Getting to know each other again at Churchville-Chile Middle School

After this last year of semi-isolation, many students find learning in person and working with their classmates new and a little intimidating.

At Churchville-Chile Middle School, teachers designed classes for the first few weeks of school to help students re-establish relationships with their peers and redevelop their interpersonal skills.

In the fifth grade class of teacher Dan Hickey, students learned about the dangers of traumatic brain injury. They split into small groups to design their own custom gear to protect delicate eggs (representing the brain) from concussions.

Team members worked together to brainstorm solutions and collect building materials. Ultimately, they protected their eggs in structures that included combinations of towels, bubble wrap, parachutes, balloons, and peanut butter.

The students used a variety of materials to cushion their eggs, including balloons.

Each team assigned a single member to drop their construction from one of the school’s second-story windows, while the others waited below to see if their egg survived. No eggs were injured.

All the young engineers managed to protect their eggs from a fall from two floors.

Teacher Rachael Herman’s fifth-grade students also took part in the Egg Experiment and followed it the day after another team-building exercise – a Cup Challenge. Each team of three or four students tried to build a pyramid from plastic cups without physically touching their cups.

In teacher Racheal Herman's class, team members worked together to build a pyramid of cups without touching them.

“The students teamed up with peers they had never worked with before,” Herman said. “Each member of the team was vital and necessary to the success of the group. The skills they’ve put into practice – listening, sharing, valuing each other’s contributions, collaborating – are all things they’ll need to move forward. Activities like this at the start of the year give me the opportunity to assess each student’s skills so that we can provide extra help when needed.

Using only string and rubber bands, teams developed interpersonal skills that they will continue to use throughout their careers.

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