By Jamie Brewer
Ingham County Chronicle
The East Lansing Design For America division is working to find a way to help elementary students at low-income schools in Lansing learn about alternative energy in an interactive and fun way.
DFA is a national organization that uses design to create social impact, according to East Lansing DFA President Evan Fried.
The question the group came up with was, “How can we assist teachers in low-income schools in teaching alternative energy in an attractive way?” DFA member Hannah Hunter said.
Low-income schools’ main focus is raising standardized tests scores, according to Sarah Laurens, a fifth grade teacher at Lansing’s North School. Therefore the teachers at North School were excited to have DFA step in and help encourage alternative ways of learning to the students.
“In particular, I enjoyed their open-mindedness and flexibility towards working with my students who are predominantly non-native English speakers,” Laurens said.
North School is a kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school with over 600 students. A majority of these students are English learners. Many of the students have come from war-torn countries with interruptions in their education or from refugee camps in Lansing. North School also has an autism program, a deaf and hard-of-hearing program and a cognitively impaired program, according to Laurens.
Laurens said there is a lot of stress for teachers to focus on raising standardized test scores which may be hurting teachers and students.
“I feel a haunting sense of sadness, as my gut tells me that we are sliding backwards into an atlas-style teaching model of the 1950s while paying lip service to cutting-edge, research-based teaching models,” Laurens said.