Winter 2016 classes grow young minds

To help children develop 21st Century Life Skills, our Winter 2016 classes have been advancing Growth Mindset and layering multiple skills such as the 4Cs. Having a Growth Mindset requires children to realize they can change as they learn, be able to embrace failure, continually persevere, and take advantage of the psychological power that comes from saying “Can’t …Yet” versus “Can’t.”

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School


At Thomas Jefferson ES in Falls Church students have been exploring the science of Winter and growing their 4Cs (Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, and Critical Thinking) in each class. Children have thought critically about the impact of snow on chemical reactions and explored the creative world of fractals and fractal snowflakes. They also worked on a two-part project to build Energy Conscious Homes that would conserve light energy (and by extension, discover where heat could be escaping from a home).

Forestville Elementary School

iSchool has been offering short 4-week courses at Forestville as the school prepares to undergo its renovation. Each session includes a multi-part team activity (to emphasize project-based learning and the life skills inherent in managing a project, such as time management).


Our January classes set the stage for using multiple Life Skills at once by focusing on the 4Cs. We first took advantage of winter to learn about Maple Trees and tapping for maple syrup. We then started a collaborative project to build a Tornado Tower. Watch a video in which children discuss how they learned to better collaborate through better communication.


In February and March we covered Growth Mindset explicitly during two project-based learning activities: making a Rubber-band Racing Car and a Dancing Homopolar Motor. Both projects required teamwork and were challenging, meaning that children failed (often!) before getting each project to work. When their creations worked, children learned firsthand how good it feels to succeed through perseverance. “That’s mine!” – Watch a video of the Homopolar Motors made by our students. In our March classes, children are continuing down the  blow-your-mind path of Electromagnetic Motors by making their own magnetic and wire train tracks.


Charles Barrett Elementary School

We are thrilled to bring our Innovation Lab to Charles Barrett ES for the first time! In this introductory class we have been moving through our core 21st Century Life Skills while having fun with Creative STEM activities. Children have persevered while making marble roller coasters, explored the magical math of fractals, grown polymer snow, and built sturdy structures out of spaghetti. Watch a video of students embracing failure to improve their roller coasters.

Montgomery County Public Schools


iSchool has partnered with Excel Beyond the Bell and the Davinci STEAM School to offer an innovative Robotics Engineering class. Watch a video of students learning the basics of coding and as they navigate their “Robot friends” around the room.