Young Achievers schools. He did a re-reading of the Three Ninja Pigs, which was the kids’ favorite book from the Construction Unit. He then did a demonstration for the students and talked about martial arts as a way of protecting yourself and the importance of respecting yourself, your body and your peers.


Sensei Marvin Harris rereading the Three Ninja Pigs, connecting literacy and our Construction unit


Talking about how martial arts should be used to protect yourself, not to hurt others and the importance of treating people the way you want to be treated


He talked about the importance of focus and concentration for Martial arts and learning to read.


Ms. Carla held the board for Sensei Marvin Harris.


Marvin did a kick a broke the board in half! Kids thought that was the coolest thing they had ever seen!

Enjoy the Process: Building our Treehouse Models


Zipline platform


Ms. Alicia’s friend Sharon Riley, Executive Director of Cradles to Crayons, who is helping us document our outdoor classroom


After planning, we started gluing down the grass and thinking about how to represent what we saw in the photographs


Building a path


People who are lining up to go on the zipline


Making sure the platform and the person on the platform are stable


Documenting our treehouse project


Hillary’s lasercut wood blueprint and treehouse model


The first version of our Biomimicry Living Lab Outdoor Classroom. Next door is the Vietnam Memorial, which lists people from the Dorchester who died in the war.


Drawing and labeling of the treehouses and a student interview about the process


The start of the floating outdoor classroom


A photograph and our model of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial


A sign for our model, written by a student