Setting up for high school blacksmithing classes, although still a hefty chore, is rolling along with a bit more ease this year as the anvil stands were upgraded this summer. A number of “stumps” were crafted at varying heights by laminating alternating layers of 2- by 6- inch fir lumber. Steel frames were fabricated using pieces of 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick hot-rolled mild-steel flat bars and square tubes that were cut with our new 4×7 horizontal bandsaw. (Thank you dear donor!) Step bits helped make “quick” work drilling numerous holes. Loops for holding tools and custom anvil anchor brackets were hand forged. Everything was welded up using 6013 electrodes with reverse DC polarity on a Lincoln AC/DC 225 Stick Welder. (Isn’t science in action grand?!) A removable handle converts each stump into a hand-truck enabling the anvils to “lightly” roll along while riding a fulcrum balanced on two heavy casters (thank you Archimedes). Efficient set-up and take-down of the smithy affords the young “apprentices”more time to forge artifacts from red hot iron in tandem with the crafting of their very selves. Thank you to everyone who helps make life transforming courses like this possible!
This year, the 12th Grade Economics Main Lesson became an Economics AND Environmental Studies Main Lesson. Seniors are ready to be challenged to think about problems and propose solutions from two distinct fields. The field trip to Shoreway Environmental Center (Public Recycling Center) in San Mateo was the perfect culminating experience for the class.
Inside the transfer facility, students saw the massive pile of waste destined for the landfill and the massive pile destined for industrial composting. It was both a reality check and a dose of hope. Because the content of the Main Lesson both addressed how markets function and the limitations of our earth’s systems, students were able to apply the theoretical concepts they learned to the waste management business.
Students came back inspired to improve the waste management system on the Mountain View Campus by redirecting waste destined for the landfill. Fueled with specific knowledge about proper recycling (did you know black plastics cannot be recycled?) and the SB 1383 Composting Law, expect to see some changes MV Campus.
by Marina Budrys | High School Humanities Faculty Member
Rudolf Steiner believed that it is really important to understand how things work in the world in some basic way. This doesn’t mean, for example, that we all need to know how to build an Audi TT engine, but some experience with acceleration is important.
Coding has become such an important part of how our world works that I started to look at bringing it into my Humanities curriculum. Our high school students are not necessarily experiencing coding unless they’re members of the Robotics Club or pursuing an independent interest, and yet a general knowledge of how code works is essential for our graduates.
Confession, I am no coder. I took one rStudio class in college and it was really hard for me. So I called up my sister, an alumna of the class of 2017, who works in a plant science lab at Stanford and asked her if she would be willing to Zoom in for a demo with my 12th grade Economics students. We came up with an ideal exercise: 12th Graders would use R code to create visual representations of data they’ve been collecting for their Economics work. Each student worked through an example where they followed her through importing the data, adding instructions, and running different lines of code. They each ended up with a colorful graph that matched hers. Their homework was to ask a question related to the research they needed to do for their Senior store, collect their own data, and create their own graphs from those data. Did everyone figure out each part perfectly? No. Did everyone create a graph? Yes.
A big part of this education is building capacities. With each new task students do, they work through something. Visualizing data is a new skill that I hope opens their minds to what they believe they can do, however daunting it first appears to be.
This year the 12th grade is opening in toto Coffee Collective. Yep that’s right. We are starting a business. The Economics Main Lesson serves as an entry point for students to start to consider their relationship to materials and the processes in which materials are dealt with. The first half of the block is spent encountering varying concepts, principles, laws, and ideas within the economic realm. The second half of the class we will be thinking about the future and how the way we frame the purpose of economics has a different outcome in the decisions we make when we write a business plan.
Our Coffee Collective is made possible by the Entrepreneurial Grant we received. While the work the Class of 2022 is doing is a trial (don’t expect that coffee cart to be running every morning just yet), the framework they are developing can be used as a building block for future entrepreneurial endeavors.
P.S. Check out some beautiful Data Visualizations students made using our studio with some of their preliminary research for the coffee cart.