The School of First Letters is again at the forefront of innovation, this time in the field of sustainable development with its sustainable creativity project. This pedagogical initiative won him this year's Innovation in Education Award presented by the Federation of Private Educational Institutions (FEEP).
Marie-Pier Cournoyer, the principal of this elementary school located on the Plateau in Montreal, has brought together three talented women to carry out this project: the 5e year Michèle Duguay-Ladouceur, a sustainable development enthusiast, Amalia Nanu, a technopedagogue specializing in innovative technologies in education, and Ariane-Li Simard-Côté, president and passionate about the Paris World Design Summitwhich was held in 2019.
Ms. Duguay-Ladouceur's students first learned about the 17 objectives of the United Nations concerning sustainable development. Issues such as poverty reduction, gender inequality or the fight against climate change were presented through works of children's literature, the journey of young committed personalities and discussion games. According to the United Nations, these values are the path to a better and more sustainable future for all.
Illustrate the solutions...
With the help of their teacher and Ms. Simard-Côté, the students identified an issue that was of particular concern to them and that they wanted to think about as a team. The 27 Grade 5 students then learned about the five steps to developing their solution (a process called design thinking) - empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping and testing. This process is particularly important at the elementary level, as it provides a method of problem solving that they can use in math, science or even conflict resolution.
To illustrate the solution they had in mind, students turned to technology, through 3D creation and augmented reality. They modeled their solution as a 3D prototype, which they were then able to manipulate and present in space (via a mobile device), allowing them to have immediate visual feedback on the appearance of the created model.
To sum up the idea of using new technologies in the classroom, Nanu quotes Benjamin Franklin: "You tell me, I forget. You teach me, I remember. You involve me, I learn. And it is through practice, discovery and exploration that young people learn, she says.
However, Nanu says, "Some teams have faced more technical challenges, which is fine. Addressing gender inequality, for example, is a deeply rooted issue in our society, and I think even for us as adults, it would be difficult to illustrate a solution to end it. But the young people were brilliant at adjusting along the way."
On the other hand, some teams have managed to illustrate quite astonishing solutions such as the attraction of CO2 by the sidewalks or the invention of a spy fish to detect water pollution!
... and present them concretely!
Finally, the students had the chance to present their solutions in front of a renowned jury, composed of Anne Lagacé, CEO and Creative Director of The Interactive Box, Alain Dufour, VP of the International Economic Forum of the Americas (IEFA), and Joey Hanna, lawyer at HCR UN Canada.
It is fair to say that the School of First Letters does not do things by halves.