Scenic Heights Navigators finish J-Term
Working hard and having something to show for it is what the Navigator Program students of Scenic Heights Elementary School accomplished Jan. 31.
The students of the Navigator Program, which is for exceptionally gifted students, wrapped up their J-Term projects at the end of January. The projects were worked on throughout January, and focused on a topic of interest for each student.
Navigator teacher Sandy Katkov says the ideas begin with a question, and from that question research is done to gain a higher level of understanding. The J-Term began last school year, and Katkov says the goal is to encourage students to a higher level of critical thinking.
“It’s really to give the kids an opportunity to dig deeper into a passionate area that they have been pondering,” Katkov said.
Dealing with critical and creative thinking, the projects also focus on collaboration with other students to try to answer the questions posed for their projects. After the big question is asked, the students then go through the inquiry process of imagining, planning, creating and improving their project.
“The outcome is really about the process, it’s not about can they actually do it, they might get there but it might be something ongoing that they do the rest of the year,” Katkov said.
Picking a topic, each student does his or her own research even though topics might be similar. This allows the idea to branch off if needed. For instance, Katkov says, one student who wears glasses began with blindness and through his research switched directions a little to macular degeneration.
Since the topics are ones of interest to each kid, Katkov says they feed off it.
“It really teaches at their passion area and the behavior problems go away,” she said. “To have that desire and that excitement about wanting to learn what they are learning I think that rejuvenates me as well.”
Some obstacles include finding a business mentor to help bring a deeper understanding to the topics.
Dylan Tahnk-Johnson created a board game. “I’ve never really made a board game before,” Johnson said.
Players roll dice to move along a pathway on the board answering questions along the way. It involved a lot of research but was a lot of fun.
“I really like actually making the board,” Johnson said. “The hardest part was the amount of research for all the questions.”
Vihaal Vellanki created an application for the Navigator Program using HTML coding. The app allows access to all the curriculum and research online. With a lot of trial and error, the actual coding Vellanki says was the hardest part.
“If there’s a tiny mistake you have to program the whole thing again,” Vellanki said.
The Navigator Program is in its fourth year for students that test with an IQ of 140 and higher.
“We work to meet their needs,” Katkov said.
Katkov says with the students able to make global connections from the content quicker they are able to go through more of the curriculum in a faster time.