Hewitt News

Seventh Graders Explore Barriers and Biases Impacting Women’s Voices
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.  

During their minimester, seventh graders were guided by the central question, “Whose voices are heard; whose voices are not?” To help them develop answers to these questions, students worked in cohorts to learn about activist journalism, women in STEM, and New York City memorials. Through field research, historical investigations, and interviews, they considered how different voices have been amplified or quieted throughout history and gained insight into the barriers and biases that have impacted women both past and present. 

The activist journalism cohort began by studying the profound and pioneering work of journalists Ida B. Wells and Nellie Bly. After learning about these two powerful voices, students chose an area of social activism they were personally interested in and wrote their own articles to share with the Hewitt community. In the women in STEM cohort, seventh graders researched the wide range of career opportunities in the field of science and learned about how gender bias in STEM has changed and begun to diminish over the last 30 years. Students then applied their newly acquired knowledge and perspective as they interviewed a panel of women STEM leaders about their career paths and experiences working in the field. Lastly, the memorial cohort visited the African Burial Ground, 9/11 Memorial, and Irish Famine Memorial to observe how these monuments serve as effective tributes. Students also learned about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and after considering why no monument to this tragedy currently exists, designed thoughtful memorials to give voice to the many young women who lost their lives in the fire. 

 A group of masked students write on a whiteboard

Seventh graders hone their research skills by focusing on pre-searching, outlining questions, finding sources, and taking notes

A student stands in front of an outdoor sculpture writing in a notebook

During a research trip to Roosevelt Island, students view The Girl Puzzle, a monument honoring journalist Nellie Bly, and process their thinking by jotting impressions of the sculptures 

Two students sit outside near a large sculpture of a face writing in notebooks

Students note their thoughts and wonderings about The Girl Puzzle in preparation for further research about Nellie Bly

Two students have their back to the camera as they look at an exhibit at the Liberty Science Center

The STEM cohort visits Liberty Science Center to learn more about new areas of science they may want to pursue in the future

Students sit in rows of chairs in the library looking at a projected Zoom screen

Seventh graders interview a panel of Hewitt alumnae, parents, and friends about their experiences as women working in STEM fields

A cardboard model of a monument depicting three women pushing up a %22woman%22 symbol

After learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, students design monuments to honor the lives lost in this tragedy

A cardboard model of a monument with Israeli and Italian flags and a wreath of green leaves

Another example of a student-created monument to honor the memory of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire