Although renovations aren’t yet complete at Owensboro Public Schools newest campus, iMiddle School, classes are well underway. One class has kicked off the school year with a unique project — designing roller coasters, which will be judged by officials from Louisville amusement park Kentucky Kingdom.
Eighth graders in Crystal Adams science class will spend the next two to three weeks sketching, designing and building their roller coasters after hearing from local engineer Wesley Russelburg of SKY Engineering. The students will then use the coasters for experiments before making a video of their project to submit to Kentucky Kingdom.
“Their ultimate goal is to sell their roller coaster,” Adams said. “They have built roller coasters before, but not for submitting to a company.”
Collaboration is a major component of iMiddle’s project-based learning model. For this particular project Adams will bring in language arts lessons to help with script writing for the video submissions.
Amanda Hirtz, youth service center coordinator at iMiddle, said the goal for this learning format is to set the students up for success in the real world. The school also focuses on three areas of development — trust, respect and responsibility. Trust cards are distributed to the student body and points earned on a student’s card can be turned in for extra collaboration time with peers.
Hirtz said the school is set up uniquely from traditional schools in that teachers are referred to as facilitators and the principal, a director. Student seating is all tables rather than individual desks.
Students were asked to apply for iMiddle during the last academic year. Nearly 300 were accepted and the school currently has a waiting list for admission. All academic levels were considered for the school, including gifted and talented, students with learning disabilities or individualized education plans (IEPs).