Throughout Gwinnett County Public Schools you will find examples of project-based learning. However, Archer High School and Lovin Elementary School have found a way to engage students and make the curriculum come alive for students. No, literally, we’re talking live animals here… chickens.
In a collaborative project, Archer High School engineering students put their learning to work to help their younger peers at nearby Lovin Elementary. Last spring, the high schoolers designed and constructed a large chicken coop at the elementary school. Plans also are in place for the engineering students to design a compost bin as part of their partnership with Lovin. And the high school students will put their knowledge and skills to work again this year, building similar coops for their other cluster elementary schools, Harbins and Cooper.
Why chickens? The animals are part of a schoolwide learning initiative. The chicken “lessons” tie into multiple science, math, and social studies standards across all grade levels. They are used by Lovin students at all grade levels as they learn about life cycles, ecosystems, soil, composting, micro-organisms, and more! Students also learn skills tied to obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information; asking questions; planning and carrying out investigations; and analyzing and interpreting data. Not only do students learn the AKS, but they are doing it with real-world, hands-on experiences. Caring for the chickens also teaches students about responsibility.
Lovin Elementary works with business partners, such as Tractor Supply, Buck Jones Nursery, and Ace Hardware for supplies, advice, and care of its chickens. Home Depot also was a partner in the project.
Lovin is a state-certified STEM school and the other elementary schools in the cluster are working to gain this certification. In fact, the Archer Cluster elementary schools (Cooper, Harbins, and Lovin) are working across schools on a “STEM Together” initiative. This means this great “egg”zample of STEM-education in action is growing as other Archer Cluster elementary schools use chickens to engage students and team up with the high school to provide homes for their chickens.