turtle project

The Rulers arc has been structured much differently than the other arcs we will have this year, both because of its short length and its goals of building community and building awareness of what Brightworks is as a school and how it works. This doesn’t mean, however, that projects aren’t at the heart of the experience during Rulers – each band is taking their own approach to a shortened Expression phase with big group projects guided by their collaborators.

The Hummingbirds’ project has moved in the direction of figuring out the best way to bring a band pet into the school. Because they had planted a woolly pocket garden on the wall along the window, they were excited about the idea of an animal at school (a bunny was the first idea) while being conscious of allergies that make furry creatures not an option. They decided that a turtle would be the best kind of pet to add to their bandspace and have since embarked on a journey to figure out how to make that happen. With Shawna’s guiding hand, the Hummingbirds have asked questions, done research in the field, talked to experts, and thought about the responsibilities of having a class pet, as well as incorporated their explorations of turtles in arc-related animal pursuits with measurement, science, math, and art.


Shawna explains it best in her incredible documentation of their process and experiences. She writes, “With the idea of a pet reptile in our classroom, the children listed many things we needed to know and to do before getting the pet, such as learn what it likes to eat, what it needs in its home, how to handle it, if anyone is allergic to it, and the children even went so far as to decide how to introduce their new pet to their school community: they want to host a school “tea party” with refreshments (some from our garden, of course) and a puppet show!


“I was inspired by their sense of industry as well as how fast their minds were thinking ahead: one possible proposal was that we get six small turtles to solve the potential conflict inherent in only having one pet to name (who gets to decide its name?).


I suggested that we first needed to look into cost and space requirements, as well as how much responsibility we’d take on for feeding and cleaning, before we get attached to the idea of multiple pets!”


They visited Petco and learned about the different kinds of turtles available and looked at pricing for all the materials they need. Having worked through many of these questions, the Hummingbirds are ready to begin the declaration process to propose adding a turtle to their band.