Sunset Park fifth-graders propose classroom of the future

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comJune 3, 2014 

Bryan Vaughan, director of facilities in the Rock Hill school district, demonstrates the use of a stability ball chair while student Jack Hyatt explains some of the innovations he and his fellow “Math Moles” came up with for a “21st century classroom.”

RACHEL SOUTHMAYD — rsouthmayd@heraldonline.com

— While many students spend the last few days of the school year dreaming of getting out of the classroom, a group of fifth-graders from Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies spent their Tuesday afternoon presenting ways to make their classroom better. But their audience wasn’t just some of their peers or a few teachers.

Instead, the eight students gave a well-researched and well-rehearsed presentation on a “21st Century Classroom” to a group of about 30 adults, including Rock Hill school board members and district administrators, including superintendent Kelly Pew.

“Our whole classroom was designed to be flexible and mobile,” said student Anna Black.

The students presented on innovations such as storage on wheels, lightweight movable desks, “smart” tables, plexiglass walls and bright colors. They even got two district staff members to demonstrate the use of stability ball chairs, which are rolling chairs with a large bouncy ball where the seat should be.

But the students didn’t just want to demonstrate what they’d learned to make classrooms better. Instead, they wanted to encourage the administration to implement their changes in classrooms across the district.

“We need you to help us,” said student Seth Lynch. “So help us find new routes.”

After the presentation, the students, who are in the “Math Moles,” an organization for top-achieving math students, fielded questions from those who were watching.

Pew praised the students for their presentation and research skills.

“I like the idea that you’re dreaming big,” she said. “You’re pretty convincing.”

Tony Cox, the district’s associate superintendent for administrative services, said the students had given the district a lot of good ideas. He said that the district was already looking into some of the concepts the students presented.

“We’ll probably use a few of these things in the future,” he said.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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