Saturday, November 29, 2014

Topia Projects

From day to day, amidst a raft of deadlines and many competing agendas, it can be hard to track what's actually getting done. Stepping back for a look is often surprising, usually in a positive way.

The SK 7-8s' thinking on the early theme of Utopia, Dystopia, and Diaspora was generated by literature, individual research, and conversation in class. In September and October, each of them read between three and five of the following books:

A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
1984, George Orwell
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
The Holder of the World, Bharati Mukherjee
Utopia, Sir Thomas More
When the Emperor Was Divine, Julie Otsuka
Icarus Girl, Helen Oyeyemi

Below are the projects our students designed. 
  • Aristea and Elizabeth are painting a four-wall mural depicting utopia, dystopia, and diaspora--Aristea's perfect and broken worlds are at either end and Elizabeth's people are moving from one to the other
  • Isobel wrote a paper comparing the status of twins in China, Nigeria and the United States
  • Jianmarco is showing different visions of genetic engineering, including that of Huxley's Brave New World
  • Kaeli designed an online game that engages the experience of Japanese-Americans in California during World War II, as depicted in a novel, Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine
  • Karenna polled different age groups on their versions of a perfect world and a broken one
  • Lee designed a board game that tracks four literary characters through magical journeys (Alice, Gilgamesh, Odysseus, and Jessamy from Icarus Girl)
  • Margaret is building a house with floors for Heaven, Hell, and Earth, using material on those topics from Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and--wait for it--Zoroastrianism
  • Matthew designed a card game through which players try to build a utopia, or prevent opponents from doing so
  • Maya built a detailed family tree with related research on the subject of diaspora
  • Michael wrote a paper on failed utopias, comparing and connecting their downfalls
  • Nico built a map and a presentation on mankind's trek out of Africa, and the evolution of different species over the course of that journey
  • Nik is writing a comic about the rise and fall of a perfect society
  • Trent is writing a paper on child soldiers in different parts of the world, with a focus on humanitarian efforts to help victims and prevent the practice in future
These projects will be the subject of Exhibitions in the week of December 2-5.

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