Capital City is one of 10 nationwide winners in a competitive $200.000 challenge that focuses on strengthening students' 21st century career skills.
U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr announced the winners on June 17. The CET Makeover Challenge called for high schools to create models for transforming classrooms or other available spaces in high schools into "makerspaces" - places where students learn through making by giving them access to tools and materials that allow for designing and building innovations, ultimately preparing students for the high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations of tomorrow.
“We are thrilled with the tremendous enthusiasm from high schools across the nation for this challenge,” King said.“The makerspaces these schools are building will serve as models for how schools everywhere can create spaces that provide their students the tools to design and make just about anything, and in the process, prepare for exciting futures.”
Director of Library Services and Technology Integration, Chip Chase and the library team prepared the application that stood out in a competitive application process. In April, more than 640 schools from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. entered a first round submission with their school information and preliminary plans. Next, eligible schools were invited to participate in an intensive six-week boot camp exploring resources, readings, webinars, and assignments on a range of makerspace topics, including designing a makerspace, engaging the community, developing a budget, and creating projects that build making skills. At the end of the boot camp, schools submitted a blueprint to be considered for selection and prizes. The ten winners were recommended by a panel of judges composed of high-profile leaders in making from across industry and academia.
The makerspace at Capital City will be a hub of experiential learning, located in the third floor computer lab of the library. It will include stations for working with electronics, 3D Printing, digital design, robotics, sewing, and more for fabrication. The space will also provide raw materials and tools that students can work with. Additional mobile maker carts will allow for their deliberate integration into classrooms. Middle and high school students will be able to create physical or digital objects that bring concepts to life, thus bridging the divide between education and real world application. In addition, they will be able to experience success even in subjects they typically find challenging.
The winners will receive $20,000 in cash and a share of in-kind prizes from the $378,000 sponsor prize pool to help build or renovate their makerspaces. They will produce and submit a video tour of their constructed models for use in the Makerspace Showcase, to be held at the World Maker Faire in New York City in October 2016.
Finishing Middle School is an important milestone for any student. At Capital City it involves an unusual requirement: convince a panel of strangers that you are ready for the next step.
In the beginning of June, our 8th graders shared the outcomes of their learning process and personal reflections on the past school year in a 45-minute portfolio presentation, a requirement at Capital City for completing Middle School.
The students prepared for this moment rigorously all year long, but the work intensified over the last month before the presentations when students started to create their PowerPoint presentations, worked on their outlines, practiced and received feedback on their presentation skills, and organized their portfolios of exemplary work to share with their audience.
In their presentations, students are asked to give evidence of their high school readiness by providing an honest evaluation of their learning process, including the skills they have mastered and the challenges they encountered throughout the school year.
"A lot of it was reflecting on a whole year of work, and it was somewhat hard, because some projects we did a while back and I almost did not remember them," says Isabelle, who presented her portfolio de rave reviews, "but it was really good to go back to the different assignments and to notice how much I improved over time."
The Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss joined U.S. Secretary of Education John King in an official announcement on April 29th to award Capital City as a 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School honoree. Capital City was the only school in Washington, DC to receive this year’s distinction. The Office of the State Superintendent for Education nominated Capital City for this prestigious recognition, following a lengthy student-led application process. "This is an exciting recognition," says Head of School Karen Dresden. "It fits with our values of educating the whole child and providing a healthy environment for students and staff."
Capital City students have been leaders in our sustainable practices. In 2012, 7th and 8th grade students, as part of their Green Building Expedition, worked with experts from Alliance to Save Energy and the U.S. Green Building Council to investigate green building practices. They provided recommendations to the Board of Directors on green building designs that were incorporated into our renovation of our current building, such as slanted classroom ceilings that draw in more natural light.
High School Urban Ecology and Honors Environmental Science students themselves were instrumental in completing the Green Ribbon Schools application. They met with engineers Cory Chimka and Emmanuel Laryea from the Sustainable Energy Utility of the District of Columbia to compile school usage and waste data. Students also took photos to document Capital City’s commitment to the three pillars of the Green Ribbon School award, 1. Reduced environmental impact and costs, 2. Improved the health and wellness of students and staff, and 3. Effective environmental and sustainability education.
“It was really interesting learning about that part of our school and understanding the amount of energy we use. We really use our energy wisely considering how many kids attend this school,” says 11th grader Jesamil, who worked on Capital City’s application.
In meeting the three pillars, Capital City was recognized for its LEED Gold-certified building design, school garden program, and hands-on expeditions that engage students with their natural environment, such as the 1st Grade Bee Expedition and the 11th Grade Food Justice for All Expedition. Expeditions are a key component of EL Education’s curriculum, and a defining feature of how Capital City engages and deepens students’ learning.
ABOUT THE 2016 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION GREEN RIBBON SCHOOL AWARDEES
In total, across the country, 47 schools, 15 districts, and 11 postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions were confirmed from a pool of candidates voluntarily nominated by 27 state education agencies. The list of 73 total selectees includes 41 public schools and six private schools. The public schools include three charter and eight magnet schools. The schools serve various grade levels, including 27 elementary, 18 middle, and 14 high schools, with several schools having various K-12 configurations. Fifty-one percent of the 2016 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body. A report with highlights on the 73 honorees can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
5th graders visited Bladensburg Waterfront Park for their spring expedition on improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
On Friday, May 27, Captain Chris from the Anacostia Watershed Society (a close partner of Capital City) guided the students on a pontoon boat trip along the Anacostia River to help them better understand their immediate environment and human's impact on it. The students observed turtles and ospreys and explored the habitat of the surrounding areas of the river. In addition to the boat ride, they participated in a scavenger hunt that taught them more about the local ecosystem they had been studying as well as the work that is being done to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Students themselves did their part to "Save the Bay." Earlier in May, they had visited Kingman Island and helped with restoring the watershed by planting native wetland plants, such as wild rice and arrow arum, they had grown in their classrooms.
On April 7th, 11th Graders hosted the 2nd Annual Food Justice Youth Summit to build awareness about food justice issues. The event held at Friends Meeting of Washington, featured keynote speaker, Lauren Nixon, a Food and Wellness Educator, and more than 20 student-led sessions on topics ranging from GMOs and food labels, to factory farming and the intersection of food and race, with such creative titles as “Don’t Eat it! Just Beat it!” and “Can You Taste the GMO?”
Along with Capital City's student-led workshops, partner organizations Mighty Greens from Eastern High School, the University of the District of Columbia, Senzu Juicery, and American University also led sessions, which included “Launching a Successful Youth Cooperative Business” to “Bees and Your Dinner Table.” This was the first year that multiple organizations joined Capital City students in leading workshops.