Hewitt News

Fifth Graders Dive into Freshwater
Hewitt News

In alignment with the first commitment of our strategic vision, Hewitt is redesigning learning around thorny, interesting, real-world problems. One example of this redesigned approach is our middle school minimesters, which are opportunities for students to immerse themselves in deep, transdisciplinary study around local issues. Each week-long minimester incorporates reading, writing, mathematical reasoning, and historical or scientific inquiry and gives Hewitt students opportunities to be change-makers who take meaningful action both in and out of school.  

Fifth graders engaged in a minimester to answer the driving question, “What can students in the Hewitt middle school do to reduce our unsustainable and/or inequitable impacts on freshwater systems?” Students grappled with understanding the real-world challenges of water pollution through the lenses of equity and social justice, civic engagement, and sustainable engineering. After a week of immersive workshops, fifth graders developed potential solutions to these challenges including teaching fellow students how to examine their personal water use, designing green roofs to capture stormwater at Hewitt, developing community practices for water conservation, and writing letters to local officials to promote water accessibility and equity. 

At the end of their minimester, students were inspired to reflect on their learning and think critically about their process. After taking a deep dive into freshwater systems and presenting their ideas for building a more equitable, sustainable, and joyous future, one fifth grader shared, “I felt motivated to finish all of the hard work I started! I felt like I was actually overcoming and contributing to solving problems all around the globe.”

Students sit around tables covered in papers and charts

Fifth graders audited their personal water consumption to identify their daily water use

Students gather around a table covered in papers and plastic cups

Students investigated the role water plays in the human, agricultural, and industrial needs of a community

Three students stand around a table covered in plastic sheeting, One is spraying water on the plastic.

Students built their own model watersheds to explore how freshwater flows, absorbs, and collects across a landscape

Two students work on colorful drawings. One holds a calculator.

As part of an engineering design project, teams of students created blueprints mapping out potential green spaces at Hewitt

Two students huddle over a cardboard model. One holds a bottle of glue.

Then, each team built a physical model of their proposed green space for Hewitt’s rooftops

Two students sit on the floor reading about Marley Dias

Hewitt game changers found inspiration reading about young activists who responded to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan

A student and a teacher sit together looking at a student-made poster

As part of their final projects, students created infographics, posters, and skits to teach the Hewitt community about responsible water use