Over the course of nearly a month in late February and March, students in French IV Honors delved into the annual interdisciplinary “French Monuments Project.” French teacher Dr. Lauren Upadhyay designed and executed this STEAM project (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) in partnership with Thomas Cooper, Director of Design and Engineering and Conway Brackett, US Director of Academic Technology.
In class, students studied monuments of historical significance and considered how these sites shape cultural identity. Students then researched and selected an event in Francophone history and designed a monument to mark that event.
The class first completed a design cycle during which they used descriptive language (in French) to evoke the sentiments that their historical event inspired. They created rough sketches of their ideas--first in pairs and then as a group--in order to solicit valuable feedback and make necessary improvements. They also received feedback from professional architect and Lovett parent Susan Packman.
Students then used SketchUp software to design prototypes, which they printed on a 3D printer. They also created placemarks in Google Earth to give information about the monuments and dropped their digital sketches into a layer on Google Earth, allowing them to show their monuments in situ. Finally, students recorded French and English audio guides to play over their digital tours.
Through the French Monuments project, students deepened their knowledge of Francophone culture, practiced their language skills, learned new technologies, and saw the power of bringing their ideas to life in tangible form. Along the way, they also practiced Lovett’s Vision for Learning skills of critical and reflective thinking; communication; collaboration; and creativity.