4 minute read

Five Days, 12 Kids, One Big Idea

This summer Educatio kids imagined, researched, designed and constructed a Yellowstone-themed, 16-foot pirate ship float for the legendary Livingston Fourth of July parade.

The float showcased the project-based learning model used by Educatio, a K-8 small group independent school in Livingston.

Kids showed up on day one and were given the space to brainstorm and dream up a parade float to celebrate 150 years of Yellowstone National Park. Parameters for the project included theme, team skills, courage, creativity, supplies on hand and time. They played charades, made drawings, doodled on white boards and debated pros and cons of everyone’s ideas. When a pirate ship with a bison figurehead was proposed, the kids became a team.

On day two they made popsicle stick models with hot glue then decided it was time to ask an expert for advice. Jason Cajune, a custom wooden drift boat artist welcomed the Educatio students to his shop. They climbed ladders of 25foot sailboats and different models of schooners. Each boat gave the kids an opportunity to study the frames, structure, shapes and necessary features to help with the ultimate design.

Day three they loaded up wood, ear protection and goggles and got ready to work. They measured their trailer base, and with the help of Michael DeChellis, a local engineer and dad, created a 3-D model using Onshape software. This particular day was difficult because the big idea was pretty daunting. With the negotiation and collaboration of teamwork, brainpower, play breaks and snacking with friends, the kids were worn out and wondering if they could pull it off.

Day four was building day. Flags, the sail, a plank and a crow’s nest were on the list of must haves. Students were busy sawing, drilling, measuring and re-measuring. Things didn’t always go as planned, so designs were tweaked to account for the unexpected.

On day five students made the final touches. They painted the boat and drilled the final screws. Everyone was amazed that out of all this fun, hustle, collaboration and surprise contributions from friends and strangers... the “ship” came together. The final product was beyond what anyone could have imagined when the project started and the parade was just the icing on the cake. The true value and memories made in the process were learning to take an idea to completion, despite all the bumps in the road or gaps in experience, and bringing an idea to life.

This project-based approach to learning through passion, curiosity, exploration, doing and making, will be the foundation of the September 2022 through May 2023 academic year.

Educatio’s approach to learning is different. In a culture of kindness, choice and trust, kids achieve academic and personal growth with the guidance of dynamic and experienced educators; small-group learning communities; a hands-on approach to Montana Math, English, Science and Humanities curriculum standards; and applied learning through community service. At Educatio they trust that children are instinctual learners and value their leadership and partnership on their educational paths. The school sets topics for exploration and encourages children to take on projects they are passionate about, while also fostering the development of a multitude of skills.

Now enrolling students for year three, Educatio’s mixed-age education for kindergarten through fourth grade is located in downtown Livingston with access to the library, parks and businesses. This fall they plan to expand into a new building near the Yellowstone River for fifth through eighth grade students. Educatio relies heavily on field trips in coordination with classroom time.

This year the school’s Friday Field Day program for fall and spring will partner with Montana Outdoor Science School. On Winter Fridays students will ski at Bridger Bowl. Getting kids out in the field to engage with the natural world and community is a priority at Educatio.

The world needs kind, voracious, self-directed, collaborative learners grounded in strong values who see tough problems as puzzles, which they are confident to solve together. In response, Educatio has created a new model for education—one that puts the individual child in the center of the learning experience. Educatio students exhibit the engagement and passion that are the antidote to fear and apathy. They’re predisposed to heroic behavior, contributing to a greater good as successful, happy, healthy adults.