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Posted on Apr 12, 2017

Settling Gillispia – A 3-Day Project



What if we had the opportunity to build a community from scratch? What style of government would we choose to have? What would our houses and vehicles look like? Would we change anything about how we use resources? Are there mistakes we have made on this planet that we should be sure not to repeat? These are among the questions our K-6 students wrestled with throughout the 3-day project completed recently. 

Gillispie faculty led students through a simulation based on the possibility of someday being able to explore and settle an Earth-like planet in another solar system. After being introduced to the real discovery of such planets by NASA’s Kepler telescope, students were asked to consider what we would need to do to set up a successful community on Gillispia, a fictional planet with attributes very similar to Earth. Through a combination of cross-grade-level group work and single-session activities, all students engaged in stimulating discussion, creative design, collaborative planning, critical problem solving, and cooperative presentations. The blend of hands-on and brains-on activities gave all of our students an opportunity to shine and to apply the skills and content knowledge they have been developing throughout the year. 

A wide variety of products were produced over the three days including maps, murals, models, essays, brochures, dioramas, audio recordings, and video news reports. Many of these are currently on display in the conference room, while some are still being completed by students excited by the chance to continue improving their work.

Though we may not yet have the means, or possibly the desire, to actually travel light years away to settle a new planet, the Gillispie community relished the opportunity to think through the possibilities and to discuss what such an adventure could be like.

Jon Bluestein

Assistant Head of School & Dean of Students
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