Cross curricular skills help students improve projects for classes

The best kind of learning is that which can be transferred from class to class, and then be carried over to the "real" world. Mexico High School juniors Spencer Freeman and Brandon Oligschlaeger recently took an assignment from their science class down the hill to their class at Hart Career Center, and created a 3D model of the human eye.
In Michelle Yount's Dual Credit College Biology class, the students were assigned a written paper contrasting one invertebrate and one vertebrate and then were to make a model of an organ that reflected the progression."
The students wrote the paper, selecting an eye as the organ they would make a model of for demonstration. "We figured the eye would show the most difference," Brandon said. "We made a shrimp eye and a human eye to show the progression."
He and Spencer designed the eye on the software they learned to use in the Project Lead the Way class of Mrs. Hester Russell at HCC. "We designed the eye on "Inventor" software," Brandon said. "We did part of it in class and part of it at home."
The choice of an organ as their model was easy, Spencer said. "We could choose from several things, and we decided to compare and contrast the shrimp eye and the human eye."
The project allowed the student's in Yount's class to not just write about, but also to see the changes. "The students are studying the progression from simple to complex invertebrates and vertebrates, and this project helped them see how a certain organ changed," she said.
The human eye took about a week to complete, Brandon said. "The eye was about four inches in diameter. After we designed it, we printed it out on the 3D printer."
Spencer said the most fun part of the project was actually seeing the model come out of the printer. "My favorite part was peeling the eyeball out of the PVC plastic from the printer," he said.
Russell said the students did a good job in building the model, and that she was pleased the students were able to use knowledge learned in her class in another class. "The software used in this class is the same software used by engineering companies in the world," she said. "In fact, the Inventor software was what was used for the computer generated imagery in the movie 'Avatar.'"
Yount also appreciated the cross curricular value of the assignment. "I think it was great that the students used Mrs. Russell's class to make the model," she said. "They took what they were learning in both classes and used it to create their project. I would love to do more of this kind of learning because it helps students see what they are learning doesn't just pertain to one class."
Russell also encourages the support of one class for another. She said she has another student who is adapting the solar car project from her class into a balloon-powered car for another class.  
"Hopefully, this kind of cooperation will show students the 'real world' value of what they are learning in high school," Yount said. "The students are learning that they can take that knowledge with them when they graduate."