Greenbrier Middle School eighth grade classes recently completed a cross-curricular three-week study centered around the movie Hidden Figures.
Students collaborated in their Language Arts classes to complete a research project that focused on historical content: segregation, civil rights, women’s rights, migrant workers, Jim Crow laws, the Race for Space, human computers, the Forgotten Women who helped win the space race, technology & innovations during the 1960’s, and the 13th/15th/19th amendments. Based on their research, students created a poster, a timeline, biographies, a bibliography, and an essay.
In Math & Algebra classes, students completed a career research project. They used an online interest inventory which gives insight into career areas that would be a good fit for them. Students then chose a career out of one of those areas, researched specific details about that career, including how math is used in the daily details and what the education requirements would be to for this career. Then they created an infographic (choice of a poster, powerpoint, prezi, or video) and presented to their classmates. Mrs. Hayes’ Algebra class community partner, Mrs. Tracye Holt from Holt’s Hometown Foods in Ridgetop, was invited to be a part of the classroom career presentations.
Science and Social Studies students spent time learning about the Cold War, the Space Race, and STEM connections.
The culmination of this unit was a field trip to see the movie Hidden Figures. A private screening was arranged at Regal Cinemas of Indian Lake on January 27. Students clapped and cheered at all the right times as they were rooting for the characters in this true story. Because of the work they had done in the weeks preceding the trip, students had the background needed to make the connections to this important historical context.
Math and Algebra teacher Jennifer Hayes said the overall project was inspiring.
“This is my 18th year teaching,” she said, “and this is the most meaningful cross-curricular unit that I’ve been a part of with my middle school students. I’ve been so proud of the work they have done and the way they’ve responded to to sensitive topics. I truly hope that each of our students have a deeper sense of history and a greater sensitivity and respect for others.”
Hayes also noted that through this project, students have been able to connect their new math skills to real-world jobs requirements.
“In my Algebra class, we have been learning about properties of exponents and exponential functions, and a student had asked when they would ever use that in life,” she said. “Just a few days later, that same student presented on his chosen career of becoming a Nanosystems Engineer, and he found that this career was centered around working with numbers and exponents! Every student was able to find meaningful mathematics in the career that they chose to research and present to their classmates.”
Student Lea Anna Robinson acknowledged the practical application of the overall learning experience.
“Seeing Hidden Figures made me realize how often we use things in school in everyday life and opened my eyes to many social issues which are still relevant in today’s world,” she said.