by Spencer Dirats
Aspen Class Grade 7 Teacher
In Waldorf education, 7th grade is centered around themes of self-discovery and rebirth, as those themes mirror the experience of the adolescent. For the first time, children are consciously coming into their own. To support that, we study such themes in history as the Age of Exploration and the Renaissance. Through our study of the Renaissance, we meet Leonardo da Vinci – one of the greatest creative minds in human history. His contributions to art and science inspire our Physics curriculum, which is centered around Simple Machines (the lever, the pulley, the wheel and axle, the wedge, the screw, and the inclined plane). At the end of our Physics block, Aspen Class students were challenged to step into Leonardo da Vinci’s innovative shoes and build a Compound Machine using three or more of the Simple Machines we studied.
Their machine couldn’t just be a model – it actually had to work! We had such creations as: a juice-server, a dog treat dispenser, a bacon draining rack, a balloon-popper, a car lift (functional prototype not to scale), a hands-free egg-dyer, a can-crusher, and several innovative catapults! These machines will be on display in the school’s atrium until Thursday afternoon.