Hewitt News

Sixth Graders Advocate For Sustainable and Accessible Transportation
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 changemakers who take meaningful action both in and out of school.  

For their minimester, sixth graders wrestled with the real-world question, “What can Hewitt students do to promote a sustainable and accessible transportation system in New York City?” Working in one of three project pathways, they researched how climate change has affected our city’s transportation system, the physical accessibility of the subway system, and the environmental impact of various forms of transportation. Students also learned about the importance of civic engagement and community responsibility and explored different strategies to encourage New Yorkers to care about the sustainability, accessibility, and resiliency of our city’s transportation system. 

Throughout their minimester, the sixth grade engaged with local experts to learn more about the role of community policies and practices in promoting a more equitable and sustainable future for transportation in New York City. They met with an urban planner to hear about the financial and environmental impact storms and extreme weather can have on neighborhoods, and with a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) engineer who shared insight into how the MTA makes decisions around creating accessible stations. By the end of the week, the students had synthesized their learning into a series of final projects including public service announcements about the CO2 emissions caused by transportation, 3D models of accessible transportation systems, and letters to elected officials advocating for resilient transportation systems in the face of significant weather events. 

Four students sit around a table looking at a map titled %22How do you get to school?%22

To learn more about transportation routes and challenges, sixth graders play a custom-made commuting game 

Three students wearing masks sit at classroom desks holding calculators and pencils

Students compare various forms of transportation and calculate their respective pollution levels 

Three students stand on an NYC street holding up sheets of paper they used to take a survey

Speaking to commuters on East 77th Street to learn more about the neighborhood’s transportation wants and needs

A group of students and their teacher stand around aluminum pans filled with orange and yellow paper

Studying the effects of significant weather events on shoreline erosion

Three students work at a table to fill an aluminum pan with water. There are beakers and tape scattered on the table.

Students make their own models of shorelines to test out various mitigation techniques including sea walls, living breakwaters, and wetlands 

L: A student working in 3D software on a laptop. R: Three students sit on the floor with bins of Lego.

Using a combination of 3D design software and LEGO, students create models of the 77th Street subway station with improved accessibility