One key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a school-wide Global Week each March. Upper School and Middle School students and teachers come together outside the classroom to share a broader range of learning experiences focused on language and culture, service, and sustainability. Lower School students explore the world’s countries and cultures closer to home.
This year’s experiences included trips to the Grand Canyon, the Florida Everglades, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and nature centers in rural Michigan and Wisconsin; and local explorations of cooking, space science, and Chicago sports history from March 14-18, 2022.
Grand Canyon & National Parks
Science & Culture in the American Southwest
The American Southwest is a region unlike any other on Earth. From dusty red rock mesas to deep, ancient canyons and sprawling expanses of open space, outdoor adventure is around every meander of the Colorado River in Utah and Arizona. This trip took students to the foot of towering sandstone cliffs in Zion National Park and up to the edge of and down into the Grand Canyon! We went back in time as we hiked the famous South Kaibab Trail where we learned to read the layers of rock and interpret their story about the environmental history of our continent.
Students learned about the region’s Native American cultures and traditions while working directly with local Navajo guides exploring the famous Antelope Canyon and rafting along the Colorado River. We engaged with National Park Rangers and local guides in conversations about the direct impact of climate change on the region, including the dramatically low water levels in Lake Powell.
This trip gave students an opportunity for exciting outdoor adventures in some of our most protected environments in the country, all the while also instilling a sense of awe and deep appreciation of the beauty of the Southwest.
Splashing Into Science
Students explored concepts of environmental science, marine biology, and life science in a fun and interactive way, from the fascinating tropical hammock and mangrove swamps of Pennekamp State Park and swimming with dolphins to night hikes in the Everglades and a visit to a local turtle hospital. Throughout, it was truly an adventure they’ll never forget.
Over the course of five days and four nights in the Los Angeles area, students performed a day of community service and saw the sights, including an L.A. city tour, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, the Paley Center for Media, the Hollywood History Museum, the Hollywood and Highland Center, Griffith Park Observatory, City Walk at Universal Studios, and an exclusive, backstage tour and visit to Disneyland.
Students embraced their chance to learn how to cook a variety of dishes and put them all together to create sophisticated menus that they can continue to cook and refine at home. In a five-day camp at the Chopping Block, they learned prep skills, cooking skills, and menu planning from culinary experts. Students learned the basics of knife skills, menu planning, and organizing kitchen prep work, and concluded the week with a team cooking competition.
Students experienced space science through hands-on learning activities and tours at some of the world’s most awesome places of science, right here in our backyard. Students toured labs at Governors State University and the University of Chicago to explore the instruments of chemistry and astronomy. In U of C’s restricted laboratories, students learned how they fabric custom cutting edge electronics and use them to build telescopes which explore the cosmic microwave background radiation of our universe.
At the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum, students explored demonstrations and exhibits from a 1.5 million volt Tesla coil to Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex. They closed the week with a Mars-themed “escape room” game and a final adventure at Sky Zone trampoline park.
Chicago Sports History
Students explored the history and present of Chicago sports and food through behind-the-scenes tours of Wrigley Field and Soldier Field, trips to the Chicago Sports Museum and some of the best donut shops in Chicago, and lunches at a selection of great spots around town.
Eighth Grade – Washington, D.C.
In line with our Middle School curriculum, students visited our nation’s capital and participated in workshops with peers from schools in Florida, Nebraska, and Alaska. Leading with the question “How does government affect the lives of its citizens?,” students discussed how protest and change in the U.S. have historically shaped laws and how these laws have affected the lives of its citizens. MPA students visited the significant historical sites of our nation’s capital and thought about the role of an American citizen in an ever-changing global world and how they, too, can effect change for our country.
Seventh Grade – Howell Nature Center, Michigan
Students learned about environmental issues, the natural world, Indigenous Americans, local wildlife, and global issues like poverty and hunger. They spent a day in a Global Village created by Heifer International, experiencing lifestyles from around the world. Participants also engaged in community building and hands-on educational learning activities.
Sixth Grade – Nature’s Classroom Institute, Wisconsin
Students immersed themselves in the natural environment for ecosystem exploration and study, working together with their peers and learning about their role as a citizen of the earth from an environmental point of view.
After opening the week with a cooking lesson by chefs from Peach’s Restaurant, students researched individual countries of their choice, creating slideshow presentations that incorporated the five themes of geography. They showed their creativity by creating a post that displayed the flag of their country, a sign with the country’s name on it, a digitally cut model of the outline of their country, and an arrow that displayed the current population of that country. Each post was painted with colors that represented the country. On Friday, as the week came to an end, fifth-graders paraded through the halls to share their hard work with the rest of their Lower School friends.
Fourth Grade: Czech Republic & Canada
Third Grade: Thailand & Ireland
Second Grade: Colombia & Ghana
First Grade: Australia, Italy & France
Kindergarten: Austria, Peru & Sweden